After consulting user reviews and professionals to narrow down the field of competition, we tested eight pairs of clippers and found that the Muji Silver Nail Clippers are the best for trimming both fingernails and toenails. For about $11, you get clippers with great build quality and sharp blades that will clip your nails cleanly without leaving annoying, jagged edges.
The Muji come in two sizes, small ($11) and large ($17). We tested the small only and found they were adequate for both men and women’s fingers and toes. It wasn’t a necessity for us, but the Muji is one of the few high-quality clippers that features a nail strip on the underside of the handle, which some people like.
Our runner-up choice is the Mehaz 660, also our former main pick. We love the way they clip–fast and smoothly–and the extra-curved handle that offers better leverage for cutting particularly thick nails, but they became almost impossible to find this year. So if you can find them, they’re great quality clippers for around $8 with a lifetime guarantee.
We spoke to podiatrists and beauty experts to hear what model clippers they like and, more importantly, how to use them properly. We then supplemented their advice with studying more than 12 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 you can get clippers with those features that’ll last you years for less than $15.
In early 2014, we had one female tester use five different clippers—the Tweezerman Deluxe, Seki Edge, Feather PaRaDa, Kai 0718, and Mehaz 660—twice each on her fingernails and toenails, watching for the ease with which each pair cut, whether nail clippings flew off, and how nails felt once clipped. We then had a male tester repeat the same process. To get a sense of the sharpness of each pair of blades, we compared how all five pairs cut into a plastic hotel room key card, watching for spidering near the edges.
The Muji Silver Nail Clippers (size small) were one of our favorite clippers we tested because they clipped fingernails and toenails cleanly without requiring much force. We like that they’re solidly constructed out of stainless steel, fit comfortably in one hand, and make a satisfying “click” sound when clipping. Both our male and female testers liked the way they left finger- and toenails feeling soft enough and without jagged edges and without clippings flying every which way. Despite their $11 price tag, the Muji cut through nails just as quickly and effortlessly as the pricier, larger Kai and Feather clippers. The larger clippers technically have more leverage, but their size made them more difficult for people with average-sized hands to use one-handed than the Muji.
Compared to the rest of our field, the Muji are also the most interesting design-wise with their compact footprint and tastefully muted silver sparkle finish. It’s not much, but it seems like the company at least put some thought into how the clippers look, not just how they function. There’s also a nail file strip located on the underside of the handle. Their smaller size makes it easy to toss in a bag or toiletry kit, but they still have a bit more heft to them than some larger clippers, like our runner-up from Mehaz.
The Muji clippers were not our original No. 1 choice; they were our runner-up pick in 2014 because they have just a 30-day return window versus the Mehaz 660’s lifetime guarantee. But since then, the Mehaz have become nearly impossible to find, so we think the Muji Silver Clippers, available on both Amazon and Muji’s own site, are the best available choice for most people.
Amazon customers, the few of them that there are, like them a lot: The Muji (size small) have a perfect rating of five stars, though just 16 reviews have been posted.
Like the Muji, the Mehaz 660 Professional Nail Clippers, are extremely sharp and cut cleanly. They are made of durable stainless steel, and have blades that are precision aligned for clean, smooth-feeling cuts. We like the well-angled handle that gives ample leverage for quick, precise cuts without using a lot of force.
The 660 comes with a cheap-looking plastic nail catcher, which we removed to test whether nail clippings would fly all over the place. Though some clippings did go airborne, they did so in a more controlled manner than the flying circus we experienced with comparable Tweezerman models.
The recommendation initially came to us by way of a professional manicurist and we also found they had very positive user feedback on Amazon: an average of 4.1 stars over 252 reviews. Mehaz is a 35-year-old German cutlery brand that is now part of a family of companies that manufactures beauty products. Their tools, including these clippers, have a lifetime guarantee.
I’ve been using the Mehaz 660s weekly for the past year, and they’re still the best nail clippers I’ve owned. I discarded the nail catcher after one use because I found it unnecessary and instead clip my nails over a bathroom wastebasket. While they’re not quite as razor-sharp as when they were brand new, the 660s still get the job done, consistently clipping my finger- and toenails cleanly and leaving no jagged or sharp edges behind. After about seven months they developed a tiny speck of rust, but I haven’t been taking particularly good care to store them or clean them on a regular basis.
Unfortunately, these can’t be our main pick anymore because these have been difficult to find online. If you do run across them, don’t hesitate to pick them up–as long as they are priced under $10.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $22.
As for us, we’d get Tweezerman’s Barrel Spring clippers. Like their tweezers, Tweezerman has a policy where they will sharpen the blades on their nippers (meaning, these handled clippers, but not their regular model clippers) for the life of the unit. There aren’t any formal assessments of these professional-style clippers, but with Tweezerman’s sharpening policy and the positive Amazon reviews (discounting two negatives that sound unqualified), we think they’re a solid pick for anyone with thick or fungal nails.
There are dozens of different nail clippers out there. A few models show up as perennial favorites, but they can’t compete with Mehaz’s precision and value.
We had to demote the Tweezerman Deluxe Nail Clipper Set from our previous main pick. Despite their great initial performance, subsequent buying experiences by various editors lead us to believe that their quality control might not be up to snuff. While Alex George’s initial testing units were quite good, other editors and readers’ complaints ranged: not sharp enough, misaligned blades, and everything in between. There’s also an abundance of less-than-satisfied Amazon reviews relaying similar experiences. The price was initially what made them so attractive, especially with the flexibility of getting two sizes for fingers and toes, but for the same price as the Mehaz or Muji, the Tweezerman just can’t compare favorably. They feel lighter and cheaper, and the handle is harder to turn, making a scraping noise every time you open it. These also don’t leave nails feeling as soft; in fact sometimes we thought they felt a bit jagged. And when it came to the hotel key card test, it literally didn’t cut it.
Seki’s line of clippers were among the finalists in Allure‘s clippers test. These are good clippers, but they usually cost $5 or $6 more than the Muji. Their clippers have blades made from quality stainless steel that are honed by hand and have die-cast levers. The region for which they’re named is famous in Japan for steel production and crafting samurai swords. We tried them out and found the blades to be crazy sharp (these easily passed our key card cutting test). The clippers have a nice heft to them and are easy to grip. From our research and personal testing, though, we found they’re not worth the extra few bucks, considering that the Muji cut better anyway.
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 Muji or Mehaz will work just as well.
Another primo option is the $35 Zwilling J.A. Henckels Pour Homme clipper from the venerable German knifemaker. 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.” We actually tried them, and we’d definitely advocate saving money and spending just $10 for our pick, which proved to cut sharper, leave a softer edge, and offer more leverage than the Henckels.
Readers requested we give the Feather PaRaDa (Medium) a whirl, and it turns out they’re also recommended by CoolTools. These are $16 but feel a lot more expensive than that. They are built quite solidly and come with a built-in nail catcher that actually works: it’s made of stainless steel and isn’t removable, but slides back easily when you need to empty it. The handle is longer for better leverage and it makes sharp cuts with a pleasing click. This also easily passed our plastic key card test. These also have a nail file on the underside of the handle. Our male tester thought that the opening was pretty close to not being wide enough to easily clip thicker toenails.
Kai is actually made by the same company as Mehaz, but it particularly has a lot of fans, so we tried the 0718 model clippers. These were identical in almost every way to our Mehaz runner-up pick, except much larger. The blades are just as sharp, and the size means an even longer handle and thus even more leverage. But at $15, it’s a tad more cumbersome and probably bigger than most people will need.
Readers also asked about the Clyppi, which we initially passed over. But we tried them out in fall 2014 in a head-to-head test against the Mehaz. They came close in terms of performance, but were not as comfortable to clip with because of their shorter lever. They did a good job of clipping cleanly and smoothly on fingernails, but our male tester found them less effective on toenails. The Clyppi’s build quality was not what we’d expect from a $15 clipper either; the included nail file strip was jagged and sloppily cut on one edge.
The KlipPro, also $15, are reviewed positively by men who say they’re suited for clipping through thicker toenails. They’re longer and wider than the Muji. Our male tester found that this made them a bit more awkward to use because of their size. That said, they take very little force to make a cut. But they left his nails feeling more jagged than our pick. Our female tester found that they never clipped fingernails cleanly away; each cutting was left hanging by a thread. No thanks.
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, we prefer the Muji or Mehaz.
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. Dr. 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.’”
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.
It is possible to get a one-size clipper that works for most people’s toes and fingers, like our pick. That being said, if you have particularly thick toenails, it might be worth investing in a larger pair with more leverage. “As people age, their toenails tend to dry out, thicken, and become more prone to developing fungal infections,” Dr. 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.” If you do think you need that, get a straight-edge clipper for your feet.
A nailcatcher isn’t necessary, but our pick does come with one. Peter Martin, grooming editor at Esquire, says of them, “That part feels like a worthless gimmick.” A nailcatcher usually means two strips of plastic line the arms of the clipper; a lot of times it’s a feature that doesn’t seem to work. At worst, it’s an excuse for manufacturers to charge you a bit extra. The Mehaz does have one, but doesn’t add any excess cost—everything’s still just $8. For what it’s worth, we actually removed it and clipped our nails over a trash bin.
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,” Dr. 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.
When maintaining your nails, you want the skills to do it correctly without injury and a set of clippers that are sharp, aligned correctly, made of stainless steel, affordable, and able to leave your nails soft, not jagged. The Muji Silver Clippers (size small) nails all the criteria. It’s an $11 purchase that’ll keep your hands, fingers, and toes looking and feeling healthy.
Originally published: April 4, 2014