12 Best Cuticle Oils to Heal Dry Skin and Hangnails, According to Nail Experts

Anything from dry, cold weather to repeated hand-washing can do a number on the skin on your hands, particularly your cuticles. In fact, they’re even more prone to wear-and-tear since they surround the nails, which are constantly growing. While using hand cream to hydrate dry skin may be second nature, one important step that people tend to skip is cuticle oil. A step that, according to Paintbox Nail Studios Chief Educator Evelyn Lim, is key to having healthy nails.

“Using cuticle oil is extremely important when it comes to nail health,” says Lim. “Some of cuticle oil’s benefits include building strong and flexible nails, promoting nail growth, and helping with the longevity of a manicure.” Cuticle oil is absorbed into matrix of the nail and surrounding skin; when it penetrates these areas, all of the nutrients get distributed and the moisture is locked into the nail plate. Lim prefers an oil over a cream, as “it will penetrate deeper.” Cream formulations are meant more for the superficial skin surrounding the nails, she explains.

While there are many great ingredients in cuticle oils, jojoba oil and vitamin E are the top two to look for to help nourish skin, Lim says. For the best application, she suggests placing a small amount of oil at the base of the nail and along the sides, then gently rubbing it in. Follow by smoothing on a hand cream for a complete hand and nail treatment. Lim recommends applying it twice a day, but there is not such thing as “too much” when it comes to cuticle oil: More really is better.

Here, the best cuticle oils recommended by nail and beauty experts and shoppers to soften and heal dry skin, plus keep nails looking healthy and polished.

This cult classic CND cuticle oil has had a place on GH’s Beauty Director April Franzino’s desk on and off for more than a decade. “It’s made with just a few ingredients: Sweet almond oil, jojoba, and rice bran oils and vitamin E that soften my ragged cuticles,” she says. “I especially love this portable pen version that brushes on with less mess.”

The best-selling cuticle oil on Amazon, this nourishing product stands out for its amazing light and sweet fragrance. Plus, the blend of vitamins and oils moisturizes skin. “I absolutely love the way this oil smells—it’s decadent without being overpowering. Plus, it heals my dry cuticles quickly,” a reviewer said.

Unlike nail treatments that are no more than moisturizer, this Good Housekeeping Beauty Award-winning pen with skincare ingredients like fatty acids and hyaluronic acid is clinically proven to improve nail roughness as well as increase thickness and density. 97% of users said their nails were harder in 28 days, according to Lab data analysis. “It’s absorbed almost instantly, and my peeling, chipping nails immediately looked and felt smoother,” reports Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab Chemist Danusia Wnek. “After about three weeks, they felt stronger.

One of Lim’s favorites, Essie’s beloved cuticle oil conditions cuticles quickly. Cotton seed and soybean oil hydrate dry skin and nails with a subtle apricot scent. “I apply this oil on and around my nails and it absorbs pretty much instantly,” a reviewer said. “My cuticles look and feel better fast.”