Adding This Simple Step Into My Nail Routine Made My Manicures Look Salon-Grade |
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Adding This Simple Step Into My Nail Routine Made My Manicures Look Salon-Grade

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt about getting an elevated-looking manicure, it’s good cuticle work. Way back when I first started doing my nails, I couldn’t work out why my DIY manicures never ended up quite as neat as my nail tech’s or pictures I’d see on Instagram. Now, having sat in the salon chair with many a celebrity nail tech in my role as a beauty journalist, I’ve come to learn that expensive-looking nails are 80% cuticle work.

Groomed cuticles—the skin around our nail plates—really do lay the foundation for a long-lasting, professional-looking manicure. And they can make or break the overall appearance of your nails. With “cuticle removers” receiving over 6000 Google searches each month, we’re clearly all wanting to upgrade our manicures. However, there are some important things to know about keeping your cuticles healthy and how to safely improve the appearance of your cuticles. So, I enlisted the help of Michelle Class, celebrity manicurist and Sally Hansen ambassador, to shed light on how to safely remove our cuticles and the best cuticle removers to try at home.

What Is the Nail Cuticle?

Sheer pink manicure

Ok, so what actually is the cuticle anyway? “The nail cuticle is a layer of clear skin located along the bottom edge of your finger or toe, known as the nail bed. Its primary function is to protect the new nail from bacteria when it grows out from the nail root,” says Class. It turns out that this small piece of skin actually plays a big role in the overall appearance of your nails, as well as the longevity of your manicure, says Class. “Cuticle prep is crucial for the overall look of a manicure. Properly prepped cuticles help create a clean, polished look, allowing the nail polish to be applied smoothly and last longer,” she says. “Neglected cuticles can lead to a messy appearance and may cause the polish to lift and chip prematurely.” Pushing back your cuticles can also make your nails look longer, and maintaining healthy cuticles helps to prevent hangnails too.

How to Remove the Nail Cuticle

How to remove your cuticles

There are several ways to remove the nail cuticle, but some should only be done by a qualified nail tech to avoid causing damage.

1. Cuticle Softener and Pusher: Apply a cuticle softener or remover, then gently push back the cuticle with a cuticle pusher. “For non-professionals, the safest and best method to remove the cuticle is to use a cuticle softener or remover, followed by gently pushing back the cuticle with a pusher,” says Class. “This minimises the risk of injury and infection.”

2. Cuticle-Remover Creams: These dissolve dead skin around the nail bed, making it easier to wipe away.

3. Cuticle Trimmers: A small tool to trim away excess cuticle skin. However, these should only be used by a professional nail technician. “It is not recommended for non-professionals to cut their cuticles,” says Class. “Cutting the cuticles can lead to nicks, cuts, and potential infections, as well as damage the nail bed. It’s safer to push back the cuticles gently after softening them.”

4. Cuticle Exfoliation: Using a gentle exfoliant to slough off dead skin cells.

How Often Should You Remove Your Cuticles?

How often to remove cuticles

“Cuticles should be managed and maintained regularly, but not necessarily removed frequently,” says Class. “A good practice is to push back the cuticles once a week after a shower or bath when the skin is soft. Over-manipulating or frequently removing cuticles can damage the skin and nails.”

Ready to find the best cuticle removers? Scroll ahead for our tried-and-tested edit.

The Best Cuticle Removers, Tried and Tested

The best cuticle removers

1. Beauty Pie Cuticle Remover

Cuticle Remover, Conditioning With Phy+ and Glycerin


Cuticle Remover Conditioning With Phy+ and Glycerin



Price shown is members’ price.

Wow, this one really makes such a difference to my at-home manis. This cuticle gel helps to nibble away at dead skin around the nails and makes softens the cuticles to make them easier to push back. You only have to leave it on for two minutes and it magically removes dryness, leaving behind softened nails and no dry cuticles in sight. Grab a bottle—you won’t regret it.

2. Templespa From Strength to Strength Nail & Cuticle Treatment Serum

From Strength to Strength


From Strength to Strength Nail & Cuticle Treatment Serum



My cuticles have been transformed since using the nail serum nightly. After a long stint of gel polish, this nourishing formula (which contains 65 minerals) brought my nails and cuticles back to good health one more. It hydrates and softens hard and dry skin around the nails, leaving them soft and hydrated. I like to use this as maintenance to keep my cuticles looking healthy, and I’ve been getting fewer hang nails since using it.

3. Sally Hansen Instant Cuticle Remover

Sally Hansen Instant Cuticle Remover 29.5ml


Instant Cuticle Remover



After seeing rave reviews on TikTok, I picked up a bottle of this cuticle remover and I haven’t looked back. Leave the gel formula on for a couple of minutes and watch as your cuticle is easily buffed away with a cuticle pusher. It’s made my at-home manicures so much more professional, and I love how quick and easily it gets the job done. “It’s super effective in softening and removing cuticles while being gentle on the skin. Always remember to wash it off before you apply polish,” says Class.

4. Tweezerman Pushy & Nail Cleaner

Tweezerman Pushy & Nail Cleaner Tool


Pushy & Nail Cleaner Tool



This dual-ended too makes it easy to push back your cuticles after applying a cuticle remover, or simply after showering or bathing when the cuticles are softer. Made from easy-to-clean stainless steel, this is a nail tool that will serve you for many years and is more sustainable than wooden orange sticks.

5. OPI Exfoliating Cuticle Cream

Exfoliating Cuticle Cream


Exfoliating Cuticle Cream



You’ll often spot nail technicians using this cuticle cream so you know it will deliver professional-looking results. The gel-cream formula is gentle, making it great for sensitive skin, and it effectively exfoliates away dryness. Simply rub into nails and you’ll be left with perfectly groomed cuticles.

6. CND Cuticle Eraser

Cnd Cuticle Eraser Gentle Exfoliator for Women 0.5 Oz


Cuticle Eraser



This creamy formula is somewhat magical. It ever so gently melts away dead skin to leave the cuticle and surrounding skin around the nails baby soft. It’s gentle enough to use regularly to keep cuticles in check.

7. Blue Cross Cuticle Remover

Blue Cross Cuticle Remover 6fl Oz


Cuticle Remover



This one is one the expensive side, but the large bottle will last you forever. It has a runny consistency, so you’ll need to use a cotton wool pad to apply it, but it gets to work almost instantly on dry cuticles and has tonnes of great reviews.

8. Diptyque Exfoliating Hand Wash

Diptyque Exfoliating Hand Wash


Exfoliating Hand Wash



An exfoliating hand wash is a great way to keep dry skin and cuticles in check daily. And it doesn’t get much chicer than Diptyque’s, which contains tiny granules of ground olive stones to buff the skin which a softening effect.

9. Tweezerman Rockhard Cuticle Nipper

Tweezerman Rockhard Cuticle Nipper


Rockhard Cuticle Nipper



You don’t want to use this directly on the cuticles. But, if you have an annoying hang nail at the sides of your nails, these are ideal for cleanly nipping it away to prevent it from catching on anything and everything.



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