Image: Corbis

Getting your nails done is one of life’s simple pleasures but it’s easy to get confused when you’re at the manicurist. And the biggest cause of this concerns your cuticles, the thin layer of dead tissue that grows out on the nail plate to form a seal between your nails and skin to prevent bacteria from entering. What’s the best way to look after them? Cheryl Ou from The Nail Social gives us some tips.

1. To Cut Or Not To Cut?

Cuticles are non-living tissue that can actually be safely removed, if it’s done gently and properly. Most people confuse their cuticles with the eponychium, which is the large fold of skin around the nail. The eponychium is living tissue and will bleed, so that is actually what most magazines or articles warn against cutting.

2. How To Look After Your Cuticles

I would recommend soaking fingers in water and applying cuticle remover to soften cuticles, then gently pushing back the cuticle to reveal excess cuticle that can then be safely trimmed. This should be done by a professional manicurist using sterilised tools only.

Also, it’s important to massage cuticle oil into the skin surrounding the nails regularly to keep them hydrated so as to prevent them from peeling, cracking and developing hangnails, as well as to increase circulation in the nail bed which can then stimulate healthy new nail growth.

3. Common Infections You Could Get

If the cuticles are handled roughly or if the eponychium is cut, the protective seal will be broken allowing bacteria and fungus to enter the skin causing infection. This is usually made worse if the manicure tools used have not be sterilised properly, or if the open wound is not immediately disinfected. The skin around the nails are extremely sensitive so even the tiniest nick could potentially cause redness, swelling, pain and sometimes even pus.

4. Foods For Nail Health

Nails are made out of protein, so adding more good protein, such as chicken, eggs, dairy and soybeans to your diet will help encourage strong nail growth.


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