How To Treat Your Cuticles This Winter

woman applying cuticle oil on her nails
Carol Yepes/Moment/Getty Images

Let's be honest: As far as winter beauty needs go, our nails tend to get the short end of the stick. We're all so busy moisturizing and trying to figure out how to use bronzer without looking orange, that our weekly mani/pedis tend to go by the wayside from November to March. After all, our fingers and toes are covered in mittens and boots 75 percent of the time anyway, so who cares if they look a little messy? But the one thing we shouldn't be forgetting about (even if we're not keeping up with our polish schedules) is our cuticles. So how can you care for your cuticles in the winter?

For anyone who may not know the anatomical landscape of their nail beds (... that wasn't a big focus in my high school biology class, either), the cuticle is the almost-invisible layer of dead skin cells that covers the bottom part of the nail that acts as a barrier of protection for your skin. It's important to keep it clean and treat it the right way because if you don't, you could be opening the door to nasty nail infections. Yikes.

Now that you know why it's important to pay attention to cuticle care, here are five expert-approved tips for how to do it the right way. And the best part? Proper cuticle treatment will help your holiday mani/pedis last longer, which means you can keep your Rudolph nail art well into the New Year.

1. Don't Cut Your Cuticles

Trim Nail Care Sticks, $1, Target

Put down those scissors, lady. "The cuticle should never be cut at any time, it is closed skin that you risk opening, leaving the chance of infection because its let’s face it’s …our hands," says says Anita Zappacosta, Executive Director of Robanda. "Care should be taken when there is the ugly hang nail that needs to be trimmed, but trimming the entire cuticle is a no -no." Zappacosta suggests softening the cuticle area and using a gentle push to keep the your nails looking healthy and well-maintained.

2. Use Cuticle Oil

Omega Labs Cuticle Oil, $4, OmegalabsUSA.

Just like the skin on the rest of your body, your cuticles need to be hydrated too — especially in the winter. "The cuticle should be softened with a warm soak, or cuticle cream or oil, and gently pushed back with a cuticle pusher or orange wood stick," says Zappacosta. "OmegaLabs offers a really great and inexpensive solution with their cuticle oil. It works as a moisturizer that keeps cuticles soft to prevent cracking and tears."

3. Wear A Base Coat

Omega Labs Nail Hardening Base Coat,$5, OmegaLabsUSA

The same way we like to layer our clothes in the winter, it's important to layer polish on our nails too. "When polishing the nail, it is always recommended to wear a base coat," says Zappacosta. "OmegaLabs has a great nail hardening base coat that enhances nail growth while keeping the nails strong and is a perfect buffer between the nail plate and the polish." Apply base coat to clean, cut nails and let it dry completely before putting on polish.

4. Moisturize

It's Skin Mini Bebe Hand Cream, $5, Sephora

After your cuticles are clean and cared for, use hand cream to moisturize your whole hand to combat the general dying effects of the winter air. This one is so cute, you'll want to bring it everywhere you go.

5. Don't Polish The Cuticle

Chanel Le Vernis in Rouge Noir, $28, Chanel

This is standard practice in most manicures, and there's actually a good reason for it. "Since the nail grows from the cuticle out and we don’t polish the cuticle, the nail remains free to breathe," says Zappacosta. If you're giving yourself a DIY mani at home, make sure to leave a little room at the base of the nail so you don't crowd the cuticle. This Chanel shade is perfect for the holiday season and the rest of the dark clothing-centric winter months.

Images: Carol Yepes/Moment/Getty Images; Courtesy of Brands