Many people are having issues with their cuticles since they are either removed with cuticle nippers or a chemical-based cuticle remover at home or in a salon. To get rid of cuticles, you can use a simple, chemical-free product.

After a warm shower or after washing dishes, overgrown cuticles can be gently removed by scrubbing them with a nail brush or something similar. Scrubbing daily will remove the dry cuticles and prevent them from forming a thick crust on the nails, so cutting or trimming them is no longer necessary.

Cuticle remover is an alkaline-based chemical product. When left on for too long, this alkaline substance will not only dissolve the dead cuticle, but also interact with live skin.

What are the main ingredients in cuticle remover?

Potassium hydroxide and sodium hydroxide are the main ingredients in cuticle-remover. When chemical-based cuticle removers were first introduced in the early 1900s by Cutex, these were the same ones.

In 1911, Northam Warren began selling Cutex, a liquid preparation that removed dead cuticle tissue without the need for cutting – hence the name ‘Cut-ex’. 


Both of these chemicals have alkaline characteristics, meaning that they will react with skin or other organic matter like acids or burn them.

In low concentrations, they will only interact with the top layer of the skin. At high concentrations, they will burn through the skin.

Even if a low alkaline concentration cuticle remover is left on the skin, it will continue to burn or interact with the skin until it is removed completely.

How do you make your own cuticle remover?

You can make cuticle remover at home with two readily available ingredients: water and soap.

By scrubbing your cuticles after a shower or after being in contact with water, such as when washing dishes, you can effectively get rid of your dry cuticles without cutting them when you have a manicure.

Here is a list of frequently asked questions about removing or softening dry cuticles.

How do you get rid of really bad cuticles?

Is it because your cuticles are so bad? Bad cuticles can be the result of many things:

  • Extremely cold weather
  • and low water intake.
  • Excessively hot water used for hand washing.
  • The soap you use is too harsh for your sensitive skin.

By practicing these, you can prevent bad cuticles from forming on your nails:

Wear gloves when you go outside:

Cold air is very dry, which means it has very low humidity. It doesn’t matter how cold it is, if your hands and nails are exposed to this dry condition, they will dry out. Your hands feel dry after you get inside from the cold. Your cuticles will be exposed to the same dry air and will become dry and crusty.

Do drink enough water:

When you do not drink enough water that is necessary for your body to function, you will feel that the first thing to dry will be your lips, followed by your cuticles and skin.

Do not use very hot water to wash your hands:

Many people use very hot water to wash their hands, but others do it because they believe that hot water will kill germs. However, germs can only be eliminated by submerging them in boiling water.They will not be killed by hot water.

Do your hands and cuticles a favor by not washing them in hot water.

Use milder hand soap:

Your skin will lose its natural oil if the hand soap you use is too strong for your type of skin. Without this protective oil, the moisture from your skin will evaporate away, leaving your skin and cuticles high and dry.

What home remedy can I use to soften my cuticles?

What you need:

  • One medium-sized container that can comfortably fit both hands.
  • Hot water
  • a few drops (5 is fine)
  • and a nail brush


  • Spend 10 to 15 minutes soaking your hands in this warm, soapy water.
  • Scrub your cuticles using the nail brush for 2 minutes per hand using a gentle, circular motion.
  • Keep your fingers submerged while you scrub.
  • Dry your hands with a towel.

Vaseline is great for dry cuticles. It acts as a thick cuticle oil that prevents your cuticles from drying out in cold, and dry weather.

Put a generous amount on your hands and rub it well into your skin and cuticles before bedtime. Your hands and cuticles will feel much softer in the morning.

If you don’t remove the excess vaseline, it will get on your bed sheets and blankets.

Can cuticle remover damage nails? 

Definitely. Cuticle removers contain alkaline chemicals. They break down organic matter like your cuticles so you can easily remove them. Since nails are also organic, cuticle remover will break them down and thin them out.

Cuticle removers have a low concentration of alkaline to remove dry skin. It will, however, cause your nails to become thinner if you don’t wash it off or use it often.

How can I soften my cuticles overnight?

By following these simple steps, you can improve the dry condition of your cuticles:

After a warm shower, scrub your cuticles for one minute to remove dry cuticles. If you attempt to remove them all at once, you will injure yourself because they need to be worked on a little at a time.

Following a shower, dry your hands with a towel and apply your make-up as follows:

  • Hand lotion
  • Cuticle oil
  • Vaseline
  • If you do not have cuticle oil at home, coconut or olive oil are good substitutes.

Massage or rub the oil into the cuticles with other fingers and let it sit overnight.

Ensure you clean up the excess or it will get all over your bed. 

What happens if you push your cuticles too far back?

Skin is soft and nails are solid. Our body needs something to close the gap between these two different parts, and our cuticles do that by serving as a barrier to keep bacteria and other foreign matters from getting in.

This seal is broken if the cuticles are pushed too far back. It exposes the live, raw skin underneath. As long as the alkaline-based cuticle remover penetrates into this narrow area, it will be difficult to wash off or, if left on the nails, it will continue to react with the exposed, live skin, eventually causing the itch which is the result of a chemical burn on the skin.

One of the reasons why most of the customers I have worked on their nails who are healthy have irritation after getting nail service is they push their cuticles back with their nails before coming in. In doing so, they unknowingly break the seal between the cuticles and the nails and let the nail chemicals irritate them.

What happens if you leave cuticle remover on too long?

As cuticle remover bottles and instructions are typically small, so are the prints on them. People tend to ignore them due to their small size. However, if you read it, you will discover that it explicitly instructs you to wash it completely off with water and soap.

Since most people do not wash their hands and nails, this corrosive product can burn into your live cuticles and cause the uncontrollable itching that they do not know why or where it comes from.

The alkaline chemicals in a cuticle-remover solution will also dissolve your nails in the same way that they do your cuticles. Since your nails are harder, the effect is small, but it will thin them as well.

How do you remove cuticles on your toenails?

Toenail cuticles are the same as nail cuticles. As long as you scrub your cuticles before getting out of the shower every day, your live, soft cuticles will not crack or peel.

You can purchase a brush with a long handle so you won’t have to bend over to reach them.

Rub both the top and bottom of your feet with this long brush when you have it in your hand.

Once you do this every day for two weeks, you will notice how soft and clean your cuticles and feet will be.

It might seem as if you do not need to go to a salon for a pedicure anymore.

However, you still have to trim your long toenails. The DIY way.

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