Exfoliation: The Secret To Great Cuticles
Winter’s chill and the dryness of indoor heat are especially harsh on cuticles – so are cuticle scissors, but we seem to need them everyday this time of year. Try this quick and soothing fix for soft, manicured cuticles (and silky smooth hands.)
Begin with an extra emollient hand cream. Look for creams containing as many of the following ingredients as can be packed into one bottle: petrolatum, mineral oil, paraffin, beeswax and candelilla wax, allantoin, neutralizing phytic acid, shea butter and vitamin E – the “greasier” the better! It won’t be on your hands long. Massage the cream into each cuticle and nail bed until cuticles are softened.
Without washing hands, gently but firmly massage an exfoliant, buffer or body scrub over hands and cuticles. The coarser the better as this step is both removing the dry cuticles and the emollient hand cream.
A non-sudsing formula is best. Spend time on each cuticle. With your thumb from the opposite hand, follow the line of each nail massaging the cuticle in a circular motion. Continue until cuticles are smooth and the exfoliant has absorbed most of the cream.
Wash hands in warm water (no soap) and pat dry.
Your final step to great cuticles is to apply a lightweight, non-greasy hand lotion. Look for lotions that absorb quickly, protect against the elements and strengthen nails and cuticles with pro-vitamin B5.
Enjoy lotions with your favorite fragrance, but beware of heavy scents as they are often drying.
Continue to pamper and keep cuticles healthy in the shower. Use your body scrub or a clean warm washcloth to gently but firmly massage cuticles.
Some helpful information to help you choose the perfect cream and lotion:
- Petrolatum and mineral oil: molecules are too large to absorb into the skin so they create a protective barrier between your skin and the air. There is also a very low occurrence of allergic reactions and they won’t clog pores or breed bacteria like plant extracts.
- Neutralizing phytic acid counters damaging reactions caused by iron in tap water
- Shea Butter soaks deep into skin and hydrates
- Allantoin helps heal wounds and irritations and stimulates the growth of healthy tissue.
Helpful information about your exfoliant:
- Use caution if the skin around your cuticles is sore or broken.
- Natural exfoliants include oatmeal, sugar cane and blue cornmeal (blue cornmeal also removes excess oil from the skin. This is a good alternative if you find the emollient cream to be too oily).
- For a quick cuticle exfoliation try mixing 1 Tbsp plain yogurt and 1 Tbsp flax seed meal into a paste and massage into hands and cuticles.
- If your exfoliant is not course enough, you may need to repeat the first two steps. Be careful when repeating so you don’t irritate your cuticles.
Tip: Open all bottles before beginning the process. Caps become difficult to remove when your hands are covered with cream and exfoliant!