A pair of perfectly manicured hands can add the right finishing touch to an already great look. Whether nails get polished with the latest and funkiest of colors or a natural and understated clear coat, a fresh manicure can help make a great first impression. On the other hand, ragged, dry and cracked cuticles can ruin the entire look.

Healthy and manicured cuticles aren't just a matter of fashion. Contrary to what some people may think, cuticles aren't piles of dead skin that gathers at the base of the nail. In fact, they're living parts of the skin that serve an important purpose. Cuticles are attached to the nails and help keep them healthy by protecting them from bacterial and fungal infections [sources: Bouchez]. When the cuticle becomes dry and cracked, it can't attach to the nail to do its job. This leaves the nail vulnerable to damage and infection.

With that in mind, you should never clip, nip or trim the skin that makes up the cuticles. No one, not even your manicurist, should take clippers to this delicate area [source: Bouchez]. You can easily damage the cuticles, causing them to detach from the nail and leading to nail infections and nail loss. Also, you won't be able to achieve the polished look you want by clipping your cuticles. The skin will probably grow back in a ragged and ugly fashion, since the damaged cuticle will grow back thicker than before.

However, you can care for your cuticles to keep them looking nice. Your nails and cuticles can become dry and cracked -- especially in the winter -- so moisturizing them is a must [source: Casey]. If you prevent dryness and overgrowth in the first place, you'll never be tempted to clip. Read on to learn how to efficiently moisturize your cuticles in the comfort of your own home.