We’ve all been there: Our cuticles are ragged and overgrown and we’re tempted to cut them.

But Jan Arnold, who co-founded nail product brand CND and has made it her mission to help us care for our hands, warns that those snips can quickly go south. Pathogens can enter and lead to infection.

Here are her tips for caring for your cuticles so you can put that snipper away for good.

Exfoliate

Every time you bathe, Arnold suggests gently pushing back your cuticles using a moist washcloth. To rid the nail of any excess cuticle growth and clear away the buildup of dead skin that naturally clings to it as it grows, apply a light exfoliator containing alpha-hydroxy acids (like CND Cuticle Eraser). Cuticle exfoliators typically contain alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) that gently dissolve excess cuticle debris. You often see results within a week of continued use.

Repair

If your cuticles are overgrown, Arnold suggests beginning a daily routine of massaging cuticle exfoliator into the entire nail “using the same method of gently pushing back overgrowth with a soft washcloth when you take a bath or shower.” You should also apply cuticle oil (like The Body Shop Almond Nail & Cuticle Oil) several times a day, and use a soft toothbrush to scrub under the nails and around the cuticle before applying nail polish. To quickly brighten up the appearance of your hands, try an exfoliating scrub like Kiehl’s Crème de Corps Soy Milk and Honey Body Polish.

Never nip

Cutting cuticles exposes them to infection, especially when you’re in the salon. Continual cutting leads to unsightly scar tissue and hangnails. “Calluses and scar-like tissue around the nail will ultimately need to be sloughed away and conditioned to rehabilitate the area,” Arnold explains. And those tricky hangnails? She adds: “The only instance that’s appropriate for nipping is if there’s a loose tag of skin.”

Do you groom your own cuticles, or save it for the salon?