This One Cooking Tip Can Help Make Your Nails Stronger — Really! 

mbg Associate Editor By Jamie Schneider
mbg Associate Editor
Jamie Schneider is the Associate Editor at mindbodygreen, covering beauty and health. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare.
Opposed Hands Of African-American Man Pointing At Each Other Wit

Your nails endure some wear and tear on the regular—even humdrum, household tasks (like washing dishes or scrubbing counters) can strip the skin of its natural oils and compromise the moisture barrier, which is why many recommend protecting your hands during kitchen-related endeavors. Other than donning gloves and layering on hand cream during cleanup, though, what else can you do to protect your poor paws while you whip up a meal? 

Behold, this one simple tip, innocently mentioned by an mbg staffer that was promptly tried and tested by the team. The idea? Make nail care part of your meal prep rather than an afterthought once all the leftovers are packed away—massage excess cooking oil into your cuticles to keep them moisturized and strong. 

Why you should rub extra cooking oil on your cuticles. 

Your cuticles take quite the hit day-to-day. Whether you frequently pick at your frays (guilty...) or forget to moisturize after washing your hands, the skin surrounding your nailbeds can easily dry out or become inflamed. Ignore the ripped skin for too long, and you can damage the nailbeds or even cause infection. All that is to say: Moisturizing the cuticles is a nail care nonnegotiable. To do so, you can always snag a proper cuticle oil (our favorites, here), but a straight carrier oil will certainly do the job—which brings us to the famed cooking tip. 

When you cook with oils—whether you're tossing veggies on a sheet pan or drizzling on a salad dressing—chances are some of the residue makes its way onto your fingers. But rather than toweling off or giving your hands a rinse (which can dry them out even further), why not embrace the excess grease and work it into your nails? 

After all, many cooking oils have simultaneous skin care benefits: Extra-virgin olive oil contains a high dose of vitamin E, an oil-soluble antioxidant that offers protection against inflammation and free radicals; coconut oil helps your skin boost collagen production and can help improve moisture levels and the barrier function; avocado oil easily absorbs into skin and boasts oleic acid and monounsaturated fats; almond oil is anti-inflammatory and is capable of preventing structural damage caused by UV radiation (because your nails experience sun damage, too); and so on. And if you have a significant glob of oil, you can even massage it into the backs of your hands for an impromptu mask moment. 

Of course, not all cooking oils are created equal—so before you go slathering it on your hands and nails, make sure your oil is organic and unrefined. Highly refined vegetable oils are stripped of their antioxidants and minerals, which means all those skin-loving compounds are essentially tossed out the window (they're also not too healthy to cook with, according to some experts). But if you do have a high-quality oil on your hands, it'd be a waste not to take advantage of the excess. 

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The takeaway. 

If you find some oily residue on your hands while prepping your meals, embrace it by rubbing the oil into your cuticles. Even if you already apply cuticle oil on the daily, a little more moisture is always welcome. As chief educator of Paintbox Evelyn Lim has told mbg, "Apply cuticle oil at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Why not?" 

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