The Brazilian Manicure Was Invented To Make Nail Polish Last Longer

Thanks to TikTok, we're spoilt for choice when it comes to clever nail trends. There's the DIY French manicure method (slightly messy but it works), nail slugging (a highly moisturising hack for transforming parched cuticles and flaky nails) and even the Italian manicure, which sees manicurists leave the edge of the nail free of polish. This negative space lends the illusion of longer nails.
Lately, though, nothing in the nail world is trending quite like the Brazilian manicure. In the past week, Google searches for the technique have shot up by 80%, while over on TikTok the hashtag #brazilianmanicure is close to 1 million views. "Come with me to get a Brazilian manicure in Soho," one TikToker captioned a viral video with 19.7k views and counting, her nails preened to perfection. The hashtag is also trending on Instagram as manicurists show off their work and champion the method above the traditional salon manicure.

What is the Brazilian manicure?

"The Brazilian manicure involves generously spreading the nail polish, painting the surrounding skin to ensure that the polish coats the edge of the nail bed," explains nail artist Nat Baker. There's no painstaking painting here — the entire nail, cuticle and even the skin outside the nail are slicked with polish.
For those with an aversion to mess, the Brazilian manicure might not sound like the best nail-painting method. But it has its merits. "After painting, a wooden stick wrapped with cotton and soaked with acetone is used to clean up the excess," explains Nat. Session manicurist Ami Streets says that some manicurists paint a clear base coat on the skin surrounding the nail before applying polish all over — including the edges of the nail bed.
Once the excess polish is cleaned up, Ami says that this gives the nail a completely coated finish. It omits the little gap between the nail polish and your cuticle, which is typical of manicures, and that means regrowth appears to be a little slower than usual.

How can you make your nail polish last longer?

So what exactly is the point of a Brazilian manicure? "The benefits are said to be a longer lasting wear time," says Ami, "as nails are fully immersed in colour right down to the cuticles." The technique also promises a more precise paint job with no edges left uncovered. If you're not super accurate when it comes to painting your nails, Ami says that this method is an easy way to do them without the worry of being neat. "The clean-up process at the end is what gives the results — not your painting skills."
Before polish is even applied, the Brazilian method also involves detailed cuticle work, says Ami, such as snipping away loose pieces of skin and lifting away old remnants of polish. "This helps to prep and completely clear the surface of the nail," making polish stick around for even longer.

Can the Brazilian manicure be done at home?

Nat believes the Brazilian manicure is becoming popular because anyone can do it at home. It's best done with regular nail polish, which can easily be cleaned up with nail polish remover, rather than gel polish, which needs to be cured between coats and is difficult to peel off skin. "Most people have the materials that are necessary to recreate this trend," says Nat. "You don't need to be a professional or need to know how to apply polish without touching the sidewalls."
If you're interested in trying the Brazilian manicure at home, invest in a great base coat, like Mavala Mava-Strong Fortifying & Protective Base Coat, £17.65, or Sally Hansen Nail Treatment Double Duty Base & Top Coat, £5.99, if you have less to spend. The next step doesn't require a steady hand and involves applying two coats of polish to the nail. Don't worry at all if you end up making a mess on your skin or cuticles — that's literally the point.
Apply a generous slick of top coat (R29 rates Nails.Inc 45 Second Retinol Top Coat, £15) and make sure you have a bottle of acetone to hand, as well as a cotton bud and a cuticle stick, which you can get from Amazon, Boots or Superdrug. TikTok's manicurists tend to enlist the stick first, scraping away the polish that has pooled in the cuticle. Once that's done, reach for a cotton bud soaked in nail polish remover and tidy up the edges, taking care not to touch your nail bed and cause smudges.

What's the difference between the Brazilian manicure and other methods?

The Brazilian manicure may seem like an easy way to paint nails quickly but Ami believes there are better ways to hone your nail-painting skills at home — methods which may not be as messy or involve applying polish to skin. 
Some manicurists like to apply a touch of petroleum jelly to the skin around the nail before painting, which acts like a barrier and catches any stray swipes of polish. This can then be easily wiped away with a cotton bud. When it comes to the actual painting, you might find the three-step method easiest. It consists of painting a line of polish down the centre of the nail and then one on either side to join up the colour.

Are there any downsides of the Brazilian manicure?

Nat, who works mainly with gel polish, says one downside of the Brazilian manicure is that it can't be recreated with gel. "If this kind of product gets in touch with the skin around the nail, it will most likely cause lifting," which is when the gel comes away from the nail. Lots of nail technicians also hit home that gel nails should only be attempted by a professional as getting product on your skin could cause an allergic reaction.
There's another thing to remember, says Ami. "Using strong astringent products like acetone can not only trigger irritation if overused but also strip the nails and skin of much-needed moisture. This can result in dry and brittle nails, as well as dehydrated skin." If you're still interested in giving the Brazilian manicure a go, Ami suggests swapping harsh acetone formulas for a gentle, acetone-free nail polish remover. Try Cutex Non-Acetone Nail Polish Remover, £2.20, or Boots Acetone Free Nail Polish Remover Pads, £2.
Lastly, Ami recommends always washing your hands once your nail polish has completely dried to remove any product residue from the skin. The final step to emulate a professional salon manicure is to apply a nourishing cuticle oil to rehydrate and moisturise. R29 loves Nailberry Nourishing Cuticle Oil, £15.40, and Sally Hansen Vitamin E Nail & Cuticle Oil Treatment, £7.99.
Refinery29's selection is purely editorial and independently chosen – we only feature items we love! As part of our business model we do work with affiliates; if you directly purchase something from a link on this article, we may earn a small amount of commission. Transparency is important to us at Refinery29, if you have any questions please reach out to us.

More from Nails

R29 Original Series