Cuticle Care 101 with Deborah Lippmann


Image: Imaxtree

Cuticle care may not be one of the first things we think about when a manicure comes to mind, but it’s very important. The strip of skin along the base of the nail guards nails and the surrounding skin from bacteria that can lead to irritation or infections. It serves a purpose and taking proper care of cuticles is just as important as clipping nails and keeping them healthy. We turned to Deborah Lippmann, creative director and founder of her eponymous line, for a lesson on cuticle care. And the first thing she told us was that cutting them is a big no-no.

“The cuticle acts as a barrier to keep bacteria at bay and should only be pushed back, never cut. [Cutting] can potentially lead to irritation and infection, which can result in permanent damage to the nail or worse.” Nipping them breaks that seal, making them prone to bacteria and when done wrong, it can lead to painful bleeding. Lippmann recommends using the exfoliating cuticle treatment in her line to gently push the skin back in preparation for your manicure without the need to soak them in water. “Not only does it help to gently push the cuticle back from the nail plate, but it also helps get rid of dead skin cells safely and effectively,” says Lippmann. The formula should be applied at the base of the nail where it meets the cuticle and then pushed back using the cuticle pusher in soft, circular motions. This movement from the pusher and the treatment work together to remove dry, dead skin around the cuticle and keep cuticles groomed in a proper manner.

Cuticle oil and cream are a great way to keep the skin hydrated, healthy and also avoid the need to clip or pick at them. “As a former biter and cuticle cutter, I sympathize with this plight! The first instinct is to bite or rip off a hangnail. You only have something to pick at because you have dry hands and cuticles,” says Lippmann. The nail pro advises making weekly cuticle grooming a priority and practicing the proper technique along with keeping them moisturized at all times, so that you don’t have dry skin to pick at.

“Make sure your moisturizers like cuticle oil, cuticle cream and hand cream are accessible, so that you are regularly reapplying. Moisturize your hands every time you wash them and massage the cream into your cuticles. Create an evening spa ritual — layer on several treatments and cover your hands in a relaxing, hot, wet towel,” she says. We’re huge fans of her four-piece Cuticle Lab Set that pretty much has everything we need to keep our cuticles looking their best.

Lippmann also reminds us, “It really makes a difference if you wear gloves when you do the dishes — it’s not just an old wives’ tale.” The harsh cleansing agents found in soap dry out the skin, so grab those yellow gloves the next time you’re on dish duty. Taking care of your cuticles doesn’t take too much time, and is worth the effort. So, if you haven’t started to get in the habit of weekly grooming, below is the kit you should pick up on your next trip to Sephora.


Deborah Lippmann Cuticle Lab, $45 at Sephora