Frequently Asked Questions: Cuticle & Skin Care Routine

Ever since I started blogging again, I’ve been going back through my old emails trying to respond to everyone that had questions over the past 3 years. Eventually, I plan to do a FAQ page, but for now I’m posting some answers to the most commonly asked questions. Second only to the emails from people in other countries asking how to buy nail polish on my site (I’m really not sure why I get so many of those), are questions about my nail and cuticle care routine. I’ve gotten a lot of requests for a manicure video or step-by-step tutorial. Definitely not hi-tech enough to do a video and, to be honest, I’m really not very good at painting my nails. My  application is usually a hot mess, I’m just pretty good at clean up. The next time I need to replace my clean up brush, I’ll post a tutorial. I cut and shape a regular brush, which I find is the best way to get a good brush to suit my clean-up needs.

For this post, I want to address moisturizer and cuticle care. I’m a compulsive moisturizer. In my bathroom, at my desk at work, near my bed and in my purse, I keep a barrage of different hand creams and lotions. I’ve used a lot of brands and have had mostly good experiences. I don’t have a holy grail daily moisturizer right now, but I’ve been on the look out for one. In the past, I was a really big fan of Jaqua Pink Buttercream Frosting Hand Creme, but their site was down forever and that hand creme is currently not available. If it ever becomes available again, I’ll go back to it faithfully but until then I’m on the hunt for a good replacement.

As a disclaimer – I’m not a nail tech, I don’t purport to have any specialized knowledge or background with regard to these products. Everything in this post is based solely on my experience over the years. These are just products and methods that have worked well for me. I think the best idea is to try different things until you find a product, or a combination of products that work well for you.

These are my favorite products right now – let’s go through them one by one.

Creative Nail Design (CND) Solar Oil is my favorite cuticle oil. I’ve tried a few, but none have been as effective. If I’m doing a full-blown manicure, i.e., cuticle dissolver, bleaching agent, filing, and painting, then I usually apply Solar Oil right before I file. Generally, I place generous dabs of it on all my nails, then rub it into the cuticles and let it soak in while I file with a glass file. The oil tends to dulls the glass file. Scrubbing the glass file with a nail brush usually solves that problem. Obviously, the downside of doing it this way is that any oil that remains on the nail bed can cause your mani to bubble. I use Zoya Remove+ both as my go-to polish remover and nail prep for the purpose of removing cuticle oil and other moisturizers. It’s more gentle than 100% acetone which definitely helps in maintaining cuticle health. With that said, I do use a very small amount of 100% acetone for clean up without much ill effect. If I’m just painting my nails, I’ll use the oil  right after I photograph the finished manicure. I just ladle it on with the brush and let it soak in without rubbing. I buy Solar Oil in the largest bottle and then decant into smaller ones. I keep a bottle in my manicure kit and one next to my bed.

I keep a bottle of CND Cuticle Eraser next to my bed and in my purse. I use it two to three times a day, everyday. I use a slightly smaller than pea-sized amount on every nail, rub it in the cuticle, then rub my hands together. This is an amazing moisturizer. It smells pleasant, my Husband says it smells like Fruity Pebbles… I’m not so sure about that. It’s a little oily but dries fairly quickly. It contains A.H.A. (alpha hydroxy acids) which are known for helping to improve skin moisture and removing dead skin cells. I find that using this makes a  noticeable difference in the appearance of my cuticles. After not using Cuticle Eraser for a long time when I stopped blogging, I noticed a marked improvement after a week or so of daily use. After prolonged use, my cuticles require less dissolving and cutting. In fact, after about a month or so of using it, I am able to stop cutting my cuticles completely (which I prefer to avoid doing as much as possible, because I’m bad at it and it inevitably always causes damage to my nail bed). It doesn’t “erase” the cuticle completely and it’s not a dissolver in the traditional sense. My experience has been that it just keeps your cuticles in check – it keeps them from growing out of control and keeps them from drying which helps to prevent hang nails, etc. I get my CND products from the typical online retailers but they are also available at some brick and mortars. I haven’t seen Cuticle Eraser very often but Solar Oil is seriously available everywhere, even drugstores.

Finally, Lush Lemony Flutter, the best cuticle butter ever. Just be forwarned, it smells like lemony gasoline. It’s about as pleasant smelling as that description makes it sounds. My husband hates it (I feel for him but beauty comes at a cost and, in this case, it’s his olfactory suffering - hahaha). The scent is so overpowering I can’t really imagine using this during the day, or subjecting humans other than my husband to it.  The closest Lush store is about 30 minutes away for me, so I buy mine online. It’s a bit on the expensive side, but one tub lasts me about 2 or 3 months.  I keep a tub next to my bed. At night, I use a generous amount. I rub it into my cuticles and then rub my hands together to cover both evenly. (I also occasionally use it on other problem areas, like elbows, knees, and feet – this stuff really works miracles). After I’ve applied a good amount of Lemony Flutter,  I put on…

Gloves. Yes, gloves. *Stares blankly*

 I know – this is excessive but I swear I’m not crazy. Swatching beats up your hands pretty bad. These little gloves make a world of difference when used in conjunction with a strong moisturizer. These gloves are very widely available. I got a ton of them at TJ Maxx once. The ones pictured here, I got at Publix. They’re helpful for using thicker moisturizers like Lemony Flutter or Bag Balm. With Lemony Flutter, I use so much that it doesn’t really fully absorb into my skin. The gloves help to keep it on my hands and also prevents the treatment from getting all over everything. (Can’t have the bedspread smelling like a lemony gas-station, after all). I sleep in these every night. When I take them off in the morning, I usually have a little Lemony Flutter residue but I have super soft skin.

Whew. That pretty much covers it – I’ve now divulged all my secrets. Haven’t been bathing in placenta or anything, just compulsively using some legitimately good products. Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions for a new holy grail hand cream.

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17 Responses to “Frequently Asked Questions: Cuticle & Skin Care Routine”

  1. July Says:

    Oh My..you’re back!!!. you’re the first ever, nail blog i read! i was looking info about a polish and ended up in here,thinking there is another polish lover! i had no idea about blogs, and i couldn’t ever imagine a nail polish blog…Is been days i see “the polish addict” in some blogrolls, but thought it was another girl with the same name as you, then i decide now to click and TADAAA is you.
    Welcome back!.

  2. beachgal Says:

    So glad you mentioned that Lush Lemony Flutter has a horrible smell! I thought when I got my cup of it, I had been sent an old expired one that had gone bad! I could not understand what the hype was over this product. I do get it out now and again but it’s not my fav I have to say and not just due to the smell. I have best luck with Barielle Nail Strengthener Cream – let that sit and then top it with a bunch of Barielle Intensive Nail Renewal Oil I used to buy both from Barielle but now found they each are at Sally’s in the Barielle Pro line carried there – different names but same products. I do use gloves but usually only late fall through all of winter ’cause it’s too warm for me to use em over night otherwise. I have sworn by the same kind of covering for feet as well as hands and always watch for them on sale to stock up. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate is the key to my keeping nails growing as well as not going into a peeling crisis.

  3. Grace Says:

    My husband can’t stand Lemony Flutter, either. He calls it my “dirty hippy” cream. I tried switching to The Body Shop’s Coconut Body Butter from Sephora, because I know he prefers the scent, but… it’s not the same. Like, not even remotely close.

    Do you ever use cuticle oil pens? I find they’re a good option for me to keep in my purse for quick application at the office, or stopped at red lights, etc.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Great tips! I am glad you shared that you use gloves every day. I only use them once in a while and it takes a lot of work to keep my cuticles looking decent. I’ll try using them daily.

    One question, I used CND Shellac for four months and it destroyed my nails. Not sure if it was the 100% acetone or both the CND Shellac (and no they didn’t soak in acetone)I did however change the Shellac every 7 days religiously because it didn’t last longer than that because my hands are in water. After a while, my nails broke underneath the shellac and with the peeling, I finally stopped cold turkey. I have horribly peeling nails (never had that before, ever and always had long, strong, beautiful nails) and I haven’t had the Shellac on in 3 months and they still peel. I do have my hands in water a lot however I wear gloves ALL the time when I was dishes. I am using Nailtiques 2 daily but if I try to put polish on over that, with a Seche Vite topcoat, it chips in a day or so. Any tips? Thanks.

  5. Angie Says:

    I love, love, LOVE posts like these! I always like seeing what other people use. I find myself a product whore, and I have so many different hand creams and cuticle oils. Right now my go to hand cream especially for in the car cause it absorbs fast and is non greasy is OPI’s Avoplex high intensity hand and nail cream. Its awesome and smells lovely!

  6. Steph Says:

    July – Thank you so much for sticking with me! : )

    beachgal – I’ll check out the Barielle cream – I’ve tried their oil, I liked it but I prefer the texture of Solar Oil. I do like Barielle treatements in general though (I always buy them when I see them on sale) – definitely good stuff.

    Grace – LOL. No actually I haven’t tried cuticle pens – any particular brand that I should check out?

    Anon – Ahh. Well you’re not the first person to mention issues with gel polish in comments. I imagine the damage is similar to what would happen with acrylics – as a person who used to wear acrylics, I don’t think there is much you can really do other than wait for the damage to grow out. I would maybe even avoid treatments, I would try just using a ton of moisturizer and taking supplements like biotin and prenatal vitamins.

    Angie – Me too!! I also really like trying new products – you never know when you’ll chance upon a new holy grail. : ) I’ll definitely give Avoplex a shot – I always see it but never buy it. I’ll have to change that.

  7. Amy S Says:

    This is a great post, I love Lemony Flutter as well. Super effective. Quick (or not so quick) question for you: Any tips for growing your nails out longer without having them break or peel? Mine do both once they hit a certain point, they’ll break really close to the nail bed and then I have to cut them and start all over. OR they’ll start peeling at the edges and then the tips are super thin and brittle. I don’t know what to do anymore because what I’m doing just doesn’t seem to work.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    Amy-I can totally relate to what you are saying. I NEVER had those issues until I used CND Shellac. I used it for 4 months, removing it every 7 days and reapplying(I am a caregiver so I wash my hands a lot and the shellac never lasted beyond 7 days.). I quit using it on June 1st after my nails broke off underneath the shellac, plus I had peeling issues after used the shellac about 3 months. My nails have never been the same since. They repeatedly peel or break exactly as you describe. It’s been 3.5 months. I had naturally long nails. I did acrylics over them for years and never had any problems like this. I stopped acylics in 2009 and never did anything until I tried CND Shellac in February of 2012. (P.S. I am the Anon in the above comment.)I never had peeling nails in my entire life and I’ve been doing my nails for 40 years. CND Shellac did more long term damage to my nails than any product ever did . At least when I used acrylics over my nails, when I took them off and let them grow out, they were fine. Not so with Shellac, a total nightmare.

  9. Nancy Says:

    I just have to say that I am so so glad you’re back!!!!
    I am really happy now :)

    Congratulations on your marriage!

    When I was going through my graduate program and anesthesia school, my nail junkie lifestyle was, well, non existent.

    Two years ago I finished school, so I am back into my nail passion.
    I can relate to your experience, and it gives me comfort in knowing I’m not alone in my nail polish obsession!

  10. Pam Says:

    Wait, wait, wait – you’re a newlywed and you go to bed smelling like a something your hubby can’t stand AND with gloves on?? O_o Ummm…how’s that work?? ;)

  11. Kimberly Says:

    If you like Solar Oil, you might like Dadi’ Oil. The creator of Solar Oil has struck out on his own and created an updated version of Solar Oil. I like Dadi’ Oil 100X better.

  12. Ra Says:

    Hi there! Thank you for this helpful post. I was wondering if you are using a hand cream as well.

  13. Chia Says:

    I actually found a pair of the gloves for 2.50$ at Sally’s, and I have to say it does help to wear them after moisturizing at night! I couldn’t stop laughing as I imagined the blank stare when you explained how you use them… hilarious. I just have to figure out how to explain them to my husband when he comes home :) Great post.

  14. Steph Says:

    Amy S – Sorry if I’ve answered this before, I think I remember replying but I can’t find it anywhere. I think it’s probably natural for this to happen a little bit. I consider my nails very strong and they fare fairly well despite a lot of abuse. Even so, I get peelies pretty often. I very gently buff peelies to keep my nail beds even. I recommend trying a supplement like biotin or prenatal vitamins – these work miracles on nails. Definitely moisturize a lot. If you don’t see any improvement, I would consider switching some of your products around, maybe a different basecoat? If you keep having issues – I would ask LoodieLoodieLoodie – she apparently is a nail trouble genius!

    Anon – Have you seen any improvement on this at all? Omg, I would be so frustrated.

    Nancy – I’m happy I’m not alone too! : )

    Pam – BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA I read your comment to my husband, he says he is now your biggest fan. :D

    Kim – :o!!! Where should I buy it?

    Ra – I used to use Jaqua Buttercream Frosting but it’s unavailable right now. I emailed them, apparently they did not stop making it. Until I can get that stuff back I’ve just been using Eucerin.

    Chia – LOL!! I figured most people would think it was silly. : )

  15. Pam Says:

    Hahaha I just happened back upon this post after a while and saw your reply! Too funny! :)

  16. The Polish Addict » Blog Archive » Gasp: A Few A England Holos Says:

    [...] photo. Since the past few weeks were so rough, I fell off the wagon in terms of keeping up with my moisture regime - these cuticles are the sad, sad result. womp [...]

  17. Sherie Says:

    Just found this post, and I have to agree with the comment about Barielle products – my absolute fav is their Nail Strengthener Cream, my cuticles wouldn’t survive without it! I ran out one time and used other products instead, and my poor cuticles looked pathetic. Within a day of going back to Barielle, it was like a cuticle miracle! I buy mine at Sally Beauty, it’s cheaper there than on Barielle’s site. My “miracle” hand cream is Silk Elements Shea Butter with Olive Oil, it’s totally amazing! It used to be available at Sally Beauty brick and mortar, but now I can only find it at their website. It smells great and it’s inexpensive too! I seriously buy it by the dozen, that’s how much I love the stuff. :)

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