• Nails
  • Essential Nail Tools Guide

The Nail Tool Kit You Need to Create a Perfect Mani-Pedi

By Carly Cochrane - 2 years ago | Updated
nail tools

Keeping your nails in tip-top condition can be expensive, especially if you enjoy the salon treatment. If you’re looking to DIY your mani-pedi at-home, then look no further. Our complete guide to nail tools helps you build your very own professional nail care kit so that you can achieve salon-grade results, each and every time. Whether you’re giving yourself a manicure, prepping for acrylics or simply keeping your nails strong and healthy, these tools (and our expert advice) are bound to help you level up your nail routine.


What are the best nail scissors?

As the beauty industry evolves, products like nail scissors are becoming more commonplace in our beauty sets. They may not be the sexiest part of your beauty collection, however, a premium pair of nail scissors make it a dream to preen your nails to perfection.

Mavala Curved Nail Scissors

Mavala Curved Nail Scissors

£17.92 £22.60 (21% off)


How do you use nail clippers?

There are two ways to use nail clippers; to trim your fingernails and to cut your toenails. Depending on the nails you wish to cut, you will need to use the correct clipper.

If you are trimming your fingernails, the clipper will be slightly smaller in size and boast a cutting edge that's curved inwards to match the shape of your nail. Open up the clippers by lifting and rotating the lever. Hold the clippers in your hand and place the fingernail in between the two cutting blades. Try to avoid clipping nails straight across in one go, as this can cause the nail to split and become brittle. Instead, hold the clippers at an angle and clip one small bit at a time, working from one edge of the nail to the other. To cut, gently squeeze down on the lever until the blades clip the nail off. Be careful not to cut your nail too short as this can not only be painful but also lead to infection.

Toenail clippers are usually stronger and larger in size. Unlike fingernail clippers, they have a straight cutting edge. Open up the clippers by swivelling the lever and place the toenail you wish to cut in between the blades. This time, you do want to cut the nail in one straight line, just past the skin of the toe. This will prevent ingrown toenails and infection. To clip off the nail, simply squeeze down on the lever with your thumb.

Can you cut acrylic nails with nail clippers?

Acrylic nails can be cut with nail clippers. In fact, nail clippers are probably the best and easiest way to trim acrylic nails when at home. It is recommended that you cut the acrylic nail once it is fixed onto your natural nail as this will stop it from cracking and splitting diagonally. You're going to need a larger nail clipper and should cut the acrylic nail in three steps. Start by taking the clipper and like normal, open it by swivelling the lever. Clip the acrylic nail at one side, before then clipping the middle and finishing with the other side. Working in small steps like this will prevent the acrylic nail from cracking, while also allowing you to create your desired nail shape.

Tweezerman Combo Clipper Set

Tweezerman Combo Clipper Set

£13.00 £14.00 (8% off)

Nail Files

How do you file your nails?

While it may seem like there's no right or wrong way when it comes to filing nails, there are certain techniques you should follow if you want to keep them strong and healthy.

First, you need to pick your nail file. It is recommended that you opt for a nail file that has a softer grit to prevent edges from becoming rough and torn. Then, decide on the nail shape you want - this will depend on personal preference and how your nails grow, but the most common nail shapes are almond, oval and square.

If your nails are a longer length, ensure that you trim them beforehand with a clipper. Take the nail file and hold it parallel to the side of your nail. Move the file from the side of your nail to the centre, using one fluid motion. Never use a 'sawing' motion as this can cause nails to peel and break. File the centre and opposite side of your nail using the same fluid motion and repeat until you achieve your desired shape.

How do you file your nails into different shapes?

There are specific ways to use a file when it comes to shaping nails into different styles. Whether you have chosen an almond, oval, square or squoval shape, it's important to know the tips and tricks that will help you achieve a professional finish.

The way in which you tilt your file has a huge impact on the shape of your nail. Holding the file straight will make a square nail, tilting it slightly under the nail will achieve a squoval shape, whilst tilting it even more can achieve oval and almond.

If you're keen to start sprucing up your nails, be sure to check out our ultimate guide to nail shapes first!

Can you file acrylic nails?

You can! Filing acrylic nails or fake nails is perfectly fine as long as you use the correct tools. To prevent acrylic nails from splitting, it is best to use a nail file that is more coarse than your regular file. A file with an 80-100 grit works well on thick acrylic nail extensions, whilst 100-150 grits are great for achieving your desired length and shape. Glass nail files are also a great fit for the job, as they provide a much smoother finish.

It's recommended that you do not file gel nails, as this can break the seal of the polish and cause it to peel away from the edges.

Mavala Emery Boards

Mavala Emery Boards

£3.95 £4.50 (13% off)
Brushworks Crystal Glass File

Brushworks Crystal Glass File

£3.19 £4.00 (21% off)

Nail Buffers

How do nail buffers work?

Nail buffing is a technique used when preparing your nails for a manicure. The nail buffer is a tool that polishes the nails. It buffs the surface, removing undetectable traces of stubborn nail polish or base coat. It also smooths out uneven ridges on the nail and gets rid of any dry and dead surface cells. This allows the nail polish adhere better and also ensures that the finished manicure is long-lasting and looks and feels consistent.

Nail buffers can also be used to add shine – great if you prefer a natural-looking manicure – and stimulate blood circulation of the nail bed, which helps nails to grow faster and healthier.

What are nail buffers made of?

Nail buffers are made with a super fine-grade grit – think of it as a gentle sandpaper for your nails. Typically, nail buffers offer a variety of grit sizes, from coarse to fine, all of which are used for different purposes.

There are two popular types of nail buffer, including the three-in-one (or sometimes four, five or six-in-one) buffing board. This is a variety of buffing tools that have up to two to five grit types and a polisher. It is important to note that the finer the grit, the glossier the finish.

Another popular choice is the buffing block; a three dimensional rectangular block that has a different grit on each side, as well as a polisher.

How do you use a nail buffer?

Choose your buffer. If you're using a multi-sided buffer with different textures, each side has a different purpose. Take the coarse-grit side and hold the buffer parallel to your nail. Using a X-shape and smooth, even strokes, buff each nail. This is the perfect first step if you want to paint your nails with a colour afterwards as the surface has more grip. Try to avoid running the buffer over your cuticles and skin to prevent irritation and dryness.

To polish your natural nails, take the finer grit side of the tool and buff them using tiny circular motions and a light pressure. To add a mirror-like shine to your nails, use the smooth side of the buffer.You should skip the polishing and smoothing steps if you wish to paint your nails, as a glossy finish makes it harder for the polish to adhere.

How often should I buff my nails?

It is recommended that you buff your nails no more than once a month. It can take three to six months for your nails to grow from cuticle to tip, meaning that once buffed, nails have a long-lasting shine. It's important to only buff nails when completely necessary – less really is more in this case. Not to mention, over-buffing can cause friction and build up heat, which over time can damage the nail bed and weaken nails.

If you have weak, brittle nails that bend or break easily, you should only buff nails occasionally, making sure to be very gentle.

Mavala Nail Care Nail Buffer Kit

Mavala Nail Care Nail Buffer Kit

£15.95 £16.00 (1% off)

Callus Tools

How do you remove a foot callus?

The first step to removing a callus or corn is to soak the affected foot in warm, soapy water. This will allow the callus to soften and makes it easier to remove thick and hardened skin. Once your skin has softened, you can then use tools such as a pumice stone, foot file, emery board or washcloth to exfoliate away the layer of tough skin. Foot calluses do not disappear immediately, so you may have to repeat the removal process over a period of time.

Other treatments for a foot callus include wearing protective pads that prevent the area from rubbing and hardening further, and patches that contain salicylic acid in order to break down the dead skin cells.

What are the best foot files for calluses?

Foot files are a great tool when it comes to treating and removing calluses. They exfoliate, buff and slough off dead skin in a matter of minutes, and can be used from the comfort of your own home. The best foot files for calluses include those that are of surgical-grade and made from stainless steel. This is because they work best on both wet and dry feet and only a slight pressure is needed to shave off rough skin. Any wet and dry foot file that utilises precision micro-files or a medium-to-coarse grit is also a great option for removing foot calluses.

STARSKIN Fab Foot File

STARSKIN Fab Foot File

ORLY Foot File With 2 Refill Pads

ORLY Foot File With 2 Refill Pads


What is a pumice stone?

A pumice stone is a popular foot care tool that is formed when volcanic lava and water mix together. As the pumice stone boasts a light but abrasive texture, it is often used to soften and exfoliate away dry and dead skin, particularly foot corns and calluses. As the pumice stone helps to smooth rough areas of skin, it relieves any pain caused by friction when walking and prevents skin from hardening further. Pumice stones can also be used to remove unwanted hair.

How do you use a pumice stone?

Before using a pumice stone, ensure that you have soaked the affected area of the body in warm water for at least five minutes. You should also dampen the pumice stone, as wet pumice stones glide across skin easier, provide better exfoliation and reduce the risk of abrasion, micro-tears and infection.

If you are using a pumice stone to treat feet, rub the stone over the callus, corn or rough area of skin with a light to medium pressure and a circular motion. You should do this for two to three minutes in order to remove dead and dry skin. Be careful not to take off too much skin or go too deep, as this can cause irritation and bleeding. Rinse your foot with clean water to wash away the dead skin cells.

Pumice stones can be used one to three times a week to maintain soft, smooth skin. You should wash and rinse the pumice stone thoroughly after each use.

Hydréa London Wooden Foot File With Natural Pumice

Hydréa London Wooden Foot File With Natural Pumice

Neal's Yard Remedies Polishes & Powder Pumice Foot Scrub

Neal's Yard Remedies Polishes & Powder Pumice Foot Scrub


Now that you're a proud owner of a professional nail tool kit you can continue to give your talons the best at-home treatments, from cuticle care to pampering pedicures. For more advice and guidance on at-home nail care, check out How to Remove Acrylic Nails at Home in Five Steps.

Carly Cochrane

Written by Carly Cochrane

As the Senior Content Editor for Cosmetify, Carly is the go-to for all the latest (and greatest) beauty tips, tricks and trends. With over six years of experience in the industry, she knows all the ins-and-outs when it comes to health, beauty and wellbeing. 

Sign in or register

Sign in or register to save your wishlist permanently and view them on other devices.

  • View your wishlist across all your devices
  • Manage your price drop and stock alerts
  • Get access to exclusive promos
Select Site

Sign up for an extra 5% off!Treat yourself with an extra discount on your first purchase over £30.

Added to your bag