Why cuticle oil is the essential nailcare step you should never skip, according to pros

We've quizzed the nail pros about why you should use cuticle oil, for a healthy and polished manicure look...

A close up of someone applying cuticle oil to their nails, which feature a glossy, natural-looking manicure/ in a pink watercolour paint-style template
(Image credit: Getty Images/honey_and_milk)

Cuticle oil is touted as a manicure essential, akin to a strengthening base coat or nourishing hand cream but do you really need to use it? We've asked the pros to outline the many benefits of cuticle oil and why it shouldn't be overlooked...

Regardless of whether you opt for BIAB nails or classic gels, you'll have no doubt noticed your nail artist dotting a few gleaming drops of oil onto your fingers, which not only manages to make your freshly painted talons look luxe and fresh but also nourishes the skin in and around the nailbed - especially if you've opted to have the cuticle removed. As your nail tech will tell you though, it's not just for in-salon use, in fact, a hydrating cuticle oil should actually be as much of a regular in your beauty routine as your best moisturisers and best hand creams.

So, if you're planning on a new fresh mani - perhaps one of the 2024 nail trends - or want to maintain healthier nails at home, here's why a cuticle oil deserves a spot in your nailcare kit...

Why you should always use cuticle oil, per the nail pros

For those who may not know, cuticle oil as the name suggests, is an oil that is applied to the area of skin that grows on and around the base of your nails (in other words, the cuticle). As Kirsten White, founder of London Grace explains: "Cuticle oil primarily serves as a nourishing and moisturising treatment for the skin around the nails. "

So, why should you use cuticle oil? "Since this skin is delicate and thin, it's essential to keep the area hydrated to prevent flaking and dryness," says White, which is exactly what cuticle oil is designed to do - but that's not the only benefit it offers.

Our go-to cuticle oil picks

For hydrated and healthy nails, these are our picks of the cuticle oils to add to your nailcare kit...

What does cuticle oil do?

Cuticle oil is quite the nail saviour as, "not only does it provide instant hydration to nail," comments White, "cuticle oil also stimulates blood circulation when massaged in, aiding in nail repair and growth. It can be applied to natural skin and nails, or on top of nail polish to protect and maintain your manicure" - very much making it a staple in your arsenal.

There's also the added aesthetic bonus that cuticle oil offers post-manicure, as it can make your nails and the skin around them appear radiant and ultra-glossy and who doesn't want that?

Where and when do you apply cuticle oil?

So, now that we're aware of its hydrating prowess, where and when do you apply cuticle oil?

As for the where, simply add a drop to the base of each nail and then massage it into the surrounding skin, focusing especially on where the nail and skin meet.

And for those wondering if this cuticle step should come before or after your mani, White advises that "it's best to apply cuticle oil at the end of your manicure and pedicure when your nail polish is touch dry. This gives a moisturised finish to your nails and also forms a barrier to protect the nail polish and extend the wear."

How often should you use cuticle oil?

"Cuticle oil should be applied daily, especially in the drier winter and summer seasons when our skin needs extra care," says White, before sharing the ultimate tip for staying consistent with your application: "My top tip is to keep your cuticle oil on your bedside table. Apply it before bed to allow it to absorb and work its magic overnight while you sleep!"

We'd also like to add that while the appearance of the bottle shouldn't hold sway when selecting a nourishing formula (don't judge a book by its cover and whatnot), a pick like OPI's Pro Spa or Manucurist's Huile Verte cuticle oil will look so chic on your bedside table - and may tempt you to keep it there as a permanent fixture and thus, encourage you to use it more often.

What treatments should you use cuticle oil with?

If you're wondering whether a cuticle is compatible with your chosen treatment - be it BIAB or shellac nails - White says: "As a universally beneficial product, cuticle oil can be used alongside any nail treatment, or simply applied to the natural nails."

White then goes on to say: "It is especially helpful for strengthening weak, dry nails, which are common after removing hard gel or extensions," - ensuring you have a cuticle oil on-hand is definitely something we'd recommend if you're wondering what to know being getting BIAB (and any similar treatments).

Additionally, White adds: "cuticle oil is highly advantageous for feet, as the toes endure extra pressure and the skin can toughen around the nails. Therefore, it is essential for sandal season and to prolong the results of your pedicure."

Naomi Jamieson
Digital Beauty Writer

Naomi is a Digital Beauty Writer from woman&home, where she covers everything from skincare to fragrance but specialises, particularly, in makeup and nail trends. Through her work, Naomi gets to share her trend expertise and share her own shopping recommendations and product reviews. Previously, she worked as a Lifestyle News Writer for My Imperfect Life magazine, where she used her savvy for TikTok to bring readers the latest beauty buzzwords, fashion movements and must-have products. 

Before that, Naomi split her time between both GoodTo and My Imperfect Life, whilst training for her Gold Standard diploma in Journalism with the NCTJ, for which she earned a Distinction. Interestingly though, Naomi actually has a background in design, having studied illustration at Plymouth University but leapt into the media world in 2020, after always having a passion for writing. Now, when she isn’t reporting on the best perfumes and latest beauty releases, you can find her drinking copious cups of coffee, drawing and probably online shopping...