Well, yes and no. The cuticles have a purpose (i.e., shielding your growing nails from the elements), so you don’t want to peel them entirely off your nails—otherwise, aggressors can sneak their way in and you run the risk of infection.

You can, however, clip the excess dry, dead skin hanging off your cuticles; so when professionals cut your cuticles, what they’re really doing is nipping that extra dry skin. 

Although, it can be pretty difficult for the average at-home nail artist to differentiate between the extra dead skin around your nails versus your actual cuticles, which is why Lin recommends waiting for a professional if you can hold off. They can cut the surrounding skin without causing any potential harm.

If your cuticles are glaringly frayed, you can clip them at home safely: “Take your cuticle pusher and push your cuticle back toward the knuckle,” says celebrity manicurist Deborah Lippmann in our DIY mani guide.

If you don’t have a pusher, you can also use a cotton swab or even the end of your file (just wrap the end of the file with a tissue so the abrasive grit doesn’t scrape against the nail as you push). “If you have a piece of skin that’s still hanging after you’ve properly pushed it, you can take your cuticle nipper and just nip that tiny piece of skin. You never want to nip all the way around.” 

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