Listen here for Erica's class from the Premiere Orlando 2021!


Whether you currently offer dry manicures or thinking, “dry manicure- what?”, here are the basics so that you can be ahead of the game!

What Is A Dry Manicure?

It’s a waterless approach to manicuring, using diamond bits to exfoliate dead skin cells up and off the nail plate. It allows us to lay products in a more efficient and effective way. 

The Importance of Language With Dry Manicures:

Words matter and provoke feelings. For example, we don’t just paint nails; we polish nails. We don’t drill the nail; we exfoliate the nail.

Here’s some examples of language used with branding:

-Shellac; it’s gel but people request ‘Shellac’ by name. 

-Kleenex is a brand but what’s the actual product? A tissue.

So, we need to do this with our dry manicures services, too! When us professionals are all speaking the same language, then we start to elevate the service. 

When we elevate the service, clients will see the value and ultimately, you’ll be making more money!

But First, Why Do People Use Water In A Manicure?

Water is used in a manicure because it softens the cuticles. We soften the cuticles so it’s easier to remove them. We remove cuticle because we can’t have dry, dead skin on the nail plate because that leads to product lifting. And constant product lifting leads to lost clients.

What’s The Most Important Part Of Your Service?

Prep! This is so important! So why is the first thing we have clients do is sit in water and have their nail plates expand? The nail plate will not fully dry out by the time we’re ready for product application and this will cause lifting.

That’s why we’re eliminating water! But why do some techs still soak? 

-It’s what we’ve been doing forever.

-It’s what our teachers told us. 

-It’s what the industry expects.

But what if we could have better results, reduce lifting, and a faster service with dry manicuring? 

Benefits of Dry Manicuring

-It reduces lifting. 

-It’s chemical free. 

-It's safe for diabetics.

-It reduces hangnails. 

-It produces a longer lasting manicure! 

-Nails will look better, longer!

-It’s for everyone! You can do it on hands AND toes. 

-It makes your business stand out.

Recommended Kits

-Natural nails--small tapered barrel.

These different lines with diamond bits represent different abrasiveness, and this red line indicates this is fine grit. 

We cannot prep the nail plate well with fine, but we can still exfoliate dead cuticle off of the nail plate.

If you are actually trying to prep with diamond tools, I recommend medium only, which is the blue band.

Coarse tends to be too aggressive and we care about the integrity of the nail.

Steps of Dry Manicuring (Natural Nail)

Put on gloves to protect yourself from exposure.

I take my pusher and gently push my client’s cuticles. 

I ask my client, “How does that feel?”, do not ask, "Does that hurt?"

Use the Boss Lady Safety Pusher to create that natural shape. 

Turn the E-file in the FWD direction. Run it as slow as you can, without the E-file bogging down. 

Work from right to left. The angle of your bit should be parallel. 

My focus is on cleaning the dead skin cells off of the nail plate.

Then, I’m going to gently push the bit into the proximal fold and start exfoliating. 

Do a few passes.

Now switch to REV direction, moving left to right. You want it to go against the grain.

Do not squish the dead skin cells on to the nail plate. You want them up and off.

While still in REV, let the tool catch on the skin and help open up the pocket.

By opening the cuticle pocket, it actually exposes and exfoliates even more dead skin and you can apply product farther back on the nail plate.

Do not over file and keep it clean.

Now let's use the Polisher ball bit at 20,000 RPM and soften the edge that I was exfoliating. The Polisher the last bit you use in a service.

Many professionals have substituted out the hand massage for the Polisher bit. 

Lastly, take an alcohol swab and clean the nail plate off. Push back the cuticle again and now you're ready to apply product. 

Steps of Dry Manicuring (Gel Polish)

I'm going to use the universal tool, the Safety SciverIt has more of a rounded edge. The blue line indicates that it's medium grit, which means we can prep with it. We'll use this to exfoliate the dead skin cells off of the nail plate.

If you see your clients having some lifting, that is a good indicator that you need to throw away your diamond tools because they are no longer roughing, but now they're buffing

You may also want to use the Micro Taper to get into the sinus area at 8-12,000 RPM- depending on the skin type. There are two different techniques for this.

Option 1

  • In the FWD direction, we are going to start center and work to the left side. Left = FWD.
  • We will work on all ten fingers going center to left.
  • We then will turn our E-file off, and switch to the REV direction. 
  • Now start center and work to the right (think double R). Right = REV.
  • Whichever way our bit is spinning, we want to move our E-file the opposite direction so that we pull the skin up, not smoosh it back down on the nail. 

Option 2

  • Keep the E-file in REV and work from the left side to the right. 
  • It may feel unnatural but give it practice and it will begin to feel more comfortable. 
  • Both options are good but based on personal preference. 

    Whichever bit you choose, do not drag the lateral fold because you don’t want to cause any damage. 

    As long as there is no product breakdown there is no need to soak product off.



    Whether you’re doing dip, gel polish, toes, or some sort of soft gel tips, all of these techniques can be used. Dry manicures really are the future! 

    November 16, 2021 — Erica Schlabach

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