I use the Tweezerman Deluxe Nail Clipper Set to trim my finger- and toenails. After speaking to podiatrists and sports trainers, I found that these clippers have the necessary features while remaining cheap enough to buy without a second thought.
Note: The Deluxe Nail Clipper set is currently on Amazon as an “Add-On” item, which means it’s cost-prohibitive to ship by itself, so you need to purchase an additional item to have the clippers delivered. If you want to purchase only a clipper and nothing else, get this model. It’s every bit as good as our pick, but only comes by itself as a single unit, not two clippers.
How we chose the best clippers
We spoke to podiatrists and beauty experts to hear both what model clippers they like and, more importantly, how to use them properly. We then supplemented their info with more than ten hours of published research on clippers. We also conducted personal testing of the top picks to gauge ergonomics and cutting performance.
Toss the cheap drugstore nail clippers and get something better—you’ll be happily shocked at the difference. Well-made clippers are aligned correctly, meaning the two blades meet up precisely, and they’re sharp enough to trim nails cleanly without strain. The good news is that for less than $15, you can get clippers with those features that’ll last you years.
Buying and using clippers correctly
At the drug store, you’ll see two types of nail trimmers—regular thumb-sized clippers with a fold-up handle, and plier-like snippers with long handles. Avoid the snippers. Jim McDannald, licensed podiatrist, distance running coach, and Wirecutter writer says, “People need to be careful with these ‘medical grade’ clippers. One little slip up and they could do quite a bit more damage if some extra skin were to get caught up in the clipping.” We say leave those clippers to the professionals and stick with the standard lever style.
When using a standard lever clipper, there are guidelines that will decide whether you get a clean cut or an ingrowth that’ll leave you hobbling. Dr. Chris Adigun is a practicing dermatologist and head of NYU’s Charles Harris Skin and Cancer Unit’s Nail Disorder Clinic. She explained to us that the tools aren’t usually the issue. “Problems I encounter with my patients do not tend to stem from the type of nail clippers they are using, but rather how they are clipping their nails,” she says.
Even if you have the best clippers, take care to use them correctly.
Don’t clip your cuticles. “Clipping cuticles, as a rule, is bad for the health of the nail unit,” Dr. Adigun says. “Cuticles provide necessary protection from infection and insulation from water loss.”
When trimming your toenails, McDannald says, “Cut them short and straight across. Clipping the nails with a small taper in the corners is ok, but if you take too much off the corners or dig into the sides, there is a opportunity for the skin to impede on the space and the potential for an ingrown toenail to develop.”
Be conservative when clipping, and be especially careful not to cut your nails too short. It’s one of the most common issues Dr. Adigun sees in her practice. “Clippers that clip only the nail and not the surrounding skin or cuticle, and clip in a predictable way are ones that I prefer,” Dr. Adigun says. “That means fewer accidents, such as the common ‘I had no idea I was cutting that short.’”
What makes a good nail clipper?
Material matters. Cheap drugstore clippers are usually nickel-plated, which makes them fragile and usually dull. Get a model that’s all stainless steel—they stay sharp, are easy to clean, and have a substantial heft without being cumbersome.
Ideally, you want to have two clippers: a large one for extra leverage for your toenails, and a smaller, more maneuverable one for your fingernails.
It sounds like sales nonsense, but there’s some validity to owning two. “As people age, their toenails tend to dry out, thicken, and become more prone to developing fungal infections,” McDannald says. “Having a separate strong clipper for the toenails can make the job easier and avoid potential contamination of the fingernails with a clipper that might be carrying some fungal spores from the toenails.”
Get a straight-edge clipper if you can, at least for your feet. Veteran manicurist Jin Soon Choi explains her clipper criteria to Allure: “My concern is to have straight-shaped clippers because this provides the most versatility—you can cut both straight and round.”
We say ignore anything with a nail-catcher. Peter Martin, grooming editor at Esquire, says of them, “That part feels like a worthless gimmick.” We agree. A nail-catcher usually means two strips of plastic lining the arms of the clipper, and in our testing, nail particles still flew out from the blades. It’s a feature that doesn’t seem to work. At worst, it’s an excuse for manufacturers to charge you a bit extra. You can just clip your nails over a trash bin or the toilet.
Most of us should avoid medical-grade plier-style clippers, but if you have exceptionally thick or fungal nails, they’re worth considering. “No [regular] clippers will get the job done,” McDannald says. “Those folks need to see a podiatrist or consider getting something medical grade.” If you’re in this camp, take lots of care because, as mentioned, you can do damage to your toe or finger. We have a pick for this style of clipper (usually called a “nipper”), but if in doubt, get to a podiatrist before performing bathroom surgery.
Do you need to file your nails? Probably not. If you have exceptionally thick nails and worry about them snagging on socks or stockings, go ahead and file. McDannald says, “Normal toenails don’t usually need to be filed.”
Finally, take care of your clippers. Dropping them or letting them bang around in a toiletry bag can throw off the factory alignment and the friction can dull the blades. Make sure they’re stored securely. If you’re disciplined, it’s good practice to disinfect them after use, especially with toenail clippers. A rinse or dunk in alcohol or hydrogen peroxide will work.
The Tweezerman Deluxe Nail Clipper Set clippers are sharp enough to cut cleanly, are made of durable stainless steel, come with a straight-edged model, and have blades that are precision aligned. The kit comes with two clippers. The fingernail clipper has concave blades and a smaller handle that’s easy to manage, especially when cutting with your non-dominant hand. The toenail clipper is slightly longer and broader to give leverage when cutting through thick nail, and its straight edge gives you full control to cut your toenails straight across.
Dr. Adigun said of them, “For the day-to-day nail trimming people are doing at home, the Tweezerman line of nail clippers are economical and excellent.” That’s a recommendation coming from the head of NYU’s Nail Disorder Clinic and a practicing dermatologist.
Allure concurs. They conducted a test of three popular and reputed nail clippers, and the Tweezerman came out on top. Test coordinator and features editor Patrick Rogers said, “This sleekly engineered nail instrument has nothing in common with the standard, hard-to-control clippers sold in a bin at the drugstore checkout. Seriously, I might never bite again.”
If we were seeking a complaint to make about the Tweezerman, it might be that it doesn’t come with a case, which would help extend their life. But really, there’s nothing to detract from them, especially at such a cheap price. If you need tools to trim your nails, the Tweezerman Deluxe Nail Clipper set will serve you well.
For thick or fungal nails
There are dozens of different nail clippers out there. A few models show up as perennial favorites, but fall short of the Tweezerman’s versatility and value.
Seki’s line of clippers were among the finalists in Allure‘s test. Their clippers, though, usually cost $5 or $6 more than the Tweezerman. Their clippers have blades made from quality stainless steel, are honed by hand, and have die-cast levers. The region for which they’re named is famous in Japan for steel production and for crafting samurai swords. We tried them out and found the blades to be crazy sharp and easy to grip. From our research and personal testing, we’re not sure they’re worth the extra few bucks, especially since you only get one device for that price.
One clipper that made headlines a while back is the Khlip, a $70 tool that, as Khlip explains, gives you total control by placing the leverage point at the front of the clipper, right over the blades. That way, you can set the blades exactly where you want them to cut. We don’t think these are worth it for the price. As Gizmodo explains, $70 for clippers is a bit ridiculous: “It’s definitely an improvement [over regular clippers] in some ways, but until they get the price down to, say, $25, it’s a luxury item.” I tested them out and they’re very impressive. The textured grip for your thumb, the sharp blades, and the tin carry case all amount to probably the best home nail-clipping experience I’ve had. Is that experience $60 better than our pick? I don’t think so, but if you’re looking to assemble the finest toiletry kit possible, throw these in there. For the rest of us, the Tweezerman will work just as well.
Another primo option is the $35 Zwilling J.A. Henckels Pour Homme clipper—it’s worth noting that Henckels, the venerable German knifemaker, owns Tweezerman. Peter Martin of Esquire said they’re pretty but not worth the price. “The best looking nail clippers I’ve come across are the Zwilling J. A. Henckels pour Homme ultra-slim nail clipper,” he says. “But I can’t imagine using them. Nothing’s better than the regular $5 clippers you get at the store.” Agreed, though we’d advocate spending the extra $5 for our pick for reasons outlined above.
Mehaz, another European brand for nail products (we think), has nail clippers that are popular on Amazon, but there’s almost no information on the company besides customer reviews. Their website appears to be ancient, and we can’t sufficiently inspect their product line or find their warranty information. We say stick with the reliable and reputed Tweezerman.
Most big-name cosmetics brands have a clipper to their name, like this model from Revlon, but we can’t find any data to suggest that they’re worthwhile. User reviews are mixed on Amazon and other shopping sites. Again, go with the vetted Tweezerman.
Wrapping it up
When maintaining your finger- and toenails, you want the skills to do it correctly without injury, and a set of clippers that are sharp, aligned correctly, made of stainless steel, have a straight edge for your toenails, and are affordable. The Tweezerman Deluxe set nails all the criteria. It’s a $10 purchase that’ll keep your hands fingers and toes looking and feeling healthy.
Interview, April, 2013,"For the day-to-day nail trimming people are doing at home, the Tweezerman line of nail clippers are economical and excellent.”
Allure Man: On the Hunt for the World's Best Fingernail Clipper, Allure, December 7, 2012,"This sleekly engineered nail instrument has nothing in common with the standard, hard-to-control clippers sold in a bin at the drugstore checkout. "