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Cuticle Cream Basics

Getting Beautiful Skin Image Gallery Cuticle creams can help soften rough cuticles and protect you from infections. See more getting beautiful skin pictures.
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You may think of a professional manicure as a way to pamper yourself. But while getting a manicure may help you unwind and relieve stress, it can also benefit your personal hygiene and overall health. In fact, by massaging your fingers using cuticle cream, the manicurist ensures that your nail plate and cuticle are moisturized and that the skin around your nail is made softer [source: Almond].

Why is moisturizing so important? You can think of your cuticles as little soldiers, standing guard to protect the nail from infections [source: Mayo Clinic]. But just as a real soldier may perform poorly when ill or out of shape, dry cuticles tend to fall down on their jobs. In fact, bacteria and fungi that cause infections find it much easier to slip past a torn cuticle [source: Rosdahl and Kowalski]. That's where cuticle cream comes in.

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To find some key cuticle cream ingredients, you may not have to look further than your pantry. Many are made up of a combination of moisturizing vegetable oils, often including oil from the avocado. And when you add a little citrus to the mixture, you have more than a recipe for guacamole -- you have a combination that not only keeps cuticles moisturized, but also helps them absorb that moisture. Though they're generally thought of as second best to cuticle oils, cuticle creams can soften rough cuticles after several applications. But they're not miracle workers. If you have severely dry cuticles, nails and skin, you might not see dramatic results simply by applying cuticle cream.

If you're interested in learning how cuticle cream can boost your cuticle health, read on to the next page.

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As you relax in the comfortable chairs at your local nail salon, the nail technicians gently massage your fingers and toes, perhaps making you feel calmer and less stressed out. But as they rub each cuticle, these salon employees are doing more than ensuring that they get a good tip -- they're actually moisturizing your cuticles with cuticle massage cream.

If you're the kind of person who prefers not to go to the salon, there are home cuticle solutions for you. In fact, if you moisturize your hands with hand cream often -- taking special care to massage that cream into your cuticles -- you may be able to prevent some ordinary nail problems [source: WebMD]. But if you're really looking to reinforce the cuticles, you might want to check out cuticle massage creams and other products that are specifically geared toward making your cuticles healthy. According to dermatologists, rubbing specialized cuticle cream, vitamin E or petroleum jelly into your cuticles at night can help keep them moist [source: Bruno]. To apply the cream correctly, dab it over the entire nail and cuticle, and massage it in.

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And it's not just the cuticle cream that helps keep your nails healthy -- it's the massage, too. That's right -- although sometimes it seems that that everything that feels good is also bad for you, cuticle massages prove this isn't the case. By applying cuticle cream through massage, you improve the blood flow to the near-nail skin, making it less likely that your nail will peel or crack [source: Bruno].

If the benefits of nail pampering are starting to sound pretty good, keep reading to find even more reasons to give yourself a spa day.

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Whether you see them as built-in guitar picks, defense weapons or tools for getting your keys on and off pesky rings, it's likely you put your nails through a great deal of abuse each day. But you can buffer your nails from potential damage by keeping both your nails and cuticles moisturized, and using cuticle cream is one way to do that.

One of the functions of the cuticle is to protect the new cells that come up from the base of the nail [source: Mayo Clinic]. Dry, cracked or otherwise damaged cuticles create an opening for bacteria and fungi. That's why when you use cuticle cream to prevent dryness, you improve your chances that your nail won't become infected.

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Dry cuticles can affect your overall appearance, too, by making your hands seem less attractive. For this reason, some people take matters into their own hands by trimming their cuticles with scissors. A better approach to cuticle aesthetics is to keep the cuticles soft and moisturized. If they for some reason get too long or unruly, you may try gently pushing back a moistened cuticle with a washcloth -- though some experts don't approve of cuticle pushing at all [source: Johnson]. Damaging your cuticles while you try to trim them or push them back can also create an opening for bacteria and fungi and may lead to infection.

To learn more about getting healthier and better looking nails, follow the links on the next page.

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Related HowStuffWorks Articles

Sources

  • Almond, Elaine. "Manicure, Pedicure, and Advanced Nail Techniques." (Accessed 10/5/09)http://books.google.com/books?id=jmF4J4Xl0sUC&pg=PA101&dq=cuticle+cream#v=onepage&q=cuticle%20cream&f=false
  • Berg, Rona, Anja Kroencke, and Deborah Jaffe. "Beauty: The New Basics." (Accessed 10/5/09) http://books.google.com/books?id=qAVvUjfza9gC&pg=PA298&dq=cuticle+cream#v=onepage&q=cuticle%20cream&f=false
  • Bruno, Karen. "What's New for Your Hands and Nails." 8/5/09. WebMD (Accessed 10/5/09)http://www.webmd.com/skin-beauty/advances-skin-care-9/hands-fingernails
  • Bruno, Karen. "Women's Hand and Nailed Care." WebMD. 8/7/09 (Accessed 10/5/09)http://www.webmd.com/skin-beauty/advances-skin-care-9/strong-nails-hands
  • Johnson, Anna. "Three Black Skirts: All You Need to Survive." (Accessed 10/5/09)http://books.google.com/books?id=Upf8GL9FkpIC&pg=PA61&dq=%22moisturizing+cuticles%22&ei=vsHKSsbwI5eQMvXTuNgD#v=onepage&q=%22moisturizing%20cuticles%22&f=false
  • Mayo Clinic. "Nails: How to Keep Your Finger Nails Healthy and Strong." 11/30/08 (Accessed 10/5/09)http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/nails/WO00020
  • Rosdahl, Caroline and Mary T. Kowalski. "Textbook of Basic Nursing." (Accessed 10/5/09) http://books.google.com/books?id=odY9mXicPlYC&pg=PA619&lpg=PA619&dq=dangers+of+dry+cuticles&source=bl&ots=z-3Ch6Q2v-&sig=GcAJS44LFI8-yOmLq4IIUT8ULNg&hl=en&ei=RUjKSo7HPIuiMa7J7PIH&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=10#v=onepage&q=&f=false
  • Web MD. "Skin Problems & Treatments Health Center." 11/13/08 (Accessed 10/5/09)http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/tc/nail-problems-and-injuries-prevention

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