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You’ve probably heard it a million times: You should leave cuticle trimming to a professional. And with good reason, if you cut too much, it can lead to a bacteria or yeast infection. While it is best to let nail technicians do the work, they can also get a little too nipper-happy and accidentally cut the live skin around the nail. So what should you do? Read on to get the lowdown on cuticle care and how to keep your salon visits to a minimum.

Nail Care - Nip vs Push

When to Push

The easiest way to keep cuticles in check—and avoid over-nipping— is to tend to them daily. Make it a habit to gently push back the cuticle, or the dead skin on the nail plate, every time you shower. The warm water will soften your cuticles and make them easier to remove. By pushing back your cuticles daily, they won’t become overgrown, which means less maintenance during your manicure.

When to Nip

Did you know that trimming or cutting the cuticle doesn’t actually contribute to the overall health of your nails? It simply ensures a clean canvas to provide the best adhesion for polish or acrylic or gel enhancements. The only time your nail tech should break out the cuticle nippers is to remove the dead tissue hanging off the nail plate after scraping. Before any manicure, make sure you tell your tech that you want minimal cuticle nipping. Unfortunately, more often than not, many nail professionals nip when it’s not absolutely necessary. Pushing back the cuticles with a cuticle pusher takes more time and effort, but it’s always the safer bet in the long run.

A couple of things to keep in mind

  • Ask your nail tech to go over the salon’s sanitization process. You absolutely do not want them to use a stainless steel cuticle pusher or nipper that hasn’t been sanitized—this can lead to infection if the living tissue around the nail is accidentally cut.
  • Use cuticle oil at least 1-2 times a day to keep them manageable. Dried-out cuticles tend to look ragged and frayed and are more difficult to push back.