What Are Cuticle Removers?

S. Gonzales

When people speak about cuticle removers, they usually are referring to creams or liquids that are applied to cuticles that can remove excess tissue and dead skin skills from cuticle. Healthy parts of the cuticle remain intact on the nail. Chemical removers can be a painless alternative to cutting and trimming cuticles. Using chemical removers properly, however, is essential to keeping healthy nails, because using a remover improperly can lead to health problems or the outright removal of the cuticle.

Soaking the fingers may help soften the cuticles so that they may be removed with ease.
Soaking the fingers may help soften the cuticles so that they may be removed with ease.

Although the removal of the cuticle has been done traditionally with cutting or trimming techniques, the use of a cuticle remover can save time and effort. A good cuticle remover will leave the remaining parts of the cuticle intact and soft. These removers can be used during the manicuring process and during pedicures. The main purpose of using a cuticle remover is to detach the dead skin cells, excess tissue and keratin that are present on the cuticle.

Cotton balls may be used to apply cuticle removers.
Cotton balls may be used to apply cuticle removers.

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Common ingredients in cuticle removers are sodium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide. They also can be enriched with emollients to help moisturize and smooth the nails. It's not uncommon to find that they also contain humectants such as lanolin.

Generally, the remover is intended to be applied at the nail's base and then gently worked across and around the cuticle. After the remover has been allowed to work for the time specified on the product's packaging, the nails usually are washed with warm water. The nails are allowed to dry, then they are ready for further modification, such as painting. Other application techniques include using a cotton ball to spread the product and using a clean tissue to wipe it away after a few minutes.

Cuticle removers should not be confused with cuticle softeners. Softeners are liquids or creams that only wear down the cuticle for easy removal by subsequent cutting or trimming. For complete disengagement of the excess tissue and dead skin cells, cuticle removers are preferred.

Although many people use cuticle removers, there are certain dangers that can result from improper use or overuse of them. The manipulation of a cuticle's natural state could invite bacterial or yeast infections. Nail plate damage is not uncommon. People who use cuticle removers should be aware that overuse could result in the accidental removal of the entire cuticle.

Cuticle removers can can come in the form of creams.
Cuticle removers can can come in the form of creams.

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Discussion Comments


Cuticle removal is easiest when the cuticles are soft, just after a bath, shower or having your hands or feet in water. If a chemical cuticle remover is not available, push the cuticles back with an orange stick and clip off the dead cuticle skin with clippers. Be careful not to cut into the live cuticle. It is not recommended to clip cuticles when they are dry, as this can cause bleeding and thus pain.

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