At WiseGEEK, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.

Learn more...

How Do I Choose the Best Cuticle Oil?

Kristeen Moore
Kristeen Moore

Cuticle oil is a type of product that is used to moisturize the cuticles, as well as the surrounding nail and skin areas. Different types of cuticle oils are available on the market, but certain types work more effectively than others. Certain ingredients in the product can also make the oil absorb quicker, while others are added for optimal moisturizing effects. Keep in mind that an oil with multiple ingredients does not necessarily make it better than a cuticle oil with a simpler composition. This product comes in either a brush or pen style; the type you choose depends on your overall preference.

Products for the cuticles are available in a range of different ingredients. One of the primary ingredients is derived from essential oils, including those from lavender, apricot, and safflower. In addition, some products contain one essential oil, while others might offer a combination of them. Some cuticle oils come with added vitamins, such as vitamin E, for optimum moisture and protection. Although vitamin E is known for its moisturizing and antioxidant effects, cuticle oil made from this ingredient might not necessarily be more effective than a version with fewer ingredients.

Safflower oil can be used on cuticles.
Safflower oil can be used on cuticles.

There is a misconception that thicker oil is more moisturizing, but it is best to choose thin cuticle oil, because it absorbs the fastest. Unfortunately, you may not be able to tell the difference between a few different products at a beauty store. If possible, ask a clerk if there are samples so that you can test the thickness of the oil. Also look for citric acids in the product label, because these tend to help oils absorb more quickly.

Cuticle oil can be added to warm water to moisturize and soothe the skin around the fingernails.
Cuticle oil can be added to warm water to moisturize and soothe the skin around the fingernails.

Cuticle oil also comes with different types of applicators. Brushes are the most traditional type, and you apply the oil in the same way that you use nail polish. Cuticle oils are also available in pens, which make the application process more even. The disadvantage to pens is that you may not get as much product for your money as you would with a brush version.

Many cuticle products are made from essential oils.
Many cuticle products are made from essential oils.

The primary function of cuticle oil is to prevent the nail from separating from a dry and cracked cuticle. Although such products can be used as a preventive measure, using the oil too often can cause further drying after you stop applying it regularly. It is best to use cuticle oils only when necessary so that your nails do not become too accustomed to them.

Discussion Comments


@Oceana – Applying it once a week is a good practice. I use a brush-on cuticle oil, and I apply it just like I would a base coat. I let it soak in and dry before I put on any colored nail polish.

I prefer to use an oil that is of medium thickness. I don't want it too thin, because it would run all over the place, but I don't want it too thick, because it might not dry for hours.

Try using a brush-on cuticle oil that contains citric acid. This should be fine to use once a week, because you will always remember to put it on underneath your polish.


I do have moderately dry skin and nails, but I have never used cuticle oil before. After reading this, I am convinced that it might help me.

Lotion works all right, but once I wash my hands, the effects are gone. I know that it cannot absorb fully into my nails, so I think that cuticle oil would be the ideal product to try.

However, I don't want to go overboard with it. I know that I would not be able to remember to apply it every single day, so this would not be a good way to start. I don't want to get my cuticles hooked and then make them suffer withdrawals.

How often should I apply it? I generally trim my nails and paint them once a week. Would this be a good time to use the cuticle oil?


@wavy58 – I think that is a sign of a good cuticle oil. If you have to use much of it at all, you aren't getting your money's worth.

I apply one big drop to my thumb nail, and then I use the excess for the one on my index finger. On average, I only have to use about three drops per hand this way.

My cuticle oil contains vitamin E, and it seems to work great. Since I have been using it, I have seen fewer hangnails and less breakage. I intend to stick with it, because I see no need to experiment with others.


I only discovered cuticle oil a few years ago, when a saleslady at a booth in the middle of the mall talked me into buying some. She was selling sets that contained a nail buffer, cuticle oil, and a hand lotion, and she showed me how well the cuticle oil would work.

This particular type of oil was somewhat thin, but it would sit on top of my nail in droplet form until I moved it around. The saleslady worked it into my cuticles with her finger after buffing the surface first, and it really did make a dramatic difference in the appearance of my nail.

So, that is the only type of cuticle oil I have ever used, but I am happy with it. I have had that dropper bottle for about five years now, and it isn't even half-empty, because a little goes a long way.


@bagley79 - I have made my own cuticle oil for a long time. This works great at keeping my nails and cuticles conditioned and soft. As long as I am consistent with this, especially in the winter, I don't get dry, cracked cuticles anymore.

I mix together equal parts of jojoba oil, almond oil and rice bran oil. I pour these into a dark, dropper bottle and then add the essential oils of my choice.

You can choose whatever scent you like. I have used lavender, grapefruit and jasmine as individual scents. Sometimes I get creative and combine different scents.

I will also add a few drops of Vitamin E from a capsule. Then I just use the dropper to apply to my nails and make sure it is thoroughly rubbed in. You should see and feel a difference after the first application.

If your cuticles are really bad, I would apply this twice a day until they get soft. Then, you should be able to get by with at least 4-5 times a week.

After a shower is a good time to apply cuticle oil, since your nails are soft and the oils easily absorb into your cuticles.


I didn't get very good results when I used a cuticle oil for my nails and cuticles. This might have been because I didn't do a very good job of using it every day.

The cuticle oil I bought was a pen, and it was easy to apply, but didn't seem to last very long. I really don't want to buy another bottle if it isn't going to work very well.

I really need to do something though. My cuticles are really dry, and a lot of times they catch on something and this only makes them worse.

I like to make some of my own soaps and lotions and wonder if it would work better if I made my own cuticle nail products too. I have some almond oil and essential oils around because I use these all the time in my other beauty products.

Has anybody ever made their own cuticle oil?


@julies - I have the best results when I consistently apply my cuticle oil. If I don't get it done every day, I at least make sure I apply it several times a week.

Once you get used to your cuticles feeling soft and not so brittle, it will drive you crazy if they aren't.

I have had excellent results using Opi cuticle oil and use a brush to apply. If I have the time, I will let it soak in for a couple minutes before I rub the oil into my cuticles.

Sometimes I think the polish I put on my nails can be drying, so I always make sure I apply to this to my whole nail and cuticle after I remove the nail polish.

Another great tip is this also works if you have rough, dry elbows and heels. This worked better than any lotion or cream I ever used on my elbows and heels.


I have the most problems with dry cuticles in the winter. It seemed like no matter what kind of lotion or cream I would use on my nails, my cuticles would be cracked and dry.

With my work, I have to wash my hands many times throughout the day, so it is very easy for my hands and cuticles to get dry.

I finally tried a product that was specific and bought a nail and cuticle oil. I noticed a difference within a few days and my cuticles are much smoother and softer.

Is this something I am going to have to keep applying every day, or will I be able to stop after a few weeks of applications?

Post your comments
Forgot password?
    • Safflower oil can be used on cuticles.
      By: chungking
      Safflower oil can be used on cuticles.
    • Cuticle oil can be added to warm water to moisturize and soothe the skin around the fingernails.
      Cuticle oil can be added to warm water to moisturize and soothe the skin around the fingernails.
    • Many cuticle products are made from essential oils.
      By: Lucie Říhová
      Many cuticle products are made from essential oils.