To help us provide you with free impartial advice, we may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site. Learn more

Best cuticle oils and creams 2024: Banish dryness and soreness for good

Repair and nourish the delicate skin around your nails with our pick of the best cuticle oils and creams

A dedicated cuticle moisturiser might appear to fall into the “do I really need this?” category of personal care. However, investing in the best cuticle oils and creams may well be beneficial, particularly for those who do manual labour, have dry skin (in the winter months, especially) or enjoy gel or acrylic nail treatments.

Cuticles – the thin, delicate layer of skin that protects your nails from damage – are a much overlooked part of the body. Yet left neglected, they can look and feel really sore. If they’re too dry and damaged, they can become infected, too.

Luckily, it isn’t difficult to take care of your cuticles; but you need to be gentle with them. Steer clear of any aggressive cutting or – heaven forbid – biting, and you must keep them well moisturised. The most effective cuticle treatments are intensely nourishing, while also being gentle on the skin. And the benefits of looking after your cuticles? Hydrated and well-cared-for cuticles are far less likely to split, and much more likely to nurture strong, healthy nails.

How to choose the best cuticle oil or cream for you

Which is best – oil or cream?

Whether you choose a cuticle oil or cream comes down to personal choice. With an oil, you’ll get the satisfactory sensation of it sinking in, but it’s lighter. On the other hand, creams feel richer, packed with ultra-hydrating ingredients that deliver moisture over a longer period.

“I’d always recommend a product that contains a blend of natural vegetable oils, including avocado, coconut and almond oil”, says nail guru and brand founder Leighton Denny. “These ingredients are known for their nourishing and moisturising properties.

“Formulas that contain vitamin E are also great for cuticles as this strengthens the nail bed”, he adds.

How often should cuticles be moisturised?

As often as you like – there’s no limit. But really, you should moisturise your cuticles at least once a day to see long-term results. Try keeping cuticle oil on your desk or by your bedside as a reminder.

Can I just use hand cream?

Cuticle oils and hand creams serve different purposes in nail care. “Cuticle oils are specifically formulated to nourish and hydrate the delicate skin and tissue around the nails – formulas tend to be lightweight and fast-absorbing, allowing the oil or cream to penetrate deeply”, says Denny.

“A hand cream, however, is designed for broader hand care, focusing on the skin’s overall moisture and softness. And while a hand cream will offer some hydration to cuticles, it may not provide the concentrated and targeted nourishment a cuticle-specific product delivers.”

Do I need to do anything else to keep my nails healthy?

Be gentle when you trim or push back your cuticles. While pushing back and cutting away more skin will make a nail look neater and longer, being too aggressive with the cuticle can be extremely painful and lead to a bruised and torn cuticle. So go easy!

How much should I spend?

Like most products, cuticle creams and oils are available at various price points, but many on the market cost around £10-£20. The most expensive product in our roundup is upwards of £60, but it also serves as a wonder product for the face and lips, making it worth spending the extra.

How we test cuticle oil

Over a few weeks, we put some of the best and most popular cuticle oils and creams through their paces, from oils and balms to serums and creams. Not only did we look at how well they hydrated our cuticles – both upon application and with continued use – but we also rated how easy they were to apply, how the product felt on the skin and how long it took to absorb. We also covered a wide range of price points, with products starting at just £7.

READ NEXT: Best nail glue

The best cuticle oils and creams you can buy in 2024

1. L’Occitane Shea Nail & Cuticle Nourishing Oil: Best cuticle oil for absorption

Price when reviewed: £15 (7.5ml) | Check price at Cult Beautybest cuticle oil LOCCITANE Shea Nail _ Cuticle Nourishing Oil (1)

This sumptuous dry oil is a real treat for out-of-shape cuticles and neglected nails. Enriched with omega 6-rich shea oil, this lightly scented product helps skin feel smoother the moment the oil soaks into the skin, which doesn’t take very long at all. Of course, cracked cuticles will take longer to heal, but if used a couple of times a day for a few days, any dryness will soften, and nails will look less brittle.

We also loved this product for its easy application; the small tube is about the same size as a lip balm (so perfect for pockets and handbags) and has a brush on the end. Simply squeeze the tube to release the perfect amount of oil and sweep over the nail bed.

Key features – Vegan-friendly: Yes; Key ingredients: Shea butter, sunflower oil

2. Leighton Denny Renovate Cuticle Oil: Best cuticle oil for dehydrated cuticles

Price when reviewed: £14 (12ml) | Check price at Amazon

Packaged exactly as you would find nail polish, there will be little doubt over what the contents of this little bottle are for. Perfect for keeping on your desk, this cuticle oil’s formulation consists of 88% plant-based ingredients, including almond oil. Application is via a small brush – 20 seconds is all it took to paint and have it rubbed into the cuticles of both hands – and thankfully, it leaves no residue.

The fragrance is sweet almond, a scent that’s light and fresh. Cuticles are instantly soothed – and following around a week of using Renovate twice a day, they looked almost completely healed and healthy.

Key features – Vegan-friendly: Yes; Key ingredients: Almond oil, avocado oil, rice bran oil

3. Margaret Dabbs Nourishing Nail & Cuticle Serum Pen: Best for easy application

Price when reviewed: £12 (15ml) | Check price at Sephora

As the name implies, this Nourishing Nail & Cuticle Serum from Margaret Dabbs London arrives as a pen of sorts, allowing you to easily “draw” just the right amount of serum onto your cuticles. Once on, simply rub it in; it absorbs quickly and feels instantly hydrating.

After a week of twice-daily use, cuticles will look smoother and less red, and any flaky skin or cuts will have healed. All of which provides the perfect setting for strong, healthy nails to flourish.

Key features – Vegan-friendly: Not stated; Key ingredients: Tea tree oil

4. Peacći Cuticle Oil: Best strengthening cuticle oil

Price when reviewed: £10 (10ml) | Check price at Peacćibest cuticle oil Peacći Cuticle Oil

The delicious but non-greasy texture of this nutrient-rich oil is formulated with peach and sweet almond oils and is packed with proteins, mineral salts and vitamins A, B, D and E to soften and hydrate the skin around your nails. The result? Kiss dry, cracked and peeling cuticles goodbye – yep, even in winter.

The brush-on applicator allowed us to control how much of the product we were applying to our fingertips and after a couple of weeks of use, cuticles looked healthier and felt softer and stronger than they had ever been. We loved the light peachy scent, too. It makes a great luxurious finishing touch to your manicure.

Key features – Vegan-friendly: Yes; Key ingredients: Peach kernel oil, almond oil

Check price at Peacći

5. OPI ProSpa Nail & Cuticle Oil: Best cuticle oil for nail growth

Price when reviewed: £20 (15ml) | Check price at Amazonbest cuticle oil OPI ProSpa

OPI has long been one of the most reliable names in nail care, and a little of this ultra-nourishing, fast-absorbing oil goes a long way. Applied with a brush – much like nail polish – this feels luxurious and super-softening when rubbed into the cuticles using your fingertips. It also has a delicious almond-like scent that isn’t too overbearing.

The formula is packed full of ingredients that will deliver essential moisture to dry, chapped cuticles, including rich grapeseed and sunflower oils and free-radical-fighting white tea extract.

Used daily, you’ll ensure your cuticles are nourished and less prone to splitting.

Key features – Vegan-friendly: Not stated; Key ingredients: Cupuaçu butter, avocado oil, grapeseed oil, sunflower oil, white tea

6. Pietro Simone Fierce Skin Alert Unguent: Best multipurpose cuticle cream

Price when reviewed: £65 (50g) | Check price at Oxygen Boutique

While you may wince at the price tag, Fierce Skin Alert Unguent is a hero product that can soothe and nourish dry skin all over the body. You can use it on your face overnight and wake to a gorgeous, glowing complexion – and it’s brilliant for your cuticles, thanks to a super-rich formula comprising anti-inflammatory natural oils and balms.

The pot is the size of a slightly oversized lip balm, and it comes with a mini spatula for application; however, your fingertip will do just fine. And while you might baulk at the outlay, a little goes a long way. This little pot will last you some time.

Following three days of application on very dry, angry cuticles, we noticed a change for the better. Our skin was less red and swollen, and the soreness had reduced. The fragrance is faintly floral, which makes this an excellent choice for anyone who can’t bear strong smells.

Key features – Vegan-friendly: Not stated; Key ingredients: Castor oil, olive oil, karité, mideka ximenia oil, sage, rosemary, chamomile extract

7. Badger Balm Mini Cuticle Care Balm: Best budget cuticle balm

Price when reviewed: £8.59 (21g) | Check price at Amazon

Badger’s cuticle balm is packaged in a super-cute little tin, perfect for handbags and carry-on luggage, with a lovely illustration on the lid. However, what’s even more impressive is what’s on the inside. This certified organic shea butter balm soothes and smooths cuticles while also including a whole host of other nourishing natural ingredients – including rosemary for improved circulation at the nail bed – to promote nail growth.

It isn’t a one-off treatment; you can use the balm at any time, even on the go, but you should use it daily for the best results. Do so, and you’ll soon notice that split, fraying cuticles will start to heal. The balm smells great, too, with a fresh and natural scent that isn’t overpowering.

Key features – Vegan-friendly: No; Key ingredients: Shea butter, castor oil, olive oil, rosemary, beeswax, sea buckthorn berry

Read more

Best Buys