Keeping your nails and cuticles looking (and feeling) their best all starts with the right products. But, considering that there are literally thousands of cuticle creams, nail oils, and strengthening polishes to choose from, knowing where to start can be tough. To find out more about the absolute best nail care products, Elite Daily interviewed five top nail pros to get their product recommendations, tips, and tricks. Keep reading to learn more.
Whether you get manicures at the salon or do your own nails at home, “it is extremely important to invest in proper after-care products,” advises Anastasia Totty, a LeChat Nails educator. “Choose a good moisturizing hand lotion, a cuticle oil, a nail file, and a nail buffer,” she suggests.
Our pros have a few don’ts as well. One major no-no? Do not peel off gel polish. “I can’t stress this enough; if the gels are not removed properly, the nail beds will be weakened,” says Elin Dannerstedt, founder of NCLA Beauty. Another thing to avoid, according to celebrity manicurist Mel Shengaris, is cutting your cuticles. “It’s live skin and should never, ever be cut — it’s there for a reason.” Instead, apply cuticle oil daily to keep your nails and cuticles healthy.
To see all the best nail care products our experts recommend, keep scrolling.
We only recommend products we love and that we think you will, too. We may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was written by our Commerce team.
The Best Glass Nail File
“Using the wrong nail file can do nothing but damage your manicure. For a natural nail, if you don’t know what file to use, go [for] a glass file,” says Elle, a celebrity nail artist. She says they can always be washed and sanitized, and using one forces you to file your nails in one direction, so your nails won’t split. “I love the travel case [included with this nail file], too,” Elle adds.
“I buy the big packs of nail buffers on Amazon and always have them at my desk. [They’re] perfect to smooth out your nails before [polish] application,” says Dannerstedt. These small buffers, which come in a pack of 20, are great for on-the-go touchups, and are so cheap that you can leave one everywhere, from your car to your beside table. If you feel any snags or sharpness on your nails, gently file and buff the nail to keep things from getting worse.
Elle uses Maxus Nails JOJOBALIEVE IT Butter “to give natural nails strength and flexibility. It has jojoba butter and vitamin E that keep nails very moisturized, as well as the cuticle and surrounding skin. It smells divine, too!” And though it’s a rich butter, it sinks in quickly, so you can go about your day with hydrated, but not greasy hands. (Just a little dab is all you need!)
Elin Dannerstedt (along with her sister Anh-Thu Dannerstedt, co-founder of NCLA Beauty) created this rich cuticle oil, which is made from sunflower seed and vitamin E. It’s vegan, cruelty-free, and available in a range of sweet scents, including Birthday Cake, Apple Pie, and Peach Vanilla. Though it’s an oil, the handy dropper makes applying this a mess-free experience. Massage it into your cuticles as often as you’d like to keep them soft and moisturized.
Best Budget Nail Strengthener & Base Coat
Dealing with weak, brittle nails? Then try OPI’s Nail Envy base coat. “Using for a week or so in a row really helps my nails not to split or peel,” says celebrity manicurist Mel Shengaris. This is a two-in-one product, so it both strengthens your nails and prevents them from yellowing underneath your polish.
“Not using base or top coat when using nail lacquer at home can cause yellowish stains from pigments in the lacquer,” adds Totty, so it’s important not to skip this step when doing manicures at home.
Another Great Nail Strengthener & Base Coat
For dry, brittle nails, Elle likes Dr. Remedy HYDRATION Clear Moisturizing Nail Treatment, “an essential product with biotin, PENTAVITIN, and whole wheat protein [that helps] keep nails hydrated and strong. I use this as a base coat, especially during the cold winter months, to help seal moisture into the nails,” she says.
Best Nail Polish Remover
Mel Shengaris likes to use NCLA Take It Off! to remove her nail polish or nail strengthener. Unlike a lot of other nail polish removers, this one won’t dry out your nails or the surrounding skin, as it’s acetone-free and formulated with nourishing ingredients like vitamin E, tea tree oil, and jojoba seed oil.
Two More Expert-Approved Cuticle Products
“Moisturizing your cuticles keeps them healthy, and healthy cuticles are key to strong nail growth,” says celebrity manicurist Deborah Lipppmann. “I recommend using the Cuticle Remover Pen to exfoliate and [the] Cuticle Oil Pen to soften and hydrate. If you’d like a night treatment, massage The Cure into your cuticles to deeply condition and protect.” The award-winning cream is made from shea butter, raspberry stem cell extract, and other nourishing ingredients to help repair rough, dry cuticles.
To protect your manicure and prevent your nails from becoming dry or brittle, wear rubber gloves when cleaning and washing the dishes, says Lippmann (even if you don’t have polish on your hands). These rubber gloves feature a soft lining, so they’re more comfortable to wear than most other rubber gloves. Plus, they go up to your elbows to prevent water from getting inside, and they have a pretty band at the top, too.
Elin Dannerstedt, founder, NCLA Beauty
Elle, celebrity nail artist
Deborah Lipppmann, celebrity manicurist and brand founder, Deborah Lippmann
Mel Shengaris, celebrity manicurist
Anastasia Totty, LeChat Nails educator and brand ambassador