AskDefine | Define manicure

Dictionary Definition

manicure n : professional care for the hands and fingernails


1 trim carefully and neatly; "manicure fingernails"
2 care for (one's hand) by cutting and shaping the nails, etc.

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. a cosmetic treatment for the fingernails


cosmetic treatment for the fingernails


  1. to trim the fingernails

Related terms

See also




Extensive Definition

A manicure is a cosmetic beauty treatment for the fingernails and hands performed either at home, or by a nail technician. A manicure treatment can be just for the hands or nails, or can be for both. A common manicure found is the filing, shaping of the nails and the application of polish. There are also manicure services that are specialties for the hands and feet. For the hands, the soaking of a softening substance and the application of a lotion is a common specialty. Another common specialty is applying a similar treatment to the feet and toenails. This is called a pedicure. The word "manicure" derives from Latin: manus for hand, cura for "care".
In additon to the filing, polishing, and painting of fingernails, a manicure may also include the application of artificial nail tips, acrylics or artificial nail gels. Some manicures can include the painting of pictures or designs on the nails or applying small decals or imitation jewels.
In many areas, manicurists are licensed and follow regulation. Since skin is manipulated and is sometimes trimmed, there is a certain risk of spreading infection when tools are used across many people and therefore sanitation is a serious issue.


Manicures began 5000 years ago. In India, henna was used for manicure. The term mehendi, used synonymously for henna, derives from the Sanskrit mehandika. Much of the modern revival of henna derives from its popularity in India. Cixi, the Dowager Empress of China, was known to keep very long naturally-grown nails.
French manicures are manicures designed to resemble a natural nail, and are characterized by natural pink base nails with white tips. The tips of the nail are painted white while the rest of the nail is polished in a pink or a suitable nude shade. French manicures may have originated in 18th-century Paris and were popular in the 1920s and 1930s. The style is chosen because it is very simple and give nails a natural and clean look.

Fashion nails

In the late 20th century, artificial nails for women became widely popular. The artificial nails are not a replacement, but an extension for natural nails. There are two main approaches to creating artificial nails—tips and forms. Tips are made of lightweight plastic plates that are "nail" shaped. They are glued on the end of the natural nail and acrylic is then applied over the entire nail. Forms are fit over the nail and then an artificial nail is molded out of acrylic and the form is removed and then properly shaped and buffed to a shine. There are several popular techniques that can be used to create longer better looking nail enhancements. One popular material commonly called "acrylics" is a mixture of a polymer powder and a liquid monomer (e.g.ethylmethacrylate). The mixture starts to harden in 30–40 seconds after application and continues to cure to final hardness typically for more than an hour. Powder and liquid acrylics can be removed in 20 minutes using a variety of solvents (usually acetone is used). Another material, commonly called "UV gel", (in correct chemical terms a polymer resin) hardens under ultraviolet light. Depending on brand these can show a broader variety of quality and properties (flexibility, strength, etc.) but may be more expensive. They generally cannot be removed by organic solvents, but only be removed by filing (or left to grow out with the natural nail). Another popular alternative to acrylic or gel preparations are Fiberglass or Silk wraps. They are done by cutting pieces of actual fiberglass or silk fabric to fit on the surface of the nail or tip and then it is sealed down with a resin or glue. These are a possible alternative for those who are allergic to chemicals used in the acrylic or gel process. Other materials can be used, as well as combinations of them. There are also temporary, cheaper flexible tips that can be quickly glued at home without help from a professional. Acrylic nail powders are available in a variety of colours and can use "special effects" such as contours, sparkles and the very popular French Manicure (pink and white appearance).
These fashion trends are not without risks, as residues of acrylic resins have been known to lead to redness, swelling, pain and even severe allergic reactions. The nail can separate from the nail bed, and if the nail root becomes damaged, the replacement can be permanently deformed. As well, nail glue is poisonous if accidentally swallowed and a few nail polishes and removers contain toxic formaldehyde or acetone.

Paraffin treatments

The hands can be dipped in melted paraffin wax for softening and moisturizing. Paraffin wax is used because it can be heated to temperatures of over 100 degrees, without burning or injuring the hand. The intense heat allows for deeper absorption of emollients and essential oils. The wax is usually infused with various botanical ingredients such as Aloe vera, chamomile, tea tree oil, and azulene. Fruit waxes such as peach, apple and strawberry are often used in salons.
Occasionally, lotion is rubbed on the hand before submersion into the paraffin bath. The hand is usually dipped more than once to allow a thicker wax coat to form, making the coating stay warm for longer and less likely to break or tear prematurely. After the hands have been dipped in the wax, they are wrapped in either plastic or aluminum foil, or a special type of plastic bag or glove then covered with towel or special mitten to retain warmth. The hands are left for a few minutes before the paraffin is cooled and dried.

Hot oil manicure

A hot oil manicure is a specific type of manicure that cleans the cuticles and softens them with oil. It works well for dry skin and nails that are brittle as it improves both by leaving them soft and pliable. Types of oils that can be used are mineral oil, olive oil or commercial preparation in an electric heater.

The standard manicure Process

A manicurist prepares for a customer by ensuring that the working area and tools are sanitized and conveniently located and there is proper lighting.

Common manicure tools and supplies

  • Bowl of warm water or fingerbath
  • Nail clippers
  • Cuticle knife and clippers
  • Cuticle pusher/Hoof stick
  • Nail file/emery board, buffer, scissors and brush
  • Orange Stick
  • Cuticle remover * this is caustic and MUST be rinsed off the skin after use, oil and cream
  • Massage lotion
  • Nail polish
    • Base coat polish & ridge filler polish
    • Color varnish
    • Top coat or sealant
  • Nail bindi stick-on jewels
  • Nail polish remover or nail polish remover wipes
  • Hand cream
  • Sanitizing spray/towels
  • Cotton balls/pads
  • Hand towels

See also


manicure in Czech: Manikúra
manicure in Danish: Manicure
manicure in German: Maniküre
manicure in French: Manucure
manicure in Dutch: Manicure
manicure in Japanese: マニキュア
manicure in Portuguese: Manicuro
manicure in Russian: Маникюр
manicure in Finnish: Manikyyri
manicure in Swedish: Manikyr
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