Sore, Cracking Cuticles? Grab This
My cuticles are a mess this time of year. They grow thick and dry—and then they tear and bleed. Regular hand creams don’t even begin to soothe them. And cuticle oils help but are often inconvenient and messy to apply. I find most don’t absorb quickly enough, and then they drip all over my keyboard or iPhone.
Celebrity manicurist Bernadette Thomson once told me that the best treatment for really-dry, super-sore cuticles is A&D Ointment. But the fishy smell makes me gag, so that was a non-starter. I’ve also tried the cult-classic Elizabeth Arden’s 8 Hour Skin Protectant because a million pros recommend it for severely dry skin. But it too had a funky scent I could not tolerate, especially on my hands.
I realized, however, what these two thick ointments had in common was petrolatum, an occlusive ingredient that creates a plastic-wrap-like barrier over your skin, keeping moisture in while simultaneously softening rough, craggy skin. Thus, I started an informal search for a scent-free substitute, but, aside from pure petroleum jelly (which is impractical to slather over your fingers, lest you leave greasy fingerprint everywhere you go), I’d not found a comparable, effective product I Iiked.
Then last May, I was on a press trip with Mary Kay and discovered their Extra Emollient Night Cream. The name is a bit confusing, as one would think it's for the face and, well, a cream. But it comes in a tube, akin to the Arden's 8 -Hour Protectant, and it’s a thick, pink ointment. The primary ingredient? Petrolatum. It does have a smell but it’s more floral than fishy, and I find it flashes off after a few minutes. It also absorbs well (certainly better than straight-up petro jelly) and it does not leave your hands sticky or drippy. I slather it on before bed and dab a pea-sized drop over my cuticles two to three times a day. If I slack off, I can tell within a few days. So, like exercise, one can’t just stop and expect the results to last. But if I use this ointment daily—and diligently—my cuticles do stay reasonably soft, sans any stinky smell.