So long hangnails.
Dry or peeling cuticles — the thin skin ridges at the base of your nails — can ruin even the most perfect manicure. And as much as it might provide a quick aesthetic fix or satisfying urge, Elle Gerstine, celebrity nail artist encourages you to resist the urge to peel off your cuticles. In fact, a lot of the time it could just cause more infections or cuts around the area. “Cuticles are the skin that grows on the nail plate,” the expert shares. “As your nail grows the skin grows with it. They are necessary for the nail because they help with the growth and act as an armor against bacteria.”
Like all areas on the skin, cuticles can become dry when dehydrated, causing them to peel, says Marcela Correa, a licensed medical pedicurist and owner of medical-grade pedicure business, Medi Pedi. Instead of opting for lotion when you notice your hands or cuticles are dry, select an oil-based product instead to better penetrate the cuticle area.
A properly groomed nail bed allows for a smoother paint application, longer-lasting manicure, and less risk of hangnails. For that reason, TZR consulted with top manicurists to get their best tips on caring for cuticles. Plus, they are sharing holy-grail products to maintain healthy nails. Think: cuticle serums, hydrating hand creams, and more. Translation: say goodbye to poor cuticles and hello to a healthy nail routine.
The number one thing the experts all agree on is a nail routine with cuticle oil. “You should apply cuticle oil to your cuticles and nail plate multiple times a day every single day for the healthiest nails,” says Vanessa Sanchez McCullough, celebrity nail artist. Correa recommends massaging the cuticles and nail beds with a moisturizing oil like jojoba oil or olive oil to help strengthen and promote growth. After two minutes of massaging your nails you can wipe off the oil and finish off by using a shiny buffer to bring out your nail beds natural oil for beautiful and effortless shine.
As satisfying as it might be, resist the urge to peel off your cuticles. They are located beneath the nail root, where the nail grows. Incorrectly taking off too much skin could risk damaging the nail as a whole. Correa recommends gently pushing cuticles back instead with a disposable wooden nail stick, being careful to not damage the nail plate. “Improper nail care is also a big factor in dehydrated and peeling cuticles,” the pro tells TZR. “When they are pushed back too far the skin tends to weaken and it leads to peeling nail beds.”
The experts all warn against cutting your cuticles by yourself. As shields for the growing nail, a non-professional could cut cuticles too much — opening up the barrier to potential bacteria and infections. Not to mention, cutting the cuticle makes the skin grow back thicker, making it harder to paint the nails for a smooth finish.
Because hanging cuticles are the result of dry skin, always make sure to keep things moisturized, especially in the summer, says Deborah Lippmann, celebrity nail artist. Like the skin on your body, the best time to moisturize them is after bathing or washing the dishes.
If you’re taking the DIY route with your manicure, don’t forget about the base coat. According to Lippmann, base coats will secure the nail from staining by polish and strengthen the nail growth — an ideal environment for cuticles.
For on-the-go maintenance, always keep a file close by to buff or smooth out any rough edges. Start by filing in one direction against the grain of your nail.
Like your makeup brushes and hair tools, your nail instruments should be under regular cleaning to prevent bacteria. They can be cleansed with soap and water and wiped down with alcohol.
Ready to have great, healthy cuticles and nails? Invest in some of the expert-approved products below.
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Cuticle Care 101: How To Keep Your Nails & Skin Healthy Year-Round – The Zoe Report