No matter the season, it feels like my hands are always chapped. Despite slathering them in lotions, butters, and balms, if the air starts to dry out even a little, my hands take a beating—especially my nails. That's why I always have a list of the best essential oils for nails at the ready and a good cuticle oil blend on my bedside table.
This DIY cuticle oil blend works wonders on dry skin of all types, but it’s really effective when it comes to soothing cracked, peeling cuticles and other sensitive spots. Store it in a refillable cuticle oil pen or glass roller bottle so you can easily stash it in your purse, coffee table, or kitchen cabinet, and apply on the go.
Or if you'd like to whip up your own concoction, keep reading for a list of the best essential oils for nails and cuticles.
How To Use Oils On Your Nails and Cuticles
Both carrier and essential oils are great for strengthening nails and healing cracked cuticles. Carrier oils like grape seed and carrot seed are hydrating, while vitamin E oil is strengthening and jojoba is nourishing. As for essential oils, things like tea tree and cypress are antibacterial while lavender and chamomile is soothing.
Remember, most essential oils should not be applied directly to the skin. They are best when diluted into a carrier oil, making up a small proportion of the total application.
Best Carrier Oils for Nails
Use carrier oils whenever you need to moisturize parched skin or as a base for an essential oil blend.
Vitamin E oil has long been used to help strengthen brittle nails and hydrate chapped skin. It has been shown to improve the tissues involved in blood circulation with its anti-inflammatory effects [source], which could be important also for nail growth and healing.
I once heard that jojoba oil is, when compared to other carrier oils, the most similar to our skin's natural sebum. Whether or not that's true, jojoba oil does contain a plethora of long-chain alcohols and fatty acids that have been shown to nourish skin. In addition, jojoba oil has anti-inflammatory properties that may help improve a variety of skin conditions, such as infections, premature aging and wound healing [source].
Carrot Seed Oil
Carrot seed oil is one of my favorite oils, not just for nails but for skin, in general. It’s rich in beta carotene and fatty acids [source], vitamins A and E, and pro-vitamin A. It’s great at restoring moisture that dry, cracked skin so desperately needs.
Grapeseed is another one of my favorite oils for nails. It’s rich in vitamins C, D, and E, and it contains a plethora of fatty acids and polyphenols [source], which may help reduce the appearance of aging. Plus, it’s inexpensive and odorless, making it the perfect carrier oil.
So now, let’s go over the particular essential oils that just happen to be our favorites for nails and cuticles.
Best Essential Oils for Nails and Cuticles
For healthy fingernails and cuticles, you'll want to add 1-2 drops of essential oil, like lavender, lemon, or frankincense, to a nourishing carrier oil. Make sure to select the essential oils that specifically target your nail's needs.
Lemon oil has antioxidant properties [source] that are beneficial for supporting skin and nail health. Just note that lemon oil may sting, especially if you have cracked cuticles, so make sure to dilute it well and skip it entirely if you notice any pain when applying it.
Thanks to its antibacterial and healing properties, lavender oil makes for one of the best essential oils for nails and cuticles. In one study done on rats, applying lavender essential oil to wounds encouraged wound healing by accelerating tissue formation and boosting collagen production [source].
Cypress oil helps to prevent some bacterial infections [source] and is believed to help soothe inflammation. By keeping bacteria at bay, applying it directly to cracked cuticles will likely help them heal more quickly.
Frankincense has a long of history of topical use thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties [source]. When shopping for frankincense oil, make sure to get the highest quality you can afford in order to reap the most skin-healing benefits.
Thanks to its regenerative and antioxidant properties [source], Helichrysum has a number of beneficial uses, including the treatment of burns, cuts, acne, wounds and bruises. Not only does it boast anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties [source], but it’s also considered beneficial for scars.
Tea Tree Oil
Best Essential Oils for Toenails
Because your toes are often hidden away inside dark, sweaty shoes, your toenails need to be treated a little differently. These antibacterial and antifungal oils may help prevent some of the toenail issues often experienced during colder months.
Long used as natural remedy for athlete's foot, ringworm, bacterial infections and various other skin conditions [source], geranium essential oil is a potent antimicrobial that's safe to apply directly to skin.
Cinnamon is a well known antimicrobial that works by disrupting bacterial cell's envelope and altering the cell's structure [source]. Applying cinnamon oil to nails can help slow the spread of the microbes that often lead to peeling and flaking.
The Best DIY Cuticle Oil Blend
A cuticle oil is simply a mixture of oils specifically chosen to hydrate and heal the skin around the nails as well as the nail bed itself.
A good cuticle oil blend should contain a healthy mix of different essential oils so you can reap all the synergistic benefits they have to offer. Our recipe doesn't use all of the essential oils for nails I mentioned above because you don't need that many oils in order to see results. And you don’t have to use all of the same oils I do (two or three should work just fine), but a well-rounded mix helps to cover all your bases and heal your cuticles as quickly as possible.
To make your own cuticle oil, you'll need:
—Carrot seed oil
—Myrrh essential oil
—Lemon essential oil
—Cypress essential oil
Combine ¼ cup grapeseed oil with a few drops of each of the essential oils. Use a funnel to transfer the oil blend to a cuticle oil pen or essential oil roller bottle.
If you'd prefer a simple cuticle oil substitute, just apply a nourishing carrier oil once or twice day.
How to Use Cuticle Oil
While it's not rocket science, there are a few steps you can take to help your nails and cuticles heal more quickly.
Step 1: Wash and dry your hands
Not only do you not want to be massaging dirt and grime into your cuticles (ouch!) but having slightly moist skin helps the oil absorb better.
Step 2: Apply a thin layer of cuticle oil
Using a nail pen or roller bottle, apply a light layer of oil all over the fingernail and cuticle. You don't need much!
Step 3: Massage cuticles
Gently massage the oil into both the nails and the surrounding skin for 2-3 minutes.
Step 4: Repeat often
Repeat every time (yes, every time!) you wash your hands to prevent cuticles from drying out in the future, or anytime your cuticles look dry. If your nails are especially brittle, apply cuticle oil before bed and let it sink in overnight. Re-apply in the morning when you wake up.
There's really no way to overdo it, so go ahead and keep applying, baby! You'll have gorgeous nails and pain-free cuticles in no time.
Oils for Nails FAQ
How long does homemade cuticle oil last?
Your essential oil blend should last indefinitely, if stored away from heat and direct sunlight, preferably in an amber bottle.
How many drops of essential oil should I use in a custom cuticle oil blend?
It really varies from oil to oil. For oils that may burn or irritate the skin, like cinnamon and clove, you should only be adding 2-3 drops per ¼ cup carrier oil. For other essential oils, you can add between 5 and 10 drops per ¼ cup carrier oil.
Can I apply cuticle oil all over my nails?
Yes, the phytonutrients that nourish your cuticles will also help strengthen and fortify your fingernails as well. While you're at it, go ahead rub any excess oil all over your hands to soften the skin and prevent flaking.
Can I use cuticle oil on painted nails?
To make your manicure last as long as possible, avoid applying cuticle oil to painted nails. Instead, use a cuticle pen to apply a light coating of oil directly to the cuticles while avoiding the nails themselves.
More Nail Posts You Might Love
Some may say that we're obsessed with nail around here (we wouldn't disagree). Here are some of our best tips and tricks for getting gorgeous nails:
—Nail Experts Share 10 Secrets to Healthy, Natural Nails
—10 DIY Ways To Whiten Your Nails
—7 Ways to Remove Nail Polish When You Don't Have Remover
—A 5 Step No-Polish Manicure for Natural Nails
—Damaged Nails: What They Mean and How to Fix Them
The Best Cuticle Oil Blend
- Small bowl
- 6 Refillable brush pen or 2-3 glass roller bottles
- Combine ingredients in a small bowl and stir to mix through.
- Using a small funnel, transfer the mixture to a brush pen or roller bottle. If you like, add some dried lavender or heather flowers to the oil and give it a gentle shake.
- Apply to cuticles 2 or 3 times a day to strengthen nails and soothe cuticles. Store in a cool, dry place indefinitely.
This post was medically reviewed by Dr. Holly Smith, a board certified physician in nephrology and internal medicine with a background in nutrition. Learn more about Hello Glow's medical reviewers here. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.147