The 5 Best Cuticle Removers, According to Nail Experts and Reviewers

Plus, tips and tricks for how to use them.

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Cuticles
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While you might credit a fresh lacquer or new, bold shape for your nails looking like a million bucks after a manicure, it's really all thanks to a little cuticle maintenance. For salon-worthy results, cleaning up cuticles to keep the skin surrounding nails looking polished and healthy is key. And since removing the skin that lines the base of your nail bed can be a bit daunting, especially when not leaving it in the experienced hands of a nail technician, there are some tips and tricks to caring for and eliminating cuticles safely at home.

The cuticle is a thin and colorless non-living tissue attached to the nail plate, says LeChat Nails educator Syreeta Aaron. But, before you grab your cuticle trimmers and get to work cutting away this seemingly purposeless dead skin, consider this: "Cuticles help protect our nails and having healthy cuticles is important for nail health and nail growth," Christina Kao, founder of Le Mini Macaron, tells InStyle.

That said, anyone who has received a professional manicure knows that cuticle removal is part of the process, and more often than not, doesn't have any health repercussions, especially when handled by an expert. As for why you would potentially want to alter the cuticle area simply comes down to personal preference. For instance, cuticles can affect the wear and lay of certain nail polishes, points out celebrity nail artist and Nails of LA founder Brittney Boyce.

If you do choose to remove your cuticles, there are some things you need to know in order to safely do it at home. For starters, removing the cuticle won't cause your nail any harm, says Aaron. However, the tissue is near the eponychium (a living tissue that grows onto the base of the nail plate) and accidentally attempting to push back or remove this area may cause bleeding, she adds. Clipping or picking the area allows for bacteria to potentially enter the skin and cause inflammation, Dana Stern, MD, a dermatologist and nail specialist in New York City, previously told InStyle. Newbies might want to start with just pushing back the cuticle, rather than cutting it, recommended Dr. Stern.

Once you are ready to tackle cuticle removal yourself, investing in the proper tools will be to your advantage — and a cuticle pusher alone might not hack it. "If there are excess amounts of really dry and hard cuticles, it's hard to push them back with a cuticle pusher or orange stick," says Boyce. This is where cuticle removers come into play. Made up of sodium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide, they help to soften and dissolve the dead skin at the base of the nail, explains Aaron. Cuticle removers are safe to use, as long as you use them correctly and use them in conjunction with a nail pusher, according to celebrity manicurist Deborah Lippmann. "This process helps to gently lift away dead skin without causing irritation," she adds.

In order to remove the cuticle, apply your chosen remover to just the cuticle area, says Lippman. Only use the remover for up to a minute, so as to prevent over-drying of the cuticle area, warns Boyce. With your pusher, gently force back the cuticle in the direction of your knuckle. Keep in mind, it may take several pushes to get a clean cuticle area. At the end, wash your hands with soap and water to rinse the cuticle remover from your skin.

It's normal to look to others for potential nail art inspiration, but when it comes to cuticle removal, Lippmann advises against comparison. "One size doesn't fit all, so the length of nail beds and cuticles for each person will vary," she says. "While you can't actually change the length of your nail bed, you can definitely maintain healthy cuticles, so they are always looking their best."

Ready to get your cuticles in ship-shape? Keep reading for the best cuticle removers for every budget, according to experts and customer reviews.

Sally Hansen Instant Cuticle Remover Fluid

best cuticle remover
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With more than 8,000 five-star ratings, Sally Hansen's Instant Cuticle Remover has left many Amazon shoppers "very impressed" by its results. The liquid only needs to sit for 15 seconds on the nail before the cuticle becomes soft enough to push back. Its ease of use and fast-acting formula — which also features aloe and chamomile to soothe potential inflammation — is what's earned it the Amazon Choice label for "cuticle remover," with one reviewer sharing it "dissolves my cuticles like melted butter."

Shop now: $5 (Originally $6); amazon.com

Sparitual Cuti-Clean Vegan Cuticle and Stain Remover

best cuticle remover
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Boyce recommends this multipurpose cuticle remover that softens and exfoliates skin with ingredients like sesame seed oil and apple fruit extract. Thanks to the accompanying dropper style cap, you precisely control the application for less mess too. One Amazon customer called it "the best cuticle remover," while a reviewer on Sparitual's site said that "it dissolved the cuticles in a nice professional way and kept it clean for almost a week."

Shop now: $20; amazon.com

Le Mini Macaron Bye Bye! Cuticle Remover

best cuticle remover
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Expect extreme cuticle hydration with this remover that contains glycerin, a humectant that helps keep moisture in the skin. Kao loves this product, since it allows for easy pushback. "It's the perfect product to remove cuticles, and the bonus part is that it keeps the area around the nail moisturized," shared one user on Le Mini Macaron's site.

Shop now: $12; ulta.com

Orly Cutique Cuticle Remover

best cuticle remover
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Another pick from Boyce, the potassium hydroxide in this remover works to soften cuticles, while moisturizing sesame seed oil works to condition the skin for a hydrated, polished look. Reviewers on Orly's site note that not only is it "the best cuticle remover," but that it also helps lift stains, brighten nails, and is even safe enough for those with sensitive skin.

Shop now: $12; orly.com

Deborah Lippmann Exfoliating Cuticle Remover Nail Treatment

best cuticle remover
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Formulated with lanolin oil for a boost of hydration, this remover moisturizes the area around the nail while loosening dry, dead skin, which makes the cuticle easier to push back. It has garnered more than 13,500 "hearts" from Sephora shoppers, who say it's "salon quality" and literally makes "cuticles melt off."

Shop now: $20; sephora.com

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