Recently, there is an increase in the number of people having issues with their cuticles because these cuticles are removed by either a physical mean using a pair of cuticle nippers or a chemical-based cuticle remover at home or at a salon. There is a simple and chemical-free product you can use to tackle the issue of how to remove cuticles.

Overgrown cuticles can be removed gradually by scrubbing them with a nail brush or something similar after they are softened from a warm shower or after washing dishes. This daily scrubbing will remove the dry cuticles and prevent them from forming a thick crust on the nails and cutting or trimming them is then not necessary.

Cuticle remover is a strong alkaline-based chemical product. This alkaline substance will not only dissolve the dead cuticle but will also interact with live skin if being left on too long.

What are the main ingredients in cuticle remover?

The main ingredients that are in cuticle-remover are potassium hydroxide and sodium hydroxide. They are the same ones that when chemical-based cuticle removers were first introduced in the early 1900s by Cutex company.

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’. 

SourceOpens in a new tab.

These two chemicals have alkaline characteristics, meaning that they will interact with skin or other organic matters or burn them the same way acid would.

In low concentration, they will just interact with the top layer of the skin. In high concentration, 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 completely gone.

How do you make your own cuticle remover?

A great substitute for cuticle remover is that you can make at home is using the two readily available ingredients: water and soap.

If you make it a daily habit of scrubbing your cuticles after a shower or after they are in contact with water like washing dishes, you can effectively get rid of your dry cuticles without cutting them when you have a manicure.

The followings are a list of frequently asked questions about how to remove or soften dry cuticles.

How do you get rid of really bad cuticles?

Why are your cuticles so bad? Really bad cuticles are the result of many things:

  • Extreme cold weather
  • lack of water intake.
  • Repeated hand washes with excessively hot water.
  • Hand soap that you use is too harsh for your sensitive skin.

You can prevent bad cuticles from forming on your nails by practicing these:

Wear gloves when you go outside:

When it is very cold: cold air is very dry, meaning there is very low humidity. If your hands and nails are exposed to this dry condition, they will dry out even in this cold weather. You can feel it yourself that your hands are dry after you get inside from the cold. Your cuticles will be subject to the same dry air and cause them to be dry and crusty.

Do drink enough water:

if you do not drink enough water that is necessary for your body to function, you will feel that your lips dry first, next will be your cuticles and skin.

Do not use very hot water to wash your hands:

Some people like to use very hot water to wash their hands, others use it because they think hot water will kill germs. However, germs are eliminated only when they are submerged in boiling water., hot water will not kill them.

So do your hands and cuticles a favor by not wash them in hot water.

Use milder hand soap:

If the hand soap you use might be too strong for your type of skin, it will remove the natural oil from your skin. Without this protective oil that acts as a vapor barrier, the moisture from your skin will evaporate away and leaving your skin and cuticles high and dry.

What home remedy can I use to soften my cuticles?

What you need:

  • 1 medium-sized container that can fit both hands comfortably.
  • Warm water
  • A few drops (5 is good enough)
  • A nail brush


  • Soak your hands in this warm, soapy water for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Start scrubbing your cuticles with the nail brush using a gentle, circular motion for 2 minutes each hand.
  • Keep your fingers submerged as you scrub the cuticles.
  • Rinse and dry your hands with a dry towel.

Vaseline is very good for your dry cuticles. It acts as a hand lotion or thick cuticle oil that will prevent your cuticles from drying out in cold, and dry air.

Just apply an ample amount on your hands and rub it well into the skin and cuticles before bedtime. Your hands and cuticles will be much softer the next morning.

Make sure you wipe off the excess vaseline or it will get all over your bed sheets and blankets.

Can cuticle remover damage nails? 

Yes. Cuticle remover contains alkaline-based chemicals. They break down organic matters like your cuticles so you can remove them easily. Nails are also organic so cuticle remover will break down and thin them out.

All cuticle removers have a low concentration of alkaline to remove dry skin. However, if you do not wash it off or use it often, it will make your nails thinner.

How can I soften my cuticles overnight?

You can improve the dry condition of your cuticles by doing these simple steps:

Scrub your cuticles before you get out of a warm shower to remove dry cuticles for one minute. Do not try to remove them all at one time because they need to be worked on a little at a time and you will hurt yourself if you try to do so much at one time.

After a shower, dry them with a towel and apply with what you have available:

  • Hand lotion
  • Cuticle oil
  • Vaseline
  • Coconut or olive oil is a good substitute if you do not have cuticle oil at home.

Use other fingers to massage or rub the oil into the cuticles and leave it on overnight.

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

What happens if you push your cuticles too far back?

Nails are solid and skin is soft. These two different parts of our body need something to close the gap between them and the cuticles job is to be the seal to prevent bacteria and foreign matter from getting through.

When the cuticles are pushed too far back, this seal is broken. The live, raw skin right under the cuticles is exposed. If the alkaline-based cuticle remover penetrates into this narrow area, it will be difficult to wash off or if being left on the nails, it will continue to interact with this exposed, live skin and eventually causes the itch which is the result of a chemical burn on this narrow strip of the skin.

Most of the customers who I have had the privilege to work on their nails who are healthy and have irritation after they get nail service, one of the reasons that they have it is they push their cuticles back with their nails before they come in. In doing so they unknowingly break the seals between the cuticles and the nails and give the nail chemicals a chance to irritate them.

What happens if you leave cuticle remover on too long?

Normally, cuticle remover bottles are relatively small, so are the instruction prints. They are so small that people tend to ignore them. However, if you read it, it will explicitly tell you that you must wash it off completely with water and soap.

Since many people do not wash their hands and nails, this corrosive product will have time to burn into your live cuticles and will cause the uncontrollable itch that they do know why and where it comes from.

Alkaline-based chemicals in a cuticle-remover solution will also break down your nails the same way it does to your cuticles. Your nails are much harder so the effect is small but it will thin them out too.

How do you remove cuticles on your toenails?

Cuticles on toenails are the same thing as they are on your nails. If you scrub them before you get out of a shower every day, you will remove the dry cuticles so your live, soft ones will not crack or peel.

You can purchase a brush with a long handle so you will not have to bend down to reach them.

When you have this long brush on your hand, scrub both the top and bottom of your feet as well.

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

You might think that you do not need to go to a salon for a pedicure anymore.

But you still have to trim your long toenails though. DIY style.

Related reading:

How to stop the itch after your gel manicure.Opens in a new tab. After you come home from a nail salon to get a great looking gel manicure, your nails start to itch. You can find out the reasons and how to stop it at home.

Photo credits:

Image by Pezibear from Pixabay

Recent Posts