The “Brazilian” Manicure—What it is, and why you SHOULDN’T try it.


Once upon a time, Allure posted this ridiculous article about “Brazilian” manicures. Today, I found it, and now I’m going to tear it apart.

In the article, Allure touts the benefits of the “Brazilian” manicure:

  • impossibly glossy, impeccably polished nails
  • a more intense manicure
  • a longer-lasting manicure

Apparently, this fancy Brazilian manicure starts with paraffin and is followed by a scrub. Why would you moisturize before exfoliating? Yeah, I don’t know either and I’m willing to bet most other nail techs are equally clueless since this order of operations doesn’t make any sense.

But wait—it gets better.

The next step is to completely remove the cuticles to “make the surface of the nail completely flat.” How does cutting away all the live, protective tissue from your fingertips equate to “flatness?” Again, I don’t know either, and I’m an industry veteran.

After removing the “inner and exposed cuticles,” this manicurist doesn’t just paint the nail, she paints “the surrounding skin to ensure the polish coats the edge of the nail bed to make the manicure last longer.” (I’m hoping she’s confusing the nail “bed” with the nail “plate,” otherwise, she’s removing a lot more than the cuticles and should probably be arrested.)

The only thing “intense” about this manicure is the infection and ropy scar tissue you’ll develop as a result of aggressive “cuticle” cutting, but apparently, this procedure is a “regimen” that Brazilian girls enjoy weekly from the time they turn thirteen years old.

Does anyone have any data on the prevalence of bloodborne infections being spread via manicure in Brazil–oh wait, nevermind.

This tech and others like her would do well to read my good friend Katrina Lassey’s post, “Dear Clients, Please Stop Asking Me to Cut Your Cuticles.” She writes:

“Did you go to doctor school? Do you have like, a doctor award from being super-awesome at doctor stuff? If the answer is no, then YOU’RE NOT A DOCTOR and you don’t get to decide what’s best for that skin.”

Turns out that New York State feels the same way. Cutting the skin clients commonly refer to as “cuticles” is actually considered a surgical procedure there, and definitely not part of a nail technician’s scope of practice. Last I checked, NYC was very much a part of New York State, so this technician has admitted to performing a procedure that a.) she’s not qualified to do, and b.) is illegal in the state she’s performing it in.

Fantastic. Let’s not even get into the fact that it’s a terrible idea to expose any client’s skin to product, since you can cause contact allergies over time.

Take a lesson from this. Get online and review your state regulations today, and maybe stop reading Allure, since they’re making some questionable recommendations.

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Beauty industry survivalist, salon crisis interventionist, tactical verb-weapon specialist, and the leader of at least a hundred workplace revolutions, Tina Alberino is known as much for her extensive knowledge as for her sarcastic wit and mercilessly straightforward style. She’s the author of the book The Beauty Industry Survival Guide and the blog This Ugly Beauty Business. When she’s not writing, educating, or consulting, she can be found overthinking everything, identifying problems people didn’t know existed, and stubbornly working to change the things she cannot accept.


    • Thanks! She needed a facelift. This year, I’m not going to be traveling all over the place to various trade shows (except Premiere Orlando), so I’ll be focusing on bringing more functionality to the site, and writing the next book. 🙂

  1. Yes,,, brazilian love to to take away ALL te cuticule, and as mucha as possible, somentines even to get some blood. it is stupid but they like here.


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