Karen Falcon, the ManiGeek, has no cuticles. None, see? Her cuticle-less-ness makes me think she’s either a robot or an alien.
My cuticles make me human, obviously. Dry, overgrown and encroaching on the actual nail area, they're shamefully ragged in some spots where I've impatiently tried to remove them with nail clippers (the most dangerous beauty fail there is). They're in terrible shape, and unlike our ManiGeek, I'm not constantly playing in nail polish and pure acetone.
And you'd think that that after swatching 48 shades of the new-to-North-America Misslyn nail colours last month Karen's cuticles would show some signs of stress. But no. They didn't look ravaged in the least. Instead they were immaculate, like she spends entire days reclining on a chaise longue getting manicures.
I try. I keep cuticle oil in a Muji bin, tucked under my nightstand for bedtime application. As in: once a day. But I do not have ManiGeek alien robot fingers. Why? Why? The key, it turns out, is a near-religious obsession with actually using cuticle oil. In the Misslyn post's comments, Karen explained it to me thusly:
"After every single time I use my 100% pure acetone, I hit my cuticles and side walls with Sally Hansen Vitamin E Cuticle Oil. If I polish 47 times, then I've also used cuticle oil 47 times. Acetone is pretty hard-hitting stuff so immediately after drying my fingers out, I rehydrate them - like within seconds. They don't suffer - they're very well taken care of (even though they're non-existent)."
OK. So constant vigilance. Scrupulous attention. Basically, an OCD level of nail maintenance. Got it.
Serendipitously, to get me started on the road to a cuticle-free* existence, the Sally Hansen beauty gods sent me a little helper.
The Sally Hansen 18K Gold Cuticle Eraser ($9 at drugstores and $7.99 at ulta.com) is a squeezy tube of moisturizing goodness with a soft silicone tip that gets the formula directly and un-messily onto your cuticles. It’s fancy – real gold, mixed with humectants for serious moisture, and micro quartz particles that nudge away excess dry skin while also giving your nails a light (bonus!) smoothing. There’s even a cuticle pusher built into the cap so you don’t have to go hunting for an orangewood stick (what is orangewood anyway?).
After every therapeutic 18K Gold Cuticle Eraser session, I will, with ManiGeek-ish obsessiveness, follow up with daily doses of Sally Hansen Vitamin E Cuticle Oil ($6.99 at well.ca and $6.99 at ulta.com). Maybe then, I too will have the hands of a beautiful alien lady, at which point I can check this resolution off my list.
*Okay, we know we need cuticles to keep undesirables from getting between our nails and our skin. By "cuticle-free" we mean healthy cuticles that are so perfectly hydrated and well maintained that they appear invisible.