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Dry, Torn, Cuticles...HELP!

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Dec 17, 2010

Erin Z.

My nails need some serious help. I'm an artist and I work with my hands a lot. I'm constantly breaking and catching my nails on everything.

In the winter it is even worse, because my cuticles get very dry, break and tear which is not only awful to look at, but very painful. I've tried lotions but I just cant seem to keep the skin from snagging and tearing.

Any tips or tricks? How do you ladies combat torn cuticles and hangnails? 

My solution is an old fashion solution. Vitamin E oil baths.

Items needed:
1. Manicure bowl (about $1.50 at Sally's Beauty supply, ) or any shallow bowl.
2. Vitamin E oil (Rite Aid has it on sale for $3.99 )
3. Manicure stone eraser (also at Sally's Beauty Supply for $2.30 )
4. Warm water with a bit of conditioning soap of your choice.
5. Hand towel.
6. plastic wrap (optional)

Before you soak your hands you want to remove any nail polish and file your nails. Once you've done that soak your hand in the manicure bath for several minutes, just enough to soften the cuticles. Remove from water and with the towel you want to gently loosen and push back the cuticle skin but don't push it back to much otherwise you'll damage it more. Just enough to lift the dead skin up.

With the manicure stone you want to buff away the dead skin. Do NOT cut the cuticle and do NOT push it back any further as this can lead to splitting. The stone is like a foot stone eraser where it'll gently remove the dead skin. I love my foot "eraser" since it doesn't tear the skin up and a cuticle one is the same. Don't press hard with it otherwise you can tear your skin and cause it to bleed.

Now from here you can do one of two things if you still have too much dead cuticle skin. You can either use a cuticle remover OR resoak your fingers and repeat the process. If you feel that you've removed enough cuticle skin then you can skip down to patting your nails dry and then proceed to the Vitamin E oil bath.

Rinse out the manicure bowl. Dry it. Now keep in mind that the bowls are not microwave safe which means too much heat and cause it to melt so do this part at your own discretion. In the bowl add the oil and microwave for 10 to 15 seconds, stir. You can also do this part in a microwave safe bowl if you feel more inclined to do so. You want to heat the oil so it's warm but not boiling hot.

Another way to is boil water and add the Vitamin E oil bottle into the water so it heats up that way. Don't use capsules since it'll melt with the heat and don't add the oil directly to the water. Once the oil is heated and in your manicure bowl you're basically going to repeat above but this time with an oil bath. DO NOT MICROWAVE THE BOTTLE OF OIL!

1. Dip hand in oil bath and allow to soak for several minutes (no less than 5 but no more than 10 as too much soaking can lead to soft nails).
2. Remove hand from oil bath and with the cloth massage in the oil into your hands and cuticles.
3. You can either wrap your hands/fingers in plastic wrap at this point or not depending on how you feel your hands look. If satisfied then remove any excess oil with the towel or massage up your hands and arms. If you want to wrap your hands/finger in plastic than do so but remove the plastic wrap after 10 minutes. When I competed in beauty pageants - so many years ago - I would sleep in plastic wrap on my feet, around my knees, elbows and of course hands covering the hands and feet with socks to keep the plastic on. Loved having soft skin.

4. Allow nails to dry before applying a base coat and nail polish.

Yes, it's a bit of work but if you do it once a week or every two weeks you'll have healthy cuticles that are not dry and splitting. I know in some salons that the old fashion cutting of the cuticles is still done but that's a big no no in my book since cutting the cuticles can cause more damage (as in split skin, cuts, etc, etc). I love my nail and foot stones because it removes dead skin without cutting off the skin.

i have the same problem! year round my nails are so sensitive just like everything else on me ;) and i finally got them to harden and grow out then one night out for my birthday they are back to square one..

i am so rough with my hands though so it comes with it i guess haha

Dec 17, 2010

Erin Z.

thanks for the thorough feedback Yasmin! I'll be giving that a try over the next week when I'm home and relaxing for xmas.

I feel your pain nails are so short and sensitive...but hopefully that oil bath will help

Ashley, if your nails are breaking I'll recommend what I've always been told works - one-a-day multivitamins. Do NOT take the ones "formulated" for nails or hair because those contain an overdose of vitamins which in the long run can cause more problems. Remember, hair and nails are made up of dead cells and if you want healthier hair (even eyelashes) or nails then you need to have a healthy diet or supplement your diet with a vitamin.

If you're nails are breaking but you don't want to go the faux nail route, which I don't recommend either, then have you considered getting the nails wrapped? You can either do the "tea bag" method buy taking tea bag "cloth" and cutting it your fingernail size and "glue" it one using nail polish. Much simpler buy Orly Nail Armor Liquid Silk Wrap ($7). It's like a nail polish and the fiberglass is in the "polish". You paint it on your nails, allow to dry then add a base coat then your nail polish. It'll come off with nail polish remover. There is also Salon Science Fiberglass Network ($8) but I've never used that one but it's like the Orly one.

Dec 17, 2010

Erin Z.

im taking biotin for hair and nails and its actually been helping a lot. 

yeah i take one a day womans vitamins for years now and i could never do fake nails i was a firefighter for 2 yaers and before that i played too many sports... its because i am so hard on my hands if i clear coat them and re polish them every three days they do fabulous but once a project or a demanding event comes some tend to break or chip. i have always been afraid to take pills for hair and nails.. it kinda just freaks me out!

i will def. need to try the orly nail armor i havent heard of it, i am super new to the whole polished nails thing! im like erin i work with my hands and so close to peoples faces i need to be pretty! lol

Dec 18, 2010

Tree S.

Erin, I've had the same problem for the same reasons so about a year ago I did some research and found a home remedy that has helped me a lot. I brush a thin coat of olive oil on my nails, including the underside at the tip. I do this once a day or so.

Dec 20, 2010

Robin M.

olive oil or soy oil....natural thick oils..mineral oil isnt soaked into the stays on top.....olive oil goes down deep.....scent it with your favorite essential oil and keep by your bed in a little bottle and use it before you go to sleep....callouses on your feet too! xoxoxox good luck!

Great tips thank you for sharing. I am also trying to keep my nails in good shape!

Dec 27, 2010

Erin Z.

Im so stoked, one of my gifts is a nail set that comes with a cuticle oil, so I'm going to be playing with that tonight :) so excited!

May 16, 2013

Sophie C.

Push back your cuticles if you can handle it and soak you hands in a bowl of water, olive oil, and tea tree oil for about 30 mins a day and a week from now they should be perfect

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