The 10 Best Cuticle Oils to Nourish and Strengthen Dry Nails
Take your manicure to a whole new level with these treatments that hydrate even the most ragged cuticles—and help keep your polish perfect in the process.
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Your cuticles need love, too!
Are your nails always perfectly polished? Or are you more of a natural gal? Either way, you need to take care of your nails and hands, especially in the winter. Cold weather outside and drying indoor heat inside can take its toll on thin and delicate skin, as can all of the extra handwashing and sanitizing we’ve been doing during the pandemic, and even the best hand creams can’t combat this. The best cuticle oils, on the other hand, can provide the necessary moisture and hydration to fix your nail problems—fast.
Whether you have hangnails, brittle nails that break frequently, or acrylic nails that you want to protect as you moisturize, there’s a great option for you. The key is to sort through the many offerings on the market to find the one that’s tailored to your specific needs. No need to stress—we’ve compiled the top-rated cuticle treatments below, so you can scroll through and buy exactly what you need. Once you’ve picked the perfect product, learn these other tips that will make your manicure last for a week or longer.
What does cuticle oil do?
At its most basic level, cuticle oil moisturizes your cuticles, the clear skin around your nail bed that can take a beating in cold weather. You know how your cuticles can feel rough, look jagged, and even sport the occasional hangnail? Cuticle oil will be your new best friend. But despite its seemingly straightforward name, cuticle oil is a multi-benefit product that contributes to the overall health of your nail. “Cuticle oil is not designed just for the cuticle,” explains Silva Nahabedian, director of education at Dazzle Dry. “It’s also designed to moisturize the nail and keep it flexible and prevent it from becoming brittle, which can lead to breakage.”
Another bonus? When your nails are kept well moisturized and supple, your manicures will last longer, Nahabedian adds. You can even use it on a fresh manicure, notes celebrity nail tech Elle Gersein, once the polish is properly set. “It can help dry or even protect against dents during the drying process,” she explains. While we’re on the subject, here’s another thing you need to try: this $5 nail product that will give you salon-level DIY manicures.
How to use cuticle oil
Don’t just drop some oil on your cuticles and go about your day. For maximum moisturizing and nail-strengthening benefits, celebrity manicurist Deborah Lippmann recommends spending a full minute massaging the oil into your cuticles. “The matrix where the nail is formed is under the cuticle, and this benefits the growth of the nail,” she explains. That mini massage will ensure that the product fully penetrates the area and delivers the results you want. Not to mention that it’s pretty relaxing, too. If you’re looking to bliss out, check out these other things you need for a relaxing spa day at home.
One thing to keep in mind: “Less is more when applying cuticle oil,” Lippmann says. Just as its name suggests, it’s an oil, so a little will go a long way and too much will just get everywhere. You’ll also want to make sure your nails are dry before applying it.
When is the best time to apply cuticle oil?
Yes, there’s a preferred time to give your nails some TLC. According to Shel Pink, founder of SpaRitual, that time is in the evening, before bedtime. That way, the cuticle oil can work its magic overnight and you won’t accidentally dilute its effects by washing your hands. And don’t worry that you’re overdoing it. Using cuticle oil every day won’t ruin your manicure—it will actually make it look better and last longer, since brittle nails are more prone to chipping.
Top-rated cuticle oil: Cuccio Naturalé Milk & Honey Revitalizing Oil
With more than 50,000 rave reviews on Amazon, Cuccio Naturalé Milk & Honey Revitalizing Oil is a top pick for healing ragged cuticles. The cruelty-free formula includes honey extracts and natural lactic acid from milk, which works to gently exfoliate the sharp bits of your cuticles while softening your skin overall. While some reviewers think the large rounded bottle is a bit awkward to hold, they love that you only need very little to make a big impact and that this under-$9 bottle lasts for ages. For the best results, wait until after your shower or bath, and then apply to each cuticle and massage in until fully absorbed.
Best cuticle oil for weak nails: CND SolarOil
CND SolarOil is the OG of cuticle oils for a reason. Infused with jojoba oil, almond oil, and vitamin E, it penetrates deeply to heal cuticles and nail beds. It also smells heavenly. While there’s a lot to love, one common thread in the reviews is that this product really helps with peeling, weak nails. Pro tip: You’ll really strengthen your nails if you use this cuticle oil several times a day, according to reviewers. Just keep in mind that if you do use it that much, you’ll go through it a lot faster, and the bottle is on the smaller side, to begin with. Check out these other products with a cult following that are 100 percent worth it.
Best cuticle oil for intense moisture: KBShimmer Tri-Level Cuticle Oil
The Tri-Level doesn’t mess around. This intense moisturizing formula offers three levels of moisturizing oils and humectants—including glycerin, grape seed oil, sweet almond oil, and mineral oil—to help rehydrate your skin and nails. If polishing after use, wash and dry nails before applying polish. Speaking of which, these are the subtle things your nail color choice reveals about you.
Bonus: This cuticle oil is also klutz-proof. It comes in a small rollerball bottle, so you don’t have to deal with a dropper and a drippy mess that gets all over everything. KBShimmer also offers a spill-proof Cuticle Oil Pen, which contains a luxe blend of avocado oil, shea butter, apricot oil, wheat germ oil, evening primrose oil, argan oil, jojoba, olive oil, and vitamin E.
Best anti-fungal cuticle oil: Dr.’s Remedy Caress Cuticle Oil
Dryness isn’t the only thing you need to worry about when it comes to your cuticles—they’re also vulnerable to fungal infections. But an ounce of prevention now can circumvent this problem. Dr.’s Remedy Caress Cuticle Oil, codeveloped by podiatrist William Spielfogel, DPM, is the first FDA-approved over-the-counter anti-fungal cuticle oil. In addition to its 10 percent undecylenic acid, which is the strongest anti-fungal medicine available without a doctor’s visit, it is formulated with a trio of nourishing natural oils (lavender, grape seed, and tea tree) for the ultimate in conditioning. The intense hydration revives dry, cracked cuticles on contact. If you’re having problems with your feet, try this or one of these foot and toenail fungus treatments you can make at home.
Dr. Spielfogel, who’s the Chief of Podiatry at the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, also offers this important bit of advice: Cutting your cuticles is pretty much the worst thing you can do to them. “The more you cut them, the more damage you do and the harder it is to stop,” he explains. “Instead, cuticles should be gently pushed back for a clean, polished look, and any excess should be lightly exfoliated.”
Best-value cuticle oil: Rejuve Naturals Organic Cuticle Oil
Less isn’t always more—not when it comes to getting the most bang for your buck! Rejuve Naturals Organic Cuticle Oil comes in a four-ounce bottle, which is huge compared to other brands. It’s also GMO- and pesticide-free, as well as certified organic, so you don’t have to worry about anything toxic in the formulation. What is in it? Nourishing botanicals like jojoba oil, camellia seed oil, extra virgin olive oil, and vitamin E. You’ll also find some great organic products on this list of Black-owned beauty products you really should own by now.
Celebrity-favorite cuticle oil: Deborah Lippmann Cuticle Oil
In addition to being a celebrity manicurist who’s worked with everyone from Beyoncé to Reese Witherspoon, Deborah Lippmann has created a line of nail polish and treatment products. She explains that her product both softens and protects nails, and it absorbs quickly, so you won’t end up leaving greasy prints on everything after applying it. For best results, Lippmann says not to wash your hands for at least 20 minutes to allow for proper absorption. Looking for a little something for a friend? These cuticle oils make a great and affordable gift for her.
Best on-the-go cuticle oil: Sally Hansen Nail RehabOil Cuticle Balm
Take a look at this Sally Hansen product and you might be a little confused at first. Is it an oil? Is it a balm? The answer is yes. This pretty pink balm melts down after application to soothe ragged hangnails, but until that time, it looks like an oversized (and solid) lipstick bullet. Pop it in your purse or carry-on and you don’t have to worry about it ruining your belongings.
Best cuticle oil to display on your vanity: Blossom Scented Cuticle Oil
Remember how much fun Bonne Bell Lip Smackers were with their cute and fruity flavors? Blossom Scented Cuticle Oil brings back memories of those beloved tween beauty products, but it gets the job done beautifully. It’s infused with real flowers and comes in a prettily decorated floral bottle. Choose from cherry, strawberry, kiwi, hibiscus, lavender, and more, which makes applying this oil fun instead of just another beauty task. Just be aware that this product is not an all-natural formulation and contains alcohol and mineral oil, which some people avoid. While this little bottle looks gorgeous displayed on your vanity, make sure not to keep nail polish in your bathroom.
Best new cuticle oil: Orly Breathable Cuticle Oil
Brand new and already making a name for itself, this Orly Breathable Cuticle oil nourishes and hydrates nails with argan oil, jojoba oil, and vitamin E. Plus, all-natural bergamot and citrus essential oils rejuvenate cuticles, while cardamom seed oil protects the skin. Before you check out, you might also want to pick up the brand’s Breathable Calcium Boost nail strengthener if you’re also dealing with weak nails.
Best cuticle oil for acrylic nails: Modelones Nail & Cuticle Oil
Formulated with vitamins E and B, along with other nourishing oils, this cuticle oil from Modelones is particularly gentle on gel nail polish, dip powder, poly nail gel, and acrylic powder. Translation: You don’t have to worry about loosening your nails or nail art while softening your cuticles. The product also boasts “low smell,” so if you prefer your oil as close to unscented as possible, this is a great pick. And at $4.99, you can’t beat the price. By the way, here’s how you can safely remove gel polish yourself.
- Elle Gerstein, celebrity nail stylist
- Deborah Lippmann, celebrity manicurist
- Shel Pink, founder of SpaRitual
- William Spielfogel, DPM, Chief of Podiatry at the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital