Every morning and every night you wash with your favorite cleanser, apply your serum and moisturize your face followed by your neck. Congrats! Your skin looks flawless because you’ve created and maintained a powerful skincare routine.
But what about your nails? Aside from changing your polish and buffing out the occasional ridge or crack, are you giving them the love they deserve? Many of us tend to neglect that thin layer of skin that wraps around the edge of our nails, known as the cuticle. But as it turns out, keeping this area moisturized is key when it comes to both the health and look of your nails.
In other words, your cuticles deserve just as much attention as the skin on the rest of your body. If you’ve been ignoring this delicate but very important part of your nails, you can change all that by adding one simple product to your self-care routine. And that one secret ingredient is cuticle oil!
Whether you rock acrylic nails, prefer to keep it timeless with a natural look, or love to experiment with nail art, here’s everything you need to know about cuticle oil and why you should start using it now.
What Is Cuticle Oil?
According to Akshay Chaudhary, co-founder of Smartworths and a skincare writer with over five years of experience, cuticle oil “is an oil used to moisturize and hydrate the nail bed. Generally, it is made up of vegetable oils and sometimes contains vitamins and citric acid. In cases of extreme dryness and damage, cuticle oil can help moisturize your cuticle and nail.”
Furthermore, cuticle oil is a moisturizing agent used for nourishing and hydrating the cuticles. But why is this important? The answer is that healthy cuticles equal healthy nails!
Cuticle oil is made from all sorts of different oils, such as jojoba oil, vegetable oil, coconut oil, and safflower oil. Many cuticle oils are also formulated with a range of natural ingredients as well, including essential antioxidants and vitamins.
The purpose of cuticle oil is to reduce dryness at the base of the nail. When used in combination with a nourishing lotion or hand cream, it can transform the look of your fingers.
The Benefits of Cuticle Oil
Something as simple as regular hand washing can create dry cuticles. When COVID started, and we all started washing our hands 20 times a day, it became quite apparent just how much antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizer can dry out the skin and make it look cracked and rough.
Other common factors that can also damage your cuticles are extreme cold, too much sun exposure, chlorine, and salty water.
But dry skin around the nail bed isn’t just unsightly. It can lead to bigger problems and affect how your nails grow. The good news is that you can reverse that damage and protect your nails from further destruction.
Here are the 6 biggest benefits of using cuticle oil and why you need to add it to your nail care routine.
1. Cuticle Oil Protects the Cuticles
Even if the look of dry cuticles doesn’t bother you, having dry cuticles can lead to other problems.
When the cuticle is cracked, dry, or damaged, dirt and bacteria can seep underneath the nail, damage the nail bed, and cause an infection.
Applying cuticle oil is key to having healthy nails!
2. Cuticle Oil Can Help Prevent Hangnails
Hangnails are actually dry and damaged pieces of the cuticle that hang off the side of your nail. Not only do they look unsightly, but, as most of us know, they can also be really painful.
In some cases, they can even lead to an infection called paronychia, which causes red and inflamed skin at the side or base of the nail. Ouch!
The good news is that keeping your nails moisturized with a good cuticle oil will help to prevent flaking and tearing of the cuticle as well as painful infections caused by bacteria.
3. Cuticle Oil Increases Circulation Around the Nail
Do your nails grow slowly? If you want to speed up nail growth, use a cuticle treatment. Cuticle oil helps to increase circulation around the nail. The better your circulation, the faster your nails will grow.
4. Cuticle Oil Can Protect Your Polish and Help It Dry Faster
Applying cuticle oil after your manicure can help to protect your polish for a longer period of time (and add a nice amount of shine!) Adding a drop of cuticle oil after painting your nails can protect your nail polish, even if you accidentally nick or bump them before they’re completely dry.
Applying a coat over your wet polish can also help it to dry faster.
5. Cuticle Oil Can Repair Brittle Nails
Cuticle oil works not just on the cuticle but on the nail itself. Jen Wan, co-founder of Soteri Skin, adds, “Good quality cuticle oil will strengthen your nails and make them shinier and healthier. Applying cuticle oil religiously once or twice a day will bring positive results to your nails in the long run.” You can heal and restore brittle nails just by rubbing some cuticle oil over the top of each nail. You’ll definitely notice less chipping!
6. Cuticle Oil Is a Nail Strengthener
Using a cuticle oil that’s rich in nutrients can strengthen your nails overall. Cuticle oil helps to restore the skin around and beneath the nail, which makes nails tougher, stronger, and less prone to breakage.
How and When to Use Cuticle Oil
If you get your mani-pedis done by a pro, you’ve probably noticed that at the very end of your session, they apply a tiny dab of oil to your cuticles. Applying cuticle oil once a week when you change your polish is a good place to start, but if you want superior results, it isn’t enough.
To make your cuticles as healthy and hydrated as can be, it’s best to apply it each and every time you wash your hands. Ten times a day cuticle hydration isn’t realistic for most people, but you can start a good nail care habit if you begin applying it daily.
The best way to apply cuticle oil is to add a small drop to each nail and rub it into the skin in circular motions. You can do it at any time of day, but it’s super easy to remember to do if you make it a part of your nightly skincare routine.
Depending on the brand of cuticle oil you use, you can brush it on, roll it on, dab it on with your finger, or apply it with a cotton swab.
Nail polish remover tends to make the skin around the nails feel dry, so even if you’re not doing a polish change, apply cuticle oil every time you remove your old polish. If you’re planning to apply a new coat of polish, add your cuticle oil after you’ve put your polish on. It will help to hydrate and protect your new coat.
Related: The 9 Best Nail Grinders To Elevate Your At-Home Grooming
Cuticle Oils That Work
There are dozens of different nail oils on the market, so it can be hard to decide which one to try. To help you figure out which one is right for you, here’s our roundup of the best cuticle oils to try now.
1. Sally Hansen Cuticle Rehab
There’s a reason why Sally Hansen is regarded as the best nail care brand. Their products work! From their famous Hard as Nails strengthening treatment to their Insta-Dri top coat, their products do what they say they’ll do.
Sally Hansen Cuticle Rehab is another Sally favorite that lives up to its name. This brush-on gel works wonders, even on cracked, damaged cuticles and super dry skin. It includes Vitamin E and rose extracts, and it’s an excellent way to restore sad cuticles and prevent your nails from breaking, peeling, and chipping.
2. Olive and June Cuticle Serum
Super effective and super easy to apply, the Olive and June Cuticle Serum is perfect if you want to hydrate your cuticles when you’re on the go.
This serum comes in the form of a pen with a foam ball tip. Just twist the pen to release the serum into the applicator and rub it on your fingers. It’s fast absorbing, so it’s perfect for applying when you’re in the car, in your office, or out and about.
3. Essie Apricot Cuticle Oil
With cottonseed oil, soybean oil, Vitamin A, and Vitamin E, the Essie Apricot Cuticle Oil offers deep hydration for dry, damaged nails.
In addition to protecting and restoring dry cuticles, this oil is great at softening them. If you like to do your own manicures at home, apply this first to soften your cuticles so that they’re easier to push back.
4. The Body Shop Almond Nail and Cuticle Oil
Your brittle nails and dry cuticles will thank you for using The Body Shop Almond Nail and Cuticle Oil. This oil comes in a pen-style applicator for easy use and is made with sweet almond oil and shea butter.
Slip it into your purse, and you can use it anytime, anywhere!
5. Burt’s Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream
If you want a cuticle oil that smells amazing, look no further than Burt’s Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream.
This cuticle oil is made with sweet almond oil, cocoa seed butter, Vitamin E, and sunflower oil. It’s perfect for use on brittle nails, and it’s great at hydrating even the most cracked, beat up cuticles.
6. Cuccio Naturale Milk and Honey Revitalizing Oil
Strengthen your nails, heal your cuticles, and speed up nail growth with the Cuccio Naturale Milk and Honey Revitalizing Oil.
This cuticle oil deserves a spot in your nail care routine. The lactic acid from the milk is oh-so-refreshing, while the added honey makes it ultra-soothing.
It has a dropper applicator that makes it easy to apply at home, but it’s not ideal for nourishing your cuticles when you’re on the go.
7. French Girl Nail and Cuticle Oil
Made with Tamanu oil, hemp seed oil, and rosemary, the French Girl Nail and Cuticle Oil can improve severely cracked cuticles and damaged nails.
Related: How To Get Nail Polish Out Of Carpet [5 Different Ways]
8. Creme Abricot Fortifying Cream by Christian Dior
This luxe cuticle cream has been around since 1963 and continues to get rave reviews for its ability to transform the look of cuticles and the overall health of nails. Your fingers will say, “ooh, la la.”
9. Tammy Taylor Vanilla Sandalwood Conditioning Cuticle Oil
This conditioning oil has warm notes of vanilla and sandalwood but is also available in peach and gardenia. If you’re into fragrances, it’s a treat for your nails and your nose!
10. Sundays Cs.01 Healing Cuticle Serum
This non-greasy, non-toxic and cruelty-free serum contains moisturizing jojoba oil, bacteria-killing myrrh oil and vitamins A, D and E for strengthening and nourishing. What more could your cuticles ask for?
11. Ten Over Ten The Rose Oil
This quick absorbing formula is an Allure Best of Beauty Award Winner. With rose flower oil as well as jojoba, argan, pomegranate and hemp oil, this special blend is a moisturizing and healing powerhouse.
We also love that all of the products from Ten Over Ten are vegan and paraben, phthalate, silicone and sulfate free. Plus, they come in recyclable packaging. A great way to show a little love to your nails and the planet!
12. Beekman Pure Goat Milk Serum
Goat milk has been used to nourish the skin and cure ailments for centuries. And as it turns out, it’s also great for moisturizing your cuticles. Because its pH balance is the same as human skin, it also helps to keep our microbiome intact.
This quick absorbing serum also contains squalane and soybean, tea tree, argan and sweet almond oil, as well as vitamin E. We also like the pillow applicator, which makes it super easy to apply. We give this one ten fingers up!
13. Ella + Mia Oil Me Up Cuticle Oil
This budget pick will keep your nails soft and supple without having to break the bank. Although it contains a blend of various oils, this cuticle oil’s main ingredient is safflower oil. It’s also vegan, cruelty-free and made in the USA.
Although specially formulated cuticle oils are made to absorb quickly and are easy to apply, you can also use oils (even better if they’re organic) that you may already have in the house.
Coconut oil is antibacterial and may help to boost collagen. Extra virgin olive oil and safflower oil are loaded with vitamin E. Almond oil absorbs well and is also anti-inflammatory. And jojoba oil is antifungal and super moisturizing.
Just apply a small amount of any of these oils and be sure to massage it into your cuticles and nails for the best results.
Other Ways to Care for Your Cuticles
While adding a nourishing oil to your nail care routine is a great first step, there are other things to keep in mind when caring for your cuticles. For one, don’t cut them!
Cuticles prevent dirt, fungus, and bacteria from seeping into your nail beds. As annoying as they might be, we need them. Instead of cutting your cuticles, keep them moisturized and healthy and use a wooden stick to push them back and out of the way.
Two: no matter how frequently you use cuticle oil, remember this: It is NOT a substitute for a hand moisturizer. A deeply hydrating moisturizer for your hands is a must if you want the skin around your fingers to look and feel its best.
Three: this goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway: never bite your cuticles! It can lead to tearing, fraying and possible infections.
Does Cuticle Oil Work?
Cuticle oil works! It helps to hydrate your cuticles, nourish your nails, stimulate nail growth and protect your polish, which are all things that will only help to make your nails and fingers, and toes look better than ever before!
It’s time to start paying attention to our nails the way we do with our face, brows, and hair…and cuticle oil is an easy way to do it.
You might also be interested in: How To Get Rid Of Yellow Toenails [With 7 Home Remedies]
The 13 Best Cuticle Oils:
- Sally Hansen Cuticle Rehab
- Olive and June Cuticle Serum
- Essie Apricot Cuticle Oil
- The Body Shop Almond Nail and Cuticle Oil
- Burt’s Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream
- Cuccio Naturale Milk and Honey Revitalizing Oil
- French Girl Nail and Cuticle Oil
- Creme Abricot Fortifying Cream by Christian Dior
- Tammy Taylor Vanilla Sandalwood Conditioning Cuticle Oil
- Ten Over Ten The Rose Oil
- Sundays Cs.01 Healing Cuticle Serum
- Beekman Pure Goat Milk Serum
- Ella + Mia Oil Me Up Cuticle Oil