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A Complete Guide to At-Home Nail Care

When it comes to high-ranking beauty needs, a solid skincare routine and regular appointments with the hairdresser tend to top a lot of women's lists. Facial masks or lash extensions might fall somewhere in the middle, and there's something to be said about a flawless fake tan during the autumn and winter months.

But what about your cuticles? Even if you're not the type of person to indulge in bi-weekly or monthly manis/pedis, there's no denying the confidence that comes with a healthy set of nails. After all, nail care remains vital to your overall health and appearance. Not only that, but clean, healthy nails give your hands and feet a noticeable touch of sophistication.

That said, what happens when you accidentally skip an appointment with your favorite nail technician? Alternatively, how do you know what steps you can take to keep your nails looking their best on your own? In this blog, we'll go over everything you need to know about nail care, with tips and tricks you can use to keep your hands, nails, and cuticles looking their best at home. Let's get started!

What are Cuticles?

First things first. Before we dive into proper nail care and all that comes with it, let's do a quick refresher on what your cuticles are and why they're important. If you weren't already aware, your cuticles are the thin layer of transparent skin that's located at the base of the nail bed. As your nails grow, this thin layer of skin rips to make way for new nails, a process that begins at the root of your nail and repeats for all your fingers and toes.

Looking more closely, you should also see a tiny, white, crescent-shaped area at the base of your nail, similar in shape to a half-moon in the sky. This is known as the lunula and, along with the cuticle, it helps to form the base of your fingernails and toenails. More importantly, the cuticle acts as a tight seal, steadily doing its part to keep out unwanted dirt and debris from causing infection or endangering new nails as they grow.

Why is Cuticle Care Important?

Naturally, this begs the question, "Why are cuticles so important?" To answer that, start by asking yourself a few questions about your own nails. Are they long, shaped the way you like them, or perfectly polished? Do they look blunt or blank, ready for an afternoon of yard work rather than a night on the town? Whatever your answer may be, this touches upon the importance of proper nail care, starting first and foremost with your cuticles.

As mentioned before, your cuticles act as a barrier to help keep out dirt and debris. This means they play a super important role in your overall health and the health of your nails. They offer protection for the tissue that helps grow new cells and build new nails, with each fingernail and toenail helping to guard the delicate skin beneath from harm.

Since your nails are constantly growing, this means that routine manicures and pedicures go far beyond simple aesthetics. They help to promote nail health at the highest level, from pruning pesky hangnails to removing dead skin cells that can become trapped under your nails and cause infection. If that weren't enough, manicures and pedicures are a great way to improve blood circulation, as the added massage offered by most salons will likely include your arms, lower legs, and feet. Put simply, healthy cuticles are the key to healthier nails, which in turn are tied to healthier (and prettier) hands and feet.

How to Care for Your Cuticles at Home

Given the importance of healthy cuticles, it only makes sense that we take some time to go over a few things you can do to keep yours in tip-top shape throughout the year. From moisturizers to cuticle oils, here are some easy ways you can care for your cuticles at home!

Regularly Moisturize Your Hands and Nails

One of the easiest ways to give your cuticles the TLC they deserve is to regularly moisturize your hands and nails with high-quality skincare products. In other words, you'll want to focus on finding a hand cream designed to moisturize and nourish your skin, nails, and cuticles with a variety of good-for-you ingredients.

This means looking for key ingredients like shea butter, as shea butter is known to hydrate and condition the cuticles and surrounding skin quickly, leaving the skin feeling irresistibly soft and silky smooth. Likewise, you'll want to be on the lookout for hand creams that include sunflower seed oil as a primary ingredient, as the moisture-retaining properties of sunflower seed oil are ideal for refreshing and replenishing your skin in a pinch. To add to that, aim to find a hand cream infused with pomegranate extract, as this is an easy way to enrich your skin with antioxidants and omegas that can help reduce skin dryness in the process.

While the benefits of hand cream extend beyond hydration, you'll find that the best hand cream formulas deliver just the right amount of moisture to the delicate skin on your cuticles. Furthermore, you'll discover how easy it is to find a moisturizing hand cream that's fragrance-free, saving you from the potential embarrassment of stinky skincare routines. For an extra step in cuticle care, consider adding hand masks to your skincare regimen as well. Not only will you be adding valuable moisture to your nails and cuticles, but you’ll have the perfect priming product to give yourself the best manicures of your life, especially if you’re the kinda gal who enjoys a pretty set of press-ons! 

Treat Your Feet to Moisturizing Foot Masks!

A solid cuticle care routine also means putting your best, most pampered foot forward. After all, your toes deserve just as much TLC! Thankfully, it's super easy to treat your feet to a variety of luxurious and nourishing skincare products.

In fact, when it comes to keeping your piggies looking pristine, a moisturizing foot mask is a great first step. Like the best hand creams, finding the best foot mask also means taking a good look at the ingredients, of which a few tend to stand out. For instance, a foot mask with a rich blend of calming oils like argan, shea butter, jojoba oil, and coconut oil will leave your feet feeling deeply nourished and moisturized. Likewise, you can't go wrong with anti-aging ingredients like hyaluronic acid, Vitamin E, and ceramides, as these can help to protect and replenish the delicate skin of your feet with each use. The end result? Baby-soft and healthy-looking feet all year long.

Best of all, adding foot masks to your beauty regimen is super easy! The process only takes about 10-15 minutes, and you can sit back with your favorite book, TV show, or podcast while you pamper those piggies. Win-win!

Apply Some Nail Cuticle Oil

Whether you lead a super active lifestyle or tend to be more laid back, your hands and nails are going to be exposed to all sorts of environmental and chemical stressors. From dirt and debris to harsh chemicals in your favorite soaps, there's a good chance your hands, nails, and cuticles will lose some valuable moisture from everyday activities.

Thankfully, the perfect solution to keeping your nails and cuticles looking their best is also small enough to fit neatly into your purse or makeup bag. By investing in cuticle oil from Red Aspen, you can gently nourish your nails with natural oils, ensuring they stay smooth and moisturized 24/7. Infused with argan oil, jojoba oil, rosehip oil, and grape seed oil, you'll have the ultimate formula to hydrate and help repair your skin's natural appearance, especially for those colder, drier months where it's easy for your skin to dry or crack more quickly.

Not only that, but you'll enjoy a formula rich in vitamins A, C, and E, giving your skin essential fatty acids that help to rejuvenate dry skin and protect against further damage from free radicals. Like hand creams and foot masks, cuticle oil is also exceptionally easy to add to your existing beauty regimen. The process takes only a few minutes, and as an added benefit, it's a fantastic way to break down existing nail glue if you're the type of gal to indulge in a cute set of press-on nails. Best of all, your nails will look shinier and glossier than ever before!

Use the Right Cuticle Care Tools

Even if your purse or makeup bag is filled with all the best cuticle oils and moisturizers you can buy, it pays to bolster your beauty routine with the right cuticle care tools as well. Here are a few nail accessories you'll want to have on standby.

Cuticle Pusher: Because your skin usually grows flat over the nail, proper nail maintenance involves pushing the cuticle back toward the skin of your finger, repeated for each nail. Naturally, this makes a quality cuticle pusher an invaluable part of any serious beauty kit. Not only will this keep your cuticles healthy long-term, but it'll give them a longer appearance as well, better preparing them for polish or the application of press-on nails later.

Cuticle Nipper: Every gal knows that a flawless manicure is all about precision. As such, the right cuticle nipper can make all the difference when it's time to freshen things up with a new look. Used properly, you'll have the perfect tool to gently trim cuticles and hangnails in a jiffy.

Mani + Pedi Clippers: No beauty kit is complete without a comfortable pair of mani/pedi clippers. Not only are they the ideal tool for trimming your fingernails and toenails to the perfect length, but they're also great for keeping things tidy. More importantly, nail clippers tend to work best when combined with a cuticle nipper, as the 2-step process is the best way to ensure you have nothing to fear from stubborn hangnails.

Nail File: Whether you have longer nails, shorter nails, or something in between, it's always a good idea to have a nail file at the ready. As one of the more basic nail care tools, it's the best way to keep a uniform shape and length to your nails, especially if you enjoy flaunting your latest flawless mani or pedi.

That being said, remember that it's easy to accidentally file your nails incorrectly, leading to jagged or frayed nails, or even damage to the cuticles or nail beds. This means that for the best results, you'll want to focus on filing from the outer corner of your nail toward the center of your nail, rather than sawing back and forth with the file.

Avoid Biting or Picking Your Nails

Let's face it, many of us have been nail-biters or nail-pickers in our lifetimes. They're easy habits to fall into, especially during stress or moments of anxiety. That being said, it should go without saying that the health and longevity of your nails (and your nail polish) are equally dependent on you avoiding the temptation to bite or pick at your nails.

Aside from causing more issues with hangnails (we've all bitten off more than we expected before), excess nail biting can lead to increased risks of infection if the wound isn't treated properly. Not only that, but there's all sorts of germs and dirt that can build up underneath your fingernails from daily activities. Despite your best efforts to keep your hands and nails clean, there's no reason to give those germs free access to your mouth.

Worse yet, repeatedly biting on your nails can lead to dental problems down the line, such as misalignment or even chipped teeth! Yikes! All in all, even if you're a habitual nail-biter, do your very best to curb that habit as soon as you can. Your nails (and your immune system) will certainly thank you later!

Have an After-care Process in Place for Your Nails

Last but certainly not least, preserving that delicate cuticle glow is a lot easier when you have an after-care process in place for your nails. This includes regularly moisturizing your nails and taking the necessary breaks between manicures to allow your nails and nail beds time to heal and regrow.

If you're a lover of press-on nails, then take the extra time to also go over how to remove your press-on nails the right way, as the tips and tricks provided can give better insight into steps you might need to add to your everyday beauty routine.

Build a Better Cuticle Care Routine with Red Aspen

There you have it! An "everything you need to know" guide on cuticle care! While it's a lot to process, the key thing to remember is consistency. After all, like any great beauty regimen, pampering yourself with high-quality products is only the first step towards a healthier, more youthful-looking you. The rest is all about building a routine.

Thankfully, it's never been easier to build a better cuticle care routine. With an affordable lineup of iconic, high-quality beauty and skincare products, Red Aspen has everything you need to enjoy healthier nails and healthier beauty habits all around! Reach out to a Red Aspen Brand Ambassador today to learn more!

Written by: Kerry Cron

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