Using Olive Oil As a Nail Strengthener Is TikTok's Latest Beauty Hack — Does It Work?

Find out if the pantry staple really benefits nail health.

Applying Oil to Nails
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If you've ever opened the TikTok app, it's highly likely you've come across one of many videos living under the #beautytok hashtag where users show and explain beauty tips and DIY treatments.

The latest beauty hack that has taken the app by storm is soaking your fingernails in olive oil to help strengthen and grow them. A quick search on the app for "olive oil nails" shows hundreds of users putting the DIY treatment to the test and sharing its benefits for improving their nails.

One user shared a step-by-step tutorial of how she uses the DIY nail strengthening treatment. She starts by pouring a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and a few squeezes of fresh lemon juice into a glass bowl. She then places her fingers into the bowl and wiggles them around to mix the concoction together as well as ensure that her fingernails are fully submerged in the oil. Finally, she advises viewers to soak their nails for tens minutes and repeat the process twice a week. She also shows the strength of her noticeably long nails by attempting to bend them back in the video which now has over one million views.

With the simplicity of this hack and the likelihood of having olive oil at home, it's clear why users have jumped on board to put this hack to the test. Curious to know if this TikTok hack for stronger and longer nails is really a more affordable and efficient nail treatment than store-bought options? Ahead, learn everything you need to know about the nail benefits of olive oil and whether or not soaking your nails in the pantry staple works as a nail strengthening treatment.

What is the olive oil hack for strengthening nails?

TikTok users are soaking their nails in extra virgin olive oil as well as rubbing the oil around their cuticles to strengthen and grow out their nails.

If this hack seems really simple, it is. Many users are pouring just enough extra virgin olive oil into a bowl to cover the fingernails and cuticles, while others are creating a concoction that consists of olive oil mixed with freshly squeezed lemon juice. For example, one TikToker pours the olive oil into a large bowl and soaks her fingers for 20 minutes. She then removes her fingers and wipes off the extra oil with a napkin while adding a caption to the screen explaining that olive oil is rich in vitamin E, making it moisturizing and beneficial for keeping the cuticles healthy and helping nails grow.

Another TikTok user chooses a seemingly less messy route, dipping a cotton swab in a bowl of oil and applying it all over her nails and cuticles. She advises viewers to apply the treatment daily to "see fast results in two weeks."

Olive oil is widely known to be a multipurpose oil. It's often used in the kitchen for cooking. Some people even use it for hair conditioning due to its antioxidant and moisturizing properties. So, it's no surprise that TikTok users have potentially discovered yet another use for the oil.

Does applying olive oil to your nails really help to strengthen and grow nails?

If you're considering soaking your nails in olive oil, it's best to use extra virgin olive oil as opposed to refined olive oil to reap the most benefits, as extra virgin olive oil is rich in antioxidants and fatty acids that help hydrate and protect the skin, according to Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital. EVOO hasn't been exposed to chemicals or heat during processing, so the oil has more nutrients, Traci Weintraub, chef and founder of Gracefully Fed, previously told Shape.

Olive oil, in general, "is rich in fatty acids, [such as] oleic acid, linoleic acid, and palmitic acid, as well as lipids and antioxidants," Anar Mikailov, M.D., F.A.A.D., and co-founder of Skintensive, previously told Shape. Soaking nails in nutrient-rich olive oil may be beneficial, according to experts.

"Particularly with the discussion of brittle nails, management does involve using moisturizing oils to improve splitting of the nail plate and improving nail quality," says Rachel Nazarian, M.D., F.A.A.D. The evidence of topical application of olive oil to nail health is not well documented in medical literature, however, there is evidence that protecting the nail from outside irritants and retaining moisture can lead to healthier and stronger nails, she explains. When soaking the nails in olive oil, you're helping the nails retain moisture and strengthen the skin barrier (the outer most protective layer of skin).

Nails that are brittle, weak, or discolored can be a sign of vitamin, mineral, or nutrient deficiencies that cause the nails to break off. "While [olive oil] does not promote new growth per se, it does improve brittleness and reduce breakage, allowing the nails to grow to the best of their ability," says Dr. Zeichner.

All of the fatty acids (aka Omega-3) in EVOO help to support the retention of moisture in the hair, skin, and nails. It's rich in vitamin E, vitamin A, and antioxidants, which help strengthen nails and make them appear healthier and shiny, according to Debra Jaliman, M.D., board-certified NYC dermatologist, and author of the book, Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist. Specifically, vitamin E promotes moisture and vitamin A provides hydration for the nails and cuticles while also aiding in nail strength, she explains.

Is it safe to use olive oil on your nails?

Before you consider soaking your nails in oil olive, identify any potential olive oil allergies to avoid a case of contact dermatitis (aka an allergic reaction or rash that occurs when an allergen makes contact with the skin) from popping up. "Ultimately, it’s a pretty safe trend and one that just about anyone can participate in that may actually offer a small amount of benefit," says Dr. Nazarian.

It's best to do this treatment on nails that aren't polished to allow the oils to really soak in your nails and avoid getting oil trapped under chipped nail polish. Soaking the nails in the oil for 10 to 15 minutes should be sufficient, according to Dr. Jaliman. Be sure to allow the oil to dry down completely into the nails and cuticles for the best results.

You can use olive to strengthen and grow nails: True or false?

TikTok True or False
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"The application of a fatty, hydrating, and anti-inflammatory oil such as olive oil may have the potential to improve nail health and strength, but it will not improve the nails' ability to grow faster," concludes Dr. Nazarian. There is no solid research stating that olive oil will specifically promote growth in fingernails. However, using the oil to address signs of brittleness and splitting in the nails to improve over all nail health may allow for increase in nail length, she explains.

Soaking your nails in a bowl of olive oil is a nice form of self-care and relaxation, but it isn't a magical treatment that'll transform your nails overnight. You'll want to manage your expectations, as many TikTok users have advised to repeat the treatment regularly over a two week period to see the best results long term.

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