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Ask the Expert: Is the Russian Manicure Safe?

Ask the Expert: Is the Russian Manicure Safe?

If you're someone who follows nail influencers on social media or regularly hits the nail salon for new acrylics, you may already know what a Russian manicure is. Maybe you've even got one before. Or perhaps you've never heard of it. A Russian manicure...what the heck is that?

Over the years, there's been a little controversy over the safety of the Russian manicure technique. Before you request one from your nail tech, here's what you should know about Russian manicures -- and whether or not they're actually safe.



A Russian manicure, also known as an "e-file" manicure, consists of using an electronic file to remove excess skin and cuticle around the nail bed instead of conventional tools like cuticle nippers and pushers. 

"First, we clean the nail bed with one type of drill bit, then the cuticle is removed with a second type of drill bit," says Kamola Malikova, the co-founder of Minx Nails in L.A. "[The] third step is polishing the nail bed and creating the desired shape."

With this technique, each nail gets perfectly trimmed. It also offers gentle exfoliation to the cuticle, leaving skin softer around the edges. 

Once the nail technician completes the drilling process, they'll complete the final steps of perfecting the nail shape, painting the nail with gel polish (of your chosen nail color!), and sealing it off with top coat and UV light. Some clients may choose to proceed with regular nail polish or even acrylic nails instead. 

When you go for your typical gel manicure, the whole process takes around 45 minutes. A Russian manicure, on the other hand, requires at least an hour and a half to ensure that each step is carried out seamlessly. 

According to manicurists, high-quality gel polish is always used to ensure the best results and help the manicure last over a month. After buffing and drilling away excess skin, polish is applied close to the cuticle with a thin brush to prevent that outgrown look. The process can indeed be time consuming, and if you plan on getting elaborate nail art, expect that one and a half session to turn into two.



When you go for your bi-weekly French manicure, it probably never occurred to you that the process may be dangerous. The truth is, any beauty treatment can be risky when left in unprofessional hands. However, Russian manicures have a reputation for being especially concerning.

It all comes down to the cuticle drilling part of the process. In some states, drilling off the cuticle is prohibited due to safety concerns. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, cutting your cuticles makes it easier for bacteria to get inside your body and cause infection. 

Scientist and author Doug Schoon also isn't a fan of the method. "Removing skin from the proximal nail fold and sidewalls creates damage, making the skin more susceptible to infection for many hours, even days, after a client leaves the salon," says Schoon.

While it may remain a little controversial in the nail industry, Russian manicure professionals say the technique can be safe as long as it is performed by a licensed nail technician. All tools must also undergo sterilization before being used on each new client.

When done correctly, it is totally safe, but it must be done by a nail professional. Not your average nail-loving newbie on the street. And remember, this applies to Russian pedicures, too! Which by the way...are awesome for getting rid of pesky calluses. 



First off, Russian manicures do look perfect. Between the removal of excess living skin and hangnails, and the use of quality nail products, the end result is clean, polished, and glowy. 

They're also long-lasting. Unlike traditional gel nail manicures, which typically last around two weeks before looking outgrown, Russian manicures last approximately four weeks. This can be extremely appealing for anyone looking to spend less time in your nail artist's chair. 

In addition to creating an enhancement to your natural nails, Russian manicures focus on the overall health of your nails. They'll use only the best nail care products available, and opt for non-toxic hard gel extensions instead of acrylics to keep your nails strong, healthy, and naturally shiny. Acrylics can harm the nail plate and cuticles. Hard gel nail extensions are healthier, more durable, and longer-lasting. Plus, they look extremely elegant. 

Some say Russian manicures can even make your fingernails grow faster. Whether or not that's a fact, we do not know. That said, proper nail care is inevitably essential for maintaining nail health and promoting growth. 



Planning to go ahead and try a Russian manicure for yourself? Provides that you choose a licensed nail professional who's been to Cosmetology school, there's no reason why you can't enjoy the benefits of a Russian manicure. 

You can also make your manicure last longer by regularly moisturizing them using Rainbow's Hydrate Serum or Hydrate Body Butter. For an additional burst of hydration, apply our Hydrate Mask, leave it on for 10 minutes, and then rinse. Your nails and cuticles will be super soft and glowy.



You can watch as many Russian manicure tutorials as you like, but doing it at home ISN'T a good idea. Always leave this kind of manicure to a professional. They know how to use the tools properly to prevent irritation and infection. 

You can still do your traditional mani-pedi at home, but leave this technique to the experts ONLY. Otherwise you could put yourself at risk for a lot of nastiness.


Russian manicures are a controversial technique loved by some and strongly disliked by others. As long as you go to a pro, you can get a Russian manicure with ease and enjoy the instant benefits. Don't fancy putting your cuticles through all that? Maybe stick to your regular orange stick cuticle pushing mani. 


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