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The 8 Best Professional Manicure Tools, According To A Nail Technician

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Doing your nails at home can save you money and make for a relaxing night in — but getting similar results as you would at a salon will require adding some of the best professional manicure tools for your kit. In an email interview with Bustle, Metta Francis, a London-based nail artist and technician, offered some advice for selecting high-quality tools to prepare your nails for at-home manicures. Whether you’re giving yourself a full-blown manicure or simply want to keep your nails filed, there are some things to keep in mind while you shop.

The Expert

Metta Francis is a London-based, multi-award winning nail artist and technician. She is also the founder of Nails by Mets, a mobile nail salon that offers nail services and hosts nail pop-ups and parties across London.

What To Look For When Shopping For Professional Manicure Tools

According to Metta, there are a few essential tools you’ll want in your kit to get your nails ready for any home manicure. First, she explains that “a great pair of nail clippers will help you easily trim your nails to the perfect length and shape.” Next, she explains, you should opt for a crystal or glass nail file to “smooth the edge of the nail.” And finally, Metta writes, “a gentle cuticle pusher paired with an effective cuticle remover and cuticle oil will also help to remove any cuticle and dead skin on the nail, and push back the skin.”

Manicure Tools You Should Avoid If You’re Not A Pro

While certain tools are key for achieving a salon-quality manicure, there are others that should be left to certified nail professionals. Metta cautions against electric nail files or drills for at-home use: “Although these may seem harmless, it's hard to know how much pressure you're putting on your nails and overusing these can cause your natural nail to become thinner and weaker over time.” She also recommends steering clear of sharp nail tools, including sharp cuticle pushers and cuticle nippers. “It’s often tempting to buy very sharp, professional nail tools that you see being used by nail professionals on Instagram,” Metta writes. “But I’d recommend staying away from these. You’re more at risk of over-nipping and pushing, causing damage to the tissue and your nails.”

Cleaning Your Manicure Tools

Even with the right manicure tools, remember to maintain proper upkeep and take safety precautions. According to Metta, “When using tools at home, it’s important to keep them clean and disinfected.” That way, you can help to prevent infection due to tools that aren’t regularly sanitized. Metta explains: “After each use, wash your tools with a clean, dedicated nail brush and hot, soapy water. You can use an antibacterial liquid for this.” To fully disinfect the tools, Metta says, “You can then use a disinfectant liquid to submerge the tools for the recommended time or hospital grade disinfectant wipe.” To maintain their cleanliness, Metta suggests “making sure your tools are stored away in a clean container or pouch” and avoiding “sharing your tools with others.”

With all this in mind, you’ll find the best professional manicure tools to give yourself regular manicures at home.

1. A High-Quality Kit With Grooming Essentials

This manicure set has only three tools — nail clippers and a nail file for achieving clean, shiny tips, plus bonus tweezers you can use to pluck stray hairs from your brows. Both the nail clippers and tweezers are made from surgical-grade stainless steel while the nano glass nail file can help you shape your nails. The complete set will set you a little over $20 — and while you can find kits for cheaper, many reviewers have attested this set is well worth the cost.

One shopper wrote: “I bought what I call the ‘essential three.’ Tweezers, file and clippers. They come in a really nice polyurethane case. All three pieces are solidly built and appear to be made for durability. I totally recommend this product. Especially for travelers.”

2. A Set With Clippers Of Two Different Sizes

In this Tweezerman nail clipper set, you’ll receive two nail clippers: a smaller pair for trimming your fingernails and a larger option for toenails. Both are made of stainless steel, and reviewers have confirmed they’re high quality. One reviewer summarized: “Sharp. Durable. Clips nails well. Inexpensive. Good value for the quality.” No wonder the pair of clippers have received a 4.6-star overall rating after more than 7,000 customers have weighed in.

One shopper wrote: “These are the best quality clippers we’ve ever used. They are sturdy and sharp enough to cut through even the thickest toenails. I will buy them again if I ever need another set, but I anticipate these lasting forever because they are so well-built.”

3. A Popular Crystal Nail File That Comes In Several Colors

This crystal nail file is a true fan favorite, receiving a 4.7-star overall rating after 13,700-plus reviewers chimed in. It’s made of tempered glass, making it strong and resistant to heat, so you can wash it in hot water without worry. The nail file comes with a sleek case to store it in between uses. It’s available in nine colors for you to choose from, ranging from aqua and violet (pictured above) to pink and yellow — or unique, ergonomic shapes like this one.

One shopper wrote: “Filing with one of these is far superior to filing with the standard emery board. I am a Cosmetologist who has noticed the quality of emery boards has decreased over the years. This glass file will give you a much better, smoother edge to your nails. It is easy to clean and will last a long time if you are careful not to break it. They come in pretty colors.”

4. A Gentle Cuticle Pusher With A Rubbery Tip

Many reviewers have agreed that this cuticle pusher is gentle but effective. One shopper wrote, “It is firm enough to work well, yet soft enough that it doesn't hurt delicate cuticles.” The manufacturer doesn’t indicate what the tip is made of, but reviewers have reported that it’s a rubber-like material. As a plus, the other end of the pusher has a pointed tip that can be used to carefully clean underneath the nails.

One shopper wrote: “I’ve looked high and low for something like this after using orange sticks and metal cuticle pushers on my nails. Orange sticks and metal pushers tear my cuticles and scratch my nail beds. [...] This plastic pusher is a MIRACLE! The tip is a soft, rubbery plastic that gently pushes your cuticles without tearing them!”

5. A Gel Cuticle Remover That Works Instantly

Sally Hansen’s cuticle remover works lightning fast to remove unwanted cuticles. And if you leave it on for up to one minute, it can tackle stubborn calluses, too. According to reviewers, the process is fast and painless. One reviewer attested that “there’s no smell, no sting, and it’s very easy to wipe off.” Using it is simple as well: Just squeeze a small amount around your nails, count to 15, and gently push back your cuticles with a cuticle pusher.

One shopper wrote: “I love this product. It made my at home manicures so much better and cleaner. No more cutting up my fingers getting my cuticles off!”

  • Also available on: Ulta, $7

6. A Moisturizing Cuticle Oil With 100,000+ Ratings

For best results, Metta recommends using a cuticle oil twice daily — she says: “Massaging cuticle oil twice daily into your nails, skin, and cuticles will reduce the amount of hard skin and cuticle build up so you'll have less dead skin to remove at home.”

With a 4.7-star overall rating after more than Amazon 100,000 reviews, you can trust that this cuticle oil can moisturize dry, brittle nails. One reviewer described, “This is oily when going on, but quickly absorbs and does not feel greasy after about 5 minutes.” The formula also contains milk to help soften the skin and honey to lock in much-needed moisture.

One shopper wrote: “After seeing all the reviews I decided to try. And I am glad. It works to keep cuticles moisturized and looking great, without an expensive manicure. All done at home.”

7. A Salon Disinfectant For Sterilizing Your Tools

Between uses, you’ll want to disinfect your tools. This disinfectant from Barbicide comes with a near-perfect 4.8-star overall rating after more than 1,400 reviews — and several reviewers have used it specifically for their nail tools. One reviewer who likes to do their own nails mentioned that it’s “really easy to use” and “cleans well.” It’s safe to use on glass, metal, and plastic, and as a plus, a little of this stuff goes a long way. To use the product, just mix 2 ounces of the formula with 32 ounces of water, submerge your tools in the solution for 10 minutes, then rinse and dry.

One shopper wrote: “Really easy to use, cleans well. I bought it because I like to do my own nails and I wanted to make sure that I can properly disinfect the tools and equipment throughout the process.”

8. These Hospital-Grade Disinfectant Wipes

Another method that Metta recommends for sterilizing manicure tools is using hospital-grade disinfectant wipes. These wipes work in two minutes, cleaning anything it comes into contact with of 32 microorganisms. They are registered by the EPA and meet CDC, OSHA, and infection control guidelines. The wipes rely on quaternary ammonium and isopropyl alcohol — and though incredibly potent, they’re safe to use on most surfaces. You’ll receive 50 individually wrapped wipes with this purchase.

One shopper wrote: “This is the most powerful wipe that could be safely used. [...] Way faster than most other options. Smells of iso but what do you expect?”

Study referenced:

Alharbi, N.M., Alhashim, H.M. (2021). Beauty Salons are Key Potential Sources of Disease Spread, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8007475/

Expert:

Metta Francis, nail artist and technician and founder of Nails by Mets

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