In biology, the term cuticle or cuticula is given to a variety of tough but flexible, non-mineral outer coverings of an organism, or part of an organism, that provide protection. They are non-homologous, differing in their origin, structure and chemical composition.
In human anatomy
In human anatomy, cuticle refers to the dead layers of epidermal cells or keratinocytes that produce the horn protein keratin, to the strip of dead skin cells at the base and sides of the fingernail, the eponychium and also to the superficial layer of overlapping cells covering the hair shaft (cuticula pili) that locks the hair into its follicle.
In invertebrate zoology
The main structural components of the nematode cuticle are proteins, highly cross-linked collagens and specialised insoluble proteins known as "cuticlins", together with glycoproteins and lipids. .
The cuticles of plants function as permeability barriers for water and water-soluble materials. The cuticle both prevents plant surfaces from becoming wet and helps to prevent plants from drying out. Xerophytic plants such as Cactus have very thick cuticles to help them survive in their arid climates. Plants that live in range of sea's spray also tend to have thicker cuticles, to protect them from the toxic effects of salt.