I Tried the Controversial Manicure Taking Over TikTok—My Nails Look Unreal

As a beauty editor, I’ve had many, many manicures. I’ve probably tried every type of manicure under the sun—hard gel, soft gel, builder gel, good old-fashioned regular nail polish, you name it. I’ve regularly been getting some form of gel on my nails for quite some time, and at this point, I know the difference between a really good manicure and a manicure that’s just okay. 

Honestly, there are only a handful of manicures that have absolutely blown me away. I’ve gotten a few at the hands of celebrity nail artist Julie Kandalec, who always impresses me with her detailed designs, and a few truly special manicures from Manhattan nail ateliers such as Vanity Projects, JinSoon, Paintbox, Chillhouse, and more. Many of these manicures have been hyper-luxe versions of what I’d typically expect in a manicure: gel soak-off, pushed-back cuticles, soaking, and, of course, gel application. 

When I first started seeing the Russian manicure pop up on my TikTok feed, I was immediately intrigued. Russian manicures are nothing new, but they’ve begun trending more and more. They’re also banned in some states, which only added to my intrigue.

I decided to book a nail appointment at Gilded Ritual in Tribeca, Manhattan, to try the Russian manicure for myself. Gilded Ritual is a full-service spa that specializes in Russian manicures, making it unique. Emma Eskander, the spa’s director, walked me through all of my most burning questions, and I got a Russian manicure artfully done by the spa’s top manicurist, Krystina. Keep reading for everything you need to know about Russian manicures, plus details on my personal experience getting one.

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