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Okay, so admittedly a cuticle cream probably isn’t at the top of your list of beauty needs. But it really does a deserve a seat the table. The humble product can go a long way in keeping your nails strong, healthy, and looking good. (As a quickie reminder, the cuticle is the piece of skin at the base of your nail bed that prevents bacteria and grime from getting in and causing infection.)
You could definitely use cuticle oil to keep your cuticles in tip-top shape, but think of those as more of a fast fix and a cuticle cream as a long term solution. Packed with ultra-hydrating ingredients such as butters and oils, they’re usually even thicker and richer than hand cream, delivering a concentrated hit of hydration. Our favorite way to use one? Slather it on nightly before you hit the sack, just as you would a lip balm or hand cream, to keep your cuticles moisturized and your nails looking that much better.
Below, check out the best cuticle oils and creams on the market right now.
Best Overall: Deborah Lippmann The Cure Ultra Nourishing Cuticle Repair Cream
This formula is packed with nourishing and reparative ingredients, making it well worth the price. We’re talking shea butter and sodium hyaluronate for hydration purposes, but also a ton of protective antioxidants—vitamins A, C, and E, raspberry stem cell extract, and red algae. Oh, and it can penetrate your nails even if you have polish on.
If your cuticles are in really rough shape, apply a cuticle oil then layer this on top for a super intense overnight treatment.
Best Budget: Yes To Coconut Moisturizing Hand & Cuticle Cream
Two top-notch moisturizing ingredients—coconut oil and shea butter—come together in this intensely hydrating cream. It’s affordable, to begin with, but also pulls double duty as both a hand and cuticle treatment, giving you even more bang for your buck. The yummy scent is just an added bonus.
Best Drugstore: Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream
The addicting citrus scent is reason enough to make you want to keep slathering this on, improvements in your nails aside. But it does, in fact, help get your nails into tip-top shape, thanks to almond oil, cocoa seed butter, and beeswax (which locks in all the hydration). As an added benefit, it also boasts vitamin E and sunflower oil to help boost brittle and peeling nails. Plus, it’s 100% natural, with no parabens or petrolatum.
Best Natural: Beekman 1802 Pure Goat Milk Cuticle Cream
You can definitely feel good about this squeaky clean, chemical-free ingredient list where the star of the show is, you guessed it, goat milk. Not only is it hydrating, but it’s also packed with different good-for-your-skin vitamins, including reparative vitamin A. Goat milk is also rich in alpha-hydroxy acids for a little bit of gentle exfoliation, never a bad thing for your cuticles. Those who are sensitive to scents will appreciate that this has no fragrance.
Best Ointment: Lanolips The Original 101 Ointment Superbalm
There are, wait for it, 101 different ways to use this all-purpose ointment. It contains just two ingredients, lanolin and lanolin oil, but works wonders pretty much all over your body. (Just FYI, since lanolin is derived from sheep, vegans may want to take a pass on this one.) Dry cuticles are no exception, and we also appreciate that because it’s an ointment, it also imparts a healthy-looking sheen onto nails.
Best Balm: butter LONDON QuickFix Moisturizing Cuticle Balm
Avocado oil is an edible oil pressed from the fruit of the avocado. For the skin, it contains vitamin E to help nourish and soothe, as well as oleic acid to promote collagen production.
First, this delivers moisture to dry cuticles, thanks to coconut and avocado oils. But then it helps maintain those moisture levels, using phospholipids. Read: Cuticles stay looking and feeling hydrated, longer. Bonus points for the easy-to-use massaging tip, that makes application both easy and mess-free.
Best for Weak Nails: Dermelect Rejuvenail Fortifying Nail & Cuticle Treatment
Dry cuticles and dry, breaking nails often go hand-in-hand (no pun intended). Enter the beauty of this option; with both hydrating and strengthening ingredients such as keratin and peptides, it quenches cuticles and reinforces weak nails in one fell swoop. Reach for it if your nails need a little extra TLC post-gel manicure.
Best for Hands & Nails: Caudalie Hand and Nail Cream
You’re likely already using a hand cream daily, so why not make it one that can also do good things for your nails? This vegan formula is hydrating but still absorbs quickly, so you can slather it on with reckless abandon day or night. It also boasts plenty of antioxidants, always a good thing.
Best Exfoliating Formula: Mario Badescu Skin Care Cuticle Cream
Going above its basic moisturization responsibilities, this formula has the unique distinction of boasting exfoliating salicylic acid. Why is that important? The ingredient is a great exfoliator, helping to gently slough of ragged, excess dead skin on your cuticles. The gel-cream formula is also slightly lighter than many others, ideal for those who don’t like ultra-thick creams on their hands.
Best Multi-Tasker: Indigo Wild Almond Zum Rub
Shea butter is a plant lipid that comes from African shea tree nuts and is rich in fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamins. It's used to help moisturize, nourish, and soothe the skin.
If you don’t want to shell out money solely for cuticle cream, consider picking up a multipurpose balm, such as this one. Shea butter plus goat milk plus a blend of natural oils make for a hydrating formula that can truly do it all. Dab it on beat-up cuticles and/or use it to tamp down frizz, hydrate chapped lips, soften cracked heels—you name it.