How To Properly Remove Your Cuticles At Home

When we think about our nails, the first thing that usually comes to mind is, "What is the cutest nail polish color I can try for my next manicure?" Rarely, if ever, are we thinking about the actual health of our nails or the often neglected, hiding-in-plain-sight area surrounding them: our cuticles. 


A cuticle is "non-living tissue that adheres to the nail plate," as defined by CND chief scientific advisor Doug Schoon (via Nailpro). Cuticles shed from the underside of the eponychium, which Schoon describes as "the area of living skin that borders the base of the nail plate." Functioning like a protective seal, an intact cuticle shields the area between the skin and the nail plate from germs and other allergens and irritants, according to a 2019 study published in the Cureus Journal of Medical Science.

Many dermatologists advise against cutting your cuticles, which can open the door to infectious bacteria and cause the skin to harden and split (via WebMD). If you find yourself needing to trim back cuticle growth, here's how to remove them safely and effectively at home without cutting them.


Push, don't cut

Gently pushing your cuticles back is a safer alternative to cutting them. To do so, dermatologist and nail specialist Dana Stern uses a wet washcloth in the shower, while Los Angeles-based manicurist and nail artist Chelsea King prefers using a cuticle pusher (via Bustle). New York-based nail artist Elizabeth Garcia shared her trick to removing cuticles pain-free like a professional with Purewow. All you need is a cuticle remover cream, a cuticle pusher, and a medium-grit nail buffer. Here's how to do it: To start, apply a small amount of the cream to each cuticle and let it sit for about five minutes. Then, push back the cuticles with the pusher and gently rub them with a nail buffer in a back-and-forth motion until you notice the dead skin sloughing off. 


Besides preventing the possibility of infections, there are many other benefits of pushing your cuticles back rather than cutting them, according to Easy Nail Tech. You'll experience little to no pain with pushing, your manicures will last longer because nail polish will be able to bond better with your nails, and your nails will look neater and longer overall.

Prioritize nail and cuticle health

Step up your nail care game to ensure your cuticles are always in tip-top shape. One way to do so is to regularly apply soothing cuticle oils and creams on a daily basis, just like you would moisturize your face. "A hydrated cuticle is a healthy cuticle and a healthy cuticle is essential for a beautiful, healthy nail," Darlene Sritapan, OPI North America's education and capability manager, tells Bustle. Moisturizing your cuticles regularly can be especially beneficial during colder months when your nails easily succumb to dryness and cracks.


Other ways to keep your nails and cuticles as healthy as possible include keeping nails trimmed and clean, using acetone-free nail polish remover to prevent overdrying, and avoiding infection-inducing habits like biting your fingernails, picking at your cuticles, and ripping off hangnails (via Mayo Clinic).

No matter how unsightly your nails look or feel, it's important to never cut your cuticles. Instead, practice good nail hygiene, moisturize your cuticles regularly, and push them back using the appropriate tools when they overgrow.