How You Should Really Be Removing Your Cuticles

For many of us, looking after our hand hygiene is pretty simple. Wash, rinse, and clip your nails when they start to grow uncomfortably long. As straightforward as hand maintenance may seem, the truth is that you could be exposing yourself to harmful bacteria and even an infection if you're not careful. Take cuticles, for example. Cuticles make up the U-shaped skin that lines your nails. Their main purpose is to prevent the infiltration of infection-causing bacteria (via Byrdie). If you're planning on removing your cuticles, ask yourself what the reason is for this choice.

If the skin surrounding your nails is bothersome or grows too quickly, then you may opt for removal. But before you leave it up to your manicurist to do the job, know that they might refuse, as cuticle removal is actually illegal in some states, including New York (per Fox News). If a nail specialist is unwilling to do it, then it's up to you. Here are a few tips to make sure the removal process doesn't cause an unwanted infection.

Go in with the mindset that less is more

As tempting as it may be, avoid what's really a very common mistake. "I've noticed that people are more likely to bite and pick at their cuticles when they're dry and cracked," says Brittney Boyce, a nail artist and gel specialist, to Byrdie. Boyce goes on to recommend keeping your cuticles hydrated to avoid the urge of biting away any cracked bits. 

Many people choose to cut away the excess skin on our nails to make them appear longer. But cutting is perhaps too aggressive of an action. Cuticles should be carefully pushed back, and not cut. First, soak your hands in warm water so the skin around your nail softens, and gently push back your cuticles to a desired length (via MedicineNet). The same preparation is helpful if you do decide to actually trim your cuticles.

The popular phrase "less is more" certainly applies to hand hygiene, especially if you're going to address your cuticles on your own. Be gentle, take your time, and trim off a little at a time. And if you're removing your cuticles is because they are dry and cracked, consider hydration as the cure instead of biting or cutting them away.