After you went to a nail salon to get a regular or a gel manicure and spent somewhere between $30 to $50 of your hard-earned money, you noticed that your cuticles started to peel away a few days later and your whole manicure did not look good anymore.

Cuticles peel or crack after a gel manicure because the nail folds that are being next to them are trimmed or cut too deep that the continuous folds become two separate layers. The top of the outer layer now has a free edge that will dry out, become flaky and separated from the skin a few days later.

The following sections will explain more about your cuticles and what you can do to prevent it from peeling the next time you get a gel manicure.

What are cuticles

Cuticles are part of the nail structure. Cuticles are dead skin that consists of two parts called eponychium and perinychium. Eponychium is the cuticle or dead skin at the base of the nail. Perinychium is the cuticle at the sides of the nail. Next to the cuticle is the part of inner skin cells called nail fold.

The cuticles’ job is to create a continuous protective barrier around the nail to prevent foreign objects or bacteria from getting into the gap between the nail fold and the nail bed and find their ways into ones’ body. For this reason, cuticles should be on the nail bed to ensure this protection mechanism is working adequately.

Under normal growing conditions, the nail fold is one continuous piece that goes around the nail from one side to the opposite side of the nail. As the skin sheds, this nail fold also sheds. This shedding process creates a normal-looking, continuous and smooth cuticle that goes around the nails.

Why do cuticles peel after a gel manicure

Under normal conditions, the outermost skin cells that make up the cuticle will slowly detach themselves from the nails all the time. Therefore, if the skin or cuticles are in good condition, cutting or trimming is not necessary.

In the case the cuticles are cut or trimmed properly, the nail folds will be intact to grow into cuticles that are smooth and continuous around the fingernail. Otherwise, if this nail fold is cut too deep in the case of excessive cuticle trimming, the live cells in the nail fold become severed and this deep cut also creates two separate layers, the outer top layer and a lower one. The dead skin cuticles on the top layer will separate and curl away from the finger due to dryness. This condition is called cuticle peeling or cracking and it makes the cuticles look flaky.

This is better understood with this illustration. Take a piece of paper and fold it in half. The paper fold is analogous to a nail fold. If you cut part of this paper fold, you will get two sheets of paper where you cut. This is also what happens if you cut, trim or nip your cuticles too deep.

Your cuticles peel because your nail tech overcut them

Whether you get your gel manicure done at a nail salon or you do it yourself at home, cuticles are usually being cut too deep to a point the nail fold is severed. When this happens, your cuticles will peel a few days later.

Nail technicians are trained so they can trim cuticles with ease but not many know whether they should be trimmed or left alone. It is up to you to be an informed customer to decide whether your cuticles need trimming so you can tell your nail tech to perform this task or not. 

How to cut or trim cuticle properly

If your cuticles are not overly grown, you should not remove them because they are there to protect the nails or prevent infection. If some spots are thick, you should only trim them with a pair of cuticle nippers and never try to pull them with your fingers as this pulling action will make it worse as you will peel away the lower skin layers and bleeding will occur.

Should you cut or trim cuticles

To determine whether your cuticles need trimming or not, you can first inspect them yourself. Normal, healthy-looking cuticles should have a thin line going around the nail plate. On most people, the little finger shows the best-looking cuticles that should not be trimmed or cut. By comparing cuticles on other fingers with that on the little finger, you can easily tell that they need to be trimmed or not.

Before polishing, you should soak your hands in warm water for ten minutes or so. After soaking, you can use a cuticle pusher or orange-wood stick to gently push them back. This action is good enough to push back the cuticles where they belong without ruining them with excessive trimming.

What to do if your cuticles peel after a gel manicure

If your cuticles peel after you had a gel manicure, there are a few things you should know and do so this problem will not get any worse. Keep in mind that it takes about seven to ten days before all the peeling cuticles will go away.

First, leave the peeled cuticles alone. Try not to pull them with your fingers because in doing so you will peel too much to a point a big chunk of your skin will be removed and bleeding will occur. If the cuticle peel too much after three or four days, use either a pair of cuticle nippers or nail clippers and carefully trim the loose cuticles at the surface of the skin, avoid pressing too hard or you will remove part of your live skin.

Secondly, at the end of a shower or dish-washing, use a fine nail brush or toothbrush and gently brush your cuticles using circular motions. This gentle brushing will remove soft peeling cuticle and it will minimize the chance of you pulling on them later.

While your cuticles are moist and soft, you can also rub your fingers and nails gently with other fingers. This action will safely remove more of the peeled cuticles so your fingers will look less raggedy.

Keep doing those things every day and your cuticles will be normal looking after a week or ten days.

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