A Russian manicure, also known as a dry or European manicure, is a nail care technique that has gained popularity on TikTok for its attention to detail and precision. Unlike a traditional manicure, “Russian manicure” refers to the treatment done to the nails that focuses on cuticle care and shaping the nails without the use of water. This is why it is often referred to as a “dry” manicure. The meticulous treatment done on the cuticle allows for the manicure to last up to three or four weeks. In turn, getting a Russian manicure can take a few hours longer to complete than a regular manicure and it is usually more expensive. However, it can be worth it in the long run as it allows for a more precise application that withholds longer. 

Russian manicures are not new to the nail industry but they have recently been discovered and gone viral on TikTok. While many American users are shocked to learn of this technique, many European users state that this is a standard manicure in their country. Regardless, the app has people talking about this manicure and searching where they can get one. 

However, there are risks that come with getting a Russian manicure. Dermatologists and other specialists note that cutting away at the cuticle can expose the nail to more bacteria that results in greater risk of infection. Frequent Russian manicures can also lead to other potential problems. Here is everything you need to know about Russian manicures from how they are done, why they last so long and whether or not they are safe. 

What Is a Russian Manicure?

Danielle Sinay for Glamour explained what the process of a Russian manicure essentially is. “The Russian manicure technique removes as much skin as possible from the nail area, which leaves more room for polish. This results in a ‘cleaner’-looking finish and helps to extend the length of time between appointments, as the skin and nail take longer to grow back than with regular manicures,” Sinay wrote. 

Key Features of a Russian Manicure

  1. No soaking: Unlike traditional manicures where the hands are soaked in water to soften the skin and cuticles, a Russian manicure is performed on dry hands and nails.  Water can potentially introduce bacteria and fungi into the cuticle area, increasing the risk of infection. Performing a manicure on dry hands minimizes this risk, especially when proper hygiene practices are maintained, such as using sterilized tools.
  1. Cuticle care: The emphasis is on gentle cuticle work, aiming to remove excess cuticles without cutting into the healthy tissue. This is often done using specialized tools like cuticle nippers and pushers.
  1. Nail shaping: Precise shaping of the nails is a crucial aspect of a Russian manicure. The technician pays attention to creating a clean, even shape and may use various tools like nail files, buffers and drills to achieve the desired result.
  1. Product application: After the cuticle work and shaping, a Russian manicure may involve the application of nail products like cuticle oil, strengthening base coats, and nail polish. A specific, thick gel is applied to the nails of those who wish for a gel manicure. 
  1. Attention to detail: Russian manicures are known for their attention to detail and precision. It is not as quick and simple as getting a regular manicure because of this. Erin Lukas for InStyle wrote, “Because of the intricacy of the cuticle work, a single-color manicure can take three hours. A treatment with extensions or nail art will clock in at four to five hours.”

You can expect to spend between $100-$250 on a Russian manicure, according to Sinay. However, the long lasting and Pinterest worthy results may make it worth it. 

What Are the Risks of Russian Manicures?

While Russian manicures can provide a polished and detailed look to the nails, there are potential risks associated with this technique. The technique is actually quite invasive as it removes the cuticle almost completely, and the cuticle serves a specific purpose. Nail health dermatologist and clinical professor Dana Stern, MD, told Sinay “The cuticle is what prevents the entry of yeast and even bacteria into the nail unit.” 

Additionally she explained, “Complete removal of the cuticle, if done repetitively, will usually result in entry of yeast, which results in a type of nail infection called a chronic paronychia.”

Removing the cuticle helps the manicure last longer but it is essentially like removing the nail’s barrier from infection. This also means the tools used to perform the Russian manicure need to be as dry and sterilized as possible. Having someone trained and experienced performing this technique is crucial.

Other Potential Risks of Russian Manicures

  1. Cuticle damage: The meticulous cuticle work involved in a Russian manicure, if not performed carefully, can lead to cuticle damage. Cutting into the living tissue of the cuticle may cause pain, bleeding and increase the risk of infection.
  1. Infection risk: Any time the skin is cut or disrupted, there is a risk of infection. If the tools used during the manicure are not properly sanitized, bacteria or fungi may enter the skin, leading to infections. It’s crucial to ensure that the salon follows proper hygiene practices.
  1. Overuse of drills: The use of electric drills in nail care can be abrasive if not used properly. Overuse or excessive pressure can lead to thinning of the nails and damage to the surrounding skin.
  1. Skin irritation: The chemicals in nail products or the friction from tools can cause skin irritation. This is particularly true for individuals with sensitive skin.

To minimize these risks, it’s important to choose a reputable salon with trained and experienced technicians. Additionally, communicate openly with your nail technician about your concerns, preferences and any existing skin or nail conditions. Proper hygiene practices, including the sterilization of tools, should be followed to reduce the risk of infection.

If you experience persistent pain, redness, swelling, or signs of infection after a Russian manicure, seek medical attention promptly. Regular nail care, whether traditional or Russian, should prioritize the health and well-being of the nails and surrounding skin.

So, Should You Get a Russian Manicure?

Ultimately, it is still ok to get a Russian manicure, so long as you ensure the nail salon you go to is trained/experienced in the technique and they are performing rigorous sterilization. Monitor other clients’ results in terms of how long they lasted and if there was any pain or infection caused, if possible. Additionally, always maintain proper hygiene and alert the nail tech or a doctor about any pain, reddening or swelling.