Many people only know to use small nail scissors to cut their nails. The small nail scissors are not recommended for cutting your cuticles, though.
The small nail scissors can easily cause injuries to the flesh and bone in the hands and fingers. Instead, if you want a truly quick and safe way to cut your cuticles, you should use a cuticle knife.
What is A Cuticle?
A cuticle, or cuticula, is any of a variety of tough but flexible, non-mineral outer coverings of an organism, or parts of an organism, that provide protection. Various types of “cuticle” are non-homologous, differing in their origin, structure, function, and chemical composition.
What is a Cuticle Cutter or Cuticle Knife?
Cuticle Cutter or Cuticle Knife is a hygienic hand tool is used for trimming fingernails and toenails. Mainly It has four parts. The lever, the pin, the file, and the blades.
How to Use a Cuticle Cutter
Ensuring a Clean and Easy Clipping
- Wash your cuticle clipper. Use warm water and antibacterial soap to gently swab down your cuticle clipper. You can apply the soap with your hands or use something like a cotton ball to the clean the clipper.
- If you use your hands to clean the clipper, wash them thoroughly first.
- Sanitize the tips of the clipper. Use rubbing alcohol or an iodine solution on the tips. Either dip the tips in the solution or dab it on using a cotton swab. Sanitizing the tips helps prevent your nails from becoming infected.
- Soak your hands or feet in warm water. Fill a bowl with warm water and submerge your fingertips or toes. This will soften your nails so the cuticles will clip off easier. There is no precise amount of time you need to soak your nails, but about 10 to 15 minutes is probably enough.
- You can also simply clip your cuticles after getting out of the shower.
Pushing and Cutting Your Cuticles
- Push your cuticles back with a cuticle pusher. In addition to a cuticle clipper, you need a cuticle pusher. This is a small device you use to push your cuticles back into the nail bed. This will raise the cuticles slightly, making them easier to clip.
- Start with tiny snips. Focus on the dead skin on the end of the cuticle. Face the tip of the blades towards your nails and make tiny snips across the cuticle.
- Pull away dead skin. Gently pull upward after making your snips. This will pull any dead skin away from the cuticle. Keep pulling away from the dead skin until you’ve trimmed the full cuticle.
- Apply a moisturizer. The skin under the cuticle and near the nail bed may become irritated as you remove the cuticle. To counteract this, dab on some hydrating lotion or cuticle oil near the nail bed and the surrounding skin. This should soothe your skin, reducing the likelihood of complications from cutting your cuticles.
Taking Safety Precautions
- Avoid clipping your cuticles if you have diabetes or other health issues. Diabetes can make finger and toenails more subject to infection. If you have diabetes, or a health condition that decreases your immune system, refrain from cutting your cuticles. Cuticles are there to protect your fingernails and skin.
- Clip your cuticles in moderation. Cuticle clipping is not something you should do every day. Most experts recommend clipping your cuticles in moderation. Stick to clipping your cuticles once every couple of weeks to prevent infections, and soreness near your nail bed.
- Leave some of the cuticle intact. Do not clip off your entire cuticle. The cuticle is a necessary component of the nails that protects them from germs. Only clip off the tips of the cuticles that are comprised of dead skin. Leave the rest intact.
What is a Cuticle and How to Take Care of Them
Protect your clients and their health with our guide to properly identifying and working with cuticles.
The most common misconception when it comes to cuticles is: What exactly is the cuticle? You may think you know, but guess again; many nail technicians identify the wrong part of the nail when talking about the cuticle. To help, take our quick lesson in nail anatomy and refer to our diagram to follow along. You’ll see three very important parts: the nail matrix, eponychium and cuticle.
First, identify the nail matrix: This is the small area of living tissue below the eponychium that creates nail cells. The main job of the eponychium is to protect the nail matrix from anything that could infect it.
But it’s differing between the eponychium and the cuticle that confuses many nail technicians.
According to Doug Schoon, CND chief scientific advisor and author of Nail Structure and Product Chemistry, the eponychium is the area of living skin that borders the base of the nail plate.
This is easily confused with the cuticle, which is actually the non-living tissue that adheres to the nail plate. Schoon writes that the cuticle sheds from the underside of the eponychium, so the two may seem like the same thing, but take note—they’re definitely not! During a manicure, you can push back the eponychium to expose and remove the cuticle, but do not place any instrument underneath the nail fold itself. This can lead to injury and infection.
Cuticle care is an important element to any nail service, but it can only be helpful if it’s done right. Keep reading to learn what a nail tech should do to perform correct cuticle care.
How to Properly Remove a Cuticle
1. After you have removed nail polish or product from the nails, begin prepping the nails by applying cuticle remover and then soaking hands in warm water mixed with a soak to soften skin and cuticles. After a few minutes, remove hands and dry them with a clean towel.
2. Choose your tool:You can either use a metal cuticle pusher with a spoon shape, which is more efficient and easier to use, or an orangewood stick. In states that don’t allow metals implements, your best bet is the orangewood stick—it’s a classic!
3. Keep a Firm Grip:Hold your tool the same way you would hold a pencil; keep your grip light but firm. Place the edge of the tool against the eponychium and gently press against it. The eponychium should slide back, exposing the cuticle. Repeat these steps on other nails. If you are using a pusher, make sure that you dull any rough or sharp edges with a nail file before pushing the cuticle.
4. Now that the cuticle is exposed, you can remove the non-living tissue from the nail plate. If you’re applying enhancements, any remaining cuticle will interfere with the adhesion of the product to the nail plate—hello lifted enhancements. It’s also a problem for a simple polish job.
To properly remove the cuticle, Schoon recommends using a curette, a flat scraper blade or an orangewood stick. With the help of cuticle remover, it isn’t difficult to scrape off the non-living tissue without damaging the nail plate. Do not use nippers or an electric file to remove the cuticle. The electric file causes friction that can burn through the nail plate. And nippers should only be used to cut off a dead skin tag, which is a little bit of dead skin sticking up around the nails.
Note: To properly remove a dead skin tag, use nippers with a sharp blade and cut the dead skin above the level of living skin. Don’t grab and pull the dead skin tag; the sharp nipper blades should offer a clean cut.
In Case of a Cuticle Cutting Accident
You would obviously never intentionally cut a client, but sometimes it accidentally happens. In the unlikely event that you cut a client with your tools, follow these extremely important steps:
Stop the service immediately. Schoon advises that you take the universal precaution of assuming that client has an infectious disease and treat your station as such. Any implements that were used on the client should be set aside. Before using them again, thoroughly scrub them to remove any debris, and then properly disinfect them. If you’re using implements that cannot be disinfected, throw them away, double bagged.
Take care of your client. Send your client to wash her hands thoroughly. Cover any cuts with a Band-Aid to protect the wound from further exposure. Don’t dispense any medicine, but rather tell your client to apply antibacterial medication when she gets home. If she sees any signs of redness or irritation, then she should consult a physician.
Protect yourself. You should already be wearing gloves during the service, so the first step is to peel them off and throw them away. Wash your hands thoroughly. Inspect your station carefully for any signs of possible contaminants and follow the proper procedure. Again, throw away what can’t be properly disinfected.
You should never continue working on the finger that has been cut. As a nail technician, you already know that you are not licensed to work on open wounds or sores. As for the rest of the fingers, if they are unharmed, then it’s up to you to decide to continue the service.
*Special thanks to the experts who contributed to this article: Doug Schoon, CND chief scientific officer and author of Nail Structure and Product Chemistry, and information from Art & Science of Nail Technology and Cosmetic Dermatology Products & Procedures edited by Zoe Diana Draelos.
8 Essential Cuticle Grooming Tools
1. Nail Clippers
Good clippers need to be strong, hard and sharp because the sharpened edges compress against each other.
For clippers, there is no “cutting board”. The only solution is to use the best possible quality steel so the sharpness stays clip after clip.
Dulled clippers risk cracking and breaking the nail. Nail clippers should be:
- Small, compact
- Easily portable.
- Inexpensive and readily available.
- Easy to use in either right or left hand.
- Familiar to use
Types of Nail Clippers
a. French Style – Excellent for car glove box, pockets, wallets, popular with gadget minded individuals. Compact and flat construction. Perfect touch-up tool.
b. Standard – The best ones are assembled with a nearly unbreakable hinge-pin construction (where a narrow pin is inserted through the lever and the base rivet) and are ergonomically contoured to fit well in the fingertips and/or palm to provide maximum leverage.
c. Ring Lock – This is a new innovative design takes advantage of technological advances in materials and construction. The joint on this clipper is Teflon coated and extends the width of the handle so it never requires adjustment and is impossible to misalign.
What To Look For When Buying A Nail Clipper
1. Tension – Give the tool a test squeeze to check the flex resistance. Too much flex in the steel when squeezing causes an excessive crushing action which will dull the blades.
2. No Gap – Each sharpened edge should meet fully when closed. Hold up the clipper to the light and gently close it. Clippers with gaps do not fully cut and might even rip or tear the nail.
3. No Overlap – Close the clipper and glide your fingertip vertically across the closed blades. Can you feel an overlap? Do the clippers have a “double-click” feel when compressed? A double-click is what happens when one blade slides over top of the other. Nail clippers with an over or under bite perform poorly.
2. Nail Scissors
In a manicure set with more than one scissor, the nail scissors are the scissors with the longest and widest type of blades.
Scissors provide a smooth shearing cut with very little risk of damage to the nail.
In a shearing cut, the sharpened edges never touch each other, only the flat of the blade ever touches the opposite side; the sharpened edge only touches the nail.
When a well crafted scissor is cared for and properly used, there is no danger at all.
Scissors do have moving parts, however, and they will require occasional lubrication.
- The best tool for cutting nails.
- Almost no risk of cracking or chipping the nail.
- Virtually indestructible if used properly.
- Lasts for decades.
- Nail clippings do not fly off in random directions.
- Manufacturing process allows for much harder steel. Holds edge indefinitely.
- Much smoother shearing type of cutting action.
Types of Scissors
a. Nail scissors – Easier to control than nippers, nail scissors allow a much more precise trim of the nail.
b. Toenail Scissors – For thicker and stronger nails and toenails, look for a specialty scissor with short thick blades and long shanks to get extra leverage.
c. Nizzers – This is a unique tool that combines the benefits of the scissor shearing cut with the nipper style handle to maximize leverage. This is one of the strongest scissors currently available.
Due to its ambidextrous design, nizzers are frequently called a universal nail scissor because they are well suited for left hand, right hand, fingernails, toenails and toughened/hard nails!
What To Look For When Buying Scissors
1.Rounded off edges – Some tools are shaped after assembly and this is a sign that shortcuts have been taken. Look closely at the shank and joint area. Is it overly rounded?
Are the two halves too perfectly matched and shaped? Does the shape and finish of the screw perfectly match this curved handle?
2. Sound – Hold the scissor close to your ear and listen while you open and close it. A properly crafted scissor will have a gentle, smooth, almost melodic susurration sound. The noise should not sound gravelly, hitched or rough.
3. Feel – Scissor blades glide on the flat sides. If it hitches or feels grindy, the cutting edges are probably touching and that means the scissor tension or curve adjustment may be incorrect.
Scissor tension should never be adjusted at home! Scissors that are too loose while cutting may bend or rip the nail. Scissors that are too tight will dull quickly because the blades will wear down as they grind against each other.
4. Looseness – Properly tensioned scissors will have some looseness to them when they are fully opened beyond operational norm. This looseness disappears once the scissor is no longer over-opened.
Make sure that scissors are not too loose by holding one scissor loop so the scissors are vertical. Raise the other loop to its highest point and let it drop.
Well crafted scissors will only close to the cutting point (the point where the blade flats begin to touch) and no further. Open the scissors to the widest and look closely at the sharpened edge. Take note how closely this sharpened edge extends toward (or even beyond) the joint.
3. Nail Nipper
This tool looks like a pair of pliers or wire cutters, but make no mistake, these are NOT hardware store tools.
Nail nippers are shaped with either straight or concave blades with a hairline gap in-between. Purchase quality steel tools.
Steel for nippers is not as hard as that of nail clippers because the edges must be filed by hand to sharpen and create the hairline gap. The softer steel does not affect the performance because the steel is tempered to add strength.
- Performs many tasks other tools can’t. (Specialty nippers exist for unique jobs)
- Better than clippers – less risk of breaking or cracking the nail.
- Longer cutting edge trims more nail at a time
- Palm grip – easier to use for painful or weakened hands (arthritis or carpal
- Strongest tool for cutting thickened or fungal nails and hard toenails
- Well suited for right or left hand use
Types of Nail Nippers
a. Nail nipper – A regular nail nipper is smaller than other types, and is best suited for difficult fingernails or normal toenails.
b. Toenail Nipper – The longer, stronger handles and blades of a toenail nipper increase the size of the tool and provide additional cutting leverage for thickened and extra tough nails.
c. Ingrown Nail Nipper – An ingrown nail nipper is a bit different due to the straight cutting edge and narrow pointed tip. This point fits neatly into nail corners to allow cutting the corners to release pressure.
d. Specialty Nippers – For the toughest nails there are other things such as a double jointed nail nipper and front cutter, but these are specialty tools for special toes.
What To Look For When Buying A Nail Nipper
1. Blade Gap – Hold the tool up to light and apply gentle pressure until barely closed. Look for a hairline gap between blades. Now slowly squeeze more firmly. That gap should gradually disappear as you increase the pressure.
2. Handle Length – Choose a longer tool to get added leverage for tougher nails.
3. Blade Edges – Curved edges are required for most general nail nipping, straight edges are only required for ingrown nails.
4. Handle Grips – Textured grips are important if you’ll be using the tool in damp environments like the bathroom right after a shower.
5. Joint – Overlapping handles is called a lap joint and it is durable but inexpensive. When one handle threads through the steel of the other handle, this is called a Box Joint and indicates a much higher level of craftsmanship.
6. Spring – Double springs and barrel springs provide the smoothest friction-free squeeze action, and lever or single springs use friction to press against the opposite handle.
7. Assembly – Nail nippers should not be stiff, but they should not exhibit any kind of “wiggle”. Loose blades in a nipper mean the edges are misaligned and they risk damage to the nail.
4. Nail file – Tools to Smoothen And File
Types of Nail Files
a. Triple Cut File
The texture on a metal triple cut file consists of grooves cut into the steel of the file itself, first diagonally, then diagonally again in the opposite direction like an X and then horizontally. Because the texture is part of the file itself it will not wear off, chip or peel.
What to Look For When Buying Triple Cut Nail Files
1. File Texture – Check that the cuts are even, closely spaced, and uniform.
Poorer quality imitations may have this texture adhered to the surface of the steel rather than cut into the steel itself, or the grooving may be uneven.
Texture adhered to the surface may peel or chip and uneven grooving can damage the nail with the resulting uneven texture.
2. File Thickness – Thicker nail files are useful for tough and thick nails because the steel will not flex.
Thinner nail files have more flex to them so they don’t take off nearly as much nail in each stroke and are well suited for normal to soft nails that may be damaged by a thicker nail.
3. Shape of the file tip – Most triple cut files have texture to within 1cm of a pointed tip.
The smooth and pointed tip makes it easy to use this kind of file for dual purposes: cleaning the nail as well as filing. For those who don’t need to use a file for dual purposes, triple cut files also come with texture to the end of the file.
b. Glass Files
This tool provides the best action because it does not sand the nail down, it scrapes it.
People familiar with a woodworking scraper know what kind of a clean and near polished surface a scraping action will leave on a surface.
Scraping the nail with a crystal file in either direction or both will not harm the nail because the nail fibers are scraped to a smooth edge in either direction.
Because glass will never absorb moisture or develop rust, and the texture will never wear off, these files are superb for professional use and ideal for sterilization.
What to Look For When Buying Glass Nail Files
1. Hologram Label – Genuine crystal files are only available from the Czech Republic, and marked with a holographic label indicating the manufacturer and the patent number.
2. Surface – These files are shaped then chemically etched to provide the scraping surface.
Imitations often have this texture sprayed on, or even applied to clear paper that is glued on the glass like a sticker.
Because the texture is part of the glass itself, genuine Czech crystal will never wear out.
3. Thickness – For strength, a well made crystal nail file is 3mm or more in thickness. Imitations are much thinner and run the risk of breaking during normal use.
4. Strength – The files are specially tempered so the glass is difficult to break without huge amounts of force, much like the side and rear windows of a car.
Tweezers are a handy tool to pull out hair, splinters or ticks.
The Three Types of Tweezers
a. Needle nose – These tweezers have pointy, needle-like tips. Handling them requires precision.
b. Angled edge – These are the most popular tweezers. The slanted tip is tapered and wide at the same time. You get a pointed tip on one end for pin-point accuracy and with a slight adjustment to the hand – you get to use the straight edge.
c. Rounded edge tweezers – The rounded edges mean there are no sharp tips. These are the best tweezers for anyone with unsteady hands or for those who are are not accustomed to using a sharp tweezer and need some safety.
What To Look For When Buying Cuticle Scissors
- Stainless steel – Always opt for stainless steel tweezers. They are more hygienic, grip better than plastic and won’t bend when you apply pressure to them.
- Covered tips – A cover for the tweezer’s tips is essential unless the tweezers are part of a bagged kit. The tips need to be protected because they can damage and dull easily.
6. Cuticle Scissors
Cuticle scissors are the tiniest and thinnest scissors in a manicure set. These scissors must be so finely pointed and thin because a tiny blade is needed to trim tiny hangnails or frayed tissue around the nail.
Never use a cuticle scissor for anything other than cuticle and hangnails.
Types of Cuticle Scissors
a. Standard – Cuticle scissors may have straight or curved blades. Curved blades are easier to get into tighter and smaller areas around the nail. Generally only the very tip of the cuticle scissor is used.
b. Tower Point – Extra narrow “tower point” scissors are available for fingertips that have extra small and tight corners.
What To Look For When Buying Cuticle Scissors
1. Point – Cuticle scissors must have finely honed, very sharp and thin points. If the tool isn’t finely pointed, it will not cut as close to the living tissue as it needs to, and you may be left with an unsightly and annoying bit of frayed skin or hangnail.
2. Rounded off edges – Some tools are shaped after assembly and this is a sign that shortcuts have been taken.
Look closely at the shank and joint area. Is it overly rounded? Are the two halves too perfectly matched and shaped? Does the shape and finish of the screw perfectly match this curved handle?
3. Sound – Hold the scissor close to your ear and listen while you open and close it. A properly crafted scissor will have a gentle, smooth, almost melodic susurration sound. The noise should not sound gravelly, hitched or rough.
4. Feel – Scissor blades glide on the flat sides. If it hitches or feels grindy, the cutting edges are probably touching and that means the scissor tension or curve adjustment may be incorrect.
Scissor tension should never be adjusted at home! Scissors that are too loose while cutting may bend or rip the nail. Scissors that are too tight will dull quickly because the blades will wear down as they grind against each other.
5. Blade – Are there signs of inside grinding after assembly? Open the scissors to the widest and look closely at the sharpened edge. Take note how closely this sharpened edge extends toward (or even beyond) the joint.
A sharpened edge that does not extend closely to the joint means the tool was ground after assembly. This is a clear indicator of construction shortcuts.
6. Looseness – Properly tensioned scissors will have some looseness to them when they are fully opened beyond operational norm. This looseness disappears once the scissor is no longer over-opened.
Make sure that scissors are not too loose by holding one scissor loop so the scissors are vertical. Raise the other loop to its highest point and let it drop. Well crafted scissors will only close to the cutting point (the point where the blade flats begin to touch) and no further.
7. Cuticle Nipper
Cuticle nippers are intended for removing dead tissue and cuticle imperfections only. Never trim living tissue!
Cuticle nippers typically have plier type handles and are the tiniest and thinnest nippers in a manicure set. These nippers must be so fine and thin because a tiny blade is needed to trim tiny hangnails or frayed tissue around the nail.
Never use a cuticle nipper for anything other than cuticle and hangnails.
Purchase quality steel tools. Steel for nippers is not as hard as that of other tools because the edges must be filed by hand to sharpen. The softer steel does not affect the performance because the steel is tempered to add strength
- Easy to trim cuticles or hangnails closely without damaging live tissue
- Fits into tight areas
- Ideal for arthritic or painful hands and larger palms
- Easier to find a good pair of cuticle nippers than a good pair of cuticle scissors
Types Of Cuticle Nippers
a. Standard – The strongest type of cuticle nipper, this tool uses a palm grip. This grip uses the whole hand to guide the tool so mistakes are harder to make. This tool is ideal for sufferers of arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome or other problems that may affect their grip.
b. Clipper Type – This tool resembles a nail clipper with folding handle, but if you take a closer look at the cutting edge – the blade is clearly angled and pointed. This assures you a nice clean cut for cuticles and hangnails.
The small size means the tool is extremely portable and easy to carry ina pocket, and the familiar clipping action ensures the smallest of learning curves.
c. Specialty Types – For those who find tweezer handles or scissor handles easier to use, there are scissor type nippers.
What To Look For When Buying Cuticle Nippers
1. Point – The point of a cuticle nipper is the most important thing to look for. Cuticle nippers must have finely honed, very sharp points.
If the tool isn’t pointed, it will not cut as close to the living tissue as it needs to, and you may be left with an unsightly and annoying bit of frayed skin or hangnail.
2. Gap – Like a nail nipper, cuticle nippers require a hand filed gap between the blades. Hold the tool up to light and apply gentle pressure until barely closed.
Look for a hairline gap between blades. Now slowly squeeze more firmly. That gap should gradually disappear as you increase the pressure.
3. Size of cutting edge – This is mostly a personal preference, but smaller hands may find a smaller edge easier to use. The cutting edge, or jaw length, can be anywhere from 3mm (1/4 jaw), 5mm (half jaw), 7mm (3/4 jaw) or 9-10mm (full jaw). For most hands, a 5mm half jaw is perfect.
4. Joint – Overlapping handles is called a lap joint and it is durable but inexpensive. When one handle threads through the steel of the other handle, this is called a Box Joint and indicates a much higher level of craftsmanship. Similar to how dovetail joints indicate a higher quality piece of furniture, a box joint indicates a higher quality tool.
5. Spring – Every cuticle nipper has a spring to re-open the nipper so you don’t need to reposition the tool in your palm after each cut. Double springs provide the smoothest friction-free squeeze action, and single springs use friction to press against the opposite handle.
6. Assembly – Cuticle nippers should not be stiff, but they should not exhibit any kind of “wiggle”. Loose blades in a cuticle nipper mean the edges are misaligned and they risk damage to the skin tissue.
8. Nail cleaner – Clean Nail Edges
This implement is needed to clear debris that accumulates from under the nail. It takes only seconds to do, just swipe the tool under the nail. Dirty fingernails are most definitely not sexy, they’re gross.
Other Implements for Nails
Additional implements are optional. Some of the more common tools are a cuticle pusher for pushing cuticles back or a nail knife/scraper for scraping off bits of dead tissue from the surface of the nail.
- 0.1 What is A Cuticle?
- 0.2 What is a Cuticle Cutter or Cuticle Knife?
- 0.3 How to Use a Cuticle Cutter
- 0.4 What is a Cuticle and How to Take Care of Them
- 0.5 How to Properly Remove a Cuticle
- 1 In Case of a Cuticle Cutting Accident
- 2 8 Essential Cuticle Grooming Tools