Why Cuticle Oil Is Essential, According To A Manicurist

Hands up (pun intended) if you're currently looking at severely grown out nails? Whether it’s shellac, SNS or your claws are just a little weak and tired-looking, there’s never been a better time for an at-home manicure.

But there’s one step that most people forget or simply skip over; your cuticles. From the best cuticle oil for nail growth to how often you should be using it, consider this your critical cuticle guide. 

So, What Actually Are Your Cuticles & What Do They Do?

Here’s some trivia for your next quiz night.

“The cuticle is actually one of the stickiest tissues in the entire body,” explains Chelsea Bagan, nail expert and founder of Melbourne’s Trophy Wife nail salon.

“It’s a barrier that prevents infections and keeps nasty bacteria out of the nail matrix, which is the birthplace of the nail plate.”

While she advises avoiding getting too scissor-happy by attempting to cut your cuticles at home (leave the cuticle clipper to the professionals), it is important to take care of your cuticles if you’re after nice, healthy, nail strengthened hands.

That's where a cuticle oil comes in. It's probably not a nail care product you've really prioritised before unless you're a seasoned at-home self-manicurist, but it is one of the most important steps.

Do I *Really* Need A Cuticle Oil Though?

Cuticle oil has a number of great benefits that you probably weren't even aware of:

  • It promotes healthy nail growth by supporting the nail matrix

  • It extends the life of nail polish and gel polish (shellac)

  • It seals in moisture to keep the cuticle area and nail plate soft and flexible

  • It can prevent the nail and polish from becoming brittle and chipping

  • It shrinks and tightens the cuticle to prevent hangnails & flaking around the nail bed

So, Where Does Cuticle Oil Fit Into Your Nail Care Routine?

 Cuticle oil is a key step of nail prep.

Use it after trimming or reshaping your nails and pre-painting, but make sure it’s been fully absorbed otherwise your nail polish won’t apply properly.

You’ll get even more benefit from your cuticle oil by using it regularly on your naked nails. Especially after washing your hands which can dry your cuticles out, too.

“To take the best care of your cuticles, gently push back your softened cuticles (such as after a warm shower) using a cuticle pen or pusher and give the nail surface a gentle buff,” Chelsea says.

Then add a dropper or two and rub in the cuticle oils into the nail and the surrounding skin.

Our Fave Cuticle Treatments:

Upgrade your nail regimen with this spa-worthy cuticle oil, packed with grape seed, sesame, kukui, sunflower and cupuaçu oils of facial skincare quality. In a leak-free tube, this is one to throw in your bag and apply throughout the day. Or a foolproof one to keep by the bed. No excuses! The fast-absorbing gel formula is a triple threat; protecting, replenishing, and strengthening cuticles and nails.

Using all natural ingredients, this nail and cuticle oil harnesses the power of medicinal plant extracts to boost the health of your cuticles and beyond. Perfect for weak and brittle nails, this is all about strengthening. Neem Leaf extract strengthens nail keratin to reduce breakage, apricot kernel oil intensely hydrates, and a combination of chamomile and anthyllis extract softens cuticles which helps prevent issues that inhibit healthy nail growth. Don’t forget your toe cuticles too!

This earned a five star review from customer Bri who’s been using it for over a decade. “My nails are SO shiny and smell delicious after use,” she says. The hero here is lemon oil, which softens your cuticles while strengthening your nails, sidekicked by Vitamin E for healing, sweet almond oil to moisturise and good ol’ beeswax to seal in that newly added moisture. Plus, the tin is adorable.

Other Key Ingredients To Look Out For: 

Different oils are favoured for different results - what that is depends on their molecular size.

“Oils with smaller molecular make up can penetrate deeply and deliver moisture well into the skin and nail, while oils with larger ones condition the higher layers of the skin,” Chelsea says.

 Some of Chelsea's favourites include...

  • Jojoba Oil softens the skin, while its antibacterial and antifungal properties help protect against nail infections.

  • Vitamin E is natural moisturiser and antioxidant which keeps cuticles healthy and hydrated.

  • Avocado Oil is one of the most highly penetrative plant oils, it helps moisturise as well as help kill bacteria.

You can watch Chelsea create 3 different nail art looks below using essie polishes.

Want To Go The Extra Mile For Your Cuticles?

Of course you do.

In an ideal world, we should be using a cuticle oil daily, if not twice a day. Luckily, Chelsea has a tried and tested (well-oiled!) tip to making it stick.

“I find it helpful to have at least two bottles and keep them where I have other routine tasks such as with my skincare for when I’m using it in the morning and at night,” she says.

“I also keep one in my car next to my hand break, so I see when I get in.”

And if you remember just one thing from this article: please, please. No cutting cuticles!

“Mistaking live tissue for the dead cuticle can cause all sorts of damage to the nail plate, including infection,” explains Chelsea.

Instead oil away and enjoy at least five minutes a day of cuticle-hand admiring. You earned it.

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