- How to Cut Cuticles – Cuticle Care and Removal
- Why your cuticles are so key to keeping your nails healthy
- Your cuticles are part of your nail’s control centre
- Mind your matrix
- Don’t cut your cuticles
- Do remove dead skin safely
- Oil up
- Mavala Cuticle Cream, £12 for 15ml
- OPI Pro Spa Nail & Cuticle Oil, £17 for 14.8ml
- L’Occitane Shea Nail & Cuticle Nourishing Oil, £14 for 7.5ml
- Nails: How to Take Care of Your Cuticles
- Cuticle: What Is It, Care, Removal, Signs of Infection, and More
- Cuticle vs. nail lunula
- Illustration of the cuticle and nail
- Is it safe to cut them?
- How can you safely remove or trim them?
- How can you prevent cuticle damage?
- Infected cuticles
- Experts Explain Why You Should Never Cut Your Cuticles
How to Cut Cuticles – Cuticle Care and Removal
Courtesy Harper's Bazaar
Question: Cuticle cutting, the serial comma and pumpkin spice lattes, inspires strong emotions—you're either for it or against it. The just-say-no camp believes you should only push your cuticles back gently, while the pro-cutters argue that manicurists wouldn't offer up the nippers if it wasn't safe, but who's really right? We asked five of the top celebrity manicurists to settle the debate once and for all.
“The true cuticle is non-living tissue and can be cut. The large fold of skin around the nail is called the eponychium and cannot be cut as it is living and will bleed I recommend gently pushing back the cuticle to get an even, consistent shape from nail to nail.
Remember the cuticle works as a seal to protect, so we want to be carful not to break that seal as this could lead to infection. Gently pushing back the cuticle will reveal excess cuticle that can safely be removed. Once cuticles have been gently pushed back and the excess cuticle and bits have been removed, use a soft sponge buffer to exfoliate the cuticle area and nail surface.
This helps to smooth and tighten the cuticle to the nail, leaving cuticles ready for any red carpet occasion.” —Tom Bachik
“In general, you should not cut your cuticles. The cuticle exists for a reason; it is a barrier between your nails and skin which protects you from getting infections.
When getting a manicure, be sure to apply cuticle remover and push the cuticle back thoroughly with a cuticle pusher until you see the clean line of the cuticle.
If you use good quality cuticle remover and push back the cuticle correctly, most of the bad portion of the cuticle will be gone so you won't need to cut them.” —Jin Soon Choi
“Most women who opt for regular salon visits have experienced a botched cuticle job at some point or another. It's a real issue I see way too often. For the tech, it's the easy way out to soak your nails in water and clip off what may appear as excess skin. They actually make a business it, knowing if cuticles are clipped, they'll grow back with a vengeance.
This ensures your future salon visits and money in their pocket. It's a sneaky approach, and I don't it one bit. Cuticles are as delicate as a flower petal and should be treated with care and respect. They play an important role, protecting the body from bacteria, germs and fungus.
When you cut away the cuticle, you're basically inviting infection by providing the point of entry. Now don't get me wrong, everyone should own a great cuticle clipper (I the ones from Body Toolz). Hangnails hurt a you-know-what and not clipping them properly with the proper tool will make matters worse.
If you're not successfully achieving weekly at home manicures, it's time to bite the bullet and schedule weekly appointments at a salon that's convenient for you. Look around until you find a place you're comfortable with and someone you're comfortable with. You nails will have a much better results if you stick with the same person.
To save some cash, skip the paint and just get a basic mani. Painting nails yourself (or having a friend do it for you) could save a lot of money in a year's time but keeping your basic salon visits consistent will ensure you're cuticles are always pampered.
For at-home cuticle care, the best time to push them back is after washing dishes or after showering and with a cotton towel. Keep hands and nails moisturized regularly throughout the week with my Essential Nail & Hand Cream to keep cuticles hydrated and healthy.” —Jenna Hipp
“I think people should absolutely stay away from cutting their cuticles.
Pushing them back gently every few days after a shower is enough to keep most cuticles at bay, although if you have a hangnail, I think it's best to clip those as soon as they appear to keep them from getting larger and tearing further.
I also would suggest putting oil on your nails and cuticles every night before bed. I essential oils or olive oil—most store bought cuticle oils have alcohol or other drying ingredients.” —Alicia Torello
“I don't believe in clipping cuticles because if it's done wrong it can make them worse by causing them to fray or grow back even thicker.
The only time I use clippers is when there's a hangnail or lifted skin that catches on hair or clothes. I keep my cuticles in check by applying butter LONDON Melt Away Cuticle Eliminator once a week.
Apply to cuticles, let it soak in, then simply push them back and buff with a terry cloth to remove extra skin.” —Katie Jane Hughes
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Why your cuticles are so key to keeping your nails healthy
They’re the ‘brain’ of your nail, and taking care of them properly could help your nails to grow stronger and longer. Here’s how to boost your cuticle health, and why cutting them is rarely a good idea…
From acrylics to gel nails to drying air con and seasonal weather changes, there are many factors that can affect the health and hydration of your nails, but if you’re hoping to nurse yours back to their prime, or even just keep them in good shape (literally), don’t overlook a tiny aspect that could make all the difference. Here’s why your cuticles are so vital to keeping nails smooth, shiny and strong, and the cuticle care ‘dos and don’ts’ according to Mavala nail expert Lynn Gray.
Your cuticles are part of your nail’s control centre
“The white half-moon at the base of your fingernail is actually part of a full moon, half of which is beneath the cuticle skin.
This full moon is called the ‘nail matrix’ which acts the brain of the nail, controlling the health of the nail that then grows through.
The nail matrix is where new cells develop and where old cells are pushed forwards to form the visible part of the nail, so the quality and health of the cells that are being produced in the matrix will determine the condition of the nail as it grows through.”
Mind your matrix
“The matrix is the most sensitive part of the whole nail structure and can be easily damaged by what many of us regard to be typical manicure steps. If you’re regularly experiencing ridged nails, discolouration or nails that break easily, the answer may well be lying in how you’re treating the nail matrix.”
Don’t cut your cuticles
“There’s often a misconception that cuticles need to be cut. The part that people cut is actually not the true cuticle but the eponychium or proximal fold.
“The eponychium is the slightly thicker skin around the base of the nail – it is there for a very good reason and should never be removed.
This skin protects the nails and body from infection and cutting it leaves you exposed to bacteria and infections.
Plus, cutting away this area is counterintuitive anyway, as if you do cut this skin the body reacts by sending skin cells into overdrive to the area, making skin thicker and the “problem” you’re trying to address even worse.”
Do remove dead skin safely
“The true cuticle that does need to be removed is the small, scaly area of dead skin that is stuck to the nail plate.
These dead skin cells need to be removed to help to prevent hangnails, encourage the growth of the natural nail, and from an aesthetic point of view, to give a clean cosmetic look to the nails.
To remove this dead skin, people typically push the cuticle back, but this is how the nail matrix becomes damaged.
“To remove the cuticle without forcing it back and impairing growth, try using a dedicated cuticle remover (Mavala Cuticle Remover, £12 for 10ml).
The potassium hydroxide in the product will dissolve the dead skin without the need to push back the delicate area around the lunar (half-moon) and nail matrix, where the nails are still slightly soft and still forming.
If you apply too much pressure and are rough in this area in general, you can damage the nails, leading to white spots, ridges and may weaker nails when they do grow.”
“If you do have really dry skin around the base of the nail then you should be using a cuticle oil or cream, preferably in the evening before bed so it can work overnight while your body regenerates- plus you won’t be washing your hands as you would during the day, giving the product a chance to sink in. The massage movement will also help stimulate blood flow, bringing vital nutrients and oxygen to the area, thus helping to speed up nail growth and improve health. Doing this in the evening also allows for a mindful moment before bed.”
Mavala Cuticle Cream, £12 for 15ml
“A thick, rich balm that melts into the base of the nail.”
OPI Pro Spa Nail & Cuticle Oil, £17 for 14.8ml
This is senior features writer Ayesha’s pick for softening dry skin around your nail plate.
L’Occitane Shea Nail & Cuticle Nourishing Oil, £14 for 7.5ml
A rich, buttery and nourishing oil that sinks in beautifully, plus the pen delivery makes it perfect for al desko application without the mess.
IBX: the nail strengthening treatment that’s essential for Shellac fans
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Nails: How to Take Care of Your Cuticles
From the WebMD Archives
Though you may only think about your cuticles when you get a manicure, they're not just hanging out on your hands. They serve a purpose, and they need your TLC.
Your cuticles are part of your skin. They sit atop your nails' growth matrix, which is the part of your nails that grows.
Cuticles are “there for a reason, a barrier or a protection for the nail matrix,” says Richard Scher, MD, a Cornell University dermatology professor.
To keep that protection strong, follow these six tips.
Dermatologists say there's no good reason to cut the cuticles.
Cutting them could open the door to infection or irritation. “If you remove the cuticle, that space is wide open, and anything can get in there,” Scher says.
Cutting your cuticles can also lead to nail problems, such as ridges, white spots, or white lines.
If you get a bacterial infection in that area, it can hamper that fingernail's growth.”That's not particularly aesthetic, as well as being uncomfortable,” says Ella Toombs, MD, a Washington, D.C., dermatologist.
If you're hoping to make your nails appear longer, you can push your cuticles back gently with a wooden orange stick instead.
“Cuticles don't want to be cut,” Toombs says. “They're supposed to be soft, and cutting can make them hard, more ly to fracture. If you cut it, it has an increased tendency to split off.”
Some people who cut their cuticles regularly are afraid to stop, because they worry that their cuticles will grow and grow, giving their hands an unsightly look. Experts say this simply won't happen, and switching from cuticle clippers to an orange stick is a smart move.
“It's a myth, the same way that they say that shaving will make your beard grow faster, but letting the beard grow in will make it slow down,” Scher says. “Neither is true. Cutting the cuticle doesn't make it grow faster. Nothing you can do can change the rate of growth.”
Although the cuticles don't feel the soft skin on the rest of your hands, they're composed primarily of skin, so it's essential to keep them moisturized.
“Cuticles get dry. They crack, peel, and flake, just the skin does,” Scher says. “A good moisturizer for the cuticles is important, just for dry skin. Any skin moisturizer will work fine for the cuticles. When you put it on your hands and there's some left over, rub it into the cuticles.”
Most dermatologists recommend thick moisturizing products, such as ointments or creams, for the best results.
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends petroleum jelly (Vaseline) as an inexpensive way to care for the cuticles.
But some doctors say that using a thick product petroleum jelly throughout the day isn't always practical, so there are alternatives to use when you're active.
“Ointments are harder to wear during the day, because they're messy,” says Bruce Robinson, MD, clinical instructor of dermatology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
“You can use them at night when you aren't touching papers in your office.
Lotions can be used throughout the day, because the hands don't get as greasy, but lotions aren't as moisturizing as creams and ointments.”
A hot wax treatment, which may be offered at the nail salon, is another good way to moisturize the cuticles, according to Toombs. Special oily wax is heated until it melts. People dip their hands into the warm, oily wax, then put on plastic gloves and a mitt to seal in the heat, which they wear for 10 to 15 minutes.
“After you take it off, the hands, nails, and cuticles are softer,” Toombs says. “It's a wonderful treatment for nails and cuticles.”
Whatever method you choose, be sure to moisten your hands regularly.
“The more frequently you lubricate the hands, including the nails and cuticles, the better they will be,” Toombs says.
Many people see their dermatologist when they develop red, sore spots around their nails or cuticles caused by a skin infection called paronychia.
“Often, patients come in to me when they went to a new nail salon and had a very aggressive nail technician,” Scher says. “Usually, they have an infection from over-vigorous manipulation, which usually manifests as redness and soreness. Antibiotics may be necessary.”
Before getting your nails done, tell your manicurist that you only want your cuticles pushed back very gently with an orange stick, nothing more. If she pushes the cuticles too vigorously, ask her to stop right away.
The hands, nails, and cuticles can dry out from frequent dish washing and from nail polish remover containing acetone. So, experts recommend wearing gloves for dish duty and using acetone-free nail polish remover.
“Whether washing clothes or dishes, you really need to wear vinyl gloves,” Toombs says. “That's a good time to put the lubricant on. Having the gloves on keeps the oil on the cuticle and nail plate, and it protects them from the drying effects of water.”
“Your mouth is a dirty area, and saliva is an enzyme that breaks down skin,” Robinson says. “You can get an infection if you violate the cuticle.”
So if you have a habit of biting your nails or nibbling on your cuticles, work on kicking those habits for prettier, healthier hands.
Bruce Robinson, MD, clinical instructor of dermatology, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York.
Richard Scher, MD, dermatology professor, Cornell University, New York.
Ella Toombs, MD, dermatologist, Washington, D.C.
American Academy of Dermatology, “Skin Care on a Budget.”
© 2012 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.
Cuticle: What Is It, Care, Removal, Signs of Infection, and More
The cuticle is a layer of clear skin located along the bottom edge of your finger or toe. This area is known as the nail bed. The cuticle function is to protect new nails from bacteria when they grow out from the nail root.
The area around the cuticle is delicate. It can get dry, damaged, and infected. It’s important to care for the entire nail area and keep it clean so that your nails stay healthy.
Read on to learn more about the cuticle and what you can do to care for this area.
Cuticle vs. nail lunula
The cuticle is the transparent skin located above and around the nail base. The lunula is the half-moon shape seen at the base of the nail. The lunula is located above the cuticle.
Illustration of the cuticle and nail
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Human hair also contains cuticles. These are different from nail cuticles but have a similar function. Hair cuticles serve as a protective layer for the hair. They’re composed of dead, overlapping cells.
When healthy, these cuticles give your hair shine and protect its inner layers from damage.
It’s important to keep your cuticles clean at home. This prevents infection.
The easiest way to care for them is to soak your hand or foot in soapy, warm water for around 10 minutes every few days. This helps soften the cuticle and keeps your nails clean.
You can also apply cuticle oil and a massage cream. Moisturize your cuticles regularly to prevent dryness and cracking.
Is it safe to cut them?
Research about the safety of cutting cuticles is mixed. Both the Mayo Clinic and American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) advise against cutting cuticles. This includes cutting them at home or in a nail salon.
Cuticles protect both your nails and the skin surrounding them from infection. After cutting the cuticle, it’s easier for bacteria and germs to get inside. This can lead to an infection.
Most nail salons continue to cut cuticles, despite these guidelines. They argue that it helps polish go on better and stay on longer.
Instead of having them cut at your next manicure, ask your technician to just push back the cuticle and trim loose skin and hangnails.
How can you safely remove or trim them?
If you still want to trim your cuticles, it’s important to soften them first. You can do this by soaking your nails in warm water. Taking a bath or shower can also help soften them.
Next, apply cuticle remover. If your cuticles are dry, apply a moisturizer, too.
Using a cuticle pusher, carefully push back the cuticle along the nail bed. Trim excess skin and hangnails but never cut off the entire cuticle. The idea is to remove excess skin and hangnails only.
Cuticle pushers are made from various materials. You can purchase them at most beauty supply stores or online.
The area around the nail bed is very delicate. It’s common for cuticles to crack or peel. You can use cuticle oil or moisturizer to hydrate them. It’s safe to apply daily. You can also apply Vaseline overnight to soothe damaged cuticles.
How can you prevent cuticle damage?
Avoid picking at your cuticle. If you have a hangnail, carefully remove it with tweezers or clippers, instead of ripping it out or biting it off.
Also limit your use of harsh nail polishes and removers. Use an acetone-free formula for a nail polish remover.
Paronychia is an infection of the skin around your cuticles. Symptoms may include:
- redness of the skin around the nail
- pus-filled blisters
- changes in nail shape, color, or texture
- nail detachment
Mild forms of paronychia can usually be treated at home. Your doctor can prescribe an antibiotic or antifungal medication for more serious cases. If you experience chronic paronychia, see your doctor for treatment.
When visiting a nail salon, keep these tips in mind:
- Only visit salons that display a current, state-certified license.
- Work only with technicians who are also licensed by the state board.
- Make sure all tools are sterilized and look clean before getting your nails done.
- If you are concerned about the quality of equipment, you can bring your own. Most nail files, clippers, and cuticle sticks can be purchased relatively inexpensively online.
Follow these tips to keep your nails healthy:
- Trim nails regularly.
- Use a nail file to smooth out rough edges.
- Moisturize cuticles regularly.
- Don’t bite your nails.
- Apply a nail hardener to help strengthen nails.
If you’re interested in growing out your nails, ask your doctor if it’s safe for you to take biotin. This supplement is known for strengthening and hardening nails.
Taking care of your cuticles is important for your health. They protect your nail area from infection. Always avoid nail salons that don’t sanitize their instruments. And ask the technician to skip cutting your cuticles if you are uncomfortable.
Talk to your doctor or dermatologist if you notice signs or symptoms of a nail infection. They can recommend a treatment plan.
Experts Explain Why You Should Never Cut Your Cuticles
We freeze up every time our manicurist reaches for a pair of sharp mini clippers and ask, “Do you want to cut your cuticles?” Deep down we know that we really shouldn't, but seeing ragged hangnails along our fingertips forces us to give in to cuticle clipping just for the sake of having a picture-perfect mani. Then, we regret our irrational decision once we notice just a few days later that our cuticles are dry and peeling again.
The cuticle is the nail's natural protective seal. It protects water, moisture and organisms from entering the nail unit.
The cuticle is the nail's natural protective seal, according to Dana Stern, a board-certified dermatologist and nail specialist. It protects water, moisture and organisms from entering the nail unit.
She explains, “The cuticle overlies the most important part of the nail, the nail matrix.
Any trauma to the cuticle area (cutting, biting, picking) can affect the matrix and ultimately will be seen as irregularities in the nail (depressions, ridges, discoloration).”
Celebrity manicurist Deborah Lippmann adds, “With the skin being the largest organ of your body, the cuticles are the nail's last line of defense as a protective barrier, blocking the spread of bacteria from moving into the nail.”
When bacteria enters the nail fold through the cuticles, Stern says this scenario can result in a red, tender infection called acute paronychia. The derm notes that these infections need to be drained and cultured by a physician and the patient usually needs an antibiotic.
If moisture enters the nail unit from a damaged barrier, Stern says that the skin behind the cuticle will become boggy, red and swollen and yeast will ly enter. This is known as chronic paronychia, and the nail will eventually grow out abnormally if the cuticle remains compromised.
To effectively do this, Sterns recommends using a wash cloth to push back after a warm shower or soak. She cautions against cuticle removers because the protective seal is still being compromised, as these products often contain “alkaline materials and work by destroying keratin.”
“Properly file, buff and push back the cuticles,” says Lippmann. “And then moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! Use an oil, a cuticle moisturizer the Deborah Lippmann The Cure and a hand cream.”
On March 25, Stern is launching a Nail Renewal System on QVC, which includes a topical hydrating treatment in the form of a click pen that's packed with coconut, apricot and sunflower oils.
To really whip nails into shape, Lippmann advocates for doing these steps at night. She says, “Immediately lay hot towels over your hands, letting it soak in all the nutrients. And it feels amazing, too!”
One of Lippmann's best beauty tips is to constantly drink water. “Hydrating is not only great for your skin, but it also benefits your nails and cuticles,” she says.
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