Can Olive Oil Help Strengthen Brittle Nails?

Anyone interested in health and wellness has long-heard about the benefits of olive oil. Olive oil, especially the extra virgin sort which has not been overly processed or altered, is high in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, and healthy monounsaturated fats (via Healthline). Oleic acid makes up 73% of the fat content of olive oil, and this particular fatty acid is known to reduce inflammation and may even reduce the risk of cancer.

Even more incredible is the anti-inflammatory properties of oleocanthal, which is found in olive oil, and which has a similar effect on the body to the painkiller ibuprofen. In fact, studies show that just 3.4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil has comparable effects on pain and inflammation as 10% of the standard adult dose of ibuprofen, the active ingredient in medication like Advil. Further, olive oil is linked with a reduced risk of stroke, which is a leading cause of death in developed countries. 

Because of all of the healthy fats in olive oil, it is also an ingredient in some skincare products. Now, a TikTok trend claims that using olive oil on your nails can help people with dry or brittle nails grow healthier, longer fingernails. Is it true? 

How olive oil affects fingernails

While some TikTok trends seem crazy, it turns out this one likely does have actual benefits. When asked whether soaking your fingernails in olive oil regularly can help improve the condition of your nails, Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital, told Shape that extra virgin olive oil would be the best bet, as it is the least processed and retains more of its natural fatty acids and other properties.

While there isn't much medical documentation of extra virgin olive oil as a treatment for dry nails, Rachel Nazarian, M.D., F.A.A.D told Shape, "Particularly with the discussion of brittle nails, management does involve using moisturizing oils to improve splitting of the nail plate and improving nail quality." And since EVOO is rich in moisturizing oils, when you soak your nails in it, you are effectively helping your nails retain moisture as well as protecting and improving your skin barrier, which prevents recurring dryness and irritation.

So in short, yes, using olive oil to help heal brittle nails likely has benefits. Now, what's the best way to do it?

How to soak your nails in olive oil

Mixing extra virgin olive oil and a couple of drops of lemon juice in a bowl sounds like the start of a salad dressing recipe, but it's actually a recipe for some good self care. First of all, make sure that you don't have any type of allergy to olives or olive oil. If you aren't sure, doing a small patch test on the inside of your wrist is a good way to make sure you won't have any type of unwanted reaction or irritation. Once you're sure olive oil agrees with you, then you can make this mixture and soak the tips of your fingers in it for several minutes. 

This isn't an overnight miracle of course, but if you do this regularly over the course of a few weeks, you should be able to notice a marked difference in the suppleness of your skin and cuticles, and you should also have less brittle, dry nails. And the best part? It's a completely natural solution, completely free of synthetic chemicals or additives, unlike many other moisturizing solutions on the market.