Image of someone pushing down their cuticles

Cuticle care 101: How do you take care of nail cuticles?

Last Updated: January 5, 2022

Learn how to take care of your nail cuticles naturally, and avoid common mistakes with this expert advice that’ll give you hands worth fawning over.

Cuticles are the thin layer of skin that sits above the nail plate and protects the matrix, or living tissue, underneath. Proper cuticle care is essential for healthy nails and should be part of your beauty routine.

So let’s practice some more self-care this year and discuss taking care of your cuticles and some common mistakes people make when caring for them. We'll also provide tips on how to get the most out of your cuticle care routine. Get ready to give your nails a little plant-based TLC!

First, what are cuticles?

The eponychium is the scientific name for the cuticle, which is made from extremely tough, protein-rich cells and covers our nails to help keep bacteria from entering the nail bed. Cuticles also help regulate moisture flow into and out of your nails.

Your nails grow from an area beneath the cuticle called a nail root. This bottom-most layer of skin is just like any other part—it needs protection and care to thrive!

How do I take care of my cuticles?

People often neglect to care for their cuticles, which can become overgrown and rough.

Rough cuticles may tear when they get snagged on things, and they’re a biting temptation for many, which inevitably leads to painful tearing of the skin, bleeding, and generally rough-looking nails.

Here’s 4 steps you can do to take care of your cuticles, prevent accidents, and keep your hands looking their best.

Step 2: Soak your fingertips

Fill a bowl with warm water, and add a few drops of your favorite essential oil. Soak your cuticles in the water for five minutes. Dry your nails thoroughly.

Step 3: Push back your cuticles

With a cuticle pusher, use gentle back-and-forth motions over the cuticle and in the small space between the cuticle and the nail to remove dead skin and move the cuticles back.

Step 4: Apply cuticle oil

Finish off with a light application of cuticle oil. Rub it in well, and let it absorb before you wash your hands or get them dirty.

To see it all in motion, check out this quick video on cuticle care:

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Grove Tip

Should you cut your cuticles?

No! Cutting your cuticles back carries a high risk of injury and infection.

Your cuticles are meant to protect your nails and nail bed, and if you cut them back too far, you’ll remove that protection.

If your cuticles are critically overgrown and you feel they need to be cut, visit a reputable nail salon for a professional manicure.

What are the benefits of using cuticle oil?

The main benefit of using vitamin-rich cuticle oil is that it provides deep hydration to your cuticles and nails.

Cuticle oil also:

  • Promotes healthy nail growth
  • Makes your nails look healthier
  • Helps prevent nail and cuticle infections
  • Helps heal a damaged or infected cuticle
  • Makes your manicures last longer
  • Keeps cuticles soft for easy pushing back
  • Helps protect your nail beds

Want healthier nails? Read up on our members’ six favorite natural nail care products on Grove!

What are the best cuticle oils?

Naturally London Rosehip Hydrating Cuticle Oil with Willow Bark

This easy-to-use cuticle gel pen hydrates your cuticles with soothing aloe, exfoliating white willow bark, healing nettle oil, and hydrating rosehip.

Grove member Stephanie L. says, “My cuticles were desperate. And in three days, my cuticles, which had been cracking and peeling for years, are now softening and joining the nail rather than pulling back from it like a receding gum line.”

Badger Balm Cuticle Care

This cuticle cream is one of nature’s most powerful skin restoratives and ideal for everyday use. It includes East African shea butter to quench and protect dry, splitting cuticles, plus a blend of pure steam-distilled essential oils to deliver a fragrance that’s sure to please the senses while nourishing your skin.

Grove member Sally N. says “I purchased this balm to see if it would help with my bad habit of picking at my cuticles, as they are very dry. It definitely does, and it's super easy to bring along! The smell is great too!”

Acure Radically Rejuvenating Rose Argan Oil

Acure’s argan oil is a sturdy multitasker whose talents include keeping your cuticles hydrated and happy. It’s also great for dry elbows, heels, and hair. It’s packed with essential fatty acids and proteins, and users love its versatility.

As Grove member Corleen M. says, “I use this on my face, cuticles, and even mix it in with my body lotion — it has a permanent place in my skin care regimen.”

Grove Tip

The dirt on keeping your tools clean

Using dirty nail tools is an invitation to bacterial or fungal infections. Keep your at-home mani and pedi tools stored in a clean dry place, and disinfect them before use by dipping them in rubbing alcohol.

Signs of an infected cuticle

Paronychia is an infection of the skin around your cuticles. Cuticle infections can be painful, and they can get serious.

If you notice these signs or symptoms of infection, visit your doctor or dermatologist right away:

  • Redness or rawness
  • Bleeding
  • Tenderness
  • Pus-filled blisters
  • Changes in nail shape, color, or texture

Mild infections are generally treated at home with over-the-counter antifungal or antibacterial medications, but more severe cuticle infections may require a prescription antibiotic or antifungals from a doctor.

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