How to use a Nail Clipper: The Proper Way

How to use nail clipper

Cutting your nails in a timely manner will help keep them healthy and strong. It will also prevent your nails from being infected with fungus or other diseases. How do you use nail clippers to cut your nails? 

Nail clippers come in multiple sizes and styles, read the Ultimate Guide to Fingernail Clippers and Nail Care to know more about it. Larger nail clippers are mainly for toenails while smaller clippers are designed for fingernails. Many nail clippers have a lever that is flipped around and pressed down to operate the cutting head to trim nails.

Below we will look at how to operate fingernail clippers, how to trim toenails and fingernails, and things you should avoid when cutting nails.  


How to Operate Nail Clippers

How to use nail clipper

Nail clippers come in a variety of styles and sizes. The smaller-size fingernail clippers are designed to trim your fingernails while the larger size is recommended for trimming your toenails. You shouldn’t use the same nail clipper for both your fingernails and your toenails. You will run the risk of transferring any fungus from your toenails to your fingernails or vice versa. If you already suffer from this condition, read this What Kills Toenail Fungus Instantly article.

All nail clippers have a cutting head and a lever that can be rotated around to operate the cutting head. To operate the clippers, raise the lever up and flip it over so it remains partially levitated. You will need to turn it around so it runs parallel with the body of the nail clippers. You can now press this lever down to operate the cutting head of the clippers.  

Hold the clippers in your hand with your thumb above the lever and the bottom of the clippers resting on your fingers. Place the cutting head on the nail you intend to cut. Squeeze the lever to clamp the cutting head together and cut through the nail. For wider nails, you may need to make multiple cuts to completely remove the nail.

If your nail clippers have a file attached, you can use it to soften and round over any sharp edges after you have finished trimming your nails. This will prevent your nails from snagging on anything or scratching and injuring yourself.


Trimming Your Fingernails

How to use nail clipper

The smaller-size nail clippers are generally designed for trimming your fingernails. The best fingernail clippers will typically have a rounded blade which will help shape your fingernails.

When you begin to trim your fingernails you should either start with your thumb or pinky finger and work your way across your hand trimming each nail one at a time. Make several cuts to remove a small amount of your fingernail each time rather than attempting to remove a large amount at once. This will prevent you from cutting too much off your nail or breaking it. 

Do not attempt to trim your nails too close to your fingers. There should be a small amount of white left on your fingernails after cutting. It is recommended that you would leave 1 mm to 2 mm of space. This may vary with personal preference according to each individual. Some people prefer longer fingernails while others tend to keep their fingernails nice and short.


Trimming your Toenails

Trimming Toenails

Toenail trimming is similar to trimming your fingernails. There are a few main differences to be aware of when trimming your toenails. Toenails are thicker and can be more brittle than fingernails. Larger nail clippers are recommended when cutting your toenails.

Many prefer to cut their toenails in a straight line rather than round the nails. This will help prevent the toenails from digging in and cutting their skin. Ingrown toenails can become very painful and lead to infection and further medical problems with your feet.

If sharp corners of your toenails are becoming snagged, it is permissible to slightly round over the corners of your cut nails. This will help prevent your toenails from snagging objects and give them a more natural look.

You should start with your big toe or pinky toe and move to each toe across your foot when trimming your toenails. If you have small feet or small nails, you can use a fingernail trimmer on your toes and use a larger toenail trimmer on your big toe. Ensure to keep the nail trimmers separate and do not use the same pair for both your toenails and fingernails.


Nail Care Do’s and Don’ts

how to use a nail clipper

You should trim and clean under your finger and toenails every few weeks. This will help prevent the buildup of dirt and debris under them and prevent them from becoming infected with a fungus or other disease. If you are already in this situation, you can read our article on how to cure fingernail fungus fast.

Don’t use the wrong nail clippers or fail to clean and maintain them. Ensure you use your toenail clippers for only your toes and your fingernail clippers for only your fingernails. There are many options for your fingernail clippers, you can check out this Revlon Nail Clipper reviews. You should also clean your nail clippers with isopropyl alcohol after you use them to trim your nails. This will help prevent the spread of any nail fungus or other diseases.

You should also file your nails after you have trimmed them. Failing to file your nails after they have been trimmed can leave your nails with sharp edges which can snag something or scratch and injure you. Filing your nails will ensure you do not have any sharp edges on your nails and prevent injuring yourself and breaking your freshly cut nails.

If you have brittle fingernails or toenails try soaking them in Epsom salt before attempting to trim them. If you do not have Epsom salt, it is recommended you trim and file your nails after you have showered. This will help soften your nails when you attempt to manicure them.



Nail clippers come in different sizes and shapes. The smaller sizes are recommended for your fingernails, while the larger sizes are designed for toenails. They typically have a lever to operate the cutting blades to trim your nails. Some nail clippers are also equipped with a file to help soften and round over the cuts you have made to your nails.

Ensure you have separate nail clippers for your toes and fingers to prevent the spread of fungus and other diseases.

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