So, What Exactly Is a Russian Manicure?

The trending technique offers long-lasting results — but it doesn't come without controversy.

Yes, it is possible to paint your nails all the way to the edges without getting nails polish all over your skin. A clean, Photoshop-like finish is one of the major benefits of the Russian manicure, a manicure technique that's already popular in Europe and gaining traction in the U.S. thanks to TikTok.

This manicure stands out because of its intricacy and attention to detail. But that's also what makes it controversial. With the help of experts, we've broken down everything you need to know about Russian manicures, from how long they last to the potential risks.

What Are Russian Manicures and Are They Safe?
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What Is a Russian Manicure?

What sets this manicure apart from the traditional routine is the cuticle work. During a Russian manicure, the technician uses an electric filer to open up the eponychium to remove the cuticle. "This allows the manicurist to go deep into that pocket in order to get the nail polish or gel polish underneath so your manicure is flawless without photoshop and lasts longer," says Elle Gerstein, a celebrity manicurist who's trained in Russian manicures.

It's also important to note that the cuticle is the white dry flakes of skin that come up on the nail at the base, while the eponychium is the seal where your nail ends and skin meets. "This is the controversy of what should and shouldn't be cut," Gerstein adds.

The treatment starts with the cuticle work, followed by shaping the nail or adding length. Then, the color polish is added. Gel manicures can also be done Russian style, too.

Time is another factor. If you're getting a Russian manicure, expect to be at the nail salon for a solid chunk of the day. 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 a four to five hours.

Check out @nailmartUSA's TikTok showing the full process:

How Much Does a Russian Manicure Cost, and How Long Does It Last?

The cost of a Russian manicure will vary based on your location and the technician performing the treatment. A manicure can cost $70 to $80 for single color, while adding nail art and length will increase the price.

Typically, you'll get three to four weeks out of a Russian manicure, making them worth the high price point. Keep in mind this will vary depending on how fast your nails grow.

What Are the Risks of Russian Manicures?

Like with any nail salon treatment, it's important to do your research and go to a technician who's licensed in your state and works out of a salon that properly sanitizes tools and workspaces.

As for Russian manicures, the biggest risk is infection, which is why Dr. Adeline Kikam, board-certified dermatologist, doesn't recommend them.

"The proximal nail fold and cuticle serve a structural and functional role in protecting the nail plate from which the nail grows and a seal of protection around the outer nail to prevent infection," Dr. Kikam says. "When you push back, trim, or cut your cuticles, it's easier for bacteria and other germs to gain entry into the body and cause an infection." There's also the potential for the tools used during the treatment to cause bleeding as well as local and/or systemic infections if they aren't properly sterilized between uses.

Dr. Kikam also points out that regular abrasion to the proximal nail fold can cause hyperpigmentation – especially in skin of color – and the build-up of skin in response to the constant injury or irritation.

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