how cuticle removers work

I never remove cuticles.

I know they β€œruin” an otherwise perfectly polished manicure, BUT, those cuticles are there for a reason. They prevent bacteria and other nasty stuff from entering our nails. Kind of a good reason to keep them there, don’t you agree?

Maybe not. Doesn’t matter. I’m not gonna jump on my soapbox and start preaching against cuticle removers. Instead, I’ll just tell you how cuticle removers work, ok?

There are two types of cuticle removers. Neither of them is particularly good for the nails, but one is way worse than the other. Let’s take a look:

The Harsh Way To Remove Cuticles

Traditionally, cuticle removers contain Potassium Hydroxide and Sodium Hydroxide.

These two chemicals are very alkaline. In plain English, that means they have a very high pH. Do you know what happens when you put something on your skin that has a very high pH? Hint: it’s NOT pretty.

They break down the dead skin around the nails, so that it’s easy to remove with a nail knife or an orange wood stick.

The catch? The high pH is a recipe for irritation and dryness. The more you use them, the worse it gets. So use them sparingly!

The Mild Way To Remove Cuticles

Recently, brands have been coming out with a gentler type of cuticle remover.

Like facial exfoliants, they use Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs), a group of exfoliants derived from fruit and milk sugar. The most famous members of the family are glycolic acid and lactic acid.

I’m sure you’ve heard of them. If not, here’s how they work. They dissolve the glue that holds skin cells together, so they can easily be pushed away.

But, there’s a catch here, too. Because they’re gentler on the skin, they work more slowly. Personally, I think the trade off is worth it.

P.S. AHAs can irritate skin too if you use them too often.

Related: The Complete Guide To Gycolic Acid In Skincare: What It Is, What It Does, And How To Use It

Which Type Of Nail Cuticle Remover Is Better?

If you really need to use a nail cuticle remover, make sure it’s the exfoliating kind. AHAs are much gentler on the skin and don’t destroy your nails.

What type of nail cuticle remover do you use? Let me know in the comments below.