Not everyone will need a cuticle remover, as some people are blessed with minimal cuticles and will never experience the pain of hangnails and ugly manicures. If you’re not one of those lucky people, getting your cuticles sorted properly will feel like a blessing. The best way to properly take care of your fingers? A high-quality cuticle remover.
- Introduction to Your Cuticles
- Top 10 Best Cuticle Removers 2021
- 1. Best Overall Cuticle Remover: Mini Skater Orange Wood Nail Sticks
- 2. Best Budget Cuticle Remover: Blue Cross Cuticle Remover
- 3. Best Hangnail Cuticle Remover: Tweezerman Mini Hangnail Squeeze Snip Nipper
- 4. ECBASKET Cuticle Trimmer With Cuticle Pusher
- 5. ProLinc Cuticle Eliminator
- 6. Best Premium Cuticle Remover: Sally Hansen Instant Cuticle Remover
- 7. Sharpest Cuticle Remover: OPOVE Cuticle Trimmer
- 8. Tweezerman Grip & Snip Spiral Spring Cuticle Nipper
- 9. OPI ProSpa Exfoliating Cuticle Cream
- 10. Elavae Manicure Pedicure Kit
- Guide to Cuticle Removal
- Final Words
Introduction to Your Cuticles
To remove or not remove, that is the question. And it’s quite a polarizing question at that. Some will tell you to leave the cuticle alone, while almost any manicurist will want to give all the cuticles a trim. Our advice? A neat cuticle goes a long way in terms of a neatly manicured nail.
So what do you look for when purchasing a cuticle remover? How do cuticle removers vary and which one should you select? The most important features of a cuticle remover are laid out below.
There are three main ways in which you can control your cuticles, which range in the aggressiveness of the treatment: pushing, dissolving, and cutting. This is just a little overview, and the full guide to each of the methods is included later on.
The mildest and recommended method of keeping the cuticles neat is to simply push them back towards the eponychium (the edge of the nail bed). This can be done regularly after showering when the cuticles are much softer. The most effective way of doing this is with a small cuticle pusher.
More stubborn cuticles may need a little more help to be easily pushed back. Using gels and liquids containing lye, you can soften and dissolve the tissue making them easier to push back or remove entirely.
Clipping or cutting the cuticles is sometimes done, but is not the recommended method. Usually, people will cut the excess tissue after pushing the cuticles back to achieve a neat look. Other times people will try to shave off the cuticle directly without pushing it off the nail, which is something that should never be done due to risk of infection and pain.
Ease of Use
While some cuticle removers require some serious attention and time to get the job done, other cuticle removers are simple sticks that help clean up and push back the skin around your nails. Ease of use depends a lot on the price and the time you’re willing to invest in your hand care routine. For this reason, make sure you’re paying attention to use instructions before purchasing.
Some cuticle removers come as a part of full nail and hand care kits, other cuticle removers are just simple scissors or even a wooden nail stick that can push back the cuticle. When purchasing a cuticle remover, carefully consider what tools are included as value varies depending on exactly what comes with your kit.
Top 10 Best Cuticle Removers 2021
1. Best Overall Cuticle Remover: Mini Skater Orange Wood Nail Sticks
Removal Method: Pushing
The orangewood sticks are old-school, traditional, and foolproof. It’s the classic way of pushing back your cuticles in a delicate manner, as the wood is gentle on the skin. It’s a much better option than using a metal cuticle pusher due to they’re gentleness on the skin, however, they are disposable so you will need to restock every so often.
How to Use
Before pushing back your cuticles, soften the skin to make it easier and more effective. You can use the flat end of the stick after a shower, or other cuticle removers such as ProLinc Cuticle Eliminator. The pointy end can be used for pushing cuticles or to clean up your manicure.
In the pack, you get 50 double-sided, disposable orangewood sticks. One side is flat, perfect for pushing back the cuticle, while the other is sharp. They’re 4.4 inches in length making them easy to store and even take with you.
- Gentle on skin
- Easy to use
- Disposable design means you need to repurchase from time to time
2. Best Budget Cuticle Remover: Blue Cross Cuticle Remover
Removal method: Dissolving
It’s an old-time favorite for many, as it does the job of removing cuticles extremely well. Formulated with skin-softening potash and lanolin, it will make the dead skin in your cuticles slide right off and at the same time leave the surrounding tissue soft.
How to Use
Apply the product to your cuticles trying to avoid the live skin around the nail, which may be quite difficult to do considering the watery consistency. Leave on for no longer than a minute then wipe off and scrape off any excess with an orangewood stick like these Mini Skater cuticle tools, or just use your nail.
Make sure to thoroughly wash your hands (or feet) afterward as the relatively harsh product can irritate living skin as well as the dissolve cuticles if you’re not careful, potentially leaving you with sensitive fingers.
You get a 6-fluid ounce bottle of the cuticle remover which will last you a very long time, even with regular use.
However, the size of the bottle as well as the form factor make it a little difficult to use. Pouring this remover into a smaller bottle with a dropper is recommended to make the application easier.
- You get quite a lot of product
- Dissolves cuticles with ease
- Thin consistency
- No easy applicator
3. Best Hangnail Cuticle Remover: Tweezerman Mini Hangnail Squeeze Snip Nipper
Removal Method: Cutting
Marketed towards men, these are handy little nippers to quickly snip off any hangnails. Despite the marketing of course ladies can use this tool too! It’s the perfect size to keep with you in the handbag in case of a snag.
How to Use
Although these are small they are still powerful at clipping away the excess cuticle skin. Due to the handy size, you can sort out any hangnails on the go, but they will also function well in your regular manicure routine.
In the pack, you will receive the small nippers along with the dedicated warranty. Unfortunately, it doesn’t include a case to protect the blades, meaning they can dull a lot faster. At least there’s a free sharpening service available if the blades do indeed get dull.
- Perfect for traveling
- Tweezerman free sharpening service
- Easy to clean
- No handy protective case
Removal Method: Cutting
The ECBASKET Cuticle Trimmer is a stylish set including a clipper and pusher that will help you to control any rogue hangnails and keep your cuticles tidy. The clippers supplied are sharp making an easy job of any loose skin. The set is made out of stainless steel, so it’s easy to sanitize in any antibacterial solution if required.
How to Use
It’s advisable to soften the cuticle before using a pusher with a remover such as Sally Hansen Instant Cuticle Remover or even cuticle oil. With the cuticle soft and pliable use the pusher to push the cuticle, and the scraper, if needed, to scrape away the remaining stubborn cuticle tissue.
Once the cuticle is out of the way, the clippers can be used to carefully remove any hangnails or excess tissue. Be careful not to cut into the proximal fold.
In the set, you get clippers along with a double-sided cuticle pusher. Both are made out of stainless steel, which is great for the clippers as they need to be sharp, but not so great for the pusher. Metal cuticle pushers are much easier to abuse as they are much more efficient at removing tissue than wood, or even your own nail.
- A good looking set of clipper and pusher
- Easy to sanitize
- The clippers are very sharp
- The pusher included is metal
Removal Method: Dissolving
It’s made in the USA and it’s here to eliminate your cuticles. Formulated with potassium hydroxide and glycerin, it will dissolve the cuticles away, but moisturize the remaining skin. It’s cruelty-free for the animals, but tough on unsightly cuticles.
How to Use
Using the neat applicator, saturate the cuticle and leave it to work for about 45 seconds, or a little longer if you have particularly gnarly cuticles. Gently scrape the nail in the cuticle area with a wooden stick to remove the dead tissue, and wash your hands with soap and water thoroughly afterward.
The remover comes in a 4-fluid ounce bottle with a nib for easy application. It’s a good amount of product for the price, and the applicator is superior to the Blue Cross cuticle remover, making the cuticle removal less of a fuss.
- Great applicator
- Contains glycerin for hydration
- Some scraping required
Removal Method: Dissolving
The formula is nourishing and gentle with plenty of gentle ingredients like aloe and chamomile extracts. For the amount you get, it’s more of a premium product, especially compared to the Blue Cross cuticle remover, but it does have an improved form factor with a thicker consistency and a handy bottle applicator.
How to Use
Apply the gel to your cuticles and leave it for up to a minute before pushing the cuticles back. As it’s a thicker gel formulation you can also apply it to calluses to reduce them and make the skin smoother. After using, wash your skin to remove the remaining product.
You get only 1 fluid ounce in the bottle, making this relatively pricey especially when compared to Blue Cross and ProLinc’s cuticle removers. However, this formula is thicker than the competitors and packed full of moisturizing ingredients.
- Thicker, gel formula
- Handy applicator bottle
- Great moisturizing ingredients
- A little pricey for the amount you get
7. Sharpest Cuticle Remover: OPOVE Cuticle Trimmer
Removal Method: Cutting
By purchasing trimmers from OPOVE you will receive a great product along with great customer care. These clippers are a little more on the expensive side but you get what you pay for – the best products tend to have the highest price tag.
How to Use
As with other cutters, like the ECBASKET Cuticle Trimmer or Tweezerman Mini Nipper, once you push back your cuticles you can trim the excess skin if needed. Make sure you don’t cut in too far and that you moisturize the cuticles afterward to relieve dryness.
You get a stainless steel cuticle trimmer supplied in a gift box and a lifetime guarantee. The blades are sharp making easy work of excess skin. If any part of the cutters breaks through use, the manufacturer will replace them as part of their lifetime warranty.
- Lifetime warranty
- Sharp blades
- Great quality and customer care
- A little more expensive
Removal Method: Cutting
Tweezerman Nippers definitely have a unique design not seen among other brands. The handles are all one spring, eliminating potential breaking of the mechanism. Made out of stainless steel these cuticle nippers are sure to last a while
How to Use
Although the handle design is unique, the operation of the tool is still the same – push the cuticle back and clip the excess skin. Because of the spring mechanism, the jaws don’t open as wide as the classic design like ECBASKET Cuticle Trimmer.
These clippers can be autoclaved or disinfected in with an antibacterial wash, however, the handle finish will come off if you clean them in harsh chemicals frequently.
You will get the cuticle nippers along with the warranty. Under this warranty you can send your Tweezerman nippers for free sharpening if they get dull – you only pay for the postage, which will inevitably be cheaper than getting a new tool.
- Unique design
- Can be autoclaved
- Great warranty and free sharpening
- The jaws don’t open as wide as in the classic design
Removal Method: Dissolving
The exfoliating cream is quite different from the other chemical-based cuticle removers on this list such as the Sally Hansen Instant Remover due to its unique formula. This cream doesn’t contain any lye to dissolve the skin, but instead uses AHA and BHA ingredients to remove the skin. Using acid exfoliators rather than alkaline lye is a much more gentle way to remove the skin.
How to Use
This cuticle exfoliator is in the form of a cream, which you apply to your cuticles. As the formulation is gentle on the skin, it requires to be left on for 10-15 minutes before washing off, but it won’t irritate the rest of the finger
The pack includes a 0.9 fluid ounce bottle of the cuticle exfoliating cream which is formulated specifically to be gentle and used in cuticle maintenance. Aside from exfoliating acids, many of the ingredients are nourishing and moisturizing, making it a great all-round cuticle treatment.
- Super gentle on the skin
- Uses acid rather than alkali to dissolve skin
- Plenty of nourishing ingredients
- May not be effective for tougher cuticles
- Quite pricey
Removal Method: Dissolving/Pushing
Although this kit isn’t the best product you can find for your cuticles, it’s still an affordable starting kit. Everything you get will get the job done, but don’t expect products to be high-end for the price. It may be a cheaper cuticle kit, but the company still has some integrity to keep their products cruelty-free and vegan.
How to Use
First, you apply the remover for around 30 seconds before using the pusher to remove the cuticles. Take care to not leave it on for too long as the remover is quite strong. The bottle doesn’t make it particularly easy on you with the application though, as the nib is quite large.
The three-piece kit includes a pusher, liquid remover, and cuticle oil to moisturize skin, which is everything you need to take care of the cuticles. The supplied pusher is metal, which may not be ideal for some people.
- The kit includes pusher and liquid remover
- Can be too strong
- The bottle nozzle is difficult to use
Guide to Cuticle Removal
Both men and women can greatly benefit from maintaining nice cuticles and nails. The maintenance itself isn’t difficult, and with a little bit of insight into the process, you will be managing your nails like a professional in no time.
What Are Cuticles?
There is a bit of misinformation regarding what the cuticle of the nail is, what it does, and how to treat it. The live bit of tissue covering the nail matrix is not the cuticle but the eponychium, and if you damage this part of your nail, it will hurt, and can even damage the matrix underneath.
As the nail grows, the attached tissue under the eponychium is pulled out – this thin layer that is attached to the nail is the cuticle and is not living tissue. Its job is to protect the matrix by forming a seal between the nail and the eponychium, but sometimes excessive amounts of the cuticle can bring problems of their own.
Often people refer to both the living and dead skin around the nail as the cuticle, which is where the misinformation comes from. In this article, we will refer to the living tissue as ‘eponychium’, and the dead skin that extends towards the top of the nail as ‘cuticle.’
Taking care of your nails, which includes your cuticles, is important to maintain their health and looks. Leaving your fingers to do their thing and grow wild can result in painful hangnails and an unkempt appearance. On the other hand, obsessively trimming and messing with your delicate nail bed can lead to nail damage and infections.
When the nail grows out, pulling the cuticle along, sometimes the cuticle remains tightly attached both to the nail and the eponychium, resulting in the proximal fold of the eponychium stretching. As the skin gets stretched, it becomes thinner and thinner, becoming tight, painful, and unsightly. When stretched thin enough the skin will start to rip, forming painful and unsightly snags in your cuticles.
It’s easy to tell the people who like to abuse their nails, as they sport a red and infected eponychium. In their obsession to keep the cuticles tidy, they remove too much of the cuticle and get under the eponychium. Breaking the seal between the nail and the eponychium will open the door to pathogens, manifesting as infected, red, and sometimes painful skin around the nails.
Being too aggressive around the nails in trying to remove cuticles and excess skin can also lead to cracked nails, nail bruising, and matrix damage. It’s extremely important to be gentle around your nails to prevent these kinds of injuries.
Why Remove Cuticles?
The desire to remove cuticles is twofold, affecting both aesthetics and health. Regardless of whether you’re male or female, taking care of the cuticles is an easy way to improve the appearance of your hands and keep your skin healthier.
Excessive cuticles are not only unsightly, but they also prevent you from having a neat manicure (or pedicure). Nail polishes and treatments aren’t designed to adhere to the skin but to the nail itself making applying products over the cuticle futile. If you decide to apply the products to the nail only, avoiding the overgrown cuticle, the nails will look more stubby and not very pleasing.
By pushing back and removing the cuticle you increase the surface area of the nail, greatly improving your mani and making your fingers look more slender.
The solution to issues with hangnails is to prevent the skin from stretching so thin in the first place. By making sure the cuticle is pushed back or removed, the eponychium won’t thin out so much as to cause rips and hangnails. The removal of the dead skin isn’t too difficult once you learn how to do it correctly, and it will improve your daily life as you minimize the open, painful wounds around your nails.
How to Take Care of Your Cuticles
As with all aspects of health and beauty, there’s regular maintenance as well as extra treatments. If your regular maintenance is tip-top, the need for more drastic treatments will be greatly reduced.
Cuticle maintenance to keep them healthy includes regular, gentle pushing, moisturizing, and massage. No cutting involved. Cuticle oil is your best friend and it keeps the skin moisturized, strong, and protected. Along with the massage, the cuticle’s grip on the nail can be loosened, preventing a tight eponychium. A full guide to cuticle maintenance is down below.
Sometimes there is just too much cuticle to deal with, especially if you’re not on top of the maintenance, in which case removal of the excess may be desirable. If you do decide to cut away any excess tissue it is absolutely imperative that you do not cut into the proximal fold of the eponychium.
However, chemical removal can be incorporated into regular maintenance if you have problematic cuticles, eliminating the need to bring sharp tools into the picture. Dissolving the cuticle has the added benefit of not breaking the seal between the eponychium and the nail itself.
Dissolve or Scrape?
Whether to scrape away or to dissolve the excess cuticle is a very personal question. Some people prefer to push their cuticles back in the shower, while others want to dissolve the dead skin and wipe it off. Both methods work for maintaining nail health and appearance and in the end, it’s up to you to decide which method you prefer.
Metal vs Wooden Tools
Both metal and wooden cuticle pushers are great, which one to use simply depends on your skill with the tools and the condition of your cuticles and nails.
These are great if you have thick, stubborn cuticles, and you’re willing to take the time to use the tool correctly. Generally, these pushers and scrapers are not recommended, as if you’re in a hurry and not careful with the tool you can damage your nails and eponychium.
Many will be tempted to work on dry cuticles when using those sharp metal scrapers leading to damage. Even though these tools are efficient, you will still need to get the cuticle to be pliable before using these scrapers and pushers.
The trick is to be slow and let the tool do the hard work – this means not applying a lot of force as you use the tool. In a way, you need to learn to have a sculptor’s touch, and really become skillful at using metal tools safely and efficiently.
Orangewood sticks like these Mini Skater cuticle tools are the gold standard of cuticle maintenance. As this wood is soft, it’s much easier to prevent nail or skin damage, but don’t be fooled – it’s still a super effective tool.
You can use them in the shower or a bath for quick cuticle maintenance, or use them in combination with chemical cuticle removers (our favorite is this product from Blue Cross. On the other hand, wooden sticks are disposable, so restocking will be necessary, which is not really an issue if you have a metal pusher. Our favorite metal cuticle pusher is part of this model from ECBASKET.
Don’t Forget Your Feet
Generally, when people think of cuticles, they think of their hands and forget about their feet. Nevertheless, feet have nails, and that means they also have cuticles that may be excessive in some people.
Even though we don’t interact with feet as much as we do with hands, they’re just as important and require just as much attention to maintain nail health. If you decide that some cuticle pushing is required on your feet, be even more gentle than with your hands as your feet are probably not used to as much manipulation with cosmetic tools.
How to Maintain Nice Cuticles
To keep your cuticles in good shape, regular care and maintenance are mandatory. If you’re not on top of it, the skin and cuticles can very quickly go back into being dry and overgrown.
Although the effort needs to be regular, it doesn’t mean it needs to take up a long time or energy. Here is a little guide to stay on top and keep your cuticles beautiful.
The recommendation is generally to push the cuticles back every week or so. Either you can dedicate 10 minutes or so on your chosen day of the week, or keep track daily.
After showering, give your hands a look and check how your cuticles are doing – either give them a little care then and there, or check again the next day. If you don’t want to bother to check daily, just leave it till your dedicated, scheduled weekly checkup, and give your hands some love.
Keep the Cuticles in Check
As mentioned earlier, cuticles can easily get out of hand and cause painful hangnails. If you do get tight cuticles, regular maintenance can provide much needed relief.
To remove excess cuticle softening the tissue is key. Whether it’s warm water, lye, or moisturizers, making the cuticle pliable will make it a lot easier to remove.
Once the cuticle is nice and soft, you can take your favorite cuticle pusher to push and scrape away the cuticle. The aim here is to push it gently back towards the eponychium and off the nail. Make sure to not push and scrape as far as getting under the proximal fold – you want to stop right before you reach the live tissue. It’s better to remove not enough than too much in this case – you can always go back and push it a little more next time.
Once the cuticles are pushed back you can clip the excess skin if required. This may not be necessary for everyone, so don’t think that cutting excess skin is a must. Preferably you can keep on top of the cuticle care and you will never need to cut any skin around the nail.
Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize
This is the most important thing by far – moisturizing. Applying cuticle creams and oils is the best way to keep cuticles and hands looking amazing. You can avoid a lot of painful issues if you keep the skin pliable and nourished, as dry skin not only looks and feels rough, but it can also lead to cracking and wounds.
What Not to Do
You can have the best intention regarding your cuticles but still damage them. Going in with very harsh treatments and methods is a sure way to damage your nails and cause hand pain.
- Do not cut into the living tissue and the proximal fold. Not only is it painful, but you’re opening yourself to potential infections.
- Do not push the cuticles too far. If you are too aggressive with the pushing you can break the seal between the nail and eponychium, potentially causing an infection. You can tell you went too far if you notice the skin around the nail becoming red and swollen.
- Don’t abuse metal tools. While they’re very efficient at removing tissue, if you’re not careful they can be a little too efficient. Using metal pushers and scrapers can be quite dangerous as you are able to dig into the nail taking off chunks of it. This will weaken the nail and lead to breakage as it grows out.
- Don’t push or scrape dry cuticles. Any time you try to sort out your cuticles, make sure they’re soft and pliable. Trying to scrape and manipulate dry cuticles can cause wounds and damage, as you will end up putting in too much force to achieve the result you want – inevitably damaging yourself.
- Don’t bite your nails or skins. It’s a bad habit as we all know and were always told, but still many people struggle with it. Chewing on your fingers can be a vicious cycle as you try to eat at the irregularities, making the skin and nails even more irregular. Really trying hard to break that habit will do wonders for your nails and cuticles.
If all of this cuticle removal business seems completely unnecessary to you, then you probably don’t have to do anything to your cuticles – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! However, if you do struggle to keep your hands neat and healthy, particularly if you get hangnails, then hopefully this guide can help you to improve your beauty regime and get those cuticles under control.