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The ‘Russian Manicure’ Is Trending On TikTok– What Is It?

The ‘Russian Manicure’ Is Trending On TikTok– What Is It?
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You may have seen videos of the “Russian manicure” trending on TikTok the last few weeks. The creators with the most popular videos have been recording their nail salon appointment– including a voiceover narration of the process. The short recaps include terms like “dry manicure,” “electric drill,” and “nail health” to describe the treatment’s techniques. But whether these are infiltrating your For You page or not– you might still be wondering, what exactly is a Russian manicure?

Unlike a traditional manicure, which soaks the nail and uses a pusher and nipper to cut the cuticles, a Russian manicure uses almost exclusively electric file bits to groom your nails without water. The technique originated in Russia, and describes the clean, polished finish known to Russian manicurists. This is achieved through a five to seven step process: from removing the cuticle and shaping the nail, to applying a special base coat and polishing the nail bed throughout. “The longest relationship I’ve had in my 30s has truly been with my nail salon,” says verified TikTok Creator, Funmi Monet in her “Come with me to get a Russian manicure” video. “While dating has let me down, my manicures have never. [Russian manicures] also focus on giving you a very clean and neat cuticle area so that your manicure looks better, longer,” she continues. 

“Before getting Russian manicures my hands never looked this good,” says TikTok creator, Newly Norton. With over 128,000 likes on her pedi video, the creator went to the manicurist Vitalika as her first Russian nail tech. “I’ve been going to traditional salons for 20 years, and I noticed about five or six years ago the service just completely went out the window. She has the tools that allow her to do the work that I need done.” 

However, despite the recent spike in TikTok creators promoting Russian manicures and its focus on nail health, the technique remains controversial for quite the opposite reason. The technical term for the manicure process is called an E-file manicure, which is a technique associated with cuticle damage. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), you should avoid the complete removal of cuticles, as this skin protects the root of the nail. “When you trim or cut your cuticles, it’s easier for bacteria and other germs to get inside your body and cause infections,” the AAD says.

Not only that, this cuticle work causes the risk of misusing an electric file. Excess and improper use of the tool can damage the cuticles and nails, resulting in pain and thin, weak nails and skin. “Cuticles are important, they serve a purpose,” says Dermatologist, Dr. Azedeh Shirazi in a Russian manicure reaction video. “The cuticles serve almost as a barrier to strengthen and protect the nail, so this technique is definitely not dermatologist approved.”

Although the manicure technique has its cons– and may have a difficult time competing with the new Gel-X manicure–Russian manicures do not use acrylics and only offer non-toxic hard gel extensions, which are durable and long-lasting. The process can take between 3 to 5 hours, but your nails are expected to last over a month with a polished, cuticle-free appearance. If you do choose to go the E-file manicure route, just make sure to do your research and find a licensed manicurist who specializes in this to prevent unnecessary damage to your nails.

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