The most satisfying part of your manicure is likely damaging your nails.


The most satisfying part of having a manicure is leaving the salon with fresh, glossy and well-groomed nails. Coming in at a close second is the step when they cut and push the cuticle into oblivion so that the nail bed looks longer and tidier and…better.

Whether you have gel, SNS or good old traditional polish, for as long as people have been getting their nails done there’s been debate around whether or not interfering with the cuticle is a good idea.

So, we asked one of the world’s leading experts in nail health to settle the score once and for all.

“Do not cut!,” dermatologist and nail specialist Dr Dana Stern told Mamamia.

“The cuticle is the nail’s natural protective seal and the key to overall nail health. In addition to being a potential nidus for infection, overly aggressive cuticle manipulation can result in the nail growing in with white patches and surface irregularities.”

“Also, liquid removers that are often used in salons should also not be used for the same reasoning.”


“Any repetitive trauma to the cuticle can ultimately result in the abnormal outgrowth of the nail, because the cuticle directly overlies the nail matrix and the nail matrix is what becomes the actual nail. Therefore, overly aggressive cuticle removal or even pushing back of the cuticle can, when repetitive, affect the cosmetic appearance of the nail,” Dr Stern said.

So that’s a pretty hard NO then. Which begs the question; can we touch the cuticle at all, or is it best to leave it the hell alone?


“Instead of cutting, gently push back after a warm shower or bath with a washcloth or cuticle pusher. You can trim any overt hang-nails with a good quality cuticle nipper, but never intentionally remove that amazing anatomical structure,” Dr Stern said.


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The same goes for which topical products you use on the area. Some ingredients are fine, while others can cause more harm than good.

“Make sure you are using “cuticle friendly” ingredients. Just like you moisturise the hair with different ingredients than you use on the skin, the cuticle is a unique anatomical structure that benefits from ingredients that are are rich in fatty acids (like Mauritia fruit oil), high in phospholipids (such as sunflower oil), antioxidants (say, rosemary oil or apricot oil) and that have astringent properties (like grapefruit oils).”


Dr Stern, not surprising, has an at-home nail care system, $61, designed for safely grooming your nails.


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