For many of us, cutting our nail cuticles during manicure sessions may seem like a mandatory ritual, and some of us may even pay extra at nail salons for this cuticle maintenance.
What we may not realise is that these steps are not only unnecessary, but may even cause more harm than good to our nails, as Dr. Samuel, also known as @skingapore on TikTok, has pointed out.
Why do we have nail cuticles?
Our cuticles are made up of a thin, clear layer of dead skin located where the skin meets the nail. Another way to tell them apart is to look for the half-moon shape at the base of the nail, known as the lunula. Your cuticles are directly beneath it.
As our nails grow, the skin beneath the nail base, known as the eponychium, naturally separates. Cuticles form in the space between the eponychium and the nail plate, acting as a tight seal between them to keep dirt and debris from entering.
The consequences of cutting our nail cuticles
Given the delicacy of the area around cuticles, leaving them unprotected can lead to potential infections.
Cuticles act as a protective barrier for growing nails, shielding these vulnerable new areas from exposure to dirt, debris, and bacteria during their growth phase. Hence, removing them by cutting or scraping them off could leave the skin open to bacteria and potential infections.
As Dr. Samuel cautioned, this can heighten the risk of acute paronychia, a form of nail inflammation resulting from trauma, irritation, or in this case, infection when bacteria enter broken skin near the cuticle and nail fold.
You may experience symptoms like pain, swelling, and tenderness around the nail. In severe instances, a pus-filled abscess, ranging from white to yellow, could even form beneath the skin.
Left untreated, your nails might develop irregularities like ridges or waves, appear yellow or green, become dry and brittle, and in extreme cases, detach from the nail bed and fall off.
So, the next time you get a manicure, make sure to tell your nail technician not to cut your cuticles! You can trim any hangnails, but avoid having the cuticles completely removed, or you may just end up having to surgically remove your whole nail!
Watch Dr. Samuel’s TikTok for yourself:
Replying to @◾️ My hobbies include Cuticle Care and the E! network #LearnOnTikTok #eureka #medtok #dermtok #dontberash✋ #newfearunlocked🔓 #newfearunlocked #skingapore #gpsamuel #doctorsamuel #drsamuelgp #drsamuel #tiktoksg #doctorsoftiktok #singaporedoctor #cuticle #cuticlecare #cuttingcuticle #nail #nailinfection #manicure #paronychia #stacie Video Credits: @Lana @Twinkled T #pitchperfect #tiktoksg #tiktokusa Should I do my cuticles / how to care for my cuticles ? #nailcare #nailcaretips
How should you care for your cuticles?
Now that we understand the dangers of cutting cuticles, the next step is to learn how to clean up the appearance of those unsightly cuticles while still keeping them intact!
Gently pushing your cuticles
Instead of cutting, gently push your cuticles back in the shower. The hot steam from the shower will soften your cuticles, making it easier to push them back gently. This will help to keep your nails looking neat and tidy.
Using gloves during cleaning
Cleaning solutions, even natural ones containing ingredients like lemon and vinegar, can cause your cuticles to crack. This is why it’s critical to wear gloves when doing housework to keep your hands and cuticles from drying out.
Applying cuticle oil
To prevent fraying, keep cuticles moisturised. Incorporate cuticle oil containing vitamins and fatty acids into your daily routine to nourish your nails and repair any cracks in the surrounding skin.
Sally Hansen Vitamin E Nail & Cuticle Oil, as its name suggests, includes moisturising vitamin E oil for parched nails and cuticles. It also features apricot kernel and aloe to condition your cuticles, resulting in soft, healthy-looking ones.
Sally Hansen Vitamin E Nail & Cuticle Oil (13.3ml) retails for RM48 and is available at Shopee.
Moisturising your hands
While regular hand-washing is necessary, moisturising hands after using soap is equally vital to prevent excessive drying. Besides hydrating hands and cuticles, moisturisers can aid in restoring lipids and promoting healthy bacteria regrowth.
(Need hand care tips? We have some from a hand model.)
Vaseline Healthy Hands Nail Conditioning Nourishing Hand Lotion blends keratin and stratys-3 multi-layer moisture to infuse moisture into the skin. This non-greasy, fast-absorbing formula leaves hands soft, cuticles smooth, and conditions nails by 50% within two weeks.
If you’re feeling more bougie, consider trying L’OCCITANE Almond Delicious Hand Cream (For Normal to Dry Hands). Enriched with almond milk, almond oil, fatty acids, and omegas 9, this non-greasy cream nurtures and softens hands while imparting a delicious scent of fresh almonds.
Feature image credits: @skingapore/TikTok