When you go to a salon for a manicure, no matter how simple or complex, you will notice many steps involved.
One of the most critical steps to every manicure is pushing back the cuticles.
If you want to save money and recreate your manicure at home, you’re going to want to learn how to safely and adequately deal with your cuticles.
The good news is, pushing back cuticles isn’t complex or challenging.
With chemical cuticle remover, cuticle removers such as an orange stick or metal cuticle pusher, and cuticle oil, you can easily recreate your dream manicure right from home.
And in case you were wondering - yes, pushing cuticles is an essential piece of the manicure puzzle.
Getting rid of the excess skin from the nail plate will create gorgeous, longer, and overall healthy nails that present the perfect appearance with and without nail polish.
But how to push back cuticles correctly? Keep reading to discover how to deal with cuticles safely and effectively.
Why Push Your Cuticles?
Why should you push back your cuticles? Is it really necessary? While this might seem like one of those small steps you can skip without worry, it’s actually vital that you push your cuticles back. Here are three critical reasons why:
- Extends the longevity of your manicure. Whether you’re applying polish or acrylic nails, the products need the nail plate to adhere to. Nail products are not going to bond to cuticles - so getting rid of them will automatically extend the longevity of your manicure.
- Prevents infection. Cuticles team up with the proximal fold to fend off infections, which is why it is not recommended to cut them. However, pushing is a-okay as they will still fulfill their function: seal off the nail root (also called nail matrix) and fight off potential infections.
- Creates a more beautiful appearance. Fewer cuticles mean a longer, neater, and more attractive set of nails. The lack of dead cuticle skin can also cause some glossiness, and who doesn’t love glossy nails?
Pushing vs. Cutting Cuticles
The term “pushing” and “cutting” are frequently used interchangeably, but they couldn’t be further from the opposite.
Pushing cuticles is not the same as cutting them.
When you cut the cuticle, you will use a cuticle trimmer to remove it entirely rather than push it down.
It is not recommended to cut cuticles. As mentioned previously, cuticles work with the proximal fold to fight off nail bed infections.
Cutting can accidentally remove the necessary, thin skin (cuticle and proximal fold), leading to infection.
Not only that but cutting cuticles can lead to thicker cuticle growth over time.
It can impact the overall cuticle appearance causing discoloration and a jagged look. In some cases, cut cuticles grow back hard and rough.
To keep cuticles healthy, avoid cutting - stick to pushing.
The only time you should use a trimmer is to trim hangnails or excess cuticle skin that’s sticking out.
How to Use a Cuticle Pusher
Although it might seem intimidating, pushing your cuticles back isn’t too challenging.
All you need is a bowl of warm water, a chemical cuticle remover, cuticle oil, and a pusher (orange stick or metal pusher).
Regardless of which type of pusher you use, make sure you hold it at a 45-degree angle.
Gently push the thin skin growing at the base of the nail (cuticles) downward until you’re satisfied with the result.
How To Push Your Cuticles: Step-by-step
Although you could technically push without preparation, any nail tech will agree that is a big no-no.
Proper preparation will ensure you get the best results with no pain or interruptions involved. Here’s how to do it like a pro.
Step 1: Remove nail polish using a non-acetone polish remover.
It’s essential to do this first, as using nail polish remover after pushing your cuticles back can cause an uncomfortable stinging.
Step 2: Cut and trim your nail plate until you’ve reached the desired length and shape.
Step 3: Soak nails in warm water for around five minutes.
This will soften the nails for more efficient pushing. You can add oil to the water for added moisturizer, such as coconut oil.
Step 4: Dry the nails with a soft cloth and apply cuticle remover liberally.
Massage the oil into your fingernails, paying extra close attention to the cuticle area.
Step 5: Use the pusher to push back your cuticles.
When you push back your cuticles, make sure to use gentle downward pressure.
Carefully push around the entire bottom surface area of the nail until satisfied.
It’s best to have your hand on a flat surface.
Step 6: Wipe with a clean washcloth.
Doing so will eliminate any leftover dead skin that might be hanging around.
If you’re still struggling with dead skin and hangnails, cut them with a nail trimmer.
Step 7: Wash hands with warm soapy water.
Again, this is done to get rid of any excess skin caused by pushing back your cuticles.
Step 8: Care for your nail bed.
Moisturizing your nails - especially around the cuticle area - is imperative after pushing back your cuticles.
You can use cuticle-specific oil, hand cream, petroleum jelly, etc.
Is It Bad to Cut Your Cuticles?
Nine times out of ten, it is not recommended to cut your cuticles.
While you can trim away excess dead skin and hangnails, the focus should be to push back your cuticles rather than cut them entirely.
Cutting your cuticles can lead to accidental removal of the cuticle entirely, which will leave your nails susceptible to bacteria which can lead to infection.
Not only that, but the cuticle can grow back thicker, rougher, and discolored.
How often should you push your cuticles?
You should not need to push back your cuticles more than once per week, if even.
In fact, with proper nail care and care for your cuticles, you shouldn’t need to use a pusher more than once or twice a month.
How do you push cuticles back without a cuticle pusher?
You do not need a unique tool. A cotton swab, cotton ball, and even your nails can be used to handle cuticle skin.