Cuticles Peeling? How to Stop Cuticle Peeling and Cracking After a Manicure

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The goal of regular manicures is to maintain healthy nails and skin. Although your nails may look pristine, cracked cuticles and peeling skin can leave you with an unsightly problem. This why it happens and what to do about it.

Protect Your Cuticle Skin

Peeling Cuticles Could Cause Infection

You need to keep your cuticles strong and intact because a damaged or removed cuticle may allow bacteria to enter your nails and cause an infection. The health of your nail bed is a big part of overall cuticle health and preventing nail peeling. Peeling cuticles aren’t just unsightly, but potentially a health issue.

Peeling can be a a sign of overgrown cuticles, natural skin dryness/lack of moisture, but is most often due to environmental factors. Flaking can also be a side effect of this lack of moisture, making it all the more important to hydrate regularly to avoid dry cuticles. Remember, the cuticle area and cuticle skin are sensitive areas, and while a cuticle nipper might make your nails look nicer, it does increase your risk of infections, which can be quite painful.

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Why Are My Cuticles Peeling?

You’re Harming Your Skin at Home

While peeling cuticles and skin may coincide with visits to the nail salon, the damage may be due to everyday habits. “For women with sensitive skin, several factors can lead to this problem,” says Fresh Meadows, NY, dermatologist Kally Papantoniou, MD. “Washing dishes, cleaning without gloves on, exposure to chemicals and not moisturizing your hands can dry out skin, leading to frayed cuticles and ragged skin.”

The Manicure Itself Is the Culprit

Valencia, CA, dermatologist Bernard Raskin, MD, says the skin around your nails may peel after a manicure because it’s been exposed to chemicals and irritants. “It’s usually because the skin is too dry, but you could also be allergic to glues or acetone removers. Manicurists also soak instruments in antibacterial solutions, which can be irritating to skin.” Cutting the cuticles can make them hard, causing them to crack, too.

How Can I stop Peeling Nails?

Hydration Is Key: Cuticle Oil

To heal chapped, broken skin around your nails and cuticles, keep your cuticles and the surrounding skin moisturized with a good cuticle oil or hand cream. “Applying a cuticle cream or oil after hydrating your hands is a great way to promote healthier skin and cuticles,” says Dr. Raskin. “I also suggest applying Vaseline over the area (and wearing gloves) before bedtime for a deep, overnight treatment. This can be done a few days before a manicure, but is better for your skin when it’s done a few times per week on a regular basis.” Nails Inc Superfood Repair Oil ($15) contains rose hip oil (with antioxidant benefits) and high levels of vitamin A to help support strong nails and healthy cuticles. 

Lay Off the Chemicals

Acetone is a very powerful solvent that also happens to be the most effective method of removing polish. But, it can strip the natural oils from your skin. “Taking a break from your regular manicures for one to two weeks may help stop the peeling for a while. If holding o from the nail salon is not a possibility, then I would say to use acetone-free nail polish removers because they are less harsh on your skin,” says Dr. Papantoniou. “To limit exposure to chemicals altogether, try a gentle, nontoxic nail polish that is free of potentially harmful ingredients like camphor, ethyl, formaldehyde resin, tosylamide, toluene and xylene. If you have sensitive skin, let your manicurist know so he or she can avoid trimming or pushing your cuticles back.” A 10-free polish like 100% Pure 10-Free Nail Polish ($12) is completely free of the toxic ingredients found in most polishes.

Try a Combination Approach to Stop Cuticle Peeling

Dry skin can be a sign that you need to increase your intake of essential fatty acids and/or vitamins A and E. “A daily multivitamin, biotin, and even fish oil, can help promote healthy skin around your nails,” adds Dr. Papantoniou. In addition to a healthy diet, staying away from harsh chemicals and using gentle cleansers on your hands, make sure to avoid aggressive buffing, filing and cuticle trimming and pushing. “All of these efforts will be reflected in the health of your skin and nails, as well as your overall well-being.”

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