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9 Best Cuticle Removers for Neat-Looking Nails

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Most people seem to make the mistake of thinking that picking out the perfect nail color and applying it well is all it takes to give yourself a salon-worthy manicure. But, newsflash – it’s not! Cuticles are truly the essential part of making your DIY manicure look professional. Yes, the little flaps of dead skin at the base of your nails can make or break just how amazing your manicure is. It sounds absurd, but it’s true (it’s always the little things, isn’t it?).

Dead skin might grow quickly as the living tissue below it pushes the skin forward and covers your nail, making it harder to paint. Or maybe just pushing cuticles back elongates your nails and protects them more, or all the above. Either way, taking care of your cuticles is the key to a salon-worthy manicure.

For this reason, we’ve been paying extra attention to keeping your cuticles healthy, particularly how to remove them. Below is the list of our favorite cuticle removers to use at home for their gentle but effective way of removing cuticles and making manicures the best they can be!

In this article:

Our Picks of the Best Cuticle Removers

From the gentlest option for sensitive skin to the fastest-acting one, this list features the best cuticle remover for everyone out there.

Best Overall
Deborah Lippmann Cuticle Remover Exfoliating Cuticle Nail Treatment
Deborah Lippmann

An exfoliating cuticle remover that’s also gentle to use on sensitive skin?! No, this isn’t some truly late April Fool’s joke we decided to pull on you! Renowned cosmetics creator Deborah Lippmann created this nail product for everyone that struggles not only with thick cuticles but also rough nail beds. Fast-acting and well-made, this cuticle remover softens the skin so that it can be easily pushed back or removed, making this product our nails’ new best friend. Pick it up from Sephora or Nordstrom!

Key Features

  • Size: 0.5 oz.
  • Key Ingredients: Lanolin oil, potassium hydroxide, carrageenan
  • Dropper style application
  • Cruelty-Free: Yes


  • Salon-quality
  • Perfect for rough cuticles
  • Removes cuticles quickly


  • Leave on too long, and nails may develop a slightly yellow tinge

Best Drugstore
Sally Hansen Instant Cuticle Remover
Sally Hansen

Some drugstore beauty brands really do have seriously good products that can save you money while doing the same things like the items at any higher-end beauty store. This would be the exact way to describe the Sally Hansen cuticle remover because it is by far the best drugstore option that you will find. Coming in under ten dollars and working in a matter of a few seconds, this will be perfect if you ever need to remove your cuticles before a job interview or date and just want to run to your nearby drugstore to grab a cuticle remover. Get it from Ulta or Amazon!

Key Features

  • Size: 1 oz.
  • Key Ingredients: Aloe, chamomile, potassium hydroxide
  • Squeeze-on style application
  • Cruelty-Free: No


  • Easy-to-use
  • Fast-acting in just 15 seconds
  • Prevents hangnails


  • Can take longer with tougher cuticles
  • Can be somewhat drying

Best Budget
Blue Cross Cuticle Remover
Blue Cross

Whether you simply need something quick, cheap, and effective to remove your cuticles, or you are just starting to get used to the idea of removing those dead skin cells rather than using a cuticle pusher to push them away, this Blue Cross cuticle remover is an excellent option to try. Coming in under ten dollars yet containing six fluid ounces, this is a definite bang for your buck, along with the fact that the solution only seems to need a minute to sit on your skin before your cuticle disconnects and glides off painlessly. Grab it online from Amazon!

Key Features

  • Size: 6 oz.
  • Key Ingredients: Caustic potash, calcium carrageenan, lanolin oil
  • Squeeze-on style application
  • Cruelty-Free: No


  • Easy and effective
  • Excellent price


  • Caustic potash is a strong acid that you will need to be careful of if you plan to use this cuticle remover regularly

Best Fast-Acting
Butter London Melt Away Cuticle Exfoliator
Butter London

Exactly why did you agree to go on a date after you have multiple work meetings and no time to decompress, let alone make sure your hands looked presentable? When you find your mind asking you this, the solution is simple. Since this can happen to anyone from time to time, Butter London came up with a solution. While they won’t be able to give you an extra hour, they will be able to remove your overgrown cuticles in a matter of minutes, so when you’re clinking glasses, your nails look presentable and healthy. Find it online on Amazon!

Key Features

  • Size: 0.4 oz.
  • Key Ingredients: Butylene glycol, potassium hydroxide, chondrus crispus (carrageenan) extract
  • Paint-on style application
  • Cruelty-Free: Yes


  • 8-free, meaning it does not include formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, DBP, toluene, camphor, ethyl tosylamide, xylene, or TPHP
  • Both exfoliates and removes cuticles


  • Can be clumpy
  • Small bottle

Best Cruelty-Free
ProLinc Cuticle Eliminator

No one wants to look down at their freshly manicured hands and feel guilty because they know that an animal suffered in the process of any experimentation in order to make the product. Therefore, when hunting down a product that is not only cruelty-free but the company is as well, ProLinc will instantly fulfill your needs.

Even if we were to ignore the cruelty-free aspect of this product, it still remains one of the best cuticle removers out there. Coming in a large 4-oz. bottle, it is a 100% natural product that will remove your cuticles within seconds, so you don’t have to worry about them getting in the way as you paint your nails. Pick it up from Amazon!

Key Features

  • Size: 0.4 oz.
  • Key Ingredients: Potassium hydroxide, glycerin, propylene glycol, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate
  • Squeeze-on style application
  • Cruelty-Free: Yes


  • Smoothes and removes cuticles in less than a minute
  • Thin and able to apply while doing other things if you need to multitask


  • None

Best Gentle
Mavala Cuticle Remover for Overgrown Cuticles

If you’re scanning this article for a gentle solution to overgrown cuticles, then this would be the option for you. Mavala’s cuticle remover is a single-application design, meaning that each time you are ready to do a manicure and wish to remove your cuticles first, you don’t need to worry about removing them days in advance before your manicure. The liquid will work in one fell swoop, so you don’t have to apply the remover multiple times and run the risk of drying out your nail beds any more. You will find this product a lot more nourishing for your nails than any other cuticle remover out there since it’s designed to be both gentle and effective. Get it from Amazon!

Key Features

  • Size: 0.3 oz.
  • Key Ingredients: Glycerin, potassium hydroxide, lanolin
  • 0.3 oz
  • Brush style application
  • Cruelty-Free: Yes


  • Excellent customer service
  • Adds moisture to the cuticles while removing them
  • Detailed directions


  • Can take longer than the one minute advertised to remove cuticle

Best for Sensitive Skin
Sally Hansen Problem Cuticle Remover
Sally Hansen

The Sally Hansen cuticle remover comes into play for those with sensitive skin because it is pH-balanced and features soothing and moisturizing aloe vera. This formula will also erase any rough calluses you might have around your fingertips. It’s not the fastest-acting though, taking 3-5 minutes before you wash away the excess with soapy water. Scented softly with aloe vera, you’ll find it easy to fall in love with, and who knows, you might even want the two pack on Amazon!

Key Features

  • Size: 1 oz.
  • Key Ingredients: Paraffinum liquidum, glycerin, aloe barbadensis leaf extract
  • Lotion style application
  • Cruelty-Free: No


  • Cuticle pushers are included
  • Ph-balanced
  • Heals dry skin around your nails


  • Gel consistency can be too thick at times
  • Takes longer to act

Best Moisturizing
CND Cuticle Eraser

To some degree, all these products are going to be drying. Not only are they acidic, but they also are designed to remove a small layer of your skin! When you think about it that way, you know that your nails might be suffering a little from dehydration after using these products. While jumping to grab cuticle oil is always a good idea, choosing a moisturizing remover would probably not hurt anything and would only be beneficial. So, in walks CND, the salon manicurists’ brand of choice.

This cuticle remover is gentle where others are harsh. It slowly softens the cuticles until they fall off, thanks to the alpha hydroxy acid added to the mix. And if you’re still unsure about purchasing this product, then just ask your local salon because they will be sure to vouch for it. Pick it up from Ulta!

Key Features

  • Size: 0.5 oz.
  • Key Ingredients: Aloe barbadensis leaf juice, citric acid, lactic acid, malic acid, allantoin, panthenol
  • 0.5 oz
  • Lotion style application
  • Cruelty-Free: Yes


  • Absorbs into the skin quickly
  • Goes on smoothly


  • Strong odor

Best for Nail Polish Stains
Orly Cuticle Remover

Being a fan of bright nail polish colors, most often deep reds, there is nothing I detest more than thinking all the nail polish has been removed only to find some wedged into my cuticle. Whether you have on acrylics or just paint, this cuticle remover from Orly will take off any nail polish stains and soften your cuticles so that they can be clipped off easily. The best part is that you simply let it sit for around five minutes and wipe it off. And done! It’s available on Amazon.

Key Features

  • Size: 0.6 oz.
  • Key Ingredients: Potassium hydroxide, sesamum indicum (sesame) seed oil
  • Nail polish style application
  • Cruelty-Free: Yes


  • Quick and easy to use
  • Excellent for the price
  • Doesn’t smell like chemicals


  • Doesn’t remove the cuticle, just softens it to be removed easily
  • The product can be somewhat sticky

What to Look for in the Best Cuticle Remover for You?

When trying to find the best cuticle remover for you, the key is to know the different types of cuticle removers available for purchase, the ingredients, and the price. And if you’re scratching your head wondering what on earth I’m talking about, then check out the guide below.

The Types

Do you want cuticle removing gels or cuticle removing liquids? Do pushers make more sense for you? Here are the differences to know:

  • Cuticle-Removing Gels: This is a gel-like substance that you will apply to the base of your nails in a thin line. After only a minute or two, the gel cuticle remover will have softened your cuticles so that they can be wiped away all the while soothing any irritations that might occur along the side of your nail bed.
  • Cream-Based Cuticle Removers: This is a style of cuticle remover that is created to exfoliate the cuticles away from the nails. Often it is much thicker than a gel or liquid cuticle remover and can be a bit rougher for sensitive skin. However, if your cuticles are thick, then this might be a good option for you.
  • Cuticle Liquids: This is one of the most common forms that cuticle remover will come in. Whether dropped onto the nail or brushed on, liquid cuticle remover will dissolve into your skin in order to remove the cuticle.
  • Cuticle Pushers: Coming in either metal or wood, cuticle pushers will gently push your cuticles back to the edge of your nail. This is an excellent option if you want to avoid using chemicals on your hands to take your cuticles off. Along with this, some people will use them to correct mistakes when painting their nails.
  • Cuticle Clippers: When you want to get rid of your cuticles completely, then cuticle clippers will come into play. Often coming in stainless steel with sharp or flat blades, the clippers will remove your cuticles quickly and efficiently.

The Ingredients

Understanding the ingredients would be the next important step to finding the best cuticle remover. While the active ingredients in cuticle removers wouldn’t necessarily be harmful chemicals, they might be more stringent than we might want on our skin. Along with this, it’s always nice to know exactly what you are putting on your body.

Salon-quality ingredients list will often include potassium hydroxide or sodium hydroxide to remove the cuticles, however, some cuticle removers will use alpha hydroxy acid (glycolic or lactic acid) instead, which is less harsh and drying.

In addition, look for hydrating ingredients, such as glycerin and plant-based oils to soothe and hydrate the skin around the nails afterwards, so keep this in mind when scanning the ingredient list.

The Price

The third step is to think about the price. While most cuticle removers will be somewhat affordable, it is always a nice idea to compare the ingredients, prices, and sizes of the different ones you are debating between so that you get the most value for your money.

Cuticle Remover FAQs

Here are some common cuticle remover questions with their answers:

How Does Cuticle Remover Work?

The active ingredients break down the dead skin of the cuticles so that it can be safely removed.

Are Cuticle Removers Safe?

Yes, why would we ever recommend something that we don’t trust?! The only concern you should have about cuticle remover is how long you leave it on, so remember that five minutes is a good limit.

How to Use?

Depending on how the bottle works, simply swipe or drop a small amount onto the base of the nail. Some people suggest dropping a bit of water to emulsify the formula, but the choice is up to you. After the cuticle remover is on your nails, gently push the cuticle back with a cuticle pusher, and then wipe away the dead tissue using a towel.

Can I Use Cuticle Remover on My Toenails?

Yes! Any cuticle will work, just be aware that the cuticles on your toes might be tougher and thus can take a few more rounds (on different days) until they are thoroughly removed.

Photos via Ulta, Sephora, Amazon