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How to Remove Your Cuticles Safely & Easily At Home

Written by: Ellie Simmons



Time to read 7 min

Removing your cuticles as part of your prep for gel polish is one of the most important steps. But doing it properly and safely is key, otherwise you risk damaging your nails and causing infection.

Apart from just making your nails look a whole lot cleaner and neater, cuticle removal prevents the polish from lifting and peeling too soon. Additionally, it allows for a smoother application, rather than having to work around ragged and overgrown cuticles.

If you're new to doing your own gel mani, or you want to start taking better care of your natural nails, we've broken down everything you need to know about removing your cuticles at home, including the steps and products for a safe and easy process.

What Is Cuticle Removal?

A cuticle is a layer of skin located along the edge of your nail bed and can grow onto the nail bed. It protects the growth of new nails from bacteria, which can cause infections.

Therefore, it’s crucial that you take care of your cuticles and keep them clean. Often, excess skin from your cuticles can dry up or get in the way of your nail bed.

Cuticle removal involves gently pushing them back down towards the edge of the nail bed and trimming the dead white skin before it reaches the nail.

It's important to be gentle and not cut too much of the skin as it can cause bleeding and potential infections. Only ever trim the dead white skin, not the live skin.

What Happens If You Don't Push Your Cuticles Back?

Applying gel polish over cuticles will cause premature lifting, peeling or chipping of your gel mani. This is because you're applying the gel over the dead skin cells rather than onto your nail bed, and as the skin naturally sheds, the gel will lift with it.

Why Do Cuticles Sometimes Grow So Long?

As with our nail and hair growth rate, everyone's cuticle growth rate is different.

For some, their cuticles may grow long and quickly while for others it may be the opposite. This can also be influenced by genetics, hormones, diet and lifestyle habits.

The purpose of cuticles is to protect the nail matrix, which is responsible for nail growth.

When our hands are exposed to water or harsh chemicals, the cuticles may swell and appear larger than normal. This can also occur when we constantly pick at or push back our cuticles, causing them to grow thicker and longer.

The more attention and care you give your nails and cuticles, the healthier they'll be. 

Our Cuticle Care Routine

Keeping care of your cuticles is super easy and really doesn't involve much effort. We apply a cuticle oil every day , making sure to massage it into the cuticles and nail bed.

If you have dryer skin on your hands and fingers, you may wish to apply a cuticle moisturiser one to three times a day. Similarly, in the winter, when skin tends to be drier, you may need to up the anti.

You should always apply the oil after each set of new gel nails . The LED lamp during the curing can be a little drying on your nails, so you should rehydrate them right away to keep them in top shape.

It's important to note that you should never apply cuticle oil to your natural nails before painting on the gel polish . Oils can create a barrier between the nail and the gel, causing it not to adhere properly, leading – once again – to lifting and peeling.

We also use a hand moisturiser multiple times throughout the day , especially after washing our hands. This helps to keep the cuticles and skin around our nails hydrated.

Essential Cuticle Remover Tools

There are specific nail tools and oils that are a necessity for safe cuticle removal.

We've picked out some of our favourites and put them into a bit of checklist that you can use to make sure you have everything you need for a fuss-free cuticle removal experience.

  • Cuticle remover or softener – This is used to soften and loosen the dead skin cells from your cuticles, making them easier to remove.

  • Cuticle pusher – Use this tool to gently push back your cuticles before trimming them. Be careful not to push too hard or you could damage the nail bed.

  • Cuticle trimmer or nipper – This tool is used for trimming the excess dead skin cells from your cuticles. Remember to only trim the white, dead skin and not live skin.

  • Nail buffer or file – Use a fine-grit nail file to buff away any rough edges after trimming your cuticles.

  • Cuticle oil –This is an essential step after removing your cuticles, as it will help to hydrate and nourish the skin and nails.

How to Remove Cuticles in 5 Steps

Once you've got all the tools you need to safely and properly remove your cuticles, it's time to get started.

We've narrowed it down to 5 simple steps that you can easily incorporate into your nail care routine. Or, you can follow @_bella.beauty_salon's video below to see how she uses our tools for the perfect cuticle care and prep routine.

@myleebeautyofficial Let's get back to basics 👉 starting with cuticles 👏 This is your sign to fix up those cuticles betsies. If you’re cuticles are looking dry and overgrown they need some TLC 💅 @_bella.beauty_salon giving some of her top cuticle tips 🫶 #Mylee #nails #gelnails #nailtrends #cuticles #cuticlecare #nailcare ♬ original sound - Myleebeauty

Step 1) Apply cuticle remover to your nails, making sure to coat the cuticles fully, and leave for 1 minute.

Step 2) Use a metal or wooden cuticle pusher to gently push back the dead skin from your nail bed. It's really important to be gentle here so you don't damage or scrape the nail bed, but apply enough pressure to remove the excess skin. Use a tissue or nail wipe to remove any skin or dirt.

Step 3) Use the cuticle nippers to trim any hanging or overgrown cuticles. Remember, only trim the white, dead skin and not live skin.

Step 4) Thoroughly wash your hands with warm water afterwards.

Step 5) The next step depends on whether you're going in with gel polish or keeping your natural natural.

If applying polish, you can use a buffer block to buff the surface of your nails, and use Prep & Wipe to cleanse the nail bed.

If you're not applying polish, you can moisturise your nails with your cuticle oil, massaging it fully into the skin.

How Do You Remove Cuticles On Your Toenails?

You can follow the same process for removing cuticles on your toenails, making sure to clean the tools or use a separate pedi set for hygiene purposes.

We've brought together all our pedi kit essentials into one handy collection so you can build up your own home pedicure kit to keep your feet looking and feeling fabulous.

Is it Safe to Remove Cuticles?

The only time when removing your cuticles isn't safe is when you haven't followed the proper steps and have caused damage to your nail bed. It's important to remember that the skin around our nails is there for a reason, and we must take care of it properly.

You can tell the difference between cuticle skin that's ready to be trimmed and skin that's still attached to your nail bed. If you feel resistance or pressure when trying to trim the skin, it could mean that you're cutting into live skin.

If you're not confident in using a cuticle nipper, we recommend sticking to using a cuticle remover and pusher.

Summary: Keeping Care of Your Cuticles

Removing your cuticles is a crucial step in achieving a flawless and long-lasting gel mani. It takes just a few simple tools and steps to do it safely and properly at home.

Remember to be gentle, only trim the dead white skin, and always use cuticle oil afterwards to keep your nails healthy and hydrated. And if you're not confident in using a cuticle nipper, stick to using a cuticle remover and pusher.

We've bundled all of our nail care tools together so you can find and shop everything you need to keep your cuticles looking neat and tidy. 


Do I need to go to a salon for cuticle removal?

No, you do not need to visit a nail salon for safe cuticle removal.

What can I do to keep my nails healthy?

Cleanliness is key to good nail health. You should always try to keep your hands dry and clean. Our top tip to keep nails healthy is regular application of cuticle oil – they’ll help your nails to be healthier as it grows out.

Is a cuticle dead skin or excess skin?

A cuticle is a thin layer of dead skin. It can grow out, leaving you with excess skin overhanging your nail bed. If your cuticles start to overgrow, follow our five top tips to remove them safely.

How does cuticle remover work?

A cuticle remover, like the Mylee cuticle remover with peppermint oil, exfoliates the skin on your nail, gently dissolving away dead skin. A cuticle remover is pain-free and works within a matter of minutes.

Is cuticle removal painful?

Cuticle removal is not painful – if you follow our steps outlined in this blog post. Failure to remove your cuticles safely can damage the skin, which can cause slight discomfort, but proper removal won’t be painful.

Ellie Simmons

Ellie is a Brand Ambassador for Mylee. Alongside being a skilled and certified nail technician, Ellie's expertise extends to gel manicures and nail extensions.

Her heart and soul are devoted to all things nail-related, and she loves flaunting her own long, natural nails with captivating nail art. Ellie's ultimate favourites are iridescent and sparkly designs!

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