Rehabilitating Bad Cuticles

So. I’m a very lazy person when it comes to beauty — I don’t wear makeup (first, my skin is too picky for it, and second, it’s just too much trouble), and only recently got back into wearing nail polish. My cuticles are terrible. They have been neglected and abused and have been trying to swallow my poor nails whole. They tend to be hard and crunchy and just all around NASTY. (No infections, though, just bad skin!)

After paying good money for China Glaze and OPI nail polish, though, they’d look pretty stupid on my nails with the terrible cuticles, so it was time to dig in and DO something about them.

I couldn’t have done any of it without the assistance of some of the great nail polish blogs out there — some of them have the most amazing helpful hints!

Here are some of the steps I’ve been taking, and I’m already seeing improvements after two weeks:

1. Sally Hansen Cuticle Remover — this stuff is brilliant! Use it once a week to remove the dead cuticle, hangnails, and those stupid raggedy bits we all end up with after all the things we put our hands through. It says to leave it on for only 15 seconds, but you will probably need a bit more time unless your skin is sensitive. It does actually dissolve a layer or two of skin, and will also dissolve a layer or two of your nails, so following masa_inn’s advice, I’m now only using it when I’m actually wearing polish. It’s also great for calluses — I have a terrible one on my left middle finger from writing, and this has been getting rid of some of the worst of it.

Other than leaving it on for a little longer than the advertised time, follow the directions on the bottle. I like the wooden cuticle pushers — can’t stand the feel of metal on that part of my fingers — but your mileage may vary. And be sure to wash it off when you’re done!

2. Cuticle oil, balm, cream, etc. etc. — there are a lot of different ones, but whatever one you use, put it on whenever you’re able to. I’ve followed a lot of peoples’ advice and have some at work, some at home near my chair, some in the bathroom, and I’d put some in the kitchen except that as soon as I leave the kitchen I’m in the living room near my chair, so I just put some on then. There is no such thing as too much cuticle oil/balm/cream/whatever.

Some of the ones I’m using right now:

LUSH Lemony Flutter — it’s a bit pricey, but a little goes a long way. It’s a delicious lemon scent, and also works on dry heels and elbows. It’s also cruelty-free and the company has some really good environmental ethics. (Most of their products are also vegan, but Lemony Flutter is not because it has Lanolin and Beeswax in it.)

Qtica Intense Cuticle Repair Balm — also a bit pricey, and a tiny jar, but you use so little on each application it will last a long time. It’s a bit sticky — a very heavy cream — but put a tiny bit on each cuticle and then massage in, and it makes them feel AMAZING. It actually sinks in pretty well (use a tiny, TINY bit!), and if you end up with too much left over, just rub it into dry areas on your hands — you’ll be glad you did.

Creative Solar Oil — this is a very light mixture of oils that can be brushed directly on the nail/cuticle and then massaged in. It sinks in like magic, with no stickiness at all. It also comes in lots of different sizes and isn’t expensive at all. I got three of the tiny bottles for ‘stashing everywhere I go’ use.

Creative Solar Balm — a paste/balm/cream version of the Solar Oil — great for travel (it’s a solid, so you don’t have to worry about leaks), but definitely use only a tiny amount. It’s a little bit greasier than the liquid oil — I got too much this morning in the car and ended up having to rub it all over my hands and elbows too.

OPI Avoplex Cuticle Treatment — I use the ‘Cuticle Oil To Go’ right now. It’s somewhere between an oil and a cream — kind of a gel — with a brush to apply it directly to your cuticles. I also brush a little bit under my nails to hopefully soften the skin that gets so hard there. It smells really good to me, too.

I want to try the Avoplex Exfoliating Cuticle Treatment, too, but for now I’m in the middle of the heavy-duty rehabilitating process instead of just maintenance. I’ll probably try that once I get things a little more under control. One of the things that does the best though, is persistence. I have to keep at it instead of getting lazy again.

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