Your cuticles protect your nails from infection, so care for them wisely. Massage cuticle oil into the nails as part of your manicure ritual to keep them from drying out and looking ragged. On a daily basis, massage it into your cuticles to soften your hands and discourage pesky hangnails.
Don't confuse your eponychium with your cuticles. The cuticle is the dead skin that sticks to the nail plate, while the eponychium is the live skin along the nail edge. Cuticle oil also moisturizes this layer of skin, keeping it soft and improving the appearance of your hands.
During a Manicure
Apply cuticle oil after you've removed old polish, and clipped, filed and buffed your nails. The oil expediently softens the cuticles, so you can push them back easily with a cuticle stick. This leaves the nails with an evenly rounded, more oval shape, and gives plenty of space for polish and the application of acrylics, if you choose. Pushing back is preferable to clipping the cuticles, which can leave you with ragged edges and nail beds that are vulnerable to bacteria.
A Must for Moisture
Cuticle oils made with avocado, grapeseed or jojoba oil offer natural moisture to this delicate area. Avocado oil boasts anti-bacterial properties and penetrates deeply into the layers of the skin to provide long-lasting moisture. Jojoba oil, which is really a wax ester, has a makeup similar to the skin's collagen, making it particularly helpful for those with dry, sensitive cuticles. Grapeseed oil contains linoleic acid, which -- when applied topically to the cuticles -- provides antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
For Massages, Too
Use cuticle oil as a lubricant for a hand massage, during or separate from a manicure. Massaging the cuticles helps increase circulation in the fingertips and may induce faster nail growth. Hand massage contributes to stress reduction and may help those with arthritis of the hand or stiff finger joints.