Q&A

Is it OK to put tea tree oil in the soak to soften dry cuticles?

Q.

I do a lot of natural nail manicures and I like to put a few drops of tea tree oil in the soak to soften dry cuticles. Is this effective or is it too diluted? Does it have any other positive effects?

A.

First, let’s make sure we are using the proper terminology. Cuticles are the dead skin that tightly adheres to the nail plate. The living tissue at the base of the nail plate is called the eponychium. Soaking either of these parts of the nail in water will cause them to become softened, because that’s what water does to skin. You don’t need to add any oils to achieve this. There is nothing wrong with putting a few drops of tea tree oil into the water, but it probably will not have much effect other than to make the water smell “medicinal.” But I would refrain from adding too much, since people sometimes develop allergic reactions when overexposed to pure tea tree oil. -- Doug Schoon

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