How to Soften Cuticles

Dry, peeling cuticles can be very unsightly. If left unattended for too long, they can become cracked and damaged which can lead to a variety of fungal or bacterial infections. You can purchase a commercial cuticle oil to apply to your nails, but using common household ingredients like coconut oil, lemon, or vinegar is an easy, affordable way to keep your cuticles soft and healthy naturally.


[Edit]Using Home Remedies

  1. Soak your nails in lemon water for 5 minutes. Add of lemon juice (the juice from about 1/4 of a lemon) to of very warm water in a small bowl and mix together well. Soak your nails in the mixture for about 5 minutes. Pat your hands with a clean, dry towel to remove excess water. Use a cuticle stick to carefully push back your cuticles. Finish by rubbing in a dab of your favorite moisturizing lotion.[1]
    Soften Cuticles Step 1 Version 3.jpg
    • Add of honey to the mixture to promote healing and enhance hydration.
    • Avoid soaking your nails in lemon if they are cut or damaged. The acid can lead to painful burning and stinging.
    • You can use this remedy once a week to soften up your cuticles.
  2. Plunge your nails into vinegar if you want a simple solution. It doesn’t get much easier than this. Fill a small bowl about one-third of the way full with undiluted distilled white vinegar. Soak your nails for about 5 minutes. Rinse your hands, then pat them dry with a clean towel.[2]
    Soften Cuticles Step 2 Version 3.jpg
    • Vinegar is acidic and can burn and sting wounds. If your nails or fingers are cut or damaged, do not soak them in the vinegar.
    • An added bonus if you plan to paint your fingernails after your soak: the vinegar will help your nail polish last longer. The acidic vinegar removes oil from your nails, allowing the polish to adhere better.[3]
  3. Massage coconut oil onto your nails to soften your cuticles. Coconut oil is a natural emollient, meaning it works specifically to soothe and soften. It also has antibacterial properties, which makes it great to use if you have hangnails, cuts, or scrapes. Coconut oil also helps to strengthen your cuticles. Add 2 drops to each nail bed. Use your thumb to really work the oil into your cuticles. After a thorough massage, put on a pair of rubber or latex gloves to trap the moisture and allow the oil to soak in. Remove the gloves after 10 minutes and wipe off any excess oil that wasn’t absorbed.[4]
    • You can use cuticle oil if you want something specifically designed for your cuticles.<[5]
    • Do this at least once a week to keep your cuticles moisturized and strong.

[Edit]Healing Damaged Cuticles

  1. Drop of raw honey into a small bowl. The honey encourages the skin to retain moisture which helps nourish your cuticles and nail beds. It not only cures fungal and bacterial infections—which is a health risk associated with cracked and damaged cuticles—it also works to prevent them.[6]
    • Make sure you use raw honey rather than regular honey, as the regular honey tends to lose a lot of enzymes and antioxidants during the pasteurization process.[7]
  2. Add of aloe vera gel to the raw honey. Aloe vera is an antimicrobial agent that works to fight against bacterial and viral infections. Its nourishing properties help heal dry, cracked cuticles and work to remove dead skin cells, making your skin feel soft and smooth.[8]
    • Use fresh aloe vera from a plant if you have one at home. Just be sure to wash the leaf before cutting it open and scooping out the gel.
    • If you don’t have your own aloe vera plant, you can purchase a commercial gel from your local drugstore or department store. However, it will not have as many healing properties as fresh aloe.
  3. Add of extra virgin olive oil to the mixture. Olive oil is a wonderful moisturizer that helps soften your cuticles and leaves your nails shiny as well. The oil continues to work by strengthening the cuticle tissue.[9]
    • If you don’t have extra virgin olive oil, virgin or regular olive oil will do, but they may contain more chemicals and fewer antioxidants.[10]
    • Olive oil even by itself works great to keep your cuticles soft and healthy.
  4. Mix all of the ingredients together well. Use a small spoon to thoroughly mix the honey, aloe vera gel, and olive oil. Make sure to scrape along the sides of the bowl to ensure all the ingredients are mixed together.
  5. Apply the healing mixture to your cuticles. Dip your fingers into the bowl, or use one hand to scoop some of the mixture out and put it on the cuticles on your opposite hand. Massage the mixture in for about 4-5 minutes for soft, healthy-looking nails and cuticles.[11]
    • For the best results, use this healing mixture on your cuticles 2 to 3 times per week. You should notice an improvement each time you use it. Once your cuticles are healed, use this treatment to keep your cuticles moisturized and healthy.

[Edit]Maintaining Healthy Cuticles

  1. Use lotion daily to keep your cuticles soft. Apply the lotion or hand cream at least once a day, but ideally, after each time you wash your hands or whenever you notice your skin is dry. A small scoop of coconut oil massaged into your hands also works great.
    Soften Cuticles Step 9 Version 2.jpg
    • Put a heavy layer of lotion on your hands at night before bed, and then sleep in a pair of white cotton gloves to retain the moisture.[12] Spa gloves or even loose rubber gloves will also work.
    • Select a thick, high-quality lotion or cream for the best results. Cheaper lotions tend to be heavily scented, but lack the elements required to help your skin retain moisture.
  2. Push back your cuticles with an orange stick about once a week. This will prevent the cuticles from becoming overgrown, which can lead to dryness and more risk of damage. Use the flat surface of a cuticle pusher or orange stick to gently push the cuticle back towards the bottom of your nails. Run the tool along the bottom of your nail bed to smooth out the cuticle.[13]
    • Take care not to press too hard, because it can be painful and/or damage your cuticle.
  3. Apply cuticle oil to soften the skin. You can put a drop or two of store-bought cuticle oil onto each of your cuticles before you push them back to make them easier to move. Cuticle oil is also great to use any time you want to soften and moisturize your cuticles.[14]
    • Look for cuticle oils that contain nourishing ingredients like coconut oil, vitamin E, and jojoba oil.
  4. Sterilize grooming tools before and after each use to prevent infections. Soak nail files, cuticle pushers, clippers, and buffers in isopropyl alcohol for 5 minutes after each use. Before using a grooming item, pour some alcohol on a cloth and wipe down the surface. Allow the items to thoroughly dry before using them or storing them.
    • Alternatively, use a solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water to clean items. Rinse the item and allow it to dry completely before using or storing it.
    • Throw away orange sticks after use and always use a new stick.
  5. Wear gloves when cleaning to protect your nails and cuticles. Wear a pair of rubber gloves for any cleaning job you do—whether it’s wiping down mirrors or scrubbing the floors. The gloves will protect your hands from the harsh chemicals, which can dry out and damage your cuticles and nails.[15]
    Soften Cuticles Step 13 Version 2.jpg
    • If rubber gloves are too bulky for your cleaning job, try using a pair of latex or vinyl gloves instead. Any protection is better than no protection.


  • Carry travel-size lotion in your car or purse to keep your hands moisturized on the go.


  • Using cuticle clippers to cut your cuticles should be avoided if possible. If done incorrectly, you can injure yourself and become more prone to fungal and bacterial infections.[16]

[Edit]Things You’ll Need

[Edit]Using Home Remedies

  • Small bowl
  • Lemon juice
  • White vinegar
  • Cuticle pusher or orange stick
  • Coconut oil
  • Rubber or latex gloves

[Edit]Healing Damaged Cuticles

  • Small bowl
  • Raw honey
  • Aloe vera gel
  • Olive oil

[Edit]Maintaining Healthy Cuticles

  • Lotion
  • White cotton gloves
  • Cuticle pusher or orange stick
  • Rubber gloves

[Edit]Related wikiHows


[Edit]Quick Summary

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