With the temperature rising and the cute strappy shoes stepping out everywhere, now is the perfect time to start a mani/pedi routine. While picking out polish colors is fun, the grooming that must be done to prep the nails for color is essential. One of the most daunting tasks in a manicure or pedicure is cuticle care. With the risk of fungus or disease, many salon customers are leery about getting their cuticles trimmed. While I have never had problems and always watch to make sure that tools are pulled directly from the autoclave (kills bacteria and looks like a little microwave oven) before any work is done on me, I can understand why people do not want someone messing with their cuticles. And it's true that they are there for a reason--they protect the nail bed so you want to keep them hydrated.
However, they do need to be pushed back off of the nail when prepping for paint. You can do this after a shower or a warm soak by using an orange stick, plastic pusher from he drugstore, or even another nail. Then, use a cuticle trimmer to remove the ridge of skin that builds up from pushing them back. Proceed with the base coat, nail polish, and topcoat. Even after trimming, the cuticles still need some care in the interim between manicures. I have found Creative Nail Design (CND) to have the best products for cuticle care.
For years, I have used Solar Oil to moisturize the base of my finger and toe nails daily. You paint it on the bottom curve of each nail (it doesn't matter if it gets on the polish or not) and then massage it into the nail bed. The added bonus is that it smells like almond cookies. I have even used it on dry cracked knuckles in the winter, and the backs of my heels in the summer to smooth my skin.
There is a new Cuticle Eraser product that is a cream that you can use on the base of your nails and it absorbs more rapidly than the oil. Cuticle Eraser uses Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) to gently slough away the dead cuticle. If you put a dot of it at the base of each nail and massage it in three times a day for two weeks, you will be amazed at how seamless the transition between your skin and nails becomes. The added bonus with this is that it works perfectly to slough off the dead skin between my nose and upper lip after a terrible cold. It's gentle enough to use on your face without any redness. I have extremely sensitive, ruddy skin and was afraid to try it and look even more like Rudolph, but it worked like a charm.
I also like to hydrate my hands with the L'Occitane shea butter hand cream. It is my holy grail and comes in purse size tubes that I always carry with me. Its non-greasy formula and light scent are the best I have found. For feet, gel socks from Bliss Spa or Earth Therapeutics are essential for wearing around the house to prevent cracked heels.
Disclosure: The product in this review was purchased by the reviewer, Melanie Parker.