Should You Cut Your Cuticles?

Hello, everyone! Today I'm going to talk about my thoughts on cuticle trimming. Since I took my acrylics off, I've been paying a lot of attention to my cuticles, as they had been severely neglected. I started off by getting a cuticle remover gel and simply pushing my cuticles back, but then wondered if I should try clipping them instead.


I went out and got a cuticle trimmer.. just a generic one from Wal-Mart, nothing fancy. I applied my cuticle remover gel like normal and went to town "trimming" my cuticles. The result? Pain. And blood. No joke. I only did one hand because every cuticle was literally hacked up and bleeding. Gross, right?!

I decided to do some research and see exactly what the cuticle is and how trimming it can impact your nails. This is what I've learned:

Matrix -- The matrix isn't visible, it's under the skin of your finger.. but it is the "root" of your nail. This is the area where the body produces the keratin cells that make up your nail plate and if it becomes damaged, your nail will either grow deformed or no longer grow at all.


Cuticle -- The cuticle is actually made up of two separate parts: the eponychium and the pterygium. The eponychium is the thin layer of skin at the base of your nail that protects bacteria and germs from entering your body where your nail and skin on your finger meet. The pterygium is what's considered to be the "true" cuticle and the part that gets removed or pushed back. It is the dead skin that attaches to the nail plate and becomes visible as the nail grows out. As I stated, this skin needs to be cared for regularly to prevent unsightly build up.

Lunula -- The lunula is the visible half-moon that extends from your cuticle. It connects the matrix to the nail bed and is composed of keratin cells that have yet to fully harden. Thus, it is imperative to exercise great care when working around this area of your nail (like when caring for your cuticles) to prevent damaging your nail.

Now that we've learned about the anatomy of our cuticles, let's discuss whether or not to cut them. As I described above, the cuticle protects bacteria from entering your body where your nail and skin meet. So, to me, it doesn't seem smart to engage in any activity that could result in tearing or cutting the skin.


By cutting or trimming your cuticles, or by generally mistreating them (biting/picking at them, etc), you increase the chance of inflammation and infection that can cause the overall condition of both your fingers and hands to deteriorate. It is possible to develop either acute or chronic infections from having bacteria entering opened cuticles that can require medical attention. Repeated open sores in the cuticles that lead to chronic infections can eventually cause permanently warped or ridged fingernails resulting from irreparable damage done to the nail's matrix.

Lastly, if the warning of infections isn't enough to stop you from trimming your cuticles.. consider both the pain of having cut up cuticles (Seriously, is there anything more painful?!) and the less-than attractive appearance it will give your nails. There's nothing more frustrating than spending time on caring for your nails and painting them only to have unsightly red and bleeding cuticles. Trust me, I speak from experience!


Instead of cutting or trimming them, I suggest regularly pushing them back with an orange stick. If you have stubborn cuticles, try using a cuticle dissolving gel which will still remove the excess buildup but save you from having to do any trimming.

Do you trim your cuticles? Or just push them back? If you do trim them, I'd love to hear your thoughts!


For the record, I'm not trying to pass judgment on any method.. and I'm in NO way a certified or licensed manicurist or nail technician. I'm just sharing my thoughts and research on the subject, in hopes that you can make your own informed decision on what is best for your nails and body.

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(Photo credit: Getty)

9 Shades of Essie

9 Shades of Essie