Get your nails on! Why you need to try a Russian manicure

It didn’t take long for Russian manicures to become the nail treatment du jour. So, what is all the buzz about? And how do you get one?

For years, traditional gels and acrylics dominated the nail industry – that is, until the Russian manicure entered the beauty scene, quickly garnering attention for its clean-cut and pristine finish.

But how does this nail technique differ from its SNS and shellac counterparts?

And what are the benefits of getting one?

What is a Russian manicure?

Unsurprisingly, the technique originated in Russia and is also known as a dry or e-file manicure.

The process involves a trained nail technician using an electronic file to remove excess skin surrounding the nail bed to achieve a crisp, clean finish.

“Russian manicures are very popular overseas and having an Eastern European background myself, it was the only technique I knew before moving to Australia over a decade ago,” nail technician and educator Angelina Kyrylyuk says.

“I was shocked it wasn’t common here; however, things are changing.

“Clients are familiar with the term thanks to social media, and my expertise is being passed on to aspiring nail techs,” Angelina says.

Russian manicure v gel manicure: what is the difference?

While a Russian manicure sounds similar to a regular gel manicure, Toorak nail technician and salon owner Lady Nadia says the Russian technique more specifically caters to the individual needs of each client. 

“The Russian manicure technique is focused mainly on precise cuticle work, such as removing as much skin or excess cuticle as possible from the nail area,” Lady Nadia explains. 

“This results in a ‘cleaner’ or more flawless 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.” 

How is a Russian manicure completed?

A cuticle pusher is used to open up the cuticle pocket so the e-file can glide under and remove dead skin.

Once the cuticle is rolled up, the skin is cut with cuticle nippers followed by gel application.

“When performed correctly, the procedure is very gentle and doesn’t cause damage,” Kova Beauty Salon owner and e-file educator Elizaveta Gulyakova says.

“All tools must be sterilised with an autoclave and disposable materials such as nail files only used once on each client.

“This means the results are hygienic, super clean, and allows the technician to apply gel product as close to the cuticle as possible.”

How long does a Russian manicure last?

According to Lady Nadia, a Russian manicure can generally last for three to four weeks as it’s more durable and long-lasting than regular manicure services because of the intricacy of the cuticle work and one-nail-at-a-time process. 

“Time is generally the concern for most people,” she says. 

“In most cases, it may last even longer, depending on how fast the nail grows out and how long you can handle the regrowth.”

Are Russian manicures safe?

Russian manicures are completely safe if they’re done properly, Lady Nadia advises. 

“With sterilised tools and (when performed) by a professional who has taken classes, and who has the experience, the Russian manicure is a safe technique (with) lots of benefits,” Lady Nadia says. 

“The only risk is if you get a nail technician who has a lack of education of this technique or is not sterilising the tools to a proper standard.” 

In other words, if you’re looking to get a Russian manicure, it’s best to leave it to the professionals instead of trying it out by yourself at home. 

“Never perform this technique at home as your cuticles can be harshly damaged,” Angelina says.

“This (damage) is possible by either overfilling, dinting with e-file bits, or placing too much pressure on the nail bed.

“By cutting your own cuticles, you also risk the chance of infection because at-home instruments don’t go through the proper sterilisation process.”

What are the benefits of Russian manicures?

“Russian manicures prevent the dry cracking of cuticles, or any hangnail, and the technique extends the longevity of your manicure,” Angelina says.

“The detailed cuticle work means the gel is applied closer to the cuticle, which can give you an extra one to two weeks of wear, before the natural nail regrowth is noticeable.”

Does a Russian manicure use UV light?

Russian manicures don’t usually require UV light, Lady Nadia says. 

“Only an LED light or lamp is needed if you are wanting to get a gel overlay to finish your Russian manicure as it dries the product,” she explains. 

“However, be rest assured that it does not do any damage to the nails at all.”

How to extend your Russian manicure

“The advice I give to all my clients is ‘don’t use your nails as tools, treat them as jewels’,” Angelina says.

She encourages daily use of cuticle oil and hand cream to promote nail health between appointments.

“Always use a nail file over clippers, and wear gloves when doing any sort of housework where chemicals are involved,” Angelina says.

For more on elevating your nail game: 

Originally written by Charlotte Brundrett, December 2021. Updated by Melissa Hong, February 2024.