Nail care cuticle oil

Cuticle Oil: Benefits, How to Use It, and Nail Growth

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Cuticle oil is a moisturizing product for your nails and cuticles. It’s most commonly made up of vegetable oils and sometimes contains vitamins and citric acid.

Cuticles that are exposed to excessive cold, sun, chlorine, or salty or soapy water can become chapped, cracked, and dry. In these cases of extreme dryness and damage, cuticle oil can help moisturize your cuticle and nail, restoring it to health.

Applying cuticle oil can increase the circulation around your nails, stimulating nail growth. It can also help to protect your nail and cuticle against trauma.

The oil can also help improve the health and appearance of your nail. If you paint your nails, cuticle oil can also protect your polish for a lasting shine.

How to use it

You’ll only need to use a few drops, because most oils work best in small amounts.

Depending on the product you’re using, you can either dab your cuticles with a cotton ball or brush the oil on. Apply a few drops to each cuticle and then massage in for a few minutes.

How to purchase cuticle oil

The best cuticle oils absorb quickly into your skin. They’re also rather thin, because thick oils won’t absorb into your skin as well. Most cuticle oils contain a combination of different oils, such as:

  • jojoba oil
  • flaxseed oil
  • safflower oil

You can also purchase a cuticle oil that has vitamins or other ingredients included, such as antioxidants. Burt’s Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream, for example, includes both Vitamin E and antioxidants. Opi Avoplex Nail & Cuticle Replenishing Oil also contains Vitamin E but has a brush application. If you’re looking for a more luxe option, Dior Crème Abricot comes in an embossed jar and has been around since 1963.

While cuticle oil isn’t absolutely necessary for the health of your nails, it can be a great treatment if your nails and cuticles are feeling especially dry. Just dab a little on, rub in, and you’ve done yourself — and your nails — a service.

9 Best Cuticle Oils for Dry Nails in 2019

Updated: Apr 12, 2019

Sally Hansen

Cutting cuticles is a no-no that can open the door to infection, according to the experts. But what if they look dry, flaky, and uneven?! We know, it's so tempting — but the answer actually lies in a cuticle oil! Massage your nail beds with these nourishing oils that'll give you a better-looking manicure without the need to take clippers to sensitive skin.

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Deborah Lippmann Cuticle Oil

Give cuticles a dose of hydration! All it takes is a drop or two of this formula enriched with jojoba oil, coconut oil, and vitamin E to instantly condition the skin around the nail. You'll love the scent, too.

More: Cuticle Creams to Heal Dry Hands

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Cuccio Revitalize Milk and Honey Cuticle Oil

This cuticle oil is a number-one best-seller on Amazon! It has a dreamy honey scent, and along with healing cracked cuticles, it can be used on dry hands, too. 

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L'Occitane Nourishing Nail & Cuticle Oil

L'Occitane's latest version of their cuticle oil includes a brush applicator and 30% shea oil, so you'll get softer skin and stronger nails with less mess!

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Essie Apricot Cuticle Oil

Your Essie polish collection isn't complete without this cuticle oil! The orange liquid goes on clear, and contains cottonseed and soybean oils to lock in moisture, strengthen nails, and revive dry cuticles.  

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CND SolarOil Nail & Cuticle Oil

Swipe on a couple coats of this CND oil to see better nail health overall. A blend of jojoba oil, sweet almond oil, and vitamin E strengthen nails while softening cuticles at the same time. 

P.S. The bottle might seem small, but it lasts forever!

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OPI ProSpa Nail & Cuticle Oil

This OPI nail and cuticle treatment is packed with conditioning oils, including grape seed, sesame, kukui, sunflower, and cupuaçu. You can expect relief from ailing cuticles with a week of daily use! 

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Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil

Josie Maran's argan oil is so good, you'll want to put it on everything. The cold-pressed, high-grade oil is meant to be a face moisturizer, but its miracle effects extend to your hair, body, and dry, flaky cuticles, too. 

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Nails Inc. Superfood Nail and Cuticle Repair Oil

Massage a few drops of this oil onto your nails and cuticles to feed them with nutrients. Sweet almond oil, argan oil, and rose hip oil work together to stop skin from peeling and cracking, and promote healthy nail growth. 

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Sally Hansen Vitamin E Nail and Cuticle Oil

If nails and cuticles are feeling dry, or you want to speed up growth, vitamin E can help. This oil from Sally Hansen is enriched with it to add moisture back in, and make your manis look better than ever. 

10 Tanning Oils to Keep Skin Looking Sun-Kissed

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Cuticle Oil - Uses, Health Benefits and Recipe Ingredients

Cuticle oil is an oil product that is used to moisturize the strengthen the nails and the cuticles ( the small region of thickened skin at the base of a nail ). Cuticle oils are oil based formulations which are used at the end of a manicure session. However, one can easily make a variety of nail oils at home by combing natural ingredients like common oils, essential oils and butters. They help to deal with numerous common nail problems like cracked nails, excess cuticle, dryness, fungal infections and even ingrown nail.

What is Cuticle Oil ?

Although this oil is named cuticle oil, it is helpful for overall nail care. The main task of a cuticle oil is to moisturize the nail and keep it soft. Many times we find that our nails become hard, brittle and unmanageable. In that case, it is not easy to cut them, or apply nail polish. Brittle and weak nails may also pose problems like working and even lead to scratches on skin just simply by touching. Cuticle oil is made from select natural oils which are powerful emollients ( moisturizers ). Since there are lot of such oils, one can use them in various combinations for different purposes.

How to make cuticle oil at home ?

One can quickly formulate a cuticle oil recipe at home with these ingredients. These are some oils that have therapeutic effects on the skin and have certain health benefits for the nails.

  • Sesame Oil – It is a wonderful moistruizer for the nails and the nail bed.
  • Lemon juice – It makes the nail bed soft and thus helps alleviate ingrown toenail.
  • Avocado oil – Light oil which does not make the nails and cuticle too oily.
  • Cocoa butter or Shea Butter – excellent moisturizers. They soothe irritated and inflamed skin. If your skin around the nails has cracked, or there is some pain, these butters are quite soothing.
  • Aloe Vera gel – it relieves inflammation brilliantly. Great to reduce swelling and reddish, inflamed skin around the nails.
  • Wheat germ oil – High in Vitamin E. This oil protects the delicate skin around the nails from free radical damage.
  • Olive oil, Coconut oil or Beeswax – Excellent base for a cuticle oil.
  • Jojoba oil – preferred for a less oily cuticle oil.
  • Tea tree oil – a few drops prevent fungal infections, like toenail fungus and even cure it.

Besides these common oils, essential oils provide even more support to the nails. They are only needed in very small amounts. The above oils act as carrier oil to provide the nutrients from essential oils to the skin. These are the essential oils which are good for the nails.

  • Lemon essential oil
  • Myrrh essential oil
  • Frankincense essential oil
  • Balsam fir oil
  • Wintergreen essential oil

The procedure to make a cuticle oil is simple. Just add small amounts of the base oils, like avocado oil, or olive oil in a small bottle. Add about 1 – 2 drops of essential oils of choice to about 5 ml of base oil. So, if you have base oil volume about 100 ml, then you can 20 drops of each essential oil.

Cuticle Oil (Image:Shutterstock)

How to apply cuticle oil ?

The procedure to apply cuticle oil is simple. First make the nails ready for the application by soaking them in warm water for about 5 minutes. One can add a bit of lemon juice if the nail have become brittle.

  • Take cuticle oil on a cotton ball. Apply it on the nails, around the nail skin and near the cuticles. Gently massage the oil into the nail for about 4 – 5 minutes.
  • Wait for about 5 – 10 minutes for the oil nutrients to percolate into the skin.
  • Wipe off the nail with a cotton ball again. Try to remove excess cuticle skin using just the cotton ball.
cuticle oil in a cream base ( Photo credit : thecampbells )

If the excess cuticle skin is not getting removed by the cotton ball, you may need a cuticle pusher. Do not cut off the cuticle completely. This piece of skin is very important as it prevents the nail bed from infections.

Specific applications of Cuticle Oil

Besides improving the appearance of nails, cuticle oil is used for complete nail care.

  • Nail psoriasis – If there is psoriasis on the nail, prepare cuticle oil with coconut oil and aloe vera in it. At the end of the process, use witch hazel to cleanse the nails.
  • Weak nails – Use sulphur rich horsetail root to strengthen weak nails.
  • Painful nails – Use wintergreen essential oil or clove essential oil in a base oil to numb the pain.
  • Swollen nail and inflamed skin around the nails – Use aloe vera gel in a base of beeswax and olive oil.
  • Ridges and splitting – These common nail conditions disappear in a few days by regular treatment with a cuticle oil. If it doesn’t, then it may be a sign of vitamin deficiency or some internal condition.

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The Cuticle – Should You Clip, Push, or Scrape?

Do you know where the cuticle is? Are you supposed to push, clip or scrape?

The correct answer might surprise you. It’s “Scrape.”

This is probably one of the most important articles you will read about nail care.

In this article,  you’ll learn:

  • What and where the cuticle is
  • Some important nail anatomy names
  • How to remove the cuticle properly

We’ve Been Duped

The entire planet has been taught the incorrect definition for the “cuticle”.

The tight band of skin at the base of your nail plate is NOT the cuticle.

That band of skin is called the “proximal fold of the eponychium” or “nail fold”.

In human anatomy, cuticle (sometimes confused with eponychium) refers to several structures. It refers to the layers of epidermal cells or keratinocytes that produce the horn protein keratin, and also to the superficial layer of overlapping cells covering the hair shaft (cuticula pili) that locks the hair into its follicle (See also Cuticle (hair). [Source:]

So where is that elusive cuticle if what we’ve been taught is incorrect?

The cuticle is a thin layer of dead tissue riding on the nail plate to form a seal between the nail plate and eponychium to prevent pathogens from infecting the matrix area.

The cuticle pulls away from the underside of the eponychium and attaches tenaciously to the nail plate.

The cuticle should NOT be confused with the “eponychium”. ~Doug Schoon, Nail Structure and Product Chemistry

The Proximal Fold of the Eponychium

Please, please, please…DO NOT CUT THIS SKIN!

The proximal fold is a required guardian seal that prevents germs and bacteria from getting to the nail matrix, where new cells are created.

I always know when girls and women are clipping and nipping. Their entire cuticle line is red and inflamed. Basically, their eponychium is infected all the time.

If you go to a salon for a manicure, do not ever let your nail tech cut this skin.

The best way to keep this skin soft and tight to the nail plate is with a high quality, jojoba wax ester based penetrating nail and cuticle oil.

Where Does The Cuticle Come From?

How the cuticle is created is fascinating to me and sounds like it should be painful.

But it isn’t.

The Death Grip


The eponychium is living skin that covers approximately 20% of the nail plate, right over the matrix.

The eponychium is a very important guardian seal preventing germs and bacteria from getting into the matrix.

Not surprisingly, the tissue that sits upon the nail plate is very different from the visible eponychium.

The underside of the eponychium nail fold has a strange, sticky texture. This is why it is so important to NOT dig a tool underneath the nail fold.

As the nail cells are created and pushed forward, the nail plate literally rips the bottom layer of eponychium cells with it.

It is these cells that are the cuticle.

Cuticle cells also tightly grip the proximal fold of the eponychium. This creates a nice, tight guardian seal.

For some people, the proximal fold releases from the cuticle on its own.

For people like me, that death grip is too strong. My cuticle will pull the nail fold and stretch it out very thin.

In the photo above, you can see both examples. One half of the proximal fold has released on its own and the other half is still being stretched.

Most people can’t see their cuticle since the skin is so thin, but this photo captured it perfectly.

Breaking the Cuticle’s Grasp – Push Back

Should you push back your proximal fold?

I do, but it’s completely up to you.

When you release the grip, your proximal fold is able to stay nice and tight. As long as you don’t push too hard with your fingernail, the healthy seal under the eponychium stays intact, and your matrix stays healthy.

You don’t ever want to push so hard that your fingernail or tool goes under the proximal fold.

My Experiment

I did an experiment to figure all of this out. I stopped pushing back my nail folds for 3 weeks to see what would happen.

The proximal folds were stretched an additional 3 millimeters! I also started getting those painful, thin hangnails that tear and bleed on my eponychium.

When I released the nail folds from the cuticle, the skin remained stretched out.

Within 24 hours that skin was drying out and I had a strong desire to clip it.


I had finally figured out why people clip their proximal folds!

Geeky…but that was an exciting discovery for me. Since I’ve always pushed back my proximal folds, I’ve never had the desire to clip before.

I started oiling and massaging that skin several times a day. Within a week my proximal folds were back to normal and looking beautifully healthy.

The Solution?

Simply use your fingernail to gently push back the proximal fold to break the death grip about every 4 to 7 days.

If your nails are really short, you can use an orangewood stick. Just be gentle.

If you keep your skin hydrated with a high quality, jojoba wax ester based penetrating nail and cuticle oil, then it will be easy to push back your nail folds.

This can also be done in the shower. Just make sure you are wearing one coat of base coat when showering.

Many of my readers know that my #1 Rule is “Never Shower Naked”.

Proper Cuticle Removal

Since polish and nail enhancements don’t bond to the skin on the nail plate, the cuticle should be properly removed with gentle scraping.

Again, some people are able to scrape the cuticle off with their fingernail in the shower.

Others like to use a cuticle remover.

How Cuticle Removers Work

The best ingredient to dissolve human protein cells is “lye“. You’ll also find it labeled as potassium hydroxide, sodium hydroxide, or caustic potash.

Lye is largely used in the soap making process. All cuticle removers contain lye.

Personally, I love using a cuticle remover. Some people hate it.

Currently, I use the Sally Hansen™ remover that looks like a blue gel. Another favorite of many nail artists is Blue Cross™.

I’ve used Blue Cross™ and I hate it for 3 reasons. It’s too watery, it eats my live skin, and causes those tiny strips of shredded skin below the proximal fold. You can see some of those hangnails in the photo farther up in this article.

Lye Dissolves All Skin

The cuticle is dead skin.

The eponychium is live skin.

Cuticle removers have no preference.

The directions on all cuticle removers tell you to apply it to only the nail plate and do not let it touch your skin.

As many of you know, that is easier said than done.

I have much more control with a cream or gel type of remover. Watery removers wick all around on your fingertip skin.

What’s In Your Toolbox?

Orangewood stick?

Plastic cuticle tool?

Or metal cuticle tool that follows the curve of your nail plate?

Doug Schoon prefers that people use the orangewood stick. I think it’s most likely because the metal tool is widely abused.

If you use too much downward pressure near the proximal fold, you can cause damage to the matrix. This damage is often seen as white spots in the nail plate. These are nail bruises.

Personally, I like the metal, spoon-shaped tool. It’s faster.

As a busy mom and businesswoman, I don’t often get the luxury to do my nail care the slow way. I also use the tool correctly, which I explain in more detail below.

I was recently looking through my nail photographs to find one with those white bruises. I’ve been photographing my naked nails for 3 years and not one has any white spots! I was lucky enough to borrow one from a friend.

Depending on your budget, try different tools to see what you prefer.

The Solution?

For two years I have been looking for a solution to the strong, dissolving power of cuticle removers without damaging my skin. And I finally found it.

Simply cover your skin with a layer of a liquid latex barrier, or watered down white glue (25%/75%) if you have a latex allergy.

Let it dry and then you are free to apply cuticle remover safely.

From Start to Finish

  1. Apply your skin barrier and allow to dry.
  2. Apply the remover following the manufacturers’s directions.
  3. Using a cuticle removal tool–gently, gently, gently–scrape back and stop right at the proximal fold. Glide the tool against the surface of your nail plate. The remover solution will have dissolved the cuticle so downward pressure is unnecessary.
  4. The cuticle will build up on the back of the remover. Wipe that onto a paper towel.
  5. Turn the tool 90 degrees to your your nail plate, and slide the tool along your proximal fold to scoop away the remaining cuticle and remover.
  6. Once you are finished, remove the barrier and rinse your hands with water.

In Conclusion

I hope you’ve found this article helpful. For all of my loyal readers who have been patiently waiting, I’m sorry it took so long to write it.

Just remember, with all of your nail care and nail enhancement product use… if it hurts… stop.

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