Avoid Cutting Your Cuticles When Giving Yourself A Pedicure

Toenail cuticles can look overgrown and dried out when they aren't taken care of. If you paint your toenails and they don't quite have that clean, salon finish, oftentimes, this is because you skipped out on cuticle care. Paraphrasing expert nail artist Jin Soon Choi, InStyle explained that "cuticles are the thin films of dead skin that gather around the bed of our nails." And although cuticles are excess dead skin, they still serve a purpose.

Richard Scher, MD, a Cornell University dermatology professor, told WebMD that the folded layer is "there for a reason, like a barrier or a protection for the nail matrix." That being said, when giving yourself an at-home pedicure, you have to be careful with how you go about caring for your cuticles. Although it is common for many people and nail stylists, cutting your cuticles is an absolute no-go, according to dermatologists.

The risks of cutting your cuticles

Cuticle cutters may seem like your typical household item. They're akin to a nail clipper and often come in a nail care set. But they should not be taken so lightly. Many people are unaware that this tool can do a lot of damage. Ella Toombs, MD, a Washington, D.C., dermatologist, tells WebMD, "Cuticles don't want to be cut ... They're supposed to be soft, and cutting can make them hard, more likely to fracture. If you cut it, it has an increased tendency to split off." 

Not only will cutting your cuticles likely make them tougher, but it can also lead to some severe health issues. Dermatologist Erika Summers, MD, warned University of Utah Health, "When the skin around our nails is traumatized by biting or trimming cuticles, or picking at hangnails, bacteria or fungi can enter into the wound. This can cause an infection of the skin around the nail ..." And, if you are getting your nails done at a salon, you will be immediately exposing these open wounds to bacteria harbored in the facility.

How to take care of your cuticles without cutting them

It is highly recommended that you do not cut this thin layer of protective skin. You can keep them groomed and clean without risking unwanted nail or skin infections. Soon Choi tells InStyle, "If you really want to have clean cuticles, push back the cuticle thoroughly and just snip the noticeable hanging or dead skin only —not the cuticle itself ... If you do a good job of pushing the cuticle back thoroughly, you shouldn't have to cut the cuticle very much at all."

In addition to pushing your cuticles back, hydrating and moisturizing them will be essential to getting a healthy, smooth look. Chief educator of Paintbox Evelyn Lim told MBGlifestyle, went as far as saying, "Apply cuticle oil at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Why not?" Another way you can avoid cracked, harsh cuticles is to add nail slugging to your night-time routine.