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Cuticle Pushing: How to Do It Right and Avoid the Risks



Cuticle pushing is a popular technique that many people use to improve their nail health and appearance. It involves using a tool to gently push back the skin that grows over the base of your nails, making them look longer, cleaner, and more polished. However, cuticle pushing can also have some drawbacks, such as causing infections, injuries, or damage to your nails. In this article, we’ll explain what cuticles are, why you might want to push them back, how to do it safely and effectively, and what to avoid when doing it.


What are cuticles and why do they matter?

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Cuticles are the thin strips of dead skin that grow from the eponychium, which is the live

skin that covers and protects the nail matrix, or the root of the nail. The cuticle helps to seal the gap between the eponychium and the nail plate, preventing bacteria and dirt from entering and causing infections. However, cuticles can also become overgrown, dry, or ragged, which can make your nails look shorter, duller, and less neat. That’s why many people choose to push back their cuticles, either at home or at a salon, to enhance their nail health and appearance.


What are the benefits of cuticle pushing?

Pushing back your cuticles can have the following benefits:

  • Makes your nails look longer and more polished. By reducing the amount of skin that covers the nail plate, you can create the illusion of longer and more elegant nails. This can also make your nail polish or nail art stand out more and look neater.

  • Helps prevent hangnails and other nail injuries. Hangnails are those annoying bits of skin that peel or tear off from the sides of your nails, causing pain and inflammation. They are often caused by dry or overgrown cuticles that get snagged or ripped. By pushing back your cuticles, you can keep them moisturised and smooth, reducing the risk of hangnails and other nail damage.

  • Makes it easier to apply nail polish. If you love painting your nails, you know how frustrating it can be to get nail polish on your cuticles. Not only does it look messy, but it can also cause your nail polish to chip or peel faster. By pushing back your cuticles, you can create more space for your nail polish to adhere to the nail plate, resulting in a smoother and longer-lasting manicure.

What are the risks of cuticle pushing?


Pushing back your cuticles can also have some risks, such as:

  • Causing infections. If you push back your cuticles too hard or too far, you can

damage the skin or cause bleeding. This can create an opening for bacteria or fungi to enter and cause infections, such as paronychia or onychomycosis.


These infections can cause swelling, redness, pain, pus, or discoloration of your nails, and may require medical treatment.


Damaging your nails. If you push back your cuticles without softening them first, you can cause them to crack or split. This can weaken the seal between the eponychium and the nail plate, allowing moisture or chemicals to penetrate and damage your nails. This can lead to brittle, peeling, or splitting nails, or even nail loss.

  • Making your nails look worse. If you push back your cuticles unevenly or excessively, you can make your nails look worse than before. You can create ridges, bumps, or gaps on your nail plate, or expose the nail matrix, which can make your nails look discolored or deformed.

How to push back your cuticles safely and effectively?

To avoid the risks of cuticle pushing and enjoy the benefits, you need to do it safely and effectively. Here are some simple steps to follow:

  • Start by washing your hands and nails with soap and water, and drying them thoroughly. This will help to remove any dirt or oil that may be on your nails or cuticles.

  • Next, apply a cuticle softener or oil to your cuticles, and massage it gently. This will help to moisturise and loosen your cuticles, making them easier to push back. You can use a commercial cuticle product, or a natural oil such as olive, coconut, or almond oil.

  • Then, use a cuticle pusher to gently push back your cuticles. A cuticle pusher is a tool that has a thin, curved, or pointed end that fits under the cuticle and pushes it back towards the eponychium. You can choose from different types of cuticle pushers, such as wood, metal, or plastic and silicone. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages, which we’ll discuss later. To use a cuticle pusher, hold it at a 45-degree angle to your nail, and gently slide it along the base of your nail, pushing back the cuticle. Be careful not to push too hard or too far, as this can damage the skin or cause bleeding. Repeat this process for each nail, until all your cuticles are pushed back.


  • Finally, wipe off any excess cuticle product or skin with a cotton pad or tissue, and apply a moisturiser or a cuticle oil to your nails and cuticles. This will help to hydrate and nourish your skin, and prevent your cuticles from drying out or cracking.



That’s it! You’ve successfully pushed back your cuticles and improved your nail health and appearance. Remember to do this regularly, but not too often, as overdoing it can have negative effects. Also, make sure to use clean and sterilized tools, and avoid cuticle pushing if you have any cuts, wounds, or infections on your nails or fingers. If you experience any signs of infection or nail damage, consult a doctor or a nail technician as soon as possible. Happy cuticle pushing! 😊

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