What’s in that Cuticle Product? Cuticle Oil Composition

What's in Cuticle Oils? - Cosmetic Composition

I’ve been a nail and cuticle picker my entire life. Spending most of my waking moments examining, picking and prodding at my nails and cuticles is my daily norm. The discovery of Pinterest lead me into the world of nail polish and nail art which has substantially reduced my nail picking –as long as I keep my polish perfect then I rarely ever touch my nails. Cuticles, however, are a completely different story. Most likely induced by anxiety and/or boredom I’m pretty much always attacking my cuticles. Alas, there are situations where I definitely can’t pick my cuticles like when I’m in public (germs), at work (gotta be professional), and at school (no one wants a girl with bloody cuticles touching their skin for a facial). So this is where all the lovely cuticle oils and balms come into play. Whether you’re a fellow cuticle picker or not, everyone can benefit from one of these products during this cold, dry winter season.

Since I’m attempting to keep my posts shorter and more reader-friendly I’m going to be splitting this post into two parts. Today we’ll be covering the composition of cuticle oils.

Cuticle Oil Composition

Most cuticle oils are composed of carrier oils, essential oils and possibly some form of a preservative. Let’s start with the difference between carrier oils and essential oils.

Essential oils are volatile (odorous) oils extracted from the respective plant that the oil is named after. An essential oil is the “essence” of the plant as it contains the plant’s flavor and odor in a concentrated form. Some essential oils have beneficial properties in the human body, but they vary per compound and it’s very hard to summarize and research all the specific reactions. The purpose of essential oils in cuticle oils is to add fragrance, and other benefits like calming, antifungal and healing effects – depending on the blend of essential oils being used.

Carrier oils are the oils like almond, jojoba, coconut and grapeseed oils. These oils are composed of fatty acids. A fatty acid is a long chain carboxylic acid compound that is either saturated or unsaturated. In case you’re curious – saturated fatty acids are compounds that only contain single bonds, while unsaturated fatty acids contain one or more double/triple bonds. For the purposes of this investigation saturated vs. unsaturated will not be a huge factor. Fatty acids may include linoleic acid, palmitic acid, lauric acid, etc. The variety and ratio of fatty acids found in a carrier oil are what makes each oil unique and gives it the compound it’s beneficial properties to the skin.

grapeseed oil composition - Cosmetic Composition

image from Wikipedia

An example of this is grapeseed oil. Grapeseed oil is made from the seeds of grapes and is a by-product of winemaking. The two biggest components of grapeseed oils are linoleic acid and tocopherols – which have great skin benefits like hydration and anti-aging. However, the composition of grapeseed oil can be broken down even further – each fatty acid providing its own purpose and benefits to the skin.

Cuticle Oil Product Reviews

Mojo Spa Nifty Nail Cure: A seemingly do-all cuticle oil – it contains a large blend of carrier oils and essential oils in a lovely amber bottle (to keep the oils from oxidizing). Despite the number of ingredients packed in this bottle the formula has an extremely light feel and is my go-to cuticle and nail oil to use before bedtime. It’s quick absorbing and doesn’t leave any sticky residue behind.

Ingredients: Soybean oil, fractionated coconut oil, organic olive oil, neem oil, apricot kernel oil, avocado oil, flaxseed oil, rice bran oil, jojoba oil, evening primrose oil, borage oil, essential oils (orange, rosemary, lemon, tea tree, patchouli, lavender, eucalyptus, peppermint, grapefruit, carrot seed), and fragrance

CND SolarOil Nail and Cuticle Conditioner: The super basic formula only contains 5 ingredients. Sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, rice bran oil act as the carrier oils providing texture and overall skin hydration. The sweet almond fragrance is literally the best scent and I’m obsessed with it. Tocopherol acetate is a form of vitamin E – which acts as a skin conditioning agent and antioxidant (which can somewhat act as a preservative). A downfall of this product – I’m not a fan of the clear bottle, as it makes the product more susceptible to oxidation.

Ingredients: Sweet Almond Oil, Jojoba Oil, Rice Bran Oil, Almond Fragrance, Tocopherol Acetate.

My DIY cuticle oil: My cuticle oil is only grapeseed oil with drops of tea tree essential oil. The tea tree essential oil has a lovely light, clean odor, and antifungal properties when applied to nails. My choice of carrier oil, grapeseed oil, is a bit thick for my preference. In the future, I would have created a blend of oils to have a better formula feel and use a dark bottle to help prevent oxidation.


So there’s part one! Cuticle oil composition – next up is cuticle balms! In the meantime – what’s your favorite cuticle oil? I’ve love to learn about some more formulas/blend below! 

The Nifty Nail Care oil was provided to me for review purposes from MojoSpa and did not affect my opinion.


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