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The issue of cuticles

From: Sophy Robson's Nail Blog,

12
January
2010
The issue of cuticles

I am continuously being asked how one should treat and care for the cuticles as part of a manicure routine…..

As a practicing professional manicurist with 10 yrs of experience, and sometimes giving up to 20 manicures in a day, the best advice I can give is to not to interfere to much with what nature gave you.

The cuticle describes the rim of skin at the end of the finger, from which the nail grows out of. It is there to prevent dirt and bacteria entering the body at the join between live and dead tissue. Traditionally, it is considered normal practice to soak the hands during a manicure to soften the skin and push back the cuticle so that more of the half moon is showing (the crescent shape at the base of the nail which shows its blood supply), with an orange stick or metal cuticle pusher. However, if the cuticle is quite tight on the surface of the nail, it is best not to force them back aggressively, as this is quite traumatising to the skin in that area and can lead to bleeding and peeling skin or hangnails. I have learnt that gently pushing and scraping off the excess or dead bits from the actual nail plate instead is much more effective. Then you are left with a neat, clean and level surface in order to apply a beautiful perfect polish that goes as close up to the cuticle as possible without touching the skin. I also tend to use cuticle softeners or removers rather than soaking the whole hand.

The skin is the largest organ in the human body, and is designed so that if any part of it which is used for protection (the soles of the feet, the cuticles or the eyelids for example) comes continuously under attack by knifing or cutting away it will grow back thicker and stronger. This is the body’s natural response and unfortunately this is why the cuticles should not be cut as they will grow back thicker. They should be conditioned and cared for instead. Obviously any skin snags or hangnails should be clipped neatly off but if the skin is even – LEAVE it ALONE!

Unfortunately it was common practice in many salons in New York and other countries to routinely cut away or trim the cuticles in the late 1990s when I started my career in nails. Many of the clients who were visiting London were used to that way, and it was up to us the professionals to educate them differently. Even when I was studying at college I found the practice of it unecessary as it made harder work and took longer to get an even trim. I also remember a few bloody accidents from the more nipper trigger happy members of the class! It also meant the skin would grow back raggedy and uneven meaning more work for you when the client came back the following week, and not necessarily a better result.

So there you have it – leave them nippers alone!!

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Straight from the hottest runway shows and top fashion shoots around the world, celebrity nail expert, Sophy Robson, reveals the latest trends in nail care.

Sophy is the manicurist and pedicurist and that Tom Ford books for all his advertising and fashion shoots, and she was the woman behind the tartan nails at House of Holland's autumn/winter 2008 show, but even less famous fashionistas can get their hands and feet pampered by Sophy Robson at her Nailcare Clinic on the top floor of Fortnum & Mason in London.

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