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Can You Put Cuticle Oil Over Nail Polish? [This Is Crucial!]

Cuticle oil. You’ve likely heard of it, know you should be using it, yet are still confused by it. And you’re not alone. Despite it being a common part of most nail-care routines, there are a lot of questions on how and when it should be used. One question, in particular, is whether it can be used over polish. Here is what you need to know.

So, can you put cuticle oil over polish? You can put cuticle oil over nail polish with a few caveats. The polish needs to be dry before the cuticle oil is applied over the top. Equally, you can apply cuticle oil before the polish – but again that needs to be allowed to dry before moving onto the application of the polish.

However, that doesn’t get into all of the differences between using cuticle oil over polish versus over bare nails. 

In this case, these little details can make all of the difference.

So, let us now get into the details, so you know exactly how to approach it!

Do You Put Cuticle Oil On Before Or After Nail Polish?

It’s better to wait until after the polish is dry before you apply cuticle oil. However, if you’re willing to wait for the cuticle oil to dry, you can apply this first before the polish.

Are you planning to do your nails? If so, you probably have a good idea of what needs to be done. 

Shaping your nails. Base coat, color coat, top coat.

Letting them dry without smudging. 

It’s something that many people do on a regular basis. 

But it can be hard to determine where cuticle oil is supposed to fit in there.

Do you apply it before you paint your nails while they’re still bare? 

Or do you do it afterward, when you’ve just applied a new coat of polish?

For most people, it’s best to wait until you’re done painting your nails to apply your cuticle oil. 

While your nails might absorb more of the oil if you apply it first, any amount of oil left on the nail before you paint is going to make it easier for the polish to peel and chip. 

You’ll drastically cut down the lifespan of your manicure. 

By waiting until after your polish has thoroughly dried, you can still moisturize your cuticles while protecting your hard work.

That doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to do it beforehand. 

If your nails seem desperate for some cuticle oil, then give them what they want! 

Apply the cuticle oil as you normally would, and then wait. And wait. And keep waiting until the oil has completely dried. 

Because, as mentioned above, you cannot put polish over oil that is still wet. 

If you don’t mind binging Netflix while your cuticle oil dries, then there’s no reason cuticle oil can’t come first.

Does Cuticle Oil Ruin Nail Polish?

In most cases, no! However, applying polish over freshly-applied oil makes it more likely to peel and crack.

Sometimes, nail polish can seem outright delicate. 

You’re not supposed to let hot water near it. 

You need to wear gloves while cleaning. 

One wrong move, and it’s irreversibly smudged. 

The thought of putting something like oil on it can have alarm bells going off in your head. Could cuticle oil ruin your nail polish?

Here’s the good news: it almost certainly won’t, and certainly won’t in any way change the color or tint of your nails. 

While it might seem like something that could discolor or wash away the polish, it simply isn’t going to do that. 

It’s safe to use over nail polish. In fact, it’s good for your nails!

There is only one real way that cuticle oil can hurt your polish: if it’s applied to the nail before painting and not allowed to dry. 

Cuticle oil, along with any other kind of product, such as lotion or moisturizer, left on the nail before painting will make the polish weaker once dried. 

The paint won’t be as firmly connected to the nail itself, making it far more likely that it will either chip or peel off.

The remedy to that is a simple one: don’t apply polish over your cuticle oil while it’s wet! 

If you’ve applied cuticle oil before painting, make sure that it’s thoroughly dry before you get to work with your base coat. 

If you can manage it, don’t apply cuticle oil before you’ve finished painting your nails. 

It’s the simplest solution to the single problem that you might run into when using cuticle oil with nail polish.

How Do You Use Nail Polish With Cuticle Oil?

For best results, apply after you’ve painted your nails. Then, follow the same guidelines as any other application: Apply to cuticles, massage into nails, and allow to dry.

Here’s the good news: there’s really no difference in applying cuticle oil, whether you’ve just painted your nails or not! 

As long as you’ve started off with nails that aren’t still wet, you’re going to be doing basically the same thing. 

The only real danger is that if you choose to push your cuticles back, you might mar the polish. 

So try to push cuticles back before painting.

Basic application of cuticle oil is easy, and you don’t need much to get it done. 

Just your favorite cuticle oil, a clean surface, and a paper towel or cloth to wipe up any spills or drops. 

That’s it! There’s nothing more you need before you get started.

Begin by applying the oil to your cuticles. 

How you do this might vary since some oils come with droppers, while others might be rollers or have brushes. 

Once you have the oil on your nail, begin to massage it into your cuticles. 

Take the time to spread some over your entire nail, as well: it does your manicure good! 

Just don’t massage so hard that you pull away or damage your polish.

Once you’ve massaged the oil into your nails, you’re done!

Clean up if there’s any mess, and wait for your cuticle oil to dry. 

You can do this on a regular basis, up to once every few hours. 

As long as you’re careful, there shouldn’t be any real problems with your polish. 

In fact, there’s a good chance that it will last longer and look better than it would have otherwise!

Benefits Of Using Cuticle Oil With Polish

Using cuticle oil over polish helps it hydrate the polish, keeping it looking fresher and newer for a longer period of time. Cuticle oil can also protect the polish from the normal bumps and scrapes that your nails will be subjected to.

There are actually real benefits to using cuticle oil on painted nails. 

Though it might seem counterproductive to put something wet onto something that we want to remain dry, it’s actually a great way to make your manicure last longer! 

Cuticle oil can be absorbed to some degree by your nail polish, which is porous. 

This helps to rejuvenate the polish, keeping it shiny and flexible. 

Moisturized polishes tend to be more durable than those that are so dry that they become brittle.

Cuticle oil can also help to protect your nails from the little dings that they might get from your normal life. 

Small things such as knocking your nails against a table while reaching for something or rubbing them against a hard surface accidentally don’t have to be the death warrant for your manicure. 

With a layer of cuticle oil on top, it’s the oil that will take the brunt of the damage, not your nail. So the polish will live another day!

Of course, there are more traditional benefits, as well. 

Healthy cuticles mean healthy nails, which means healthier manicures. 

Keeping your cuticles properly moisturized is a big part of ensuring that you have lovely nails, with or without nail polish.

Does Cuticle Oil Reach The Nail Plate Through Polish?

No. Nail polish isn’t porous enough for cuticle oil to reach the nail plate. If you want that, you need to apply the oil before the nail polish.

Here’s one of the few bad things about applying cuticle oil over polish: it won’t reach the nail plate. 

While it’s true that nail polish is porous, it simply isn’t porous enough to let a meaningful amount of cuticle oil reach your nail plate. 

This means that, while it might be helping your cuticles and your polish, it’s not doing so much for the rest of your nails.

There’s just no real way to get past the polish to the nail itself. 

The only possible way to nourish the nail itself is to apply oil before you starting painting your nails and wait for it to dry before continuing. 

If you don’t mind the wait, this isn’t a bad idea. Then, you can feel free to use it again for the benefits it brings to your polish.

Alternatively, you can go bare for a while and use cuticle oil on your nails. 

After it’s left them more moisturized and healthier, you can switch to painting your nails and applying cuticle oil afterward. 

If you don’t mind going au naturale for a while, it’s not a bad option. 

It lets you actually see all of the good that the oil is doing before you cover it up with a color coat.


So there you have it.

You can apply cuticle oil over polish – just make sure the polish is dry first.

Or you can apply the cuticle oil before you apply the polish.,

You’ll just need to wait for it to dry before moving on.

So, as you can see, patience is going to be required either way.

But it will certainly be worth your time. There are a lot of benefits to working with cuticle oil – and your nails and manicure will thank you for it!

Wondering how else to use cuticle oil or looking for tips when using the product in general? Check out my other cuticle oil guides: