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The 9 Very Best Nail Clippers

Whether you’re looking for nail clippers for babies or toenail clippers for the thickest of nails.

Photo: Marcus McDonald
Photo: Marcus McDonald

In this article

A pair of nail clippers is a medicine-cabinet essential, whether you prefer doing your own nails at home or need a trim in between manis and pedis. Before reporting this story, I had a few clippers I’d acquired from drugstores over the years that did the job but weren’t necessarily exceptional. (I’d still give myself the annoying hangnail or would have to rely heavily on fixing my nails with an emery board.) Since trying some of the options below, I’ve learned that investing in good nail clippers can make all the difference, from perfecting your ideal nail shape to getting a nice, clean cut. “The little cheap ones that you get at the pharmacy or dollar store tend to tear or crack the nail when you use them,” explains celebrity nail artist Fleury Rose. But with so many options out there, it can be difficult to choose the best nail clippers for you and your budget. To help, I spoke to Rose and ten other experts — including nail technicians, podiatrists, and our own writers — about which ones they recommend and tested out some for myself.

What we’re looking for

Blade material

Stainless-steel blades were a must across the board when we spoke to experts, with Rose mentioning that titanium-steel clippers work too. Both materials are hypoallergenic, so they can be used by almost anyone. They’re easy to clean and rust-resistant to help avoid infections and extend a clipper’s life. Dr. Dana Stern, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist specializing in nail health, suggests investing in clippers made with good-quality steel “as opposed to less expensive tools that tend to dull and need to be replaced.” The rest of the nail clipper might be made of a mix of metals or plastic, but it’s most important that the blade that cuts your nails is stainless or titanium.

Edge shape

Nail clippers generally come with two different edge shapes: straight and curved. When it comes to picking between the two, it usually comes down to preference. Stick with a straight-edged clipper if you like your nails more squared and a curve-edged clipper if you like your nails more rounded. However, if you’re prone to getting ingrowns, experts suggest a nail clipper with a straight edge because angling the sides of the nail with a curved nail clipper can encourage the nail to grow into the skin.

Size

Picking the right size of your nail clippers is dependent on the person. If you’re someone who has smaller fingernails and toenails, you’re probably fine with a fingernail clipper for both. If you have larger or thicker nails, it’s probably best to have a set of both fingernail and toenail clippers, or you might be able to get away with just toenail clippers in some cases. The slightly larger clippers are great, because they provide more leverage for anyone with mobility issues or trouble reaching their toes.

Extra features

There are just as many nail clippers with added features as there are plain ones. If there are any features that are actually useful, we’ll highlight them. It’s worth noting that some of these clippers come with nail files, but they’re not mentioned. That’s because almost all nail files on clippers aren’t good enough for normal use, and you’re much better off just getting an emery board instead.

Best overall nail clippers

Blade material: Stainless steel | Edge shape: Curved | Size: Fingernail clipper | Extra features: Ergonomic ridges

Crafted by the same company that makes the Green Bell nail clippers, a longtime Strategist favorite, is the Seki Edge SS-112. When I reached out to the company to test the Green Bell for myself, they suggested I try the Seki Edge out, informing me that the Seki Edge is an updated version of the Green Bell with a more ergonomic grip. When I tested the two out side by side, I did appreciate the added ridges on the Seki and felt it was much more secure in my hand, even while cutting my toenails. As for the actual cutting, both cut virtually the same. As former Strategist editor Jason Chen said back in 2016, they “slice through nails like a santoku through a tomato.” It’s worth noting that Tweezerman was the most touted by experts (more on that soon), but after testing both, the ease and seamlessness while using the Seki made it stand out as truly the best. As Molly Romah, lead nail technician at Chillhouse, points out, this means they’re great for thick nails. “It cuts right through thick nails with practically no effort, which gives the user complete control,” she says.

Best (less expensive) nail clippers

Blade material: Stainless steel | Edge shape: Straight | Size: Toenail clipper | Extra features: Free sharpening service

Tweezerman was a favorite of the nail-salon experts we spoke to. When I tried them out for myself, they held up as a high-quality pair of affordable clippers. While they don’t slice nails as seamlessly as the Seki Edge clippers, they consistently clip clean edges without much struggle. The straight-edge clippers are Vanity Projects Institute founder Rita de Alencar Pinto’s favorite, because they can be used for both fingernails and toenails “very easily and safely” without having to worry about potential ingrowns. Amy Lin, founder of the NYC-based salon Sundays, prefers the straight-edge toenail clippers, because they’re salon-quality and easy to handle. And they are known to last, which is likely why nail artists are such fans. “I’ve been using the same pair for a while, and they stay sharp for a long time,” says Rose, adding that they’re much stronger than any other drugstore brand out there. And if your set of Tweezerman nail clippers does happen to dull over time, Jacqueline M. Sutera, a podiatrist at City Podiatry, notes that you can send yours to the company for free sharpening.

Best nail-clipper set

Blade material: Stainless steel | Edge shape: Curved and straight | Size: Fingernail and toenail clippers

If you’re looking for a set, this Tweezerman one is just a couple dollars extra. It comes with the toenail clipper above and a smaller fingernail clipper with a curved edge. While most of our experts don’t think having two different-size clippers is absolutely necessary, Stern thinks otherwise. “Fingernails and toenails are very different in size,” she says. “The analogy would be comparing an adult fingernail to a young child’s — you would use two different-size clippers.” When I tried out the set, I personally appreciated the size options. As someone with small fingers, it was helpful having a smaller set of clippers. I could more easily shape my nails as I clipped them, and it cut down the time I had to file and shape my nails. They cut about the same as the above set, but the clippers feel slightly less substantial since both are a bit lighter.

Best toenail clipper for thick nails

Blade material: Stainless steel | Edge shape: Curved | Size: Toenail clipper | Extra features: Cushion grip

This pair of toenail clippers was recommended by beauty columnist Rio Viera-Newton, who has “strong toenails that grow rapidly.” Months into the pandemic without her usual pedicures, this became an issue. Both her at-home pair of nail clippers and a pair of toenail-specific clippers from the drugstore weren’t strong or sharp enough to clip through her toenails. (As Viera-Newton and the podiatrists we spoke to mention, thick toenails could be a sign of a fungal infection if you have cracks and discoloration. If that’s the case, it’s best to see a doctor or specialist.) After some digging on Reddit, Viera-Newton found these clippers designed specially for podiatrists to use on elderly clients, who tend to have thicker (and often ingrown) toenails. “They have a sharp, curved blade that easily slices off any toenail, no matter how strong or hard or gnarly it has gotten, and a nonslip, cushion grip that allows for quick, clean trims,” she writes. “Unlike the other clippers I tried, you barely need to squeeze them for them to work perfectly.”

Best less expensive nail clipper for thick nails

Blade material: Stainless steel | Edge shape: Straight | Size: Fingernail clipper 

This set of two clippers comes at the same price as the toenail clipper above. While it may look like the standard clippers found at drugstores, it’s able to cut through thick nails. When Viera-Newton spoke to experts about safely removing SNS, gel, or acrylic manicures at home, Rose told her these are “heavy duty, so if you also want to cut your nails short to make the removal process a little easier, these will get the job done.” Its smaller size makes it more ideal for trimming fingernails as well.

Best toenail clipper for people with limited mobility

Blade material: Stainless steel | Edge shape: Straight | Size: Toenail clipper | Extra features: Swivel blade

When we spoke to podiatrist Dr. Emily Splichal, she was hesitant about using podiatry nail clippers at home. “They’re designed to be used on someone else,” she says, adding that it could lead to cuts and infections if the user isn’t careful. Instead, she recommended this Clipperpro pair, which has a long plastic grip that’s much larger than that of a standard set of nail clippers and a blade head that swivels 180 degrees. Both of those features make this clipper much easier to use for anyone with arthritis or mobility issues, Splichal notes, since they have more control and an added range they can reach.

Best nail clippers for ingrown toenails

Blade material: Stainless steel | Edge shape: Straight | Size: Toenail nipper

All of the experts we spoke to said it’s best to see a professional if you have ingrown toenails, but if you’re not able to, Lin suggested this nail nipper with caution. It features a more pointed blade, allowing for precision. It was recommended by Marcela Correa, a licensed medical pedicurist and the owner of Medi Pedi NYC, and Juan Ortiz, a medical pedicurist at Aida Bicaj spa, back when we spoke to them at length about ingrown nails. And since this specific Mundial nipper has a straight edge, you could use it to avoid future ingrowns. “To prevent ingrown nails, use a straight nail clipper to cut the nail, then use a file straight across, but do not cut or file on the sides of the nail,” says Romah.

Best high-end nail clippers

Blade material: Stainless steel | Edge shape: Straight | Size: Fingernail clipper | Extra features: Leather storage case

Last year, Strategist junior writer Kitty Guo upgraded her drugstore nail clippers to these sleek, compact clippers from renowned German knife manufacturer Zwilling J.A. Henckels. She calls out the lever’s simple slide-locking mechanism that “slots into the body of the clippers as snugly and seamlessly as a puzzle piece,” so they “don’t take up even a fraction more space than is necessary.” As for how they clip, they have the “perfect amount of bite,” Guo writes. “Not too weak where you have to really wrench to get them to cut, but also not too strong that they’ll send stray nail fragments flying across the room.” They’re worth the relatively high price, because of their award-winning design, and they can handle both fingernails and toenails “swimmingly,” Guo says. On top of that, they come in a leather sleeve for extra protection while traveling.

Best nail clippers for babies

Blade material: Stainless steel | Edge shape: Curved | Size: Baby nails | Extra features: Spy hole

Babies’ nails grow quickly, and it’s important to keep them short so they don’t accidentally scratch themselves (or you). Clipping a baby’s nails can be a difficult task, so instead of nail scissors, Strategist writer Lauren Ro uses these “intuitive” clippers. Unlike regular nail clippers, these use a “kind of slicing motion that’s better for soft baby nails” and even have a “viewing” window to help get a better look at what you’re clipping.

Some more nail clippers we’ve written about

Our experts

• Marcela Correa, licensed medical pedicurist and the owner of Medi Pedi NYC
• Kitty Guo, Strategist junior writer
• Amy Lin, founder of Sundays nail salon
• Juan Ortiz, medical pedicurist at Aida Bicaj spa
• Rita de Alencar Pinto, founder of the Vanity Projects Institute
• Lauren Ro, writer at the Strategist
• Molly Romah, lead nail technician at Chillhouse
Fleury Rose, celebrity nail artist
• Dr. Emily Splichal, D.P.M., Center for Functional & Regenerative Medicine 
Dr. Dana Stern, M.D., board-certified dermatologist specializing in nail health
• Jacqueline M. Sutera, D.P.M., podiatrist at City Podiatry
• Rio Viera-Newton, beauty columnist at the Strategist

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The 9 Very Best Nail Clippers