It was subtle, I admit. But here it is, the cliffhanger in Cuticle Quandaries you may have missed:
"Avoid trimming cuticles, as they will only grow back thicker," says Michele Pierno, an expert educator and enthusiastic nail technician for over 15 years.
And she's right! Unfortunately this lesson was learned via painful experience by aforementioned unnamed friend. In the form of hangnails and rough, hardened skin all around the nails, especially thumbs.
But why, Michele?
"Whenever you pick or pull or trim too much cuticle, they will always grow back thicker and more unruly than before. This is our bodies' defense mechanism to protect us from infection. Cuticles act as barriers to prevent bacteria from entering into our nail bed. When you remove too much, [the cuticle] overcompensates by growing back more, and faster."
It's the same thing that can happen when we remove calluses from the bottoms of our feet, she adds.
So what do you do when it's too late?
"As difficult as it may be, you must NOT cut or pull at cuticles. Just push back with a manicure stick gently. And after every hand-washing, lightly push back cuticles again with a soft towel, and then apply hand lotion. I recommend using a scrub several times a week on hands to help to exfoliate dry/dead skin around the cuticles."
The KISS expert extraordinaire says in a pinch, you can "use plain old sugar and liquid soap—I mix together on dry hands before washing and scrub for one minute, then rinse off. Also, there are so many cuticle treatment products out there that you can carry with you and apply throughout the day… they come in pen form, or brush-on formulas, and are so easy to keep with you as a reminder to use."
Okay, help is on the way. But how long?
"It will take some time, about 3 – 5 weeks, before you'll see improvement but if you stick with it, I promise that eventually your cuticles will behave again."
Ahhh, a happy ending, and hopefully no need for a trilogy.