Cuticles are part of the skin that protects the growing part of the nail. It goes without saying that healthy cuticles lead to healthy nails. Cuticles are there for a reason and should not be cut. The nail cuticle brings to mind the idea of the cuticle plant which reduces the rate of water loss from the leaf surface.
Cuticles should not be cut as that can make one vulnerable to infection. Trimming also makes the cuticles get hard yet they are supposed to be soft.
Cuticles are part of the skin and failure to take good care of them leads to cracking, peeling and flaking. Skin is kept soft and healthy by using a moisturizer regularly and scrubbing occasionally. It is the same case with the cuticles.
The area around the nail needs special care just like any other part of the body. It is important to pay attention to this area by not only regularly applying a good moisturizer on the hands and around the nails.
Comprehensive Ratings Chart: Best Products for Cuticle Care
Product / Rating
12 in 1 Stainless Steel Manicure Pedicure Set with Case by Ohuhu
Top Cuticle Pusher: The Professional Manicure/Pedicure Cuticle Pusher & Nail Cleaner – by Utopia Care
Cuticle nipper By Blue Orchids
Set of 2 PCS Stainless Steel Cuticle Pusher Remover Professional Nail Manicure Tool Kit Personal Care Set
Hand & Cuticle Healing Salve by the Naked Bee
AHA Cuticle Care Treatment Cream by Poshe
Intense Cuticle Repair Balm by QTICA
Instant Cuticle Remover by Sally Hansen
Treatment 18K Gold Cuticle Eraser by Sally Hansen
Cuticle Oil Care Kit by Bee Naturals
Top 10 Products for Cuticle Care
1. 12 in 1 Stainless Steel Manicure Pedicure Set with Case by Ohuhu
Priced at below $10, this superior stainless steel cuticle kit is quite durable if well cared for. It contains nail clippers having different sizes, a cuticle knife, a scissor, an ear pick, a cuticle trimmer, a nail file, pliers, an acne needle, an eyebrow tweezer, and a dirt cleaning device.
In total, this set has a total of twelve pieces of manicure tools. It is great value for money and is convenient enough to fit into a handbag
2. Top Cuticle Pusher: The Professional Manicure/Pedicure Cuticle Pusher & Nail Cleaner – by Utopia Care
This tool is rated much more highly in customer reviews than most other similar tools. It is 100% stainless steel making sterilization convenient. It also won’t rust and can last for a long time, saving customers money that would have gone into purchasing replacements. It is retailing for US$7.99 on Amazon.
This cuticle pusher with Spoon has two sides; nail cuticle remover and cleaner. The curved side is shaped like a nail, conveniently fitting into the shape of a nail. Pushes the dead skin throughout the entire nail all at once, apart from the thumb which is slightly bigger. The flat side is for cleaning under the nail.
Customer reviews indicate a high level of satisfaction with the tool citing it as durable, strong and comfortable to use. The long handle is quoted as another strong point for ease of use. A few customers say that the tool hurt them probably because they used unnecessary force as what would be required with a plastic or wooden tool.
3. Cuticle nipper By Blue Orchids
This is a high-quality product with a surgical quality, stainless steel tip. It has sharp blades which give a clean cut every time no matter how tiny a hangnail is, without pulling or tugging. It comes accompanied by a bonus cuticle pusher.
Customer reviews indicate a high level of satisfaction with the overall quality of the product, from the blades to the tips.
It goes for US$ 8.99 on Amazon, a price that customers indicate in reviews that is on the low side for the quality of the product. Some mention that the price could mislead as it is rather low, which could give an impression of a low quality product.
4. Set of 2 PCS Stainless Steel Cuticle Pusher Remover Professional Nail Manicure Tool Kit Personal Care Set
Priced at US$ 10.99, this stainless steel twin kit contains 2 cuticles pushers; a small and a large size. It is effective for pushing back the cuticle and nipping dead skin and hangnails.
5. Hand & Cuticle Healing Salve by the Naked Bee
This USA made salve for the relief of dry, rough cracked skin contains beeswax, organic sunflower oil and shea butter.
Customer reviews rate this highly in terms of effectiveness in keeping the hands and cuticle area well moisturized and soft. The product has a great smell, works well and lasts a long time. It is packaged in a 1.5 oz and there is a customer who reported to have had the pack for 2 years. It retails at US$ 8.93 on Amazon.
6. AHA Cuticle Care Treatment Cream by Poshe
This 2 in 1 professional nail salon manicure prevents and cures hangnails. It exfoliates and moisturizes the area around the cuticles keeping it soft and smooth. Priced at US$5.50 on Amazon, it is highly rated in customer reviews as doing what it promises to.
7. Intense Cuticle Repair Balm by QTICA
This balm has been rated as giving miraculous results for repairing cracked, irritated or bleeding cuticles. Restores damaged cuticles without being too greasy. Price is US$ 17.99 on Amazon for a 25 oz jar.
8. Instant Cuticle Remover by Sally Hansen
This product is packaged in a 1 ounce bottle for US$ 6.55. It gives amazing results but requires that one reads the instructions through and follows them faithfully to protect against damage to the nail. Failure to follow instructions ruins the results.
9. Treatment 18K Gold Cuticle Eraser by Sally Hansen
Packaged in a 0.229 fluid ounce pen like bottle, this gel exfoliates and hydrates dry cuticles. The formula contains real 18K of gold. Customers who reviewed the product were largely pleased with the results such as hardening of the nails and keeping the cuticle area hydrated, but some were disappointed that using it could get messy. It is priced at US$ 5.82.
10. Cuticle Oil Care Kit by Bee Naturals
Priced at US$ 33.22, this product is rated highly by customers for more reasons than one. It comes accompanied by an easy to use applicator features a brush top with a twist up applicator that makes adding more oil to the brush easy and convenient without any mess. It is a very effective formula that contains natural ingredients such as tea tree oil for soothing cracked cuticles and nails.
Keep Cuticles Moisturized
The cuticles – like the rest of the skin – should be kept moisturized at all times. Make sure to apply some moisturizer several times during the day and more so every time the hands get into contact with water.
Petroleum jelly is an inexpensive and effective way to keep the hands and the cuticles moisturized. This however can pose challenges during the day because the product is greasy and messy especially when one is working. One can use lotion or cream as a day moisturizer.
Petroleum jelly can be applied at bedtime since it is more effective than lotion. For extra moisturizing effect, a mixture of petroleum jelly and glycerin can be used at bedtime and a pair of cotton or wool gloves worn. The gloves keep the hands warm the entire night and keep the moisturizer from rubbing off on the beddings. This improves the condition of the hands and nails greatly. This is a great way to help hands recover from the drying effects of detergents used in the kitchen and in the laundry.
To understand how to best care for nail cuticle, we need some basic knowledge about the anatomy of the nail. A fingernail is much more than what we see. It consists of several parts, some which are not visible. The main ones are the following:
- The nail plate. This is the hard, translucent visible part of the nail. It is made of keratin.
- The nail bed. This is the skin under the nail plate. It determines the appearance of the nail.
- The matrix. The matrix is the hidden part of the nail. It is the only part of the nail that is living and is made up of nerves and blood vessels and so it needs to be kept healthy. This is the ground where growth takes place. Growth of a nail results from growth of new cells in the matrix, which pushes out the old cells.
- The cuticle. What is a cuticle? This question about what cuticles are is a common one. There is skin at the root of the nail to protect the area responsible for growth. This skin is the cuticle.
What The Cuticle is and What it is not
The nail is not just what we see. The nail begins growing in the matrix, a part of the nail that is not visible. This is really the ground where the seed we know as the nail grows before it is manifested in form of the visible nail. The nail – like hair and skin – is dead. The root of the nail is the only part of the nail that is living. This part is very soft and sensitive. It should not be interfered with as doing that can introduce infection. Skin or tissue that is growing on the surface of the nail is the cuticle. Cuticle nail is dead skin and should be removed regularly.
Healthy Cuticles in 7 Simple Steps
1. Nail Soak for Cuticles
Soak the nails in warm, soapy water to soften the cuticles. Freshly-squeezed lemon juice and vinegar are effective cuticle softeners and adding them to the water helps to soften the hands and the cuticles more effectively. This step is not necessary if one has just taken a shower. Pushing the cuticle back with a towel just after taking a shower is also effective.
2. Apply Cuticle Remover Gel
Apply cuticle remover gel on the nail then wait for a while for it to take effect. Take care not to let it touch the skin. The cuticle is dead skin and the cuticle remover gel dissolves skin cells and will not differentiate between dead skin cells and living skin cells.
3. Push Back the Cuticle
Use a cuticle trimmer tool such as a fingernail scraper, cuticle clippers or a wooden manicure stick to gently push back the cuticle. If the nails are not cut very short, a nail can also be used to do this.
Start from the base of the nail then proceed to the sides. Do it slowly and gently so as not to cause damage. Care should be taken so as not to get a tool or a nail under the skin at the base of the visible nail. Mishandling of nails can develop white spots or ridges. It is important to sterilize metal tools before every use. Wooden tools need to be disposed of after every use.
4. Trim Hangnails
Trim the loose skin or hangnails with cuticle scissors, cuticle nipper or cuticle cutter. Hangnails are small pieces of skin that split away from the cuticle. They are unsightly and can also cause pain anytime they get caught on anything whether hair, clothes or a tool in the course of work.
A hangnail tool is easy to use and can also be used instead of the other tools. Just slide hangnails between the two metal parts of the tool and the unwanted pieces are removed.
Only the loose skin should be clipped off. Skin that is still attached to the nail bed should not be interfered with as that may lead to an infection.
The hands are used in just about every activity and an infection can be not only painful but inconveniencing.
5. Keep Under the Nails Clean
Clean under the nails gently with the pointy end of the cuticle pusher to remove any dead skin.
6. Wash Off the Waste
Wash the hands and pat them dry. Repeat the steps above if necessary.
Dry cuticles are not good. Apply cuticle oil or cuticle cream on the fingernails and leave to dry. This keeps the area around the matrix moisturized and protects the nails from breaking. This area easily gets dry so products for dry skin work best. Petroleum jelly is good for dry skin and can be used instead of the oil or cream.
Cuticle oil and cuticle cream should not be used if the process is going to be followed by application of nail varnish, unless nail varnish remover is to be used before application. These products contain ingredients such as essential oils and vegetable oils so they will not cause nail varnish to chip off.
To cut, scrape or push back?
Many people would love to know how to trim cuticles or how best to maintain them. The rule is to refrain from cutting the cuticles but to get used to pushing them back instead.
Those who have been used to cutting cuticles need not worry about the cuticles growing faster once the cutting stops. The belief that that the habit of cutting cuticles results in their growing faster is just but a myth. Growth remains the same even after the cutting stops. Keeping the cuticles healthy gives numerous benefits that include: nails grow healthy and strong, hold onto nail varnish longer and they also look neat and attractive.
Protect Cuticle from Damage
The cuticle of the nail can get damaged because of mishandling. This usually happens when the cuticle is handled roughly, especially by pulling and cutting. Biting the nails or the skin around the nails is another habit that causes damage and may lead to infections.
Another cause of damage is exposure of the hands to water for long periods of time such as when washing dishes or doing the laundry. It is a good practice to wear rubber gloves when performing such chores as doing that offers protection.
Damaged cuticles need care in order to heal. Rubbing olive oil into the cuticles regularly aids the healing of damaged cuticles. The cuticle area needs to be kept hydrated throughout the day. Using acetone free nail varnish remover is also helpful.
Cuticles are very important. They are responsible for keeping the delicate area around the matrix free from infection. They deserve protection from any harmful habits. Damaged cuticles let in bacteria and can get infected. Cuticle care should be part of regular skincare routines. Healthy cuticles are not just attractive but important for good health.