Our nails and cuticles experience a lot of wear and tear as we go about our daily activities. From constant washing of hands to frequent exposure to chemicals in household cleaners and moisturizers, the skin around our nails takes quite a beating. While proper nail and hand care is important to maintain health and appearance, certain ingredients can provide extra healing benefits. One such ingredient that has risen in popularity is argan oil. Native to Morocco, argan oil has traditionally been used for centuries for its hydrating and restorative properties. Today, more and more dermatologists and nail experts recommend including argan oil in nail and hand care regimens for its healing effects. In this blog post, I will delve deeper into how argan oil can contribute to healthier, stronger nails and softer, supple cuticles.
What is Argan Oil?
Argan oil is extracted from the kernels of the argan tree by a labor intensive process. The argan tree grows only in a small region in Southwestern Morocco. Local Berber women have preserved the traditional method of extracting argan oil for generations. The ripe argan fruits are harvested, dried and cracked to obtain the kernels within. The kernels are then roasted and crushed to extract the nutrient-rich oil trapped inside. This cold pressed argan oil is prized for its high concentrations of vitamin E, phenols, polyphenols and other antioxidants that give it anti-aging and reparative properties.
Nutritionally, argan oil contains:
- 80% unsaturated fatty acids that hydrate and replenish skin
- Vitamin E (tocopherol) – a powerful antioxidant that protects skin from environmental damage
- Plant sterols – anti-inflammatory that soothe skin irritation
- Phenolic compounds – protect against free radical damage
These nutritional components allow argan oil to deeply penetrate skin and nails without clogging pores. It absorbs readily to hydrate, soften and repair nail and cuticle tissue from within. Let’s explore how argan oil can heal and strengthen different parts of our hands:
Brittle, ridged or peeling nails are often a sign the nail matrix (tissue under the nail) lacks proper moisture and nutrients for healthy growth. Argan oil, with its concentrated antioxidants and fatty acids, nourishes the nail matrix when massaged into nails and cuticles regularly. Some of its benefits for nails include:
- Hydration: Argan oil moisturizes dry, brittle nails and prevents peeling or cracking. The fatty acids replenish oils lost due to frequent washing.
- Strengthening: Vitamin E and other antioxidants in argan oil promote collagen production in the nail matrix for stronger nails less prone to breaking.
- Stimulation: Gentle massage with argan oil stimulates blood circulation in the nail beds, bringing more nutrients to nourish growth.
- Protection: Antioxidants protect nails from environmental damage like UV exposure, chemicals, etc. that can compromise their integrity over time.
- Regrowth: When used consistently as nails regrow, argan oil results in smoother, less ridged nails with a gleaming shine.
So whether you struggle with peeling or splitting nails, buffing them regularly with argan oil can work wonders over time by healing and shielding nails from within. The following nail care technique using argan oil is highly effective:
- Buff nails gently with a nail file to remove any ridging and smooth the surface.
- Massage a few drops of argan oil into nails and cuticles, rubbing it in thoroughly. Pay special attention to the corners and tips of nails.
- Let it soak in for 5-10 minutes before washing hands or adding any topcoat polish if desired.
- Repeat this argan oil manicure 2-3 times a week for continual moisturizing benefits.
When applied in this way, argan oil nourishes nails deeply for a healthy glow. Consistency is key to enjoying tougher, less prone to breakage nails down the line.
Neglected, peeling or dry cuticles don’t just look unsightly – they can potentially lead to infections if the skin cracks or splits. Good cuticle care is as important as nail care for healthy hands. Argan oil works wonders on rebuilding cuticles with its reparative and anti-inflammatory benefits:
- Moisturizing: The natural lipids and fatty acids hydrate parched cuticles prone to peeling or hangnails.
- Softening: Regular massaging of argan oil gently sloughs off dead skin around cuticles, keeping them supple and flexible.
- Healing: Cuticles are soothed of any inflammation or irritation from frequent washing or exposure to cleaning chemicals that can irritate sensitive skin around nails.
- Protection: Oxidation caused due to regular hand washing and outdoor exposure is counteracted by phenolic compounds in argan oil that shield the skin.
Similar to the nail care technique above, here’s how to massage argan oil into cuticles for flawless results:
- Gently push back cuticles with an orangewood stick without cutting or damaging skin.
- Massage 2-3 drops of argan oil into each cuticle area with your finger pads in a circular motion.
- Pay special attention to the corners and sides where cuticles meet the nail plate.
- Leave on for 10 minutes before washing hands as usual.
- Repeat cuticle massage 2-3 times a week to maintain supple, healthy skin around nails.
Argan oil is non-greasy and absorbs quickly without leaving an oily residue behind. Over time, regular application can truly transform dry, ragged cuticles into soft, smooth extensions of the nails themselves. Proper nourishment goes a long way in preventing infections too.
Palms & Fingers
While cuticles and nails require the most TLC, neglecting the rest of the hands can compromise overall skin health too. Cracked, dry palms are painful and unsightly. The following argan oil regimen soothes hands completely:
- Start with exfoliating dry, flaky patches gently using a sugar or salt scrub.
- Rinse and pat skin dry before massaging argan oil liberally all over hands and fingers, including knuckles and wrist areas.
- Pay extra attention to heels of hands and deepest creases that tend to crack in winter.
- Let oil soak in for 15-20 minutes, covering hands with gloves or a shower cap works too.
- Wash as usual once time is up to remove any residue without drying out the skin further.
- For best results, follow this deeply hydrating palm and hand mask 1-2 times weekly, especially in colder months.
Argan oil sinks deeply into rough, hard skin to nourish and soften. Using it in a soothing hand mask allows the nutrients to be fully absorbed without any oily feel left behind. The all-over nourishment results in supple, smooth hands that don’t easily chap or crack anymore.
Benefits for Nail Polish Wearers
Modern lifestyles mean most women, including myself, regularly wear nail polish on our fingertips. While color and artistic designs are fun, certain chemicals in polishes may dehydrate nails and challenge cuticle health if worn constantly. Argan oil comes to the rescue here too by:
- Hydrating under polish: Applying argan oil as a base coat before polish protects nails and gives a non-chip base.
- Nail health: Its nutrients penetrates under polish layers to continuously feed nails as they grow out.
- Slow polish breakdown: Antioxidants help prevent staining or peeling of color by neutralizing breakdown from UV exposure, chemicals.
- Cuticle guard: Worn under polish, argan ensures cuticles stay soft and don’t stain or crack around the edges.
- Removal help: Its natural emollients gently break down bonds between polish and nail, reducing damage during removal.
My personal manicure routine involves buffing nails with argan oil before bed, sleeping with loose cotton gloves on. Next morning nails are radiantly smooth to apply and wear polish for up to a week with no chips! Reapply oil 2-3 times weekly.
Healing Properties for Damaged Hands
While argan oil is great for day-to-day nail care, its healing qualities truly shine when hands have endured trauma or exposure to harsh elements. Here are some scenarios where argan works wonders:
- For Cracked Heels – Saturate heels in a bowl of warm argan oil water mix before bed weekly. Slip on socks to seal in moisture all night. Within a month of religious use, even severest cracks will heal smooth.
- Fissured Cuticles – Apply argan hourly if cuticles crack from over-exposure to detergents or harsh soaps during household chores. Speeds recovery within 2 days to plump skin.
- Rough Elbows – Leave thick layer of oil on elbows overnight under plastic gloves for smoothening of harsh, calloused skin within a week.
- Chapped Hands – For severely dry, painful hands, lather on thick layer of argan oil and wear cotton gloves to let it penetrate undisturbed overnight. Works relief immediately.