Essential nail tools that make cuticle care and nail shaping easy


Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the included links, we may earn a commission.

While everyone likes to take time out for self-care with a trip to the nail salon, regular appointments cost time and money. And even if you receive professional treatments religiously, your fingernails can snag or flake unexpectedly, leaving you alone until your next appointment. This is why you should always have the essentials at home if you are a nail perfectionist.

Before you leave this page assuming you’re already set, note that nail tools don’t last forever. When you notice your tools are dull and no longer as effective, it’s time to replace them, according to OPI Education & Capability Manager and Darlene Sritapan, a Certified Nail Technician. “For example, using a nail file or blunt pliers can actually further damage your nails, such as causing micro-tears in the skin or cuticles,” says Sritapan. She adds that it’s also important to sanitize your tools with 70 percent isopropyl alcohol or another sanitizer.

If you realize it’s time to replace some of your tools, or if you want to create a kit from scratch, you’ve come to the right place. To help you out, here’s a guide to the essential tools you need and how to use them properly. (Related: How To Exactly Get A Salon-Quality Manicure At Home)

Nail clippers

Sometimes called nail clippers or nail clippers, nail clippers are the heart of a home nail kit. Not only are they essential for trimming your fingernails and toenails, but they also work for fingernails (ragged pieces of skin that usually occur around the nail). While a nail file can also shorten your nails, nail clippers are great for removing more length quickly, according to acclaimed nail artist Mar Y Sol Inzerillo who has partnered with Nail Boo. She adds that using a flat-edged nail clipper may be the more beginner-friendly option as it can be used on different nail beds and nail thicknesses. Below, his tips for using one.

How to use a nail clipper

  1. Open the nail clipper by flipping and turning the lever.
  2. Place the trimmer on the edge of the nail where you want to cut it. Instead of trying to cut the entire nail in one go, make a series of small cuts from outside edge to edge until the nail is evenly cut.
  3. After you have achieved the desired length, file or polish the edge of your nail until it is smooth and even.

Nail file

If, after cutting your nails, you find that the edges of your nails are not even or do not match the shape you want, this is where a nail file comes in. The tool, which can be made of emery (a type of rock), metal or glass, helps smooth the edge of the nail. (Although an electric nail file aka e-file is an option, Inzerillo and Sritapan advise leaving this to the professionals as they can cause significant damage to your nails.) For natural nails, Inzerillo recommends using a file. of grain 100/180 according to the method below. (Related: How to File Your Nails Like a Pro)

How to use a nail file

  1. Wash hands with soap and water and dry hands well.
  2. Moving from the corner to the center on both sides of the nail, gently slide the file over the nail to achieve the desired shape. When filing your nails, file in one direction (not back and forth in a sawing motion). Filing in one direction ensures that you don’t weaken your nails during the filing process. For example, if you file your nails from left to right, once you get to the right edge, lift the nail file and repeat until you get the shape you want.

Nail buffer

If you ever notice that your nails have ridges and generally look patchy and dull, it’s time to add a nail buffer to the mixture. Nail buffers are designed to smooth the surface of your nails and they have a padded backing which makes them easier to use than nail files. “Polishing your nails removes ridges, giving a smoother surface for the polish to adhere to and it also helps give nails a beautiful shine,” which results in a longer-lasting manicure, according to Sritapan. When it comes to grit, a medium grit (100 to 180) will work best for smoothing out streaks on your nails, while a finer grit (400) will help add shine and sparkle to your nails. nails.

The correct way to polish the nails is to run the pad over the nails in an “X” shape, Sritapan explains, as side-to-side buffing creates friction and heat that can dry out the nail and cause it to dry out. ’cause damage. Follow its steps below.

How to use a nail buffer

  1. Wash hands with soap and water and dry hands well.
  2. Hold the polishing block parallel to your fingernail and gently slide the block across the surface in one direction. As with filing your nails, avoid using a back and forth sawing motion which can be too brutal on your nails and weaken them over time. Use the pad to strike the nail diagonally in an “X” shape 6 to 10 times.
  3. Repeat step two with a fine grain buffer to add shine.

Cuticle pusher

Your cuticles are that thin sliver of dead skin right at the base of your fingernail. Pushing them back before painting your nails can extend the life of your manicure or pedicure and help prevent future snags. You can choose between wooden cuticle pushers or stainless steel cuticle pushers, which last longer. Whichever option you choose, you can follow Inzerillo’s tips below on how to use the tool.

How to use a cuticle pusher

  1. Soak your hands or feet in lukewarm water for about 5 minutes. This ensures that you can effortlessly push back your cuticles without damaging your nails.
  2. Using the curved edge of your cuticle pusher and holding it at a 45 degree angle to your nail, gently push your cuticles back toward the base of your nail.

Cuticle nippers

While some nail experts don’t believe in cutting cuticles, Inzerillo and Sritapan are giving the green light to their use for cutting cuticles and nails, provided you do it right. The result is a cleaner, more polished look. Below is the correct way to trim your cuticles, according to Sritapan. (Related: The 10 Best Cuticle Oils, According to Experts)

How to use cuticle nippers

  1. Soak hands in lukewarm water for 10 minutes to soften cuticles.
  2. Starting at the outside edge of your cuticle, use a sterilized cuticle cutter / nippers to trim excess dry cuticles. You want to make sure that you are only cutting the cuticle and not the skin around your nails.

Gel curing lamp

If you prefer long-lasting manicures, you may want to consider investing in a gel curing light. When cured with one of the lamps, the gel polish lasts about two weeks without flaking. You might want to go for an LED lamp, which typically has shorter curing times than traditional UV lamps, explains Inzerillo. Below are his general instructions on using a gel lamp, but you should plan to cross the manufacturer’s instructions for your particular model.

How to use a gel curing light

  1. Prep your nails with alcohol or a nail dehydrator. Apply a base coat of gel to your nails. Place the nails under the lamp and allow to harden for 30 seconds.
  2. Apply the gel polish color of your choice in a thin, even coat. Place under the lamp and let harden for 30-45 seconds. Repeat until you get the color you want.
  3. Apply a thin layer of finishing gel. Cures for 60 seconds.

Pumice stone / foot file

There’s no point in mastering a home pedicure if you don’t make sure your feet are smooth. While there are many ways to soften your feet at home, such as callus removal and foot peels, it’s also helpful to have a pumice stone or foot file handy. to manually rub dead skin.

“A pumice stone is a slightly abrasive natural stone,” explains Sritapan. “They are used to remove dry, dead skin and can help soften calluses and corns. A foot file is similar, however, it is made of metal or sandpaper and is more abrasive in calluses and skin. dead feet Pumice stones are gentler on sensitive skin and less harsh Read on for his tips on how to use either.

How to use a pumice stone or a foot file

  1. Soak your feet in lukewarm water for 10 minutes to help soften the skin before filing.
  2. Using the stone or file, gently scrape the soles of your feet, paying close attention to the heels and outer edges of the foot. These areas tend to have the most layers of dead skin due to the pressure applied when walking.
  3. Clean your tool with soap and lukewarm water.

Do you have it all? It may seem like a lot of steps, but each nail tool plays a vital role in creating a neat and long-lasting manicure or pedicure. Once you master the use of each, you can keep your nails looking pristine whether or not you are a regular at the salons.


Comments are closed.