Although the cuticles are often neglected, they serve an important function by protecting the fragile nail bed -- the area where the nails attach to the skin. The cuticles take a real beating when they are bitten, pulled or snipped, resulting in unsightly, ragged skin, painful hangnails and possible infection. Moisturize and push back jagged cuticles to get them looking healthy again.
Simple, Effective Moisturizers
Moisturize with an over-the counter cuticle oil or just as easily make your own. A combination of unpasteurized honey, aloe vera juice and olive oil keeps the cuticles moist and prevents painful cracks. Mix a small amount of each in a bowl or cup, then massage the mixture into the skin around your fingernails for about five minutes. Repeat two or three times per week. Alternatively, soak your fingers in a mixture of equal parts olive oil and warm water. You can also massage a drop of olive oil or a dab of petroleum jelly into each cuticle after bathing, before bed, or whenever the skin feels dry. For best results, be sure to moisturize your cuticles after each time you wash your hands.
Repair Jagged Edges
Soak your hands in warm water until cuticles are soft. Once soft, gently trim excess skin or hang nails. Trim and file your nails. For best results, trim nails straight across the tips, then round the edges with the nail file. Push back your cuticles gently with a cuticle pusher or orange stick then massage cuticle oil into your cuticles while your hands are still warm and soft. Follow up with your chosen cuticle-moisturizing regimen.
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M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.