Let’s talk about cuticle care!!! This post will cover everything: what it is, why you need it, how to do it, and how it maintain it! I’m super passionate about this topic because proper cuticle care makes your manicure look great and LAST for so much longer. Let’s get into it! Also, I’m issuing a disclaimer that these are my thoughts and opinions/how I like to do things! If you don’t want to do my process, that’s fine!

First let’s get into what are your cuticles and what are the areas I’ll be talking about today?

There’s kind of a debate in the nail community about whether you should be cutting your cuticles or not. If you didn’t know, I went to nail school in 2021 and I’ve been a practicing nail technician ever since. I am team YES for cutting cutciles, with the caveat that you understand and know what you’re doing. PS - This goes for literally everything related to nails. Read this blog post about why I think it’s so important to educate yourself about nails before diving in!

In nail school, you learn all of the parts of the nail and what make it up. Here’s a little diagram:! 

People often say you shouldn’t cut your cuticles and are referring to the Eponychium which is live living tissue, but cuticle is actually the dead tissue that grows up onto your nail and often attaches itself to your nail bed. Since it’s dead, it’s safe to remove and it actually helps with your manicure’s longevity. Here’s another view:

Now I don’t EVER recommend cutting live skin because it’s painful, unnecessary, and can lead to issues such as infection or bleeding. We just don't want that. So today I’m going to cover how I like to safely remove cuticle and dead skin from my cuticle area to make my manicures look great and last! 


I’m going to sound like a broken record here but if you want your manicure to look super professional, you want your polish to adhere and look really nice (because your nail bed will be manicured nicely and you’ll expose more of it for painting), and you want your manicure to last longer (ESPECIALLY GEL), you should be doing some cuticle care. Without cuticle care, your manicures can look messy and chip faster!! I also love doing cuticle care because I actually think it helps maintain the look over time, and it prevents hangnails/temptation to pick at my skin. That’s all we want right! 

I also want to touch on the importance of removing your cuticles for gel manicures. As you can see in that photo above, the cuticle is literally like a thin piece of skin that’s grown up onto your nail. You can imagine that since it can be removed pretty easily, it’s not stuck to your nail that well, which means it could just decide to lift up and not stick one day, and if you have gel on over that cuticle that decides to lift, your gel will lift too! That’s why we want to fully remove it, so that your gel can adhere to you NAIL and not your cuticle. 


There are a few different methods that I like to use for cuticle care, and I still do all of them to this day. But first, I want to cover why doing a DRY MANICURE is essential for safe cuticle care. 

A dry manicure is a manicure with no liquid elements present (except I use alcohol to cleanse my nails, it’s actually super drying and not hydrating). Dry manicures are amazing for cuticle care because the last thing I want to do when I’m getting ready to cut off dead, dry skin/cuticle is REHYDRATE IT!!! If you keep everything super dry, then you will actually be able to decipher which skin is alive vs. which is dead! Also dry manicures keep your nail bed dry/prevent it from expanding which helps your polish stay on longer too!! 

This means we are not using a liquid cuticle remover!! These are lotions or gels that are meant to take off the cuticle from your nail bed, but they actually often need to be soaked in soapy water to stop working, which means you’re hydrating your nails even more! I used to use these, but ever since I’ve been doing dry manicures, I never looked back. I don’t even have them anymore. 

I always nip/cut off the dead skin that gets lifted during this process. Since everything is DRY, it’s super easy to tell which skin is tough, dry, a different color from my live skin, and ready to come off. This process doesn’t hurt AT ALL. If it hurts, your skin is alive and you shouldn’t cut it off. My Manicure Prep Course  shows you exactly how to nip your cuticle area (more info on this below), if you’re interested in a tutorial! 

I also always cut off hangnails if I have them during this process. And honestly, I think the dry manicure process HELPS keep hangnails at bay so well. If you struggle with hang nails or peeling skin, you might love this. You’re cutting off dead/dry skin and eventually hydrating with cuticle oil which just gives your nails a clean slate and you’re not leaving hangnails to pick at and cause more issues!! I rarely get hangnails now. 


If you’re interested in learning more about dry manicures and seeing my EXACT method, you need to check out my new Dry Manicure Prep Course! It goes into so much detail about what a dry manicure is, what you need to perform it, how to perform this exact cuticle care that I’m explaining below, how to shape your nails, and how to prep your nails for any type of manicure. This works for just making your bare nails look nice, or prepping your nails for regular polish AND gel! 

In this video i have sooo much cuticle to get off so it's a great example of how to perform this exact process. Soo satisfying to watch!!! (PS. this course does NOT use an e-file, more on that process a little later!). 

I LOVE this new course because it’s so essential to making your manicure last. If you don’t have good prep, you might as well not do your nails at all. I usually spend about an hour on prep on my clients because it’s SO IMPORTANT!! It’s literally the foundation to any good manicure.


First let’s talk about tools that you need:

  • Alcohol (from any drug store, make sure its over 80%)
  • Cuticle pusher
    • Not all cuticle pushers are created equally. This is my FAVORITE one. I love the angle of it because it helps you push your cuticles BACK and not down. We want to be gentle with this process so we don’t cause any damage. It’s also kind of sharp, so you literally don’t need to apply much pressure at all and your cuticle will start to peel up right away. It’s amazing.
  • Cuticle nipper
    • Please get a new pair of cuticle nippers. I love this pair here! You need sharp cuticle nippers to safely use them. It’s so much easier to cut the dead skin if your nippers are sharp and you will actually be better off and safer with a sharper pair than a dull one. 
  • Buffers
    • I also want to stress the importance of using new buffers every manicure or every few manicures. If you are using the same one from years ago/even if you've used it more than 3 times, YOU NEED A NEW ONE!!! lol. They need to be fresh or else it's pointless! I love these ones because you get SO many for cheap and they're amazing. 
  • Files
    • SAME THING! Please get a new file every few manicures. Especially if you're doing gel manicure fills. They wear out easily and will work so much better when they're fresh. I love this set also because you get a bunch!!! 
  • E-file (this is my tried and true e-file! I love it!!)
  • My favorite cuticle bit set


Here are my two favorite methods for cuticle care. They’re pretty similar but one uses an e-file! Also: this is not a full prep explanation, it’s JUST cuticle care. For my full prep tutorial, get my new Dry Manicure Prep Course!


  • Remove all product (polish or gel)
  • Push your cuticles back and gently scrape off excess cuticle on your nail bed
  • Use your buffer to gently buff off lifted cuticle, concentrate on the cuticle area of your nails
  • Use your nippers to gently nip off dead, dry, lifted skin around your cuticle area and on your nail bed, also hang nails if you have any 
  • Buff again if you need to
  • Use a nylon brush & alcohol to remove dust and debris from your nail bed before applying polish


I personally LOVE using my e-file for cuticle work because it is SO PRECISE. It really does all of the work for you and I think it helps with cuticle maintenance a little more than not using one. 

I have an entire video tutorial on using the e-file for gel manicure removal & dry manicure prep that show’s how to safely execute this method included in my Gel Manicure 2.0 Masterclass: E-File Basics + Builder Gel Application Course or you can watch JUST the e-file portion in my E-File Basics Course.

NEVER use an e-file without educating yourself. You will likely cause harm to your nails and damage them. And you can use the e-file for your cuticle work even if you don’t have gel on/aren’t using gel!! The bit is very fine so it’s gentle on your nails/is literally made to work directly on your nail. But again, please get my course so you know what you’re doing!!! 

Ok here is my method:

  • Remove all product (polish or gel)
  • Gently push your cuticles back to expose more of your nail bed
  • Use the e-file cuticle bit on speed 10-15 to gently exfoliate the cuticle off of your nail bed
  • Use your buffer to gently buff off additional cuticle if needed
  • Use your nippers to gently nip off dead, dry, lifted skin around your cuticle area and on your nail bed, also hang nails if you have any 
  • Buff again if you need to
  • Use a nylon brush & alcohol to remove dust and debris from your nail bed before applying polish


It’s especially important to rehydrate after you’re done with your manicure because hello we just did a DRY manicure, so our nails should be extremely dry at this point and ready to soak up some cuticle oil. ONLY HYDRATE AT THE VERY END! I’m talking after your gel is totally cured or your polish is dry. No oil until the end. 

Your nails have a naturally small amount of oil in them, and when we soak off our gels with acetone or do a dry manicure, they dry out even more. It’s definitely fine to dry them out during the manicure process, but we need to replenish this oil on our nails because it actually helps keep our nails FLEXIBLE which helps prevent breaking. Think: we can hit them on something and they won’t SNAP because they have a little bit of flexibility and can flex instead of breaking. 

This also can help your gel polish stay on longer because the gel can move and flex with your nails as they grow out! 

If you have super dry hands and cuticles, you should be using an OIL that’s super hydrating multiple times a day. I always recommend having a few around your home or office so you remember to put it on. I used to have one by my computer at work and I would just a apply it a few times a day when I remembered! 

I always say this, but any cuticle oil is better than none!!! Find something that you love and put it on a lot. I’ve gotten messages asking how to keep your cuticles hydrated, nothing is working, etc ect. The only solution is to find something you love and use it A TON!!! 

I also use hydrating hand lotion multiple times a day and I LOVE a hand salve. They are sooo thick and nice to rub into your cuticles and rough skin on your nails!!

Here are some of my favorites products: 

Don’t forget to apply these DAILY!!!! Your nails will thank you. 

Also don’t forget to check out my Dry Manicure Prep Course for a special price now!!! It will CHANGE your nails :) 

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