Darling, what do you DO to have such lovely cuticles?
November 1, 2016 7:10 PM   Subscribe

Actually, never mind lovely. What do you do to have simple, healthy cuticles?

I don't pick or bite my nails, but my cuticles seem like tissue paper. They keep growing up the nail, and I try to push them down, but they tear and look ragged. All the time.

Some time ago, on Ask, someone said her Dad had told her to always push the cuticles back with her towel when she got out of the bath. I tried, but no help. Any other cuticle care to share? (I'm a pensioner with limited means -- although not quite to re-using the tea bags -- so regular manicures are not an answer.)

True story: I was a Hospice volunteer, and I was sitting with an elderly, dying lady. She was sinking, and she asked me to pray with her. I said of course, and took a deep breath to try to be on her spiritual wavelength as much as I could. She reached out and took my hands while looking into my eyes softly, then glanced down and exclaimed, "Oh, my dear, you really don't take very good care of your cuticles!"
posted by kestralwing to Health & Fitness (25 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
How about trying to NOT push your cuticles back at all for a while? My nails never could tolerate cuticle manipulation, and they look fine being normal cuticles.
posted by ellerhodes at 7:17 PM on November 1, 2016 [6 favorites]

My cuticles look much better when I've been moisturizing them regularly. Like, put dabs of hand cream directly on each cuticle.
posted by serelliya at 7:23 PM on November 1, 2016 [5 favorites]

I use either the Burt's Bees lemon cuticle butter or straight jojoba oil. I also am a hand lotion addict, which I'm sure helps, but there's a noticeable improvement in my cuticles when I'm using a dedicated oil on my cuticles than my regular lotion alone.

I just gently massage the cuticle butter into my nail beds, pushing up on them with minimal pressure, and the rest takes care of itself. Well lubed cuticles stay in check.
posted by phunniemee at 7:28 PM on November 1, 2016 [2 favorites]

Estheticians and manicurists have been kind enough to compliment me on my cuticles. I don't often wear nail polish, but I make cuticle care a priority. It's now a quick part of my shower routine. After every shower I use something similar to this rubber tipped cuticle pusher and this lemony flutter cuticle butter by Lush. It's a bit expensive, but I only have to use a tiny bit because my cuticles have softened in the shower. I'm quite sure the 45g jar will last me for the rest of my life.

I've also used a similar Burt's Bees product.
posted by nathaole at 7:40 PM on November 1, 2016

Everything Balm I don't push them or anything else, just try not to chomp on them and apply Everything Balm.
posted by good lorneing at 7:43 PM on November 1, 2016

A thick, waxy moisturiser works best for me. I like Waxalene. I keep tubes around at my desk, bedside table, kitchen and bathroom sinks, and in my purse. In the winter, especially, I dab a bit on each cuticle and massage it in. If they're bad, I do it several times a day. If they're fine, I just do it before tucking into bed.

I never push back my cuticles unless they're tearing. They could be getting microtears from that of you're doing it a lot. I also never trim them. Just moisturize.
posted by quince at 7:51 PM on November 1, 2016

I use a cuticle clipper when I get out of the shower/bath and then moisturize. I've tried cuticle butters and moisturizers, but a cuticle clipper is the only thing that works to keep them neat.
posted by quiet coyote at 7:58 PM on November 1, 2016

To echo quince's point, I never cut or trim my cuticles. I have asked estheticians not to cut them, as invariably I will get hangnails if they do. Moisturize and massage.
posted by nathaole at 7:59 PM on November 1, 2016 [2 favorites]

Shea butter - I have tried everything, pushing them back, not touching them, lots of hand cream, the lemony burts bees stuff, and nothing works as well as rubbing a bit of shea butter into them a few times a day.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 8:06 PM on November 1, 2016

I bite them like crazy, to the point that my front teeth are chipped from it. That takes care of it insofar as I have no remaining cuticles.
posted by tapir-whorf at 8:12 PM on November 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

Moisturizers on my person and on my desk all the time, and this kind of cuticle trimmer usually after showers.
posted by clavicle at 8:34 PM on November 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

I push them back when dry, and always apply a thick hand lotion at night, as well as all day. My mom called pushing cuticles back "pushing back the moons," and we learned to do it at an early age. I probably do it every other day or two.
posted by umwhat at 9:02 PM on November 1, 2016

I don't fuss with them beyond putting Vaseline on -- very frequently in the winter. I've been diligent with that lately and they look and feel great. I am not a person interested in manicures/polish/general nail fuss, and this is the best I've found for "simple, healthy." And you can't beat the price.

Rub your fingertips on a cloth or what-have-you after working in the Vaseline if you don't want to smear things, though you can also use things like your elbows and heels to wipe away excess.

I am enough of a dry-skin hater to occasionally sleep with cotton gloves on over a thick layer of Vaseline -- very restorative if things are raggedy in winter.
posted by kmennie at 10:55 PM on November 1, 2016

IDK if this helps, but some people just have shitty cuticles. Mine are as tough as elephant hide and will grow to cover half of the nail if allowed. I've chatted with enough friends who do their nails and gotten enough frustrated looks from manicurists to figure out this is NOT how everyone's grow.

For me, using a real stainless steel manicurist's cuticle pusher rather than an orange stick helps, and so does moisturizing, but my hands will never look like someone who naturally grows soft dainty restrained cuticles and I've accepted it.

Feel free to ignore any advice in this thread from Naturally Beautiful Cuticle Havers if it doesn't apply to you; like I said, mine will cover half my nail in a thick rubbery layer if I let them, so I'm finding all the "sprinkle them with dew drops & think nice thoughts!" comments very adorable.
posted by Juliet Banana at 12:53 AM on November 2, 2016 [11 favorites]

I keep a tin of Burts Bees lemon cuticle butter, and habitually put some on whenever I'm on the train in the morning. I once read a magazine column where a manicurist recommended rubbing a heavy cuticle cream - she actually recommended lanolin, which I always have by my bedside and use on my lips and nails at night - into your cuticles quite vigorously, enough to 'generate heat', then pushing your cuticles back. This has translated to me rubbing the cuticles of the fingers one hand vigorously into the heel of the palm of the other, which I just do habitually whenever I use cuticle cream. My cuticles are typically in pretty good nick, so its worth the odd looks I get on the train.
posted by nerdfish at 1:56 AM on November 2, 2016

Messing with your cuticles can open your nails up to infection. Nail fungus often develops when people use cuticle cutters and/or push their cuticles back. Your cuticles are supposed to be there, and frankly I don't understand why people are obsessed with chopping them off. They create a seal around your nail to protect your nailbed from infection. I don't touch mine and I have perfectly healthy pink and white nails. Just use a good hand cream and you should be fine. As with a lot of bodily things like douching, cuticle cutting and pushing is unnecessary and can actually cause infection.
posted by Avosunspin at 2:43 AM on November 2, 2016

My cuticles are chronically dry and peeling. I find they are in much better shape when I regularly use cuticle remover cream (I use this one) and then massage in cuticle oil and hand cream. If I do this once a week that's when they look their best. This is about a 5 minute task.
posted by like_neon at 3:02 AM on November 2, 2016

I just put neosporin on my cuticles and they look great. I wouldn't recommend pushing them back at all, it doesn't make them any healthier
posted by Attackpanda at 4:57 AM on November 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Two recommendations for cuticle management:

1.) Chemical cuticle remover like Blue Cross Cuticle Remover or Sally Hansen Instant Cuticle Remover. Follow the instructions on the label and for details watch this YouTube video: Removing Cuticle... the real cuticle. Not the greatest quality video but superb content and instruction.

2.) Cuticle oil. The key is to use it multiple times a day, not once a week like I used to do and then wonder why my cuticles were like little hooves. Some people use homemade mixes (almond oil, jojoba oil, olive oil, etc.) that they decant into an old nail polish bottle and they brush it on. I use CND Solar Oil which I decant into a little rollerball. It's next to my keyboard and when I'm on the phone or really when I glance at it, I put it on. Apply it to each nail and then lightly massage it in. I like the rollerball at the office but at home I use the little brush in the Solar Oil.

Using these two methods has transformed my cuticles. I don't have those hard edges of dried skin on each nail sidewall.
posted by Soda-Da at 6:58 AM on November 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

My cuticles used to be a disaster. Since I've started eating enough dietary fat (lots of butter, homemade broth, etc.), things are so much better. Also, I regularly put coconut oil, thick Nivea cream (the German version in the tub), and my excess face serums/creams specifically onto my cuticles. The combo of diet and cream does a great job, but not sure which one is doing the heavy lifting (I'd vote dietary fat, personally).
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 7:36 AM on November 2, 2016

Mine are as tough as elephant hide and will grow to cover half of the nail if allowed.

yes, same. i've even tried those fancy bliss gloves that have magical gel in them. it's the same on my hands and my feet, the pedicurist uses a fucking dremel tool on my feet. i assume it's genetic like the undereye circles situation.
posted by poffin boffin at 8:40 AM on November 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

I don't know if you cook often, but if you do -- and this is going to sound weird, but it worked wonders for me -- every time you cook with olive oil, make sure to just take a couple of dabs and rub it into your cuticles. Made my cuticles gorgeous. Of course, you can also just add olive oil to your normal routine even if you don't cook, but doing it while I cooked worked well for me because it's easy to remember to do that way.
posted by holborne at 8:41 AM on November 2, 2016

I've never pushed back a cuticle in my life. Try giving yours a break for a while, out of curiosity.

In the meantime, try using a simple barrier cream approach: keep your cuticles from drying out and they might not become a problem. I lived in the desert for a while and got in the habit of rubbing a small dab of plain ol' petroleum jelly into my hands in the morning after the shower and in the evening before bed. The only thing that does is keep water from evaporating from the skin (and cuticles) on my hands. The cool side effect was that I stopped getting hangnails and ragged cuticles, so I've done it ever since.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 11:45 AM on November 2, 2016

an observation, not a recommendation: For most of my 60+ years, my cuticles have been a nasty shredded mess, no matter what products or grooming habits I tried. A few months ago, I started taking an iron supplement (doctor's recommendation) to address a medical issue. MAGIC. Within a few weeks, my cuticles started looking healthy and neat -- no clipping, no pushing, no attention on my part whatsoever. Blood tests showed my iron levels had gone from lowish normal to middle normal, so I guess this made the difference. Might be worth discussing with your doctor.
(FWIW, the particular supplement I used is Proferrin ES, which is heme iron, easily absorbed and kind to the digestive system.)
posted by Corvid at 1:39 PM on November 2, 2016

Lots of things to try -- thanks! (Don't think I'll be trying clipping, though; they're too thin and fragile for that.
posted by kestralwing at 12:04 AM on December 3, 2016

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