Answering 6 Frequently Asked Questions About the Rise of the Russian Manicure

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Nail trends have come a long way from the simple French tip days, now being christened with food-related nicknames like glazed donut or blueberry milk. However, when it comes to the nail services and treatments themselves, currently one of the fastest-growing trends in the US are Russian manicures

Social media has proven to be the place where the Russian manicure trend has originated, with 50% of respondents in a comprehensive survey campaign from Erica's ATA sharing that they learned about Russian manicures through platforms like Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. 

The knowledge that comes from social media has encouraged consumers to want to learn more. Some of the top related searches about Russian manicures, according to Spate, include inquiries like what is, before, after, what are and vs, highlighting an opportunity for creators, nail techs and brands to create content educating consumers about the Russian manicure. 

However, if you're new to the Russian manicure, you may not know where to start. If that's the case, no worries! We're here to help break down some of the most commonly asked questions about the Russian manicure, so you can be prepped and ready to offer this stellar service to your eager clients. 

What is a Russian manicure? What sets it apart from a traditional manicure? 

The biggest difference between a Russian manicure and a traditional manicure is that a Russian manicure offers more attention to detail. The service, also know as an e-file or dry manicure, is known for its meticulous focus on cuticle care and nail plate maintenance. The name Russian manicure became popularized because the service was brought to the United States by people who speak the Russian language from Eastern European/Central Asian countries. 

"Unlike a regular manicure, which might just push back or trim the cuticles, this method uses electric drills and specific tools to remove any excess skin and shape the nails very precisely," explains Olya Savchenko, nail artist at Perfect Manicure in Omaha, NE. "This not only gives a neater and more polished look but also helps any nail polish or treatment applied afterward to last longer." 

It's this feature that appeals most to clients, with about 39% of respondents from the Erica's ATA survey saying the unique technique with an electric file is what attracts them most to the Russian manicure. 

Aigerim Kairdenova, nail technician and owner of Aiko Nails LLC Nail Studio in Austin, TX, highlights four stand out features of a Russian manicure: 

  • Gentle Cuticle Care: The electric file is used with a fine, specialized bit to gently exfoliate and remove dead skin around the cuticle area without causing damage or discomfort. The results of cuticle work always look very clean. 
  • Structured gel application: Traditionally, the product used in this technique is structured gel/hard gel. The structured gel application explains the process of building a gel overlay on the nail with an apex, which allows clients to grow long and healthy natural nails.
  • Minimized Risk: The controlled use of the electric file minimizes the risk of over-cutting or damaging the cuticles, making it suitable for those with delicate or sensitive nails. Also, technicians who specialize in Russian/e-file manicures tend to hold themselves to higher sanitary standards, such as disinfection and sterilization. Personally, in my studio all metal tools go through 3-step disinfection and sterilization process.
  • Longer-Lasting Results: Russian manicures are known for their longer-lasting results, as the meticulous cleaning of the nail plate allows nail products to adhere more effectively. Usually, clients are advised to come in every 3-4 weeks.

Why are Russian manicures trending now? 

As we mentioned above, social media has played a huge role in the Russian manicure gaining its growing prominence. The trend has encouraged more people to seek out the service and learn more about it. But, it's not just social media driving the love for Russian manicures. 

"As all the other beauty industries, nail industry is developing and growing day by day. Nowadays, clients have higher expectations for nail care, and Russian manicures check a lot of them, such as cuticle care, healthy and strong nails, long lasting results and safety," Kairdenova shares.

About 29% of respondents from Erica's ATA survey shared that long-lasting results attracted them to the Russian manicure. This has proven to be a consistent trend across the beauty industry. More clients are looking for lived-in options that are easy to maintain and last longer. 

"Everyone's looking for beauty treatments that don't need to be redone every week, and Russian manicures are perfect for that. Plus, with more people wanting to take good care of themselves these days, choosing a manicure that keeps nails healthy and looks great for a long time is really appealing," Savchenko adds.

What should nail techs know about the service? 

So, you've seen the growing interest in the service and have learned more about it. What else do you need to know as a nail tech? 

Both Kairdenova and Savchenko emphasize that it's never too late to add this service to your books! If you are going to do so, it's imperative to take classes to get certified. 

"Surely, you can learn from YouTube videos here and there, but a correctly structured course tailored for beginners would be much more beneficial in understanding the technique," says Kairdenova. 

Practice also makes perfect, so be patient with yourself as you start to learn. 

Savchenko shares some other tips she finds valuable: "It's also important to know a lot about nail health to avoid hurting your clients. Use the best tools you can afford; they really make a difference. Keep up with new trends and tools to stay on top of your game. Don't forget about keeping things clean and safe for everyone. Learning this way, you'll be able to give great Russian manicures that look good and last long." 

Ainur Rustemova, owner of Noor Nail Bar in Sola Salons Century City, shares that techs should make sure they have enough space in their books if they are going to offer the service. 

"The Russian manicure process is also much longer than the average manicure, so they should be prepared to be sitting with their client for about 1.5-2 hours," she says. "The work is detailed and precise but totally worth the results!" 

Where can nail techs get education on Russian manicures? 

Russian manicures are a growing trend, but it's not something many techs specialize in yet. If techs want to be a part of the change to meet the growing demand for the service, where can they go? 

Savchenko shares three options: 

  • Online: You can find courses on the internet that let you learn at your own pace.
  • Workshops: Look out for special classes taught by experts, which are great for hands-on learning.
  • Nail Shows: These events sometimes offer classes or demos on how to do Russian manicures.

She also offers her own Russian manicure classes, saying "I have students coming from all over the country. It's a great chance to learn directly from someone who knows all the ins and outs of this technique." 

Kairdenova acknowledges, though, the lack of opportunities available to learn the technique in beauty schools.

"As far as I know, the only way to get education on Russian manicures is through taking special classes from private independent instructors who specialize in the technique," she says. "Personally, I teach two days one-on-one class for nail technicians interested in Russian manicure technique. I haven’t seen any beauty schools which would teach it." 

What are the best tips and tricks for the service? 

When you start learning more about the Russian manicure, a lot of information will be thrown your way, and it can be overwhelming. So, what tips and tricks are most important to keep in mind. Our experts shared what stood out to them about the Russian manicure: 

"Make sure you pay extra attention to the cleaning of the nail before any gel application," Rustemova shares. "That is the most important step and ensures a perfect, clean manicure that lasts and looks neat."

Kairdenova emphasizes the importance of performing each step correctly throughout the process of the manicure. "Success of each step of the process depends on the correctly performed previous step," she explains. "If you haven’t pushed the cuticle back correctly, you’ll never get a clean look with cuticle bits. If you haven’t cleaned the nail plate meticulously, the nails will start lifting or chipping in that specific area. Determine your mistakes, and practice on working on them." 

Savchenko provides expert tips that she finds works well for Russian manicures: "One of my top recommendations is to lightly dust the nails with baby powder before starting cuticle work. The baby powder helps absorb any oil and moisture on the skin, ensuring a cleaner and more precise manicure." She continues, "Another key tip is to apply gel polish to each nail individually. This approach not only allows for the correct building of the nail's architecture but also enables you to apply the gel polish very close to the cuticles for a seamless look." 

Both Savchenko and Kairdenova emphasized the importance of investing in high quality equipment, products and tools. Kairdenova broke down several important tools hacks: 

  • Always remember three things when working with e-file bits: pressure, angle and speed.
  • Change your nail bits regularly. Diamond coating on nail bits might get worn off over time, so it’s important to change them every 10-12 manicures.
  • Get to know your e-file machine. Buy a professional e-file machine, and practice doing nails with it regularly. Don’t fear high-speed during gel removal, you don’t want to cause unnecessary vibration on your clients’ nails.
  • Make sure that your cutting tools are always sharpened.

What should clients know about the Russian manicure? 

So, you're finally ready to offer Russian manicure to your clients, and they are eager to receive the service. What important details should you communicate to them first? What else should clients know about this rapidly trending service before booking an appointment for themselves? 

"A lot of clients are very surprised at the price of the Russian manicure because it is typically pricier than the average mani, and they do think it’s overpriced," says Rustemova. "I wish more consumers knew about how long these manicures will last and how they really are worth their price!" 

Communication can be vital in clearing up any confusion about the service, so talk to your clients about your price point for the service and why you are charging the rate you are if they question you on the pricing of the service. It's important that you and your client are on the same page! 

"Unfortunately, a lot of salons compete trying to attract customers with cheaper prices," Kairdenova elaborates. "Since Russian manicures take longer time, require special training and specific tools, the price for these services simply can’t be low. Consumers should understand where certain price points come from and respect nail technicians’ hard work." 

It's also important for consumers to do their research before booking a service. A lot of salons may be advertising Russian manicures, but that does not mean they are an expert at the service.

"I wish people knew that Russian manicures give a neat, long-lasting look but need an expert to do them right. Using an electric file near the cuticles and nail bed has to be done carefully to prevent harm," explains Savchenko. "It's important to pick a salon and nail technician who know how to do this technique well to keep your nails healthy and make the manicure last." 

Also, clients should expect to be the salon for longer than a traditional manicure, but the time spent will be worth it. 

"Unfortunately, in a traditional nail salon the process of manicure feels very rushed. When compared to a traditional manicure, Russian manicure seems like a longer process," Kairdenova says. "It takes about 1.5 - 2 hours for e-file manicure with structured gel overlay: however, you don’t need to visit salon every two weeks wasting your gas, time and money, and you can come in basically once a month." 

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