Cuticle care: Keep Cuticles Healthy

Keeping your cuticles well groomed is easy with a little effort. Dryness is the number one reason for getting hangnails, and when your cuticles are ragged, dried and peeling, it’s a sign that you need to moisturize them. The first step is to apply hand cream, lotion or nail oil and rub it into the cuticle. Even if you occasionally use hand cream, your cuticles are still probably too dry. Try to keep a hand moisturizer in your bag and use it several times daily.

One cardinal sin of cuticle care is cutting them. The cuticle is a barrier that keeps bacteria from entering your body, so it's best to leave this delicate skin intact. You should, however, groom your cuticles regularly, because overgrown cuticles can suffocate nail growth.

All you need is a good cuticle remover and a cuticle stick (called an orange stick). Don't use a cuticle oil or cream for this – a proper cuticle remover is really the only thing that can sufficiently soften the cuticle. After you apply the remover, gently push back your cuticles with the orange stick. Hold the stick at an angle to ensure that you do this gradually and gently, without damaging the cuticle. Then, move the stick in tiny circles around the base of the nail to help remove any dead or flaky skin. This whitish residue, or the ghost of the cuticle, is called pterygium, and should be cleaned from the nail as well. Do this at least three times per nail.

After you have pushed back your cuticles, you can trim any remaining hangnails using a cuticle nipper. Make sure this implement is sharp and cuts cleanly.

When the nail is clean, wipe it with a cotton ball, then moisturize liberally.

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