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The 7 Best Cuticle Oils for Healthy, Strong and Youthful Nails, According to Experts

Plus, it can help your manicure last longer!

Nail polish isn’t the only product out there that makes for a beautiful manicure. Cuticle oil is also an essential component for keeping your nails both healthy and looking great. And the best part? It’s inexpensive, easy to use and something everyone can benefit from using. If you’re curious to learn more about the treatment, you’ve come to the right place! We tapped top nail pros to explain all you need to know about cuticle oils, including their favorite application tips and the best cuticle oils out there.

What is cuticle oil?

First, it’s important to understand what the cuticle is. The layer of thin skin at the base of your nail, the cuticle is a natural protective seal. “It’s like the grout in between the tiles in your shower,” says Dana Stern, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York specializing in nail health and founder of Dr. Dana nail care line. “It keeps water, moisture, and microorganisms from getting into the nail.” If the cuticle is removed or becomes dry and dehydrated, all of these things can get in, leading to many potential problems including swelling and redness, irregular nail growth, or even infection, she explains. For that reason, it’s important to never cut the cuticles — rather, you’ll want to just gently push them back — and apply the oil regularly, she says.

Healthy fingernails

But back to the question at hand. Cuticle oil is most often a combination of oils and other moisturizing ingredients designed to keep the cuticles hydrated and nourished, says Mazz Hanna, nail expert and founder of Nailing Hollywood.

The benefits of using cuticle oil

For starters, there are the nail health benefits. As mentioned above, when your cuticles are dry and compromised, it increases the likelihood of a host of issues. Keeping them hydrated — by using cuticle oil — is one of the easiest ways to avoid these, says Dr. Stern. And, just like the skin on our face and bodies, hormonal changes that come with age can lead to drier cuticles as we get older, she notes. In other words, this treatment becomes even more imperative the older you get.

Woman looking at her hands and nails

While it’s made for the cuticle, a good cuticle oil will help moisturize the nail too, notes Hanna. (Because yes, nails also get drier with age.) This not only improves their health, but will actually help extend the life of any polish you’re wearing. “Cuticle oil is great for making manicures last longer, since brittle nails are more prone to lifting and chipping nail polish,” notes Hanna. “Think of nails like a sponge. When they’re dry, they crack,” adds celebrity nail artist Elle Gerstein. This makes the oil the perfect antidote.

Finally, cuticle oil will make your nails generally look better, regardless if you’re wearing nail polish or not. These oils will keep your manicure, even a nude one, looking flawless, says Gerstein. The skin will be nice and moisturized (no hangnails in sight) and your nails shiny.

Related: Polygel Nails: The Trending Manicure Technique That Makes Nails Look Longer, Stronger and Youthful

How often to use cuticle oil

Sometimes less is more, but that’s certainly not the case here. All of the experts we spoke with agree that it’s really not possible to overdo it when it comes to cuticle oil. Swipe it on whenever you’d like. “The more you use it the better, but aim for at least once a day,” advises Hanna. And if your nails and cuticles are dry due to the weather or frequent hand washing, you may need to increase that cadence, notes Dr. Stern.

How to use cuticle oil

Woman applying cuticle oil

Hanna suggests applying a small amount along the cuticle on each finger, then gently massaging it into the nail and surrounding skin. Massaging it is key: “If cuticle oil is applied regularly with either a massaging motion or a rollerball applicator, it can help stimulate blood flow and contribute to healthy nail growth,” explains Dr. Stern.

If you are going to use the treatment just once per day, Hanna recommends doing so at bedtime so it can work its magic overnight. You can even layer a thicker lotion or balm over the oil to really seal it in, adds Hanna. Alternately, reach for it anytime your hands are exposed to water, which, again, dries out skin and nails, like after washing your hands or taking a shower, notes Gerstein.

For more tips on using cuticle oil and keeping nails healthy, watch the below video from @TheSalonLife on YouTube.

Related: How to Make Hands Look Younger — Dermatologists’ Best At-Home Tricks

The 7 best cuticle oils

These seven cuticle oils deliver when it comes to heavy-hitting hydrating — they really do nail it!

The best drugstore cuticle oil

Product image of Essie Apricot Nail and Cuticle Oil

Essie Apricot Nail and Cuticle Oil

This classic formula now comes in a convenient rollerball that makes for super easy application. It’s packed with a blend of hydrating oils, including the namesake apricot, jojoba, and sunflower seed that all work together to deeply nourish and hydrate cuticle skin and nails.

Best on-the-go cuticle oil

Product image of MiniLuxe Cuticle Oil Rollerball, one best cuticle oil

MiniLuxe Cuticle Oil Rollerball

“This is the perfect cuticle oil for travel,” says Hanna of one of her top picks. “The small bottle and the rollerball design is perfect for a mess-free application on-the-go.” (For reference, it’s about the size of a lip balm.) Stash it in your purse or car so that it’s always on-hand any time your cuticles need a little extra TLC.

Best fragrance-free cuticle oil

Product image of Sally Hansen Nail & Cuticle Oil, one best cuticle oil
Sally Hansen

Sally Hansen Nail & Cuticle Oil

If you have sensitive skin or are prone to allergies, Gerstein says considering a fragrance-free oil is a good idea. This one fits the bill and contains not only moisturizing oils, but also aloe and vitamin E, the latter of which she says is also great to look for in a cuticle oil.

Best scented cuticle oil

Product image of Orly Breathable Cuticle Oil

Orly Breathable Cuticle Oil

On the flip side, if you want an oil that smells nice, Hanna suggests this one. “It has a beautiful scent, with notes of bergamot and citrus,” she says. “The formula is also extremely hydrating and a little goes a long way, so the bottle will last for a long time.”

Best vegan formula cuticle oil

Product image of Manicurist Paris Green Oil, one best cuticle oil
Manicurist Paris

Manicurist Paris Green Oil

Hanna is a fan of this option, lauding the formula for being 99% plant-based and helping to promote healthy nail growth, too. She also notes that it absorbs beautifully into skin, without ever feeling sticky or greasy.

Best easy to apply cuticle oil

Product image of Olive & June Cuticle Serum, one best cuticle oil
Olive & June

Olive & June Cuticle Serum

This pen-like bottle is perfect for those who want applying the treatment to be quick and easy. (It’s also a good choice for those who don’t love oils, as the texture is in fact more serum-like.) Simply twist up the tube to dispense it into the foam tip that allows for super targeted application.

Best splurge cuticle oil

Product image of Chanel L’Huile Camelia Hydrating and Fortifying Oil, one best cuticle oil
Chanel Beauty

Chanel L’Huile Camelia Hydrating and Fortifying Oil

It’s not cheap, but, according to Hanna, this splurge-worthy pick is worth every penny. She likes that it helps create a protective layer on the nail, hydrates, and even has a beveled applicator that can be used to push back cuticles.

For more nail tips and tricks, click through these stories:

How to Do Dip Nails at Home for Pennies — Manicurists Share Their Easy Tricks

How to Remove Dip Powder Nails at Home Without Damaging Your Natural Nails

Ask for ‘Shellac Nails’ For the Most Natural Looking Artificial Nails On The Market

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