Looking a little rough around the edges? These products and pointers should help.

By Jenny Jin
Updated October 15, 2015
Geo-grafika/Getty Images
Geo-grafika/Getty Images


“The main causes of ragged cuticles are picking, improper cutting, and overexposure to water or harsh chemicals,” says Liliana Pennington, the director of education for the nail-care line Londontown. Your first line of defense? A pair of rubber gloves when using detergents of any kind.


Why is cutting cuticles so bad? Cutting the live skin that surrounds the base of the nail plate, called the eponychium, causes the skin to harden and grow out in an uneven pattern. “This tissue also acts as a barrier against infection and other external elements that want to penetrate the area surrounding the nail,” says Amy Wechsler, a dermatologist in New York City.


“The only part of the cuticle that is OK to remove is the layer of dead skin that's attached to the nail plate,” says Tracylee, the director of manicure services for the John Barrett salons. This can be done by asking your technician to “push back” the cuticles. Or apply a cuticle remover, like Sally Hansen 18K Gold Cuticle Eraser, and gently tuck back the skin yourself using a cuticle pusher or an orangewood stick. “If there is any leftover skin that's visibly hanging off, trim it carefully with a pair of cuticle nippers. But never rip or cut into the living tissue,” says Tracylee.


Massage a hydrating treatment, like Essie Apricot Cuticle Oil, directly onto cuticles at least once a day. “Oils penetrate better than creams and help heal dry, damaged areas of skin, which prevents further problems,” says Jan Arnold, a cofounder of CND (Creative Nail Design) and its style director.