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How to ‌Take Care of Your Cuticles at Home


Healthy nails and cuticles not only look good but can also be indicators of our overall well-being. Neglecting nail and cuticle care can lead to a host of problems, from painful hangnails and brittle nails to more serious infections. Ick! So, it’s crucial to prioritize the maintenance of these often overlooked chipped nails. Even better, you can do it without spending a ton of money in a nail salon.

In fact, you can work on your nail health right at home. We talked to a nail technician of 15 years to find out exactly how to DIY a trip to the salon. From proper trimming and moisturizing to the use of protective coatings and cuticle care, we’ve got you covered. Read on to get your cleanest, chicest nails yet.

About the Expert:
Aaliyah Smith, also known as NailBiz, is a nail technician in Las Vegas, NV. 

Watch celebrity manicurist Julie Kandalec teach you how to build an essential nail kit at home. 

6 Cuticle Care Tips

1. Exfoliate hands and nails. 

Get started on removing dead skin with an at-home scrub, like LALICIOUS Sugar Kiss Sugar Scrub. “I prefer sugar scrubs over salt because I find them to be less drying,” says Aaliyah Smith, also known as NailBiz, a nail technician in Las Vegas, NV.

2. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. 

It’s important to make sure your nail cuticles are hydrated before you DIY a manicure. Choose a lightweight lotion or a cuticle oil enriched with ingredients like vitamin E and biotin. When in doubt, hydrate and do it daily to keep skin from getting dry in the first place.

3. Push nail cuticles back gently.

“For maintaining good cuticle health, it’s wise to keep them pushed back,” Smith says. “That can be simply achieved with an orange wood stick.” You might have seen (or had it done when) nail technicians use cuticle pushers, cuticle remover, and clippers to get rid of hangnails and dead skin, but we say, skip this step at home. 

You don’t want to mistake the nail cuticle (dead skin) for eponychium (living skin cells) and cause damage to the nail bed and risk infection. They’re in the same area at the base of the nail. Leave it to a manicurist or dermatologist, whether you DIY a manicure or pedicure

 4. Try nail slugging. 

Chances are, you’ve heard of slugging when it comes to skincare. But did you know you can slug your nails too? This works especially well if your skin is more dry than usual, such as in the colder months. “[Nail slugging is] used in the cuticle and eponychium area. You’ll use a thickened ointment for that area and even the nail plate if you aren't nail polish at the time. It’s done for an extended period of time to help with dry, brittle nails,” Christine Doan, an LA-based nail artist, previously told us. 

Once your hands are clean and your cuticles are hydrated, use CERAVE Healing Ointment, VASELINE, AQUAPHOR, or any other petroleum jelly-based product just around your cuticles for a protective barrier.

5. Head to the nail salon once in a while. 

If you’re able, Smith recommends seeing a professional every so often to ensure healthy cuticles. “I suggest a professional manicure at least once a month with home maintenance in between appointments,” she says. Take this time to try a new nail polish color or trendy nail art.

6. Don’t bite or pick at your cuticles! 

We know. It’s a hard habit to break. But you don’t want to get an infection that leads to an emergency dermatologist appointment. Focusing on nail care and overall healthy nails can help because there won’t be that excess skin to pick at. This will help for nail growth, too. 

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About the author
Elizabeth Denton
Elizabeth is a freelance beauty writer. Previously, she was a beauty & fashion editor at Time Out New York, Seventeen, & Allure. She has more than a decade of experience in the beauty and fashion world, writing for Nylon, StyleCaster, Cosmopolitan & more.
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Article Last Updated October 19, 2023 12:00 AM