Cuticle creams are a curious category of skincare: Their use case isn’t so universal, since people reach for cuticle creams for any number of reasons. Some want to soften and push back aggressive cuticles. Others want to prevent or heal hangnails. Then there are the ones who merely want to fortify the actual nails. That’s why you’ll see cuticle creams marketed as "cuticle and nail creams", "cuticle and hand creams", "repair balms" and the likes. Some are oils, others are creams, lotions, butters, balms… It’s nebulous, but with one common goal: To nourish and strengthen the area around the nails (and the nails themselves).
That’s what we look for in the best cuticle creams, by any name. The cuticles prevent bacteria and debris from entering the body at the nail bed. That’s why you don’t want to remove the cuticle entirely: You need the cuticle, but you don’t need it creeping 10 millimeters up your nail. And after pushing it back or trimming the cuticle, a cuticle cream ensures that it settles into place and closes off any cracks quickly. This in turn prevents hangnails and doing so further blocks off any unwanted microscopic creepy crawlies from climbing into your bloodstream.
In short: Use a vitamin-rich, cuticle-fortifying product to protect your body and keep your fingertips in tip-top shape. Our tried-and-tested favorite cuticle creams, by many names and formulations, are below.
Best Overall Cuticle Cream: Buttah by Dorion Renaud Whipped Body Butter
The truth is, a nourishing hand or body product is equally effective on the cuticles, so long as that product contains the right ingredients. And Buttah’s whipped shea body butter is hands down the most softening, soothing body remedy — so by default, it takes the crown when it comes to hand and cuticle care, too. A Vitamin-rich formula—chiefly the generous quantity of vitamins A, B, and E — softens cuticle beads, strengthens nails, and prevents/heals hangnails as smoothly as… well, butter. Best of all, you can use it anywhere that needs a deep-nourishing touch-up, once your nail beds are in top form. (We can’t recommend the brand’s Facial Butter enough too, especially at the height of winter.)
Best Upgrade Cuticle Cream: La Mer Rejuvenating Hand Serum
This luxurious serum slips over your hands like a glove, and has them ready for their close up by sunrise. It’s comprised of anti-aging algae extract, oils of sesame, alfalfa, and eucalyptus, extracts of green tea leaf, cucumber, and apple, plus probiotic ingredients—all to promote resilience, radiance, youthfulness, and strength. And lavishness, too, because it’s La Mer. Cher spreads it on her toast!
Best Affordable Cuticle Cream: Burt’s Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream
They already make your favorite drugstore lip balm, and Burt’s Bees has one of the best cuticle creams on shelves, too. It combines almond oil, sunflower seed oil, and cocoa butter into a nourishing, Vitamin E-heavy recovery balm. A crisp lemon scent lingers, too, to pair with the fresh, smooth restoration taking place in your nail beds. Use it to target cracked or dry knuckles, or even chafing lips (if your Burt’s Bees lip balm is fresh out, that is).
Doctor Rogers Restore Healing Balm
Doctor Rogers’ healing balm is a panacea of sorts. You can use it on all kinds of cuts, cracks, and peels, to deliver a nourishing shield over the skin. That’s what makes it a hot ticket: You may only need a nail-bed touch-up every so often, and the same for cracked lips, periodic cuts, dry patches, and the likes. As for cuticles and hangnails: A morning and bedtime application over freshly washed skin should have your nail area primed and presentable in just a couple days, all while preventing bacteria from creeping inside.
DERMA-E Rosehip and Almond Protecting Shea Hand and Cuticle Cream
Rosehip and almond oil are both super moisturizing and restorative. The two ingredients play lead opposite shea butter in Derma-E’s hand and cuticle cream. Together (with olive oil, too), they all soften cuticles, repair cracks, lessen calluses, and strengthen nails. It’s an overnight miracle worker, too, if you lather it on before tucking in.
Jack Black Industrial Strength Hand Healer
Jack Black was smart to label this hand cream as ‘industrial strength’ since it can quickly restore even the sliciest, diciest cracked heels. The glycerin and macadamia nut oil recipe comes teeming with Vitamins A & E to quickly repair any damage and restore moisture—at industrial speed, no less.
L’Occitane Shea Nourishing Nail & Cuticle Oil
Here’s a shea-rich oil formula with a nail applicator brush. Many people prefer an oil recovery or nourishment method for their nails, as opposed to a dense cream or butter. It’s a matter of preference, sometimes influenced by whether they seek other nail treatments or accouterments. Regardless, this one keeps nails looking glossy and healthy, and targets a high concentration of nutrients right to the root of the problem.