From environmental exposure to hand washing, many factors affect our nails and cuticles’ health and appearance.
Over time, this constant weathering results in nails and cuticles that are dry, rigid, and fraying.
Luckily, oils and essential oils are the safest and most straightforward solutions to treat and heal your nails and cuticles at the source.
Keep reading to learn how you can transform and revitalize your nails with these natural oils!
What Are Nails And Cuticles?
Our fingernails are composed of laminated layers of keratin. Keratin is a protein found in other parts of our body, such as our skin and hair. It is essential in protecting and strengthening the nail.
Healthy nails are smooth, uniform in color and consistency, free of spots and discoloration, and without pits or grooves.
Fingernails are composed of several different parts:
- Nail plate (the visible part of the nail)
- Nail bed (the skin beneath the nail plate)
- The nail folds (the skin that folds and supports the nail from three sides)
- The lunula (the whitish half-moon at the base of some nails)
- The cuticle (the tissue that overlaps the plate and rims the bottom of the nail)
- The matrix (the hidden part of the nail underneath the cuticle)
Cuticles, the thin layer of skin on the nail’s bottom edge, protect the nails from bacteria as they grow from the nail root.
The cuticle is delicate and prone to dryness, damage, and infection. That’s why proper care and attention is essential for maintaining healthy nails.
Are Essential Oils Good For Nails And Cuticles?
Essential oils can make a great addition to your nail-care routine as they keep nails healthy and strong. Oils such as lavender strengthen nails when applied daily.
They can also keep nails healthy and strong by restoring moisture to the nail, reducing breakage and thinning. Essential oils can also promote nail growth and help to soften and condition cuticles.
Many essential oils have natural, concentrated antibacterial and antimicrobial properties that can help keep nails and cuticles clean and free of infection.
Consistent application and treatments are how you’ll see the most results when using essential oils for nails and cuticles.
Essential Oils For Nail Growth
Myrrh Essential Oil:
Myrrh essential oil is believed to be one of the best oils to promote nail growth.
In part from its moisturizing benefits, myrrh oil protects fingernails from becoming brittle, thin, peeling, and breakable while strengthening and smoothing nails.
It also hydrates and nourishes cuticles, providing a healthy environment for nails to grow long and strong.
How to Use: To use this oil, dilute it with the carrier oil of your choice and massage it into the nails and cuticles 1-3 times a week to strengthen the nails and support growth.
Lavender Essential Oil:
Lavender, one of the most popular and versatile essential oils, is amazing for moisturizing and strengthening the nails and cuticles to promote nail growth.
It also has excellent antibacterial properties that will keep nails and cuticles healthy.
How to Use: To use this oil, dilute it with the carrier oil of your choice and massage it into the nails and cuticles to promote growth and overall health.
Lavender essential oil can be combined with equal parts myrrh and a few ounces of carrier oils to create a nail strengthening serum.
Frankincense Essential Oil:
Frankincense essential oil is a wonderful essential oil for nail growth. Its antifungal properties ward off nail fungus that inhibits growth.
Frankincense also moisturizes and protects the cuticle—an integral role to promote growth by keeping nails healthy and strong.
How to Use: To use this oil, dilute it with the carrier oil of your choice and massage it into the nails and cuticles to promote growth and prevent infection.
Geranium Essential Oil:
Geranium is a moisturizing essential oil that protects the nail, moistens cuticles, and promotes healthy nail growth.
In support of its conditioning properties, germanium also improves circulation and supports cell growth. These critical actions encourage nail growth.
How to Use: To use this oil, dilute it with the carrier oil of your choice and massage it into the nails and cuticles to promote growth and stimulation.
Essential Oils For Damaged Nails
Lemon Essential Oil:
Lemon essential oil is full of nourishing antioxidants that help strengthen damaged and peeling nails.
In addition to strengthening and smoothing the nail plate, lemon essential oil can stimulate blood flow beneath the nail, nourishing the nail and surrounding skin.
Lemon oil can also make nails look shinier and healthier by naturally brightening stained or yellow nails.
How to Use: To use this oil, dilute four drops into a teaspoon of vitamin E oil or the carrier oil of your choice and massage it into the nails to promote brightness and vitality.
Cypress Essential Oil:
Cypress essential oil is an excellent option for those with damaged nails or looking to boost their nails’ overall health and appearance.
In addition to its antiseptic and antibacterial properties, cypress essential oil also contains a natural component known as α-pinene or alpha-pinene.
Research suggests that using this ingredient, such as in essential oils like cypress, can provide antimicrobial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory effects.
These renewing properties of cypress oil make it an amazing oil for those wanting stronger, healthier, brighter looking nails.
How to Use: To use this oil, dilute it with the carrier oil of your choice and massage it into the nails and cuticles.
Essential Oils To Prevent Nail Fungus
Tea Tree Essential Oil:
Tea tree is one of the most powerful essential oils when it comes to preventing nail fungus.
Its antibacterial, antifungal, and antimicrobial properties protect the nails and cuticles from infection or fungi that damage the nail or stunt growth.
Multiple studies have found tea tree oil to help treat nail fungus. In this 2013 study, tea tree oil effectively reduced the development of the fungus Trichophyton rubrum, a common fungus known to cause athlete’s foot and other nail infections.
How to Use: To use this oil, dilute a few drops with the carrier oil of your choice and massage it to the nails and other areas on the skin in which symptoms may show. Do this daily or twice per day for best results.
Thyme Essential Oil:
Thyme essential oil is antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial, making it ideal for keeping nails and cuticles healthy.
Thymol, a significant component of thyme essential oil, has shown strong antifungal activity in several studies, such as this 2015 study examining the effects of thymol against Candida strains.
Thus, thyme essential oil is a must-try oil for those treating nail fungus or wishing to prevent it.
How to Use: To use this oil, dilute it with the carrier oil of your choice and massage it to the nails and other areas on the skin in which symptoms may show. Do this daily or twice per day for best results.
Blue Tansy Essential Oil:
Blue tansy, a relative of chamomile, is an essential oil known to calm inflammation, soothe dryness, and reduce redness.
It is also antibacterial and antifungal, making it useful for treating fungal infections of the nails.
How to Use: To use this oil, dilute a few drops with the carrier oil of your choice and massage it to the nails and other areas on the skin in which symptoms may show.
Clove Essential Oil:
Clove essential oil may help treat or prevent nail fungus as it is a natural antiseptic with anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing properties.
Having high levels of the antifungal compound eugenol, clove essential oil has also shown promise in treating toenail fungus and athlete’s foot.
How to Use: To use this oil, dilute it with the carrier oil of your choice and massage it to the nails and other areas on the skin in which symptoms may show. Reapply once or twice per day.
Rosemary Essential Oil:
Rosemary is a potent essential oil with antibacterial and antifungal properties, making it a good remedy for treating nail fungus.
It can also promote your nails’ overall health by providing circulation and a boost of antioxidants that keep nails healthy and strong.
How to Use: To use this oil, dilute it with the carrier oil of your choice and massage it to the nails and other areas on the skin in which symptoms may show.
Oregano Essential Oil:
Oregano essential oil is known for its natural antibiotic and antifungal properties.
One component of oregano oil, carvacrol, has proven beneficial in fighting bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus and has even been shown to combat antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.
Oregano oil is also anti-inflammatory and can help soothe the pain and inflammation associated with a nail infection.
Peppermint Essential Oil:
In addition to its stimulating aroma therapeutic properties, peppermint essential oil is naturally antifungal and can be a great oil to add to your nail care routine to prevent nail fungus.
How to Use: To use this oil, dilute it with a neutral carrier oil like grapeseed oil and massage it into the nails and other areas on the skin in which symptoms may show.
Essential Oils For Softening Cuticles
Lavender Essential Oil:
Lavender’s moisturizing and conditioning properties make it an excellent oil for treating and healing dry and irritated cuticles.
How to Use: To make your own cuticle-softening oil, mix a few drops of lavender essential oil with a tablespoon of jojoba oil.
Jojoba oil is a great carrier oil for cuticles as it is easily absorbed into the skin, is known to soften dry cuticles, and provides instant hydration and moisture to the skin and nails.
Myrrh Essential Oil:
Like lavender, myrrh is a versatile oil that can also soften and nourish the cuticles.
How to Use: To create a hydrating nail oil using myrrh essential oil, dilute four drops of myrrh into a tablespoon of the carrier oil of your choice: jojoba, vitamin E, almond oil, and grapeseed oil are great options. Myrrh can also be paired with lemon or lavender essential oils.
The Best Carrier Oils For Nails
Because essential oils are so highly concentrated, they work best for the skin and nails when diluted with a carrier oil. In addition to diluting and supporting the essential oil(s), carrier oils offer their own unique set of benefits.
Vitamin E is a fantastic fat-soluble oil, long used to help strengthen brittle nails and hydrate skin as it supplies all of the necessary benefits you need to grow and maintain healthy nails.
It is a potent antioxidant and healer that can protect your hands and nails against free radical damage while repairing and protecting against physical signs of wear.
In addition to protecting and restoring your nails, vitamin E oil is hydrating and healing for the nail plates, cuticles, and surrounding skin.
Carrot Seed Oil:
Carrot seed oil, a cold-pressed oil derived from wild carrot seeds, makes a great carrier oil for the nails and surrounding skin because it is rich in beta carotene and healing fatty acids that soothe and provide moisturizing benefits.
It also helps kill fungi and bacteria that could cause infection in the nail and surrounding skin, such as Dermatophytes. Dermatophytes are fungi that affect the outermost layer of skin causing infection.
Because these fungi require keratin to grow, an infection can cause damage to hair, skin, and nails, in addition to other problems such as inflammation.
Jojoba oil is one of the best oil carriers to pair with any essential oil.
It contains both essential and non-essential fatty acids that are vital for soothing and healing dry cuticles, improving the strength of the nail, and helping nails grow healthy and strong.
Jojoba oil also has antibacterial and antifungal properties that make it an ideal carrier oil for treating and preventing nail fungus.
Grapeseed oil is an exceptional carrier oil as it is inexpensive, odorless, and provides a plethora of benefits.
One study examining the composition and beneficial effects of grapeseed oil found that it’s rich in fatty acids, vitamins, and antioxidants that offer anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial benefits.
Linoleic acid, the most abundant fatty acid in cold-pressed grapeseed oils, retains moisture, improves skin barrier function, prevents dehydration, and is anti-inflammatory. Grapeseed oil is a fantastic option for those with sensitive or dry skin.
Almond oil is an excellent, nourishing carrier oil suitable for those wanting to restore nail health and promote nail growth.
It is rich in antioxidants, fatty acids, and vitamins that plump and hydrate cuticles while preventing nails from peeling, cracking, drying, and breaking.
This versatile oil is also great for sensitive skin as it is soothing, unscented, and non-irritable.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do I Keep My Nails and Cuticles Healthy?
To optimize your nails and cuticles’ health, it is best to keep them moisturized and nourished. Cuticles and nails get dry, just like skin.
Moisturizing is an essential step in taking care of your nails and cuticles. Likewise, keeping your hands away from drying agents such as soap, hot water, and acetone is beneficial for keeping your skin, nails, and cuticles healthy and hydrated.
In preventing nail damage and possible infection, be sure not to bite your nails or pick and pull at your cuticles.
These habits can damage the nail bed and potentially allow bacteria or fungi to grow and cause infection. When treating hangnails, carefully clip it off rather than ripping and tearing the live tissue around the hangnail.
Should I Cut My Cuticles?
According to dermatologists, you should never cut your cuticles because it could cause damage, irritation, and infection. Cutting your cuticles could also influence the health of your nails, causing ridges, white spots, or white lines.
How Do I Soften Cuticles Naturally?
The best way to naturally soften cuticles is by soaking your hands and feet in warm water for a few minutes, and then immediately apply a moistening oil to the cuticles and gently massage.
This will naturally soften your cuticles while keeping them healthy and hydrated. Ingredients with nourishing vitamins and natural fatty acids such as almond oil or vitamin E oil can also soften and nourish your cuticles.
What is Cuticle Oil?
Cuticle oil is a nutrient-rich blend of fatty oils such as almond and jojoba oil applied to the cuticles to nourish both the cuticle and nails.
This oily lubricant seals in moisture around the cuticle and nail bed allowing for healthy nail growth and nail resilience.
Cuticle oils can also have ingredients such as essential oils that provide additional benefits.
The benefits of using cuticle oil are that it keeps the skin and nails healthy and moisturized, prevents dry nails and breakage, and prevents hangnails.
(Check out the benefits of cuticle oil)
How Do I Apply Cuticle Oil?
To apply, add a single drop of cuticle oil onto each fingernail and gently massage it into the cuticle, nail, and surrounding skin.
Using cuticle oil before bedtime gives it even more time to soak into the skin, leaving nails and cuticles fresh and supple in the morning.
Moisturizing the nails with cuticle oil may also help curb the desire to bite the nails or pick at the cuticles and surrounding skin.
What Oils Can Penetrate Nails?
Those oils with smaller molecules, such as jojoba oil, will typically penetrate deeper into the nail layers to soften and condition it.
Oils with larger molecular makeups, such as sweet almond oil, will stay closer to the surface and condition the upper nail layers.
What Kind of Oil Can I Use on My Cuticles?
Natural oils such as vitamin E, jojoba, almond, carrot seed, and grapeseed are highly impactful oils that nourish and prevent dry, cracked cuticles.
Other natural fatty oils such as olive, sunflower, and coconut oil can also provide the nails and cuticles with conditioning ingredients.
How Can I Heal My Cuticles Fast?
To quickly nourish and take care of your cuticles, soak them in warm water to soften and clean. Then apply cuticle oil and a hydrating lotion. Do this regularly to care for and heal cuticles.
What Are Brittle Nails?
Brittle nails tend to split at the ends, peel at the nail tips, have longitudinal ridging, break, crack, chip easily, and have difficulty growing.
Often, dry and brittle nails are the result of too little moisture. Repetitive or lengthy exposure to water can dry the fingernails, as can excessive use of nail polish remover and the wearing of nail polish.
Brittle nails may also be the result of aging, iron deficiency, or, in other cases, brittle nails may be a sign of deeper undergoing health issues such as thyroid disease.
How Fast Do Nails Grow?
A 2010 study examining the growth rate of fingernails and toenails in healthy, young adults found that the average adult fingernail grows about 3.47 millimeters per month. Toenails grow much slower, at a rate of 1.62 millimeters per month.
While growth rates vary among individuals, in general, it takes an adult six months to grow their fingernails out and 12 months for toenails to grow completely out.
How Do I Keep My Nails Healthy?
In addition to moisturizing and nourishing nails and cuticles with carrier and essential oils, there are other choices you can make every day to keep your nails healthy and strong.
Eating a nutrient-rich diet full of whole foods will supply you (and your nails) with the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients it needs.
Taking a multivitamin or other supplements shown to improve nail health, such as biotin and horsetail, can provide additional support to the nails by providing essential nutrients such as silica.