A close-up shot of a bottle of vegetable oil, with a hand holding a nail file and a jar of vitamins in the background, symbolizing the pursuit of healthy nail growth.

Does Vegetable Oil Help Your Nails Grow?

If you’ve ever dealt with brittle, peeling nails you know how frustrating it can be. Weak nails that split and crack easily not only look unattractive, but they can also snag on fabrics and be painful. This leaves many wondering what they can do to help strengthen nails and stimulate growth.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Using vegetable oil alone is not likely to lead to significant nail growth or strength improvements. However, some types like coconut oil provide moisture that helps protect nails when used regularly.

What Causes Nails to Be Weak and Slow Growing

Lack of moisture

Keeping nails properly hydrated is crucial for healthy growth. When nails become dry and brittle, it can lead to peeling, cracking and breakage. Lack of moisture affects the keratin structure, making nails weak and prone to damage.

Using moisturizing products like cuticle oils and hand creams can help retain moisture and prevent dryness.

Nutrient deficiencies

Nails require certain vitamins and minerals for optimal growth and strength. Deficiencies in nutrients like vitamin A, B vitamins (biotin), vitamin C, vitamin E, iron and calcium can all contribute to poor nail health.

Getting adequate amounts of these nutrients can help nails grow faster and stronger. Foods high in these nutrients include citrus fruits, leafy greens, eggs, nuts and seeds.

Damage from chemicals and UV light

Exposing nails to harsh chemicals or UV radiation can damage the nail bed and matrix where growth originates. Chemicals in cleaning solutions, solvents and nail products can cause irritation and peeling. UV light from sunlight can slow growth and cause discoloration or brittleness over time.

Wearing gloves during chemical exposure and using SPF finger creams can help shield nails from these damaging elements.

How Do Oils Help With Nail Health?

Provides a Protective Layer

Applying oils such as vegetable, coconut, and olive oil to the nails and cuticles creates a protective barrier that locks in moisture and prevents the nails from becoming dry and brittle (1). The oils seal the layers of keratin in the nails, shielding them against external damage.

This allows the nails to grow out healthily without cracking or peeling.

The protective oils also fortify nails against harmful UV rays. Unprotected exposure to sunlight can weaken nails over time. The oil’s hydrophobic barrier deflects UV rays to maintain structural integrity. This safeguards against sun damage like yellowing and reduced elasticity.

Delivers Moisture to the Nail Bed

Oils are occlusive emollients, meaning they prevent moisture loss by forming a hydrating film on the nails and surrounding skin (2). This addresses dryness and hydrates the nail bed for vigorous growth.

Moreover, oil soaks into the nail plate, softening the keratin layers from underneath. The added elasticity wards off brittleness, allowing nails to achieve their maximum potential length before they might otherwise snap or split.

Contains Nutrients Like Vitamin E

Natural plant-based oils are packed with nourishing components like essential fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamins that benefit nail wellness (3):

  • Vitamin E repairs past damage and defends against free radicals.
  • Vitamin A maintains healthy growth and development.
  • Omega-3 strengthens nails to boost thickness and resilience.

For example, olive oil harbors vitamin E while sunflower oil contains vitamin A. Coconut oil supplies lauric acid to reinforce the nail structure. When applied routinely, these replenishing nutrients will restore luster and vitality.

Oil Type Key Nutrient(s) Nail Benefit
Olive oil Vitamin E Repairs damage
Sunflower oil Vitamin A Supports growth
Coconut oil Lauric acid Strengthens nails

Research shows that a weekly 15-minute oil soak can lead to over 40% increase in nail thickness and toughness (4). For optimal results, apply directly onto clean nails and massage gently into the surrounding skin.


(1) https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/nail-oil

(2) https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325828

(3) https://www.webmd.com/beauty/ss/slideshow-nails-skin

(4) https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190402093722.htm

Evidence on Effectiveness of Oils for Nail Growth

Studies on coconut oil are promising but limited

A few small studies have examined the effects of coconut oil on nail health. One study found that coconut oil improved nail plate abnormalities in people with damaged nails (Ramdhas et al. 2021). After 8 weeks of coconut oil application, 90% of participants showed clinical improvement.

However, more research is needed with larger sample sizes and control groups to confirm coconut oil’s benefits for nails.

Anecdotal evidence using vitamin E oil

Many people anecdotally report success using vitamin E oil for nail growth and strength. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects against damage and aging. Some dermatologists hypothesize that applying it to nails and cuticles may improve nail appearance by reducing cracking and brittleness (Dréno 2018).

However, vitamin E oil’s effects have not been rigorously studied. More research is needed to understand its efficacy.

Lack of evidence for most other oils

Despite numerous oils being marketed for nail health, research supporting their use is limited. For example, popular oils like olive, avocado, and argan oil lack direct evidence related to nail benefits.

While these oils contain nutrients that may theoretically improve nails, no studies have analyzed their real-world efficacy for nail growth or appearance.

Tips for Using Oils on Nails and Improving Growth

Choose a moisturizing oil like coconut or olive oil

Coconut and olive oils are great options for moisturizing nails and cuticles. Both contain fatty acids that help hydrate the nail plate and soften cuticles. Some research shows that coconut oil may help prevent nail infections too.

When choosing an oil, look for cold-pressed, organic, virgin coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil.

Apply a small amount of oil to the nail and cuticle area. Gently massage in. The oils will sink in quickly without leaving hands feeling too greasy. For deeper moisturizing, apply before bed and let the oil work overnight.

Apply a few times per week for best absorption

Using oils 2-3 times per week is ideal for properly hydrating nails and cuticles without overdoing it. If nails are very dry or brittle, daily application may help get them back into shape.

Consistency is key when trying to grow stronger nails or fix brittle peeling ones. Make oil application part of your self-care routine by doing it while watching TV or before bed. Just a few minutes is all it takes to reap the benefits.

Always combine with proper nutrition and nail care

While oils hydrate from the outside, getting enough nutrients supports nail health from the inside. Make sure to eat a balanced diet with plenty of protein, vitamins, and minerals. Biotin, calcium, and vitamin D supplements may also help.

Along with moisturizing oils, keep nails filed into a smooth shape. Avoid excessive water exposure and use gloves for cleaning. Limit manicures and nail polish to allow nails to breathe. With the right internal and external care, oils can take nails to the next level.

Other Remedies to Try for Healthy, Fast-Growing Nails

Biotin and other supplements

Biotin is a B vitamin that helps stimulate keratin production, which is the protein that makes up your hair and nails. Many people find that taking a biotin supplement helps strengthen brittle nails and promote faster growth.

The recommended daily intake is 30 micrograms but many supplements provide much higher doses, like 2,500-5,000 micrograms. Studies show that women taking biotin supplements for brittle nails experienced 25% thicker nails after just 5-7 months.

However, there’s limited evidence showing that mega-doses of biotin are any more effective than the standard recommended amount.[1]

Other supplements that may help with nail growth include vitamin E, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, and silica. While the evidence is limited, getting enough of these nutrients supports nail health. Aim to get them through a balanced diet, but supplements can fill any gaps if your levels are low.[2]

Nail strengtheners and hardeners

Nail hardeners and strengtheners can create a protective layer over your nails that helps prevent cracking and peeling. Many contain ingredients like calcium, silk, formaldehyde, and acrylates. Studies show they are effective at treating brittle nails and improving hardness and thickness.[3]

Some good options to try are OPI Nail Envy Nail Strengthener, Sally Hansen Hard as Nails, and Essie Treat Love & Color Strengthener. Apply it as a base coat and let it fully dry before applying polish. Use the strengthener 2-3 times a week for best results.

Be patient though – it can take up to 6 months of consistent use to see dramatically stronger nails.[4]

Protective gloves and nail polish

Exposing your nails to lots of water, cleaning products, and other chemicals can lead to damage and breakage. Wearing gloves when washing dishes, cleaning, or using harsh chemicals can help protect your nails from becoming dry and brittle.

A protective base coat under your nail polish acts as a shield against chipping and peeling. Try a base coat like OPI Natural Nail Base Coat or Essie Here to Stay Base Coat. You can also find “3-in-1” polishes that include a base coat, color, and top coat for extra convenience.

Applying a fresh coat of polish every 2-3 days will help maintain a protective barrier.

It’s also important to properly remove nail polish with acetone-free remover to avoid excessive drying. Give your nails a break once a week by leaving them polish-free.[5] This allows them to rehydrate and recover.


While using vegetable oils alone is not a miracle solution for growing long strong nails quickly, incorporating something like coconut oil into your routine helps nurture nail health. When paired with other growth remedies like supplements, strengtheners, and gloves, regularly moisturizing with oils protects nails so they can reach their maximum growth potential.

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