It goes without saying that, in winter, things get dry and flaky. Just get a good moisturizer and handle it — no time for whiners! Except a certain part of my body that until now has mostly remained inoffensive and largely unnoticed won't stop nagging me with uncomfortable shredding and hardening (ew) to the point where I cannot help but summon the fictional spirit of Karen Smith in lamenting the sorry state of my cuticles.
Normally, I just slather my hands in a nice utilitarian hand cream and dodge most of the cracking and flaking that happens after I wash my hands (and not washing my hands isn't really an option during flu season). But these damn slivers of protective skin just wouldn't have it. They insisted instead on remaining stiff to the point of shredding into painful hangnails and raggedy-looking nail bangs.
I coaxed them. I asked them to behave. I sternly warned them of the harm and inconvenience they were imposing upon me. I threatened to cut them (which was mostly empty since you're not supposed to do that and they were shredding already so it would've been a bit redundant).
They relented not! So I got a bunch of stuff to melt them into obedience.
OK, I'll admit, I did nip a few cuticles. I remember a manicurist telling me once that you're only supposed to cut hangnails that are waving at you; if they're still firmly attached to the rest of your skin, it's live tissue. Now I can't stop thinking of my hangnails going, "Yoo-hoo!" and waving daintily at me as if to flirt with my cuticle nippers.
But that seemed to make things worse, laying waste to the entire area around my nail bed, making it red, tender, and still very very dry. After treating the owwie parts with Neosporin for fear of infection, I started squirting them with all kinds of cuticle oils and treatments.
The best thing to soften up some creepy cuticles: this exfoliating goop from Deborah Lippmann that removes cuticles. I apply a drop on each nail and let it marinate for about a minute before using a wooden pusher-stick thingy to push my cuticles up and peel off the dead skin. It doesn't hurt or tingle and, in fact, works like a charm.
I follow up with DL's cuticle oil because these came to me together so I feel like I should use them together (kind of like a shampoo/conditioner duo). It has jojoba and coconut oil as well as vitamin E — sounds heavy, but it actually absorbs pretty quickly. I like rubbing the excess into the backs of my fingers and hands too.
Not gonna lie — I've become something of a cuticle oil junkie now. I like Julep's version because the convenient rollerball bottle means easy application, and I don't really have to worry about it leaking in my little makeup pouch that I tote around in whatever purse I'm carrying (the inside of that little pouch has seen some shit).
This cuticle oil has essential oils as well as vitamin E and leaves a nice, vaguely fresh, citrusy scent. I've used it on some dry spots on my skin, too, actually since it's easy to spot-apply.
Also, a BIG factor in not effing up your cuticles has to do with the harsher chemicals that you may be subjecting them to, like nail polish remover.
This soy-based, natural remover from Treat Collection is just like rubbing massage oil on your nails with a cotton pad... but then your nail polish comes off. I was using a UV-less gel polish formula, too (Sally Hansen's Miracle Gel range is amazing for not chipping for a full week, BTW).
This remover kind of blew my mind the first time I used it. Instead of just going to town directly on your nails with a cotton pad soaked in it, it works better to dab that saturated cotton pad on each nail, let it begin to break down the polish and by the time you go from nail to nail, it sweeps off super-easily.
Just know that it means so much business that it also stripped ink from a magazine that I had dripped some on, so don't drip this anywhere you don't want it stripping color. But this is an excellent alternative to acetone, which not so great for your fingers last I checked.
After seeing the positive effects those products, my cuticle collection has grown. I'm like that creepy lady in your office constantly face-misting or always flossing in the bathroom, except I'm massaging my cuticles.
I've actually been wearing my nails bare, or with a clear topcoat since my nails have become much stronger from all the nourishing stuff in the cuticle oils. The white parts are all uniformly white, whereas before they were kind of unevenly mottled.
Maybe it seems inconsequential, but nothing makes me feel more like a fancy bitch than paying gratuitous amounts of attention to inconsequential parts of my body that are able to be groomed. What's next? My split ends? My decollaté? Actually, that's a level up from inconsequential. Taking care of my hand/finger skin feels nice to me, like I'm actually participating in anti-aging like an adult.
- What grooming practices make you feel all smugly grownup?
- Does anyone else obsess about their cuticles? Maybe with a little nickname — your cutes? Nail bangs? I'mma go with nail bangs.