If you want to perform a really swell, professional looking manicure at home, then you will almost certainly have to deal with your cuticles.
Tough, overgrown cuticles can extend onto the nail plate and create an uneven and bumpy appearance that will inhibit the look, feel and longevity of your manicure, but removing them wrongly can damage your natural nails and even cause infections.
There are lots of safe, easy and painless home methods for removing nail cuticles, and in this article we will go through some of our favorites.
By following our simple tips and tricks, you will be able to create uniform, tidy natural nails,onto which you can then apply your gels, polishes, dip powders, acrylics or press on nails with no trouble at all. Read on, for all you need to know about home cuticle care and removal.
What Exactly Are Cuticles?
Cuticles are the thin, transparent layer of skin that grow at the bottom edge of your finger and toe nails. You might think that they are just an annoying nuisance that make your nails look uneven and bumpy, however, cuticles actually perform a very important function.
They form a protective seal between the nail bed and the nail plate, and prevent bacteria and germs from getting under the skin and infecting your nails.
They also protect the nail root and allow healthy new growth to occur. This is why it is so important to look after them, keep them healthy and remove them safely.
Why Should You Remove Cuticles?
The key downsides to overgrown cuticles are:
- They make the shape of your natural nails look uneven and asymmetrical as they grow over the nail plate. They also make your natural nails appear smaller than they really are as they impinge on the nail.
- They interfere with the adhesion of nail polishes and gels since they form a barrier between the nail and the polish. This therefore makes manicures last less long.
- They create a raised and bumpy surface on which your nail polish appears uneven and lumpy. For an ideal manicure, you want the surface of each nail to look smooth and flawless.
- They affect the lustre and color of nail polish and make it appear dim and dull in patches. Again, this impacts the finished look of your manicure.
What Are The Risks Of Removing Cuticles?
The most common mistakes that people make when attempting to remove their nail cuticles at home include:
Removing Too Much Of The Cuticle
This is by far the most common mistake that people make, and it can have some serious consequences. When too much of the cuticle (or indeed the entire thing) is removed, then the nail is left exposed to infection, and the nail bed can become very sore and inflamed.
This occurs when people use cuticle clippers to cut the cuticle away from the nail bed entirely, rather than softening the membrane, pushing it back away from the nail plate, and only trimming the excess skin that separates from the nail.
Weakening And Damaging The Cuticle
The second most common mistake made by home manicurists is that they apply cuticle remover solutions that are too potent and abrasive and leave those solutions on for too long.
These chemical formulas can not only dissolve the cuticle itself, but also thin and weaken the nail beneath it if they are used too rigorously. Using milder solutions that contain moisturizer will prevent this from happening, and making sure not to use an excessive amount will also help.
How To Remove Cuticles At Home – An Overview
In general, dealing with your nail cuticles is a three step process.
If you have ever been for a professional manicure at a nail salon then you will undoubtedly have experienced your nail technician performing both parts, and you will need to follow the exact same steps on your own home manicure.
The three steps are:
Step 1: soften and loosen cuticles with a cuticle remover formula.
Step 2: push back and trim excess skin with a cuticle pusher and trimmer set.
Step 3: moisturize and soothe the newly tidied nail bed using oil or specialist moisturizer.
As you can see, the first step involves the application of a liquid formula (of which there are many different varieties), and we will cover some options for what you can use from your own kitchen cupboards to achieve this step.
The second step involves the use of specialist nail apparatus which can be bought online or in any pharmacy or health store easily.
The third step involves the use of a moisturizing lotion or oil. There are specialist cuticle oil pens that are available online and are really excellent for your nail health, however, we will also show you some household ingredients that can be used to achieve this step.
What Is A Cuticle Remover?
A cuticle remover is a specially designed solution that you apply to tough, dry and overgrown cuticles in order to soften and loosen them. This in turn makes them far easier to push back and remove.
Cuticle removers are one of the most common and popular options for treating tough cuticles and there are hundreds of different brands available to buy.
The solution is generally affordable and long lasting as you do not need to use much in order to achieve a lot.
How Does Cuticle Remover Work?
There are two key types of cuticle remover solutions: chemical cuticle removers and exfoliating cuticle removers.
Chemical Cuticle Removers
Most shop bought nail cuticle remover solutions contain either sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide. These chemicals actually dissolve the tough cuticle skin, making it thinner and weaker so that it is easier to push back and trim.
However, these chemicals can be harsh and can actually weaken the nail beneath the cuticle if you use too much or leave them on for too long. For this reason, it is best to buy a cuticle remover that also contains nutrients and moisturizer.
This way you can protect your healthy nail and actually help to condition and care for it as you treat your cuticles.
Exfoliating Cuticle Removers
There are also many cuticle nail remover solutions which use exfoliants to remove the cuticle rather than chemicals. These solutions tend to be much milder and safer to use, however they are also a little less impactful and take more time to work.
The exfoliants in these solutions tend to be microbeads and other abrasive materials which work to break down the bonds between the tough cuticle skin and the nail plate.
Once these bonds have been broken, the cuticle skin can be separated from the nail plate and pushed back far more easily.
The exfoliants need to be massaged and worked into the skin and nail gently but persistently, and it is important not to scratch and mark the healthy nail beneath in the process.
Homemade DIY Cuticle Removal Methods
If you do not have a specialist cuticle remover to hand, do not worry. There are many DIY methods that you can try to treat your cuticles, using only ingredients you will find in your kitchen cupboard. Let’s go through some of our favorites:
Olive Oil, Soap and Water
One of the most simple methods of removing cuticles at home is to use olive oil. It is important to wash your nails thoroughly with soap and hot water first, in order to clean the area and soften the tough skin.
Then apply a generous amount of olive oil over the cuticles and massage it in. You will then be able to push your cuticles back using a cuticle stick, the oil will soften, nourish and moisturize all at once.
Just be sure to rinse it away afterwards to avoid leaving greasy marks on all the furniture!
Lemon Juice and Oil
Lemon juice is an excellent home cuticle removing solution as it contains citric acid which helps to weaken and dissolve the tough cuticle skin.
Of course, lemon juice is potent and strong, so after using it you should follow up with some oil or cream to rehydrate your nails and moisturise the surrounding area.
Apple Cider Vinegar and Coconut Oil
Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid which, much like citric acid, is able to weaken and loosen tough cuticle skin. A good idea is to pour some into a dish or bowl and use a cotton tip to soak it up and apply it to the cuticle area.
You will then be able to push your cuticles back easily and trim the excess. *Another top tip is to follow up with coconut oil. Coconut oil has tons of nutrients and beneficial properties, and it is a very effective natural moisturizer.
Feel free to massage it into your nail beds and all over your hands to give yourself a lovely silky smooth pampering experience.
Exfoliating Face Wash and Hand Cream
Believe it or not, exfoliating face wash can work as a great cuticle removing solution.
The microbeads contained in face wash can be massaged into the tough cuticle skin and the tiny abrasive materials will break down the bond between the skin and the nail plate.
Use small circular motions to rub the face wash in thoroughly, then push the loosened cuticles back using your cuticle stick.
It is a great idea to wash your hands with warm water after this process in order to remove any leftover microbeads, then follow with a gentle hand cream to sooth your delicate skin and nails after all that scrubbing!
Baking Soda and Honey
Baking soda has so many uses in the home, and cuticle removing is yet another. It is a cheap and effective, natural exfoliator, however it can be rather abrasive if used on its own. This is why we recommend mixing a teaspoon of baking soda with a teaspoon of household honey.
Once mixed together the two will form a paste that can be applied to the tough cuticle skin using a cotton tip or cuticle stick.
Leave the baking soda to work for 30 seconds and then gently begin to rub and press it into the cuticle until the skin loosens and pushes back.
The honey will also soothe and nourish your nails so it really is a win, win solution!
What Is The Best Cuticle Remover To Buy?
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With over 32,000 positive ratings on Amazon, and an Amazon’s Choice seal of approval, there is no doubt that Blue Cross Cuticle Remover is a top choice for any home manicuring enthusiast.
The solution has been tried and tested and it is highly effective at dissolving and weakening rough, tough cuticles in no time at all. However, this stuff is strong so we recommend only using a very small amount and performing a patch test to begin with.
Blue Cross contains chemicals that are corrosive, which is exactly how it loosens and dissolves the tough skin, however you should avoid getting the solution on your fingers or in the nail bed itself, and you should never leave it on for any longer than 30 seconds at a time.
How Do You Use Cuticle Remover Solution?
All cuticle removers work slightly differently, so it is vitally important that you always read the instructions and guidance on the bottle, box or pamphlet before use.
The manufacturer’s instructions will be specific to their product and the timings will vary depending on the potency and type of each solution. However, the following steps are a general guideline as to how to use cuticle remover.
Step 1. Clean your hands and nails thoroughly using soap and warm water. You should use
a nail brush to scrub the underside of your nails as well to ensure that any dirt and
possible bacteria lurking under there has been removed.
The warm water will also help to soften your cuticles a little as well, which is an added bonus.
Step 2: After washing, be sure to pat your hands and nails dry with a cloth or towel. Water
can dilute the ingredients in cuticle remover and ultimately make it less effective, so it
is important to get rid of any excess wetness before you begin.
Step 3: Using the applicator brush provided with your cuticle remover, apply the solution to
your cuticles, trying to avoid the healthy skin around the nail where possible.
Step 4: Let the solution work for around 30 seconds (check the bottle for exact timings) and
then use a cuticle pusher to push the softened cuticles off the nail plate and towards
the nail bed. They will bunch up as they gather.
Step 5: You can now use your cuticle trimmer tool to gently clip the excess skin that has
gathered and bunched at the bottom edge of your nail. It should clip and come away
easily and will not hurt as it is dead skin.
If you experience any pain then this is an indication that you are clipping too much of the cuticle and you should trim less away.
Step 6: Now you can rinse the excess cuticle remover from your nails and hands and pat
dry. Follow this procedure with a moisturizing oil or lotion to soothe and pamper your
newly trimmed cuticles.
Where Do I Get A Cuticle Pusher And Trimmer Set?
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It is possible to buy cuticle pusher and trimmer sets online and from most pharmacies or health and beauty stores. We recommend the set by Ejiubas which has received over 17,000 positive ratings on Amazon.
The tool heads are made from stainless steel, so are very long lasting and will retain their sharpness and precision even after repeated use. The handles are ergonomically designed to allow you to get a good grip and control the tools easily.
This is important when you are working on such a small and delicate area and really does make a difference.
What Is The Best Cuticle Oil For My Nails?
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As we have mentioned, it is important to apply a soothing, nourishing and moisturising cream or oil after you have used an abrasive cuticle remover.
This final step will help to keep your nails healthy, will prepare your nails for polishing, and will even help to encourage stronger regrowth of your nails.
We absolutely love this cuticle oil pen by Bliss Kiss. It is the perfect size to pop in your purse or pocket and keep with you for top ups whenever you feel your cuticles are becoming dry and dehydrated.
It has a simple twist-stick end which allows you to release a small amount of oil onto the brush and dab the area with precision. The oil is moisturizing and nourishing, and as a bonus it smells absolutely delicious of vanilla essence! Yum Yum!
Frequently Asked Questions
What Happens If You Leave Cuticle Remover On For Too Long?
If you leave a cuticle remover on too long it can dry and this will actually make your cuticles harder to push back and remove. To avoid this, always read the instructions and follow the timings advised by the manufacturer.
How Often Should Cuticles Be Removed?
The rate of cuticle removal will depend on the rate of your nail growth, since cuticle tissue grows in accordance with new nails. Generally, it is good to push your cuticles back once every 3-4 weeks, however you should not do it too regularly or you risk over-trimming them.
Does It Hurt To Remove Cuticles?
Removing your cuticles does not need to hurt. If you experience pain when you try to push back and remove your cuticles then it probably means that you have not sufficiently softened them.
You can avoid this by soaking your cuticles in warm water first, and by using a cuticle remover solution to soften the tissue.