How To Push Back Cuticles

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Everyday activities such as cleaning and cooking, harsh chemicals from manicures, the application of acrylic and gel nails, and frequent hand washing can lead to dry, cracked, peeling cuticles.

If left untreated, this, in turn, provides a gateway for bacteria and fungus to enter and cause nail fungal infections.

In this article we are going to talk about the importance of cuticle health. We’ll look at the question why do you push back cuticles and discuss how to push back your cuticles properly.


What Are Cuticles?

The cuticles are a ridge of skin located along the bottom edge of your finger (or toe) nail where the nail grows out.

The cuticle function is to protect new nails from bacteria when they grow out from the nail root, also known as the germinal matrix.

The area around the cuticle is delicate and thin, so it’s prone to getting dry, damaged, and infected.

Why Do You Push Back Cuticles?

Cuticle Pusher

Pushing back cuticles is an important part of overall nail care. Healthy cuticles encourage healthy nail growth.

And healthy nails grow faster and stronger.

The main function of the cuticle is to protect your nails from infection. Dry, thick, overgrown cuticles that have not been taken care of can split or tear. This can lead to splitting and tearing of live skin, leading to hangnails which can be painful and are easily infected.

One of the best ways to prevent hangnails and infection is to keep your cuticles pushed back.

This keeps the nail root covered and sealed off from bacteria and fungus.

We are going to get into a few more tips about cuticle care a little further down.

Pushing back cuticles is not just about having healthy nails, it’s also about looking good! There’s no sense in giving yourself a nice manicure, only for that manicure to be framed by wrinkly, dry cuticles!

Not to mention, overgrown cuticles can make it hard to apply nail products properly.

Pushing back your cuticles allows your nail product to bond entirely onto your nail plate and not onto the cuticle. If your cuticles are not pushed back and your nail product is applied onto your cuticles, instead of the nail plate, that area will lift and peel.

This can be a pathway for water and potentially fungal infection.

One of the best ways to prevent hangnails and infection is to keep your cuticles pushed back.

Your cuticles take up valuable real estate on your nail. Pushing back your cuticles will make your nails look longer. This is especially important if you keep your nails short.

Acrylic and gel nails last longer when they have a larger surface area to hold onto, this prevents them from popping off easily. By pushing back your cuticles, you are increasing the surface area for the nail product to adhere to.

How To Push Back Cuticles Properly

Orangewood Stick

To properly push back cuticles, you are going to need a metal cuticle pusher  or an orangewood stick .

It’s extremely important that you soften your cuticles before attempting to push them back.

Soak fingers in warm water for 5-10 minutes.

With the help of a cuticle pusher, GENTLY push back your cuticle.

If the new young nail located at the base of the nail plate is pressed down too hard, it might not grow out smoothly, and there will be visible indentations or ridges on the nail later.

If you push too hard when pushing back cuticles, you can get irreversible indentations when they grow out. So we cannot stress enough to be gentle!

If you find your cuticles are not easily pushing back, don’t force them. Soak your nails for a little longer in warm water with a little bit of oil.

Once you’re finished soaking, rub a little bit of oil into the cuticles and try again.

How Often Should You Push Back Your Cuticles?

You should push back your cuticles every 4-7 days. Don’t overdo it.

Cuticle Care Tips

Cuticle CAre

Here are a few helpful tips for maintaining healthy cuticles.

1. Do not clip, trim or remove cuticles.

Trimming cuticles is a no-no. You are trimming off the protective barrier, which can lead to infection.

Instead, moisturize them regularly with cuticle oil to keep them soft, and push them back, rather than cutting them off.

2. Wear gloves when cleaning.

Harsh detergents and overexposure to water can damage and dry out cuticles.

3. Avoid rough manicurists or manicurists who trim cuticles.

If you come back from the nail salon with sore fingers, then it’s time to get another manicurist.

Nails are often thought of as being strong and hard, but the nail structure is actually quite delicate. Not only can rough treatment of nails cause irreversible nail damage, but cuticle damage as well.

If your manicurist is trimming your cuticles, ask them not to. If they argue that it’s better for your nails or that your acrylics will last longer, then it’s time to shop around for a new manicurist.

Old habits die hard and sometimes when people are trained a certain way, they just stick to what they learned and don’t bother to keep up with current practices (like not trimming cuticles).

4. Keep your hands out of your mouth.

Biting your nails is obviously not good for your nails, but while you’ve got your fingers in there, if you feel a rough edge, you’ll be tempted to chew that off.

Chewing your cuticles is like trimming them off, only you are also introducing all the bacteria in your mouth as well.

5. Make cuticle oil part of your regular nail care routine.

Using cuticle oil regularly is the best way to ensure that your cuticles stay moisturized and healthy. Moisturized cuticles are also much easier to push back.

There are lots of different cuticle oils on the market available.

OPI ProSpa Nail and Cuticle Oil, 0.29 fl oz
OPI ProSpa Nail and Cuticle Oil, 0.29 fl oz
Ultra nourishing formula: Helps protect, replenish and strengthen cuticles; ProSPA nail and cuticle oil is a fast absorbing formula that conditions cuticles
$10.82 Amazon Prime
CND SolarOil Cuticle Oil, Natural Blend Of Jojoba, Vitamin E, Rice Bran and Sweet Almond Oils, Moisturizes and Conditions Skin, Pack Of 1, 0.25 oz.
CND SolarOil Cuticle Oil, Natural Blend Of Jojoba, Vitamin E, Rice Bran and Sweet Almond Oils, Moisturizes and Conditions Skin, Pack Of 1, 0.25 oz.
Keeps natural nails, nail polish and nail enhancements tough and flexible; Compatible with other nail treatments, CND Shellac, Vinylux, Plexigel, Brisa, and L&P
$9.90 Amazon Prime

But it’s relatively easy to make your own cuticle oil. The oils that have the most benefits for nails and cuticles are jojoba oil, olive oil, vitamin E oil, sweet almond oil, clove oil, coconut oil, castor oil and sunflower oil.

To your main oil or combination of oils, you can add essential oils. Not only do essential oils make things smell nice, there are some essential oils that are especially good for nails and cuticles.

Among them are myrrh, lemon, lavender, eucalyptus, carrot seed, grapefruit, rosemary, cypress, balsam of peru, roman chamomile and geranium.

Cuticle oil can be applied every day, several times if needed – especially if you live in a colder, drier climate.

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).