Contributed by our friend Hayden Stewart
The cuticles are some of the most obvious parts of your hands, so when they become dry and cracked from chemicals, dry weather, or simply genetics, your first impulse might be to hide them in shame.
There’s no need to give up hope on your nails; you just might need to try some less traditional approaches. Read on to find out how to soften up your cuticles, keep them healthy, and reverse years of damage.
1—Natural Oil Remedies
You can find oils in your local drugstore prepared specifically for cuticles, but why pay for the name when you can go with simple, more home remedies?
• Argan oil is typically used to moisturize the hair, but it also has big benefits for your skin and nails. Not only is it non-greasy, it also has anti-inflammatory properties that will soften your cuticles and keep them from becoming infected.
• Vitamin E can be found in most pharmacies for a fair price, and with antioxidant properties, you’ll be protecting your cuticles for the long-haul.
• Cacao butter is a natural cream that prevents ulceration or other injuries and protects the skin from harmful UV rays in sunlight. Furthermore, if you have any scars from cuts and infected tissue, this cream will reduce the appearance of those skin anomalies.
• Almond oil is another kind of oil that has huge benefits for the appearance of skin and hair due to its emollient, restorative properties.
To allow the oil to fully penetrate the skin, apply directly after a shower when your pores are open and your skin has been softened by the steam.
2—Supplement Your Diet
Even if you strive to eat properly, it can still be a struggle to get all the nutrients your body needs. And if you’re noticing problems with your cuticles, this can be one of the telltale signs of a vitamin deficiency.
Low vitamins A and E are a big culprit, but you also should make sure you’re getting your daily dose of essential fatty acids through fish oil supplements or consuming more spinach and seafood.
3—Avoid Harsh Chemicals
While cold weather has harmful drying effects on the skin, cleaning with harsh chemicals can be even worse. Even something as simple as washing dishes daily can cause damage to your cuticles and hands.
Be proactive and protect your hands with rubber gloves whenever you are cleaning, washing dishes, or otherwise working with harsh chemicals. For an added layer of protection, you can also moisturize your hands before bedtime and wear cotton gloves to hold the moisture in while you sleep.
4—Take a Break from Manicures
If you always have paint on your nails, you probably look stylish, but you’re also potentially damaging your cuticles and nails in the process. When removing nail polish, stick to acetone-free formulas, as acetone is extremely drying and contributes to brittle nails and dry cuticles.
Additionally, artificial nails weaken your natural nails and cuticles over time. They can even cause permanent deformities to the nail bed, which makes it harder for the cuticles to do their job.
Also, be on the lookout for rough manicurists. Some nail technicians work with a heavy hand, with many still cutting cuticles, a practice that dermatologists have found does more harm than good.
A safer alternative is a wooden orange stick to push the cuticles back. Your nails will appear longer and healthier, all without the risk of infection that comes with using cuticle scissors.
Your cuticles are important to your nail health, creating a protective barrier over the tissue that grows your nails. If your cuticles are in jeopardy, so too are your nails. But if you invest time in strengthening the cuticle and keeping infection at bay, you’ll enjoy long, shiny nails without the cost of an expensive manicure.
Hayden Stewart is a media relations specialist and contributing writer for Zoetic.