What are Japanese manicures and why are they taking over SNS nails?

Between press-on nails and DIY nail art, the new French mani and 'Russian nails', the tips of your fingers are having a serious moment. 

But now 2023 has dished out the latest trend - the Japanese manicure. 

Promising to restore the strength and health of your natural nails, they're going to want to make you ditch the classic SNS, shellac and BIAB manicures you've been getting for yonks. 

Watch: Up for a laugh? Here's life with and without nails. Post continues below. 

Video via Mamamia

Want to learn more?

Here's absolutely everything you need to know about Japanese manicures.

What are Japanese manicures?

As with most beauty trends, the Japanese manicure isn't exactly a new treatment. In fact, the method has literally been around for hundreds of years. 

Hailing from Japan (surprise!), Japanese manicure is a professional, ritualistic treatment that aims to improve the health of your natural nails. The method doesn't involve adding any additional nail length, nail art or colour, making it the perfect treatment for those struggling with weak, brittle, flaky nails. So, basically all of us. 


Did someone say 'rich girl' nails?


Using a specific method, the finish is shiny, pearlescent and 'clean' looking — all without a single drop of nail polish.

No metal tools. No drilling or shaving. No solvents.

In a nutshell, it's like a face mask for your nails. 


Wait. Are Japanese manicures and Japanese gel manicures different?

Yes! While traditional Japanese manicures are grounded in a natural 'your nails but better' vibe, Japanese gel manicures and all about embracing nail art, offering jazzy, three-dimensional effects and bold, vibrant colours.

So, what's the difference between Japanese and gel manicures?

Japanese manicure vs gel manicure.

The difference compared to traditional gel nails? Japanese gel manicures use a specific Japanese-made polish created from 100 per cent gel. The colours are super pigmented, and perfect for nail designs or an all-over colour. The possibilities are endless.

While Japanese gel manicures are made thicker than traditional gel nails (but without the bulkiness), they're also softer (meaning you can file them down without damaging the nail) and promise to last longer — usually around the six-week mark.

The application and removal process is generally the same as traditional gel manicures (e.g. it requires curing under UV lamps), however, because Japanese gel manicures are softer they're meant to be easier to remove.


So, if you're more of a nail art girl than someone who wears their nails natural, this one's more up your alley!

What's involved in a Japanese manicure?

A Japanese manicure starts by removing any nail polish and cleansing and filing the nails. Your cuticles are pushed back with cuticle sticks (not removed or cut with tools).

Following this, the nail expert will use a nail buffer and brush to smooth your nail bed. A green, solid paste (usually made up of natural ingredients and oils) is then applied to the nail bed and gently buffed into the nail using a chamois (a soft leather material that's gentle on nails).


Once this step is complete, the nail expert will then buff a mineral powder into each nail plate to seal the paste, again using a chamois.

This powder is usually called P.Shine powder, and often contains ingredients such as keratin and bee pollen to leave the nails with a subtle pink, shimmery sheen. This process may be repeated, depending on the individual's nails and goals.

The method of paste and powder works by trapping moisture and nutrients, reinforcing a weak and damaged nail structure.

The final step? A hand massage and cuticle oil.

How long does a Japanese manicure last?

The overall glossy effect of the nails usually lasts anywhere between two to three weeks. 

While you'll notice a difference in the strength and health of your nails after one treatment, consistency is key, and it's recommended to have several treatments to help damaged nails heal properly.

Why are Japanese manicures so popular right now?

Okay, back to the Japanese manicures. 

With categories like 'skinimalism', minimalistic 'clean makeup' and hair health on the rise, 'naked' nail care and a focus on restoring and strengthening your natural nails is just another area of the beauty industry that's exploding.


For those who get professional manicure treatments regularly, Japanese manicures falls in line with this 'less is more' approach, offering a great option to strip back the ingredients and damage to nails — especially from treatments like gel manicures and extensions. 

It's the perfect in-between treatment to give your nails a break. And we guarantee you, you'll not want to go back!

Have you tried a Japanese manicure before? What are your thoughts? Share with us in the comment section below. 

Feature image: Instagram/@sweettreatvienna; @ma.mi.nails. 

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