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You take pride in your appearance. Your clothes are always cleaned and pressed and in accordance with the most current fashion. Your makeup is matched to your clothes, and you make sure it stays in place with regularly timed touchups. Your hair is always neatly styled, combed or held back with a color coordinated scrunchie, or well- placed bobby pins. Your panty lines never show, your socks never peek out over your ankle boots. In fact, one could say you scream professionalism from your head to your toes, but there’s one little problem: you have the cuticles of a teenage girl.
Although our cuticles may take up a small amount of space on our bodies, they have an important function; they are the parts of your skin that protects, the growth matrix of your nails, the part of your nails that grows. You need to make sure that they look and feel their best. Here are some tips for doing just that.
Don’t cut cuticles
Cutting cuticles is a sure way to open the door to irritation and infection and can lead to problems such as white spots, ridges, and white lines. In addition, bacterial infection in the cuticles can slow down nail growth, which, according to Emma Toombs, MD, is, “not particularly aesthetic, as well as being uncomfortable.”
Use an Orange Stick
To make your nails look longer without cutting them, push them back gently with an orange stick instead. Toombs says, “Cuticles don’t want to be cut. They’re supposed to be soft, and cutting can make them hard, more likely to fracture.” An orange stick is a safer, gentler option.
Cuticles are part of your skin, and like the rest of your skin, need to be moisturized. Dr Richard Scher, MD, a Cornell University dermatology professor says, “Any skin moisturizer will work fine for the cuticles. When you put it on your hands and there’s some left over, rub it into the cuticles.”
Most dermatologists recommend thick moisturizers, like cream and ointments for best results, with petroleum jelly being the pick of the American Academy of Dermatology, although some find it to be too messy for daily use. Bruce Robinson, MD advises using ointments at night while lotion can be used during the day, although they are not as moisturizing as thicker creams and ointments.
A hot wax treatment at a nail salon is another luxurious alternative for cuticle moisturization. People dip their hands into a heated wax and put on plastic gloves for 10 to 15 minutes, in this procedure. Toombs says, “It’s a wonderful treatment for nails and cuticles.”
Avoid Drying Agents
Acetone is a drying agent frequently found in nail polish remover. This, along with frequent dish washing, can be damaging to the cuticles. Besides using acetone- free polish remover, Toombs advises, “Whether washing clothes or doing dishes, you really need to wear vinyl gloves. That’s a good time to put the lubricant on. Having the gloves on keeps the oil on the cuticle and nail plate, and it protects them from the drying effects of water.”
Keep Your Hands Away From Your Mouth
Of course, mom’s always right! “Your mouth is a dirty area, and saliva is an enzyme that breaks down skin,” cautions Robinson. “You can get an infection if you violate the cuticle.” So to keep them looking pretty, keep those hands out of your mouth.
How do you care for your cuticles? Manicure? Hot wax? We love to hear it!