How to Push Cuticles Back Painlessly and Effectively

Are you tired of dealing with overgrown cuticles that make your nails look messy? Look no further! In this post, we will be discussing everything you need to know about how to push back cuticles.

From the benefits of pushing cuticles back to the best methods, we’ve got you covered. 

So, let’s get started and give your nails the TLC they deserve!

Why you should push cuticles back

Pushing back your cuticles can make a big difference in the overall health and appearance of your nails.

It’s also a game-changer for preventing lifting and peeling.

Your manicures will last a lot longer if you take the time to push back cuticles properly during the prep phase.

Here are a few reasons why you should make pushing back your cuticles a regular part of your routine:

  1. Long-lasting manicures: 

When you push back your cuticles, you remove (hard to see) dead skin from the nail plate. 

This allows your base coat, nail polish, or gel to bond better with your nails, resulting in a manicure that lasts longer. 

  1. Helps prevent peeling and lifting:

Improper cuticle care is one of the main reasons nails of lifting without peeling or lifting.

  1. Prevention of infection: 

If exposed, the roots of your nails can easily get infected. This often happens when you remove the cuticles. 

By pushing them back instead you are keeping the nail’s roots sealed and away from bacteria, which helps avoid infections.

  1. Pain-free maintenance: 

Trimming your cuticles can be pretty painful, especially if you’re not careful. Pushing them back with a cuticle pusher is gentler and won’t damage the living tissue.

  1. Neater-looking nails: 

Gently pushing back your cuticles will make your nails look neater, giving them a polished and well-groomed appearance.

  1. Makes nails look longer: 

Pushing cuticles back gives the illusion of longer nails. This is great for those with short nails.

How to push back cuticles at home (with or without tools)

Alright, so now that you know why pushing back your cuticles is important, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of how to do it. 

Whether you’re using a cuticle pusher or going au naturel, we’ve got you covered.

Method 1: Using a cuticle pusher

One important thing to note when using a cuticle pusher is that there are two types of cuticle pushers: metal and wooden.

Metal cuticle pushers are made of stainless steel and are typically more durable and long-lasting. 

They are also easier to clean and sterilize. 

However, they can be more abrasive on the nails and skin, so it’s important to use them gently.

Wooden cuticle pushers (aka orange or orangewood sticks) are typically more gentle on the skin.

They are also more eco-friendly, as they’re biodegradable. 

However, they can be less durable and harder to clean, and may not last as long as metal ones.

Both types of cuticle pushers can be effective, but it ultimately depends on your personal preference and what works best for you.

Some people (myself included) prefer the gentle touch of a wooden cuticle pusher, while others may find that a metal one is more effective.

Regardless of the type of cuticle pusher you choose, you should always use it gently and avoid pushing too hard, as this can cause pain and damage to the skin. 

Take your time and use a light touch, always pushing back in the direction of the natural growth of the cuticle.

Here are the steps:

  1. Remove any nail polish.
  1. Soften up your cuticles by soaking your nails in warm water for 5-10 minutes. 

Alternatively, you could also apply some coconut, jojoba, or Vitamin E oil to help soften them up.

  1. Dry your hands thoroughly using a clean towel or paper towel for hygiene.
  1. Place your hand on a hard surface like a table or desk. 

This gives you greater control so you’ll be less likely to damage your cuticles.

  1. Gently push back your cuticles using the rounded end of a cuticle pusher.

Start at one side and gently work your way across. 

It should not be painful at all so stop if you feel any pain.

  1. Clean up any stubborn bits.

If you need to, use the pointed end of the cuticle pusher to clean up any stubborn areas.

  1. Clean the cuticles.

Take a warm, damp cloth and wipe over your nails to clean away any last bits of dead skin and debris.

  1. Wash your hands with dish soap.

Using dish soap helps to remove any oils which in turn helps cuticle oil to sink in.

  1. Moisturize your cuticles with a cuticle oil or lotion.

Apply a small amount of oil or lotion to hydrate your cuticles. 

Only do this if you’re not planning to paint your nails straight after!

Oil and nail polish don’t mix, so never apply oil before you paint your nails. 

Method 2: Without tools

Don’t have a cuticle pusher handy? No problem!

Here’s how to remove those pesky cuticles without any tools.

  1. Make sure you start with clean hands and polish-free nails.
  1. Start by softening your cuticles. Soak your nails in warm water for 5-10 minutes.
  1. Dry hands well with a clean paper towel or washcloth.
  1. Gently use your fingers or a fingernail to push back your cuticles. 
  1. Use a fingernail to gently scrape any dead skin away from the cuticle area.
  1. Wipe the nails with a warm damp cloth.
  1. Wash your hands with dish soap.
  1. Apply cuticle oil (if using).

That’s it – easy huh?

Tips for pushing cuticles back without pain:

cuticle stick wooden

Nobody wants to push their cuticles back and end up with sore and irritated skin. 

So, how can we do it without causing pain? 

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

Soften your cuticles first: 

Soaking your nails in warm water for 5-10 minutes will help to soften your cuticles and make them easier to push back.

Use a cuticle oil or lotion: 

Applying a cuticle oil or lotion before pushing your cuticles back will help to moisturize and lubricate the skin, making the process less painful.

Take your time: 

Rushing through the process can lead to more pain and irritation. Take your time and work slowly, using a light touch.

Use a gentle tool:

cuticle pushing tool

A rounded-end cuticle pusher is less abrasive than one with a pointed end. 

Also, use a wooden cuticle pusher instead of a metal one, as it is more gentle on the skin.

Be mindful of any existing pain or discomfort: 

If you experience pain or discomfort while pushing your cuticles back, stop and give your skin a break. 

Consult with a professional if the pain persists.

Avoid over-pushing:

Pushing your cuticles back too far can cause pain and irritation.

Be mindful of the natural shape of your cuticles and only push them back as far as they naturally want to go.

By following these tips, you can push your cuticles back without pain and enjoy healthy and well-groomed nails.

How often should you push cuticles back?

Okay, so you’ve learned how to push your cuticles back without pain and you’re feeling like a pro. 

But how often should you be doing it?

The answer is, roughly every 4 to 7 days, but it depends on your individual nail growth and health.

First things first, it’s important to understand that everyone’s nails grow at different rates. 

Some people may need to push their cuticles back every week, while others may only need to do it once a month.

To figure out the right frequency for you, pay attention to your nails and cuticles.

If you notice that your cuticles are starting to look overgrown or you’re experiencing pain or discomfort, it’s time to give them a push.

The best way to figure out the right frequency for you is to pay attention to your nails and cuticles and make adjustments as needed. 

A good rule of thumb is to start by pushing them back once or twice a week, and then adjust from there based on what works best for you.

In the end, it’s all about finding the right balance for you and your nails. 

What happens if you don’t push cuticles back?

Alright, so you might be thinking, “I’m too busy/lazy/forgetful to push my cuticles back, what’s the worst that could happen?”

Well, unfortunately, neglecting your cuticles can lead to some not-so-fun consequences.

First of all, overgrown cuticles can make your nails look messy and unkempt. 

They can also make it difficult for your nail polish or gel to adhere properly, resulting in a manicure that doesn’t last as long.

But that’s not all! 

Neglecting your cuticles can also lead to an increased risk of infection. 

When cuticles are overgrown, they can start to split, leaving the nail root exposed to bacteria and germs. 

This can lead to pain, inflammation, and even nail loss.

So, as you can see, pushing back your cuticles is not just about vanity, it’s about maintaining the health and appearance of your nails. 

Don’t neglect your cuticles, they deserve some love and attention too!

How to push back cuticles on toes

toe cuticles

So far, we’ve been focusing on pushing back cuticles on our fingers, but what about our toes? 

Don’t worry, the process is pretty much the same, but with a few small tweaks.

Here’s how to push toe cuticles back step by step:

  • Start by softening up those cuticles. Soaking your toes in warm water for 10-15 minutes.
  • Dry those tootsies!
  • Use a cuticle pusher or your fingers to gently push back the cuticles on your toes. 
  • If you need to, use a wooden orange stick or a cotton swab dipped in warm water to clean up any stubborn areas.
  • Moisturize your cuticles with a cuticle oil or lotion.

A few things to keep in mind when pushing back cuticles on your toes:

Make sure your toes are dry before pushing back your cuticles, as this will prevent you slipping with the tool and hurting yourself.

Take your time and be extra gentle when pushing back your toe cuticles. 

The skin on our toes is often thicker and more sensitive, so use a light touch and work slowly.

Be careful not to push your cuticles back too far, as this can cause pain and discomfort.

And that’s all there is to it!


Are you supposed to push cuticles back?

This is a question that often comes up and the answer is, it depends on the perspective you take.

From a traditional nail care perspective, pushing back cuticles is considered to be beneficial for maintaining the health and appearance of the nails.

It allows products to bond more easily with the nails’ surface, clear dead skin cells and prevents infection. It also allows your nails to look neater and longer.

However, when looking at the cuticles from a scientific perspective, experts say that cuticles are a protective barrier for the nails and their matrix (where the nails are formed). 

They are designed to protect the nails from bacteria, fungus and other microorganisms that can cause infections.

Pushing cuticles back can increase the risk of infection if not done properly and can cause irritation if done too frequently.

It’s important to note that the cuticles don’t need to be pushed back if they don’t need it. 

Some people may have healthy cuticles that don’t require regular maintenance. 

However, if you choose to push them back, it’s essential to be gentle, use a cuticle pusher, and take your time.

Pushing them back too aggressively, or using scissors or clippers, can cause pain and irritation.

Can you train your cuticles back?

The cuticles are a natural barrier that protects the nails and the nail matrix, and like all living things, they have a natural shape and growth pattern. 

You can’t really train your cuticles to grow in a certain way.

Is it ok to trim cuticles?

cuticle nippers

Trimming cuticles is a controversial topic, some experts advise against it as it can cause pain, bleeding, and a risk of infection if done incorrectly.

It can also cause them to grow back thicker. 

However, if done correctly, it can be a safe way to maintain healthy nails.

It’s best to consult a professional before trimming, use clean sharp tools and moisturize the cuticles after.

How do you get rid of cuticles without pushing them back?

If you’re not comfortable with pushing your cuticles back, there are other ways to maintain healthy nails without doing so. 

One of the most common alternatives is using a cuticle remover.

Cuticle removers are specially formulated products that can soften and dissolve the dead skin cells around the cuticles, making them easier to remove. 

They are generally applied to the cuticles, left on for a certain amount of time, and then gently pushed back or scraped off with a cuticle pusher.

It’s important to read the instructions on the product and use it as directed, as overuse or leaving it on for too long can cause irritation.

It’s also important to note that not all cuticle removers are created equal, so it’s a good idea to do some research and find one that is suitable for your needs. 

Some can be quite harsh and may not be suitable for sensitive skin.

Does pushing back cuticles make nail beds longer?

Pushing back cuticles can give the appearance of longer nails, but it doesn’t actually make the nail beds longer. 

The nail bed is the area of living tissue that the nails grow from, and its length is determined by genetics and other factors such as nutrition and health.

Pushing back cuticles can make nails look longer by removing the overgrown cuticles and dead skin cells that can make nails appear shorter. 

It can also make the nails appear more groomed and neat, which can enhance their overall appearance.


  • Phoebe Meadows

    Phoebe Meadows is a self-proclaimed nail addict, always on the lookout for the latest trends and techniques. When she's not creating stunning nail designs, you can find her researching the latest nail care products or experimenting with new techniques.