The Best Nail Clippers
The best nail clippers should be comfortable and maneuverable, able to provide a precise trim without leaving behind jagged edges. They should also be free of annoyances like sticky levers or uncomfortably placed nail files. We tested 22 popular models, and while they were all decently sharp, our top picks go the extra mile, with sleek design and outstanding ergonomics that make personal grooming a pleasure.
A small, maneuverable pair of clippers with a long lever for extra cutting power.
Feather PaRaDa Medium Nail Clippers
Heavy-duty clippers with a broad jaw for thick toenails.
A high-end option with a brushed stainless steel finish and a leather carrying case.
Kai Seki Magoroku HC-1824
Clippers with a rotating head, so you can trim your nails without bending your wrist.
The Best Nail Clippers
How do you tell the difference between a finely crafted pair of nail clippers and a 99-cent blister-pack special from the drugstore? It’s all about ergonomics. The best nail clippers should trim your nails — but they should also feel good in your hands, with easy leverage, good grip, and precisely aligned cutting jaws.
Our top pick for fingernails is the Seki Edge Satin Slim Clipper SS-109. These lightweight clippers have great balance, sleek design, and a razor-sharp cutting edge that slices through nails like butter. The Seki is also extremely comfortable, with a long lever that’s easy to grip and operate. It retails for about $17.
What’s the difference between finger- and toenail clippers? Fingernail clippers are smaller, with a curved cutting edge. Toenail clippers are larger and often have blades that are straight or less sharply curved. But there’s no hard-and-fast rule. If you have particularly thick nails, feel free to clip your fingers with a “toenail” clipper. Or vice-versa.
If you’re looking for something a little cheaper, we also liked the $10 Mehaz 660 Professional Nail Clipper. The Mehaz isn’t quite as finely crafted as the Seki, and comes with a bulky nail catcher that testers didn’t like, but this can be removed, and the clippers themselves were lightweight and effective. Also worth a look is the foldable Swiss Army Victorinox Nail Clippers. It retails for about $9 and is sized to fit on a keychain, but be aware that the trade-off for this portability is cutting strength — the Victorinox struggled against thick nails.
For toenails, we’d suggest the Feather PaRaDa Medium Nail Clippers ($27). More heavy-duty than a fingernail clipper, the PaRaDa is the Mack truck of the clipper world — sturdy and made to last, with wide blades that can tackle thick toenails. The Seki Edge Ingrown Nail Clipper 104 is worth a nod as well: while some testers found it a little too large for comfort, it features a straight cutting edge, rather than the curved edge offered by the PaRaDa (which some experts say can increase your risk of ingrown toenails). The Seki Edge Ingrown Nail Clipper is also considerably cheaper than the PaRaDa, at $13.
The FINOX Stainless Steel Nail Clippers are a bit pricey, but worth it if you’re looking for a gift. At $28, this elegant German option wowed us with its simplicity and top-notch performance — and it comes in a leather carrying case, to boot. For a more budget-friendly gift, we also liked the Tweezerman LTD Deluxe Nail Set. The matching fingernail and toenail clippers feature sturdy, no-frills design and received high marks during hands-on testing.
More out of the ordinary is the Kai Seki Magoroku HC-1824. The cutting edge of these clippers can be rotated with a plastic wheel, which means you don’t have to contort your wrist just to clip your nails. That feature makes them great for people who have trouble with fine hand movements. They’re a little on the pricey side, at $28, so if you’re looking for additional options, consider the $5 Danielle Ergonomic Nail Clipper. It’s less sturdy than the Kai Seki, but feature a scissor-like handle that’s still easier to grip than a standard nail clipper lever.
How We Found the Best Nail Clippers
We started out with 96 clippers that were readily available on retail sites like Amazon, Ulta, and Walgreens.
To be honest, all 96 had similar specs, and after learning about nail clipper construction, we identified only one real dealbreaker: The best nail clippers should be made of stainless steel. While nail catchers and casings can be plastic, the cutting blades themselves must be stainless. Why? Other metals, such as nickel-plated steel, can rust when exposed to damp environments like a bathroom counter.
That left us with 78 options. To narrow the playing field, we focused on models that were frequently included in online “best of” lists from websites like GQ and Tools of Men. We also checked what reviewers on sites like Amazon had to say, culling products with extremely low ratings (like the poor Sally Hansen Clip ‘N Catch Nail Clipper, which customers lambasted for being unable to cut). This left us with 22 popular and highly regarded sets of clippers. Next up? Figuring out which ones lived up to their hype.
We tried our clippers out on fingers and toes.
We were obviously interested in how sharp each pair of nail clippers was — but since they all came highly rated, we figured they’d be able to cut. So we asked our testers to look at other details as well:
Egonomics, or “hand-feel.” We wanted clippers that were comfortable to hold. So we focused on features like weight (testers preferred clippers with a satisfying heft), the presence of a dimple or indentation on the lever to make it easy to grip, and whether there were any sharp corners that dug into our hands.
The FINOX has a small dimple on its lever that made it comfortable to hold.
Lever Tension. The best nail clippers should also have a lever that’s easy to depress. A few contenders, like the ACE for Men clippers, required the strength of Hercules to operate and received poor scores here.
Locking mechanism. We wanted a lever that would lock in place once flipped open, and then click or snap securely shut when we were done. This ensures your clippers don’t slip closed mid-trim or slide open in your dopp kit or makeup bag and accidentally puncture something.
Quality of machining. We used a jeweler’s loupe to examine whether our contenders’ cutting edges met exactly, or whether there was “overbite” that would cause the clippers to rip or bend our nails. Our Premax clippers turned out to have a slight mis-match between cutting edges.
The Premax looked impressive from a distance, but up close, we realized its cutting jaws were slightly misaligned.
And of course, we didn’t ignore cutting ability. We asked our testers to rate the precision of their clip, giving preference to clippers that were maneuverable enough to tackle tiny hangnails. Since a smooth clip was important, we also asked testers to report whether they felt any noticeable snags or rough spots on their nails after clipping.
Our Picks for the Best Nail Clippers
Best for Fingernails
Superb knives and swords have been the claim to fame for the city of Seki, Japan, since the 13th century. It’s an ambitious namesake for a pair of fingernail clippers. And while the Seki Slim is neither sword nor dagger, it’s about as close as you’ll get while trimming your nails. We loved its well-balanced grip, sleek lines, and ability to cut through thick fingernails like butter.
Comfort is key for the Seki. Its 2-inch lever is a little longer than usual — enough leverage for an effortless, whisper-smooth clip, and enough to stand out against contenders like the Harperton Klipit, whose tiny inch-and-a-half lever testers found slippery and hard to depress. The Seki’s delicate, curved cutting edge is sized for precision fingernail clips, but we also found it powerful enough to tackle toenails with no trouble (it’ll just take a few extra clips to cover your toes’ wider surface area).
An extra long lever lets the Seki Slim clip more smoothly than contenders like the Harperton Klipit.
The Seki Slim’s hand-feel also made a lasting impression. “The Seki is just comfortable,” said one tester, with another reporting, “I like the heft of this one.” It has a solidity you don’t get with drugstore clippers, weighing in at 1.3 ounces, versus 0.75 ounce for the ubiquitous mass-market Bassett brand. (For reference, five U.S. quarters weigh approximately one ounce.) The design also offers nothing but smooth curves — a major draw after testing finalists like the Clyppi, which cut well, but had jabby edges that dug into our palms.
There were some small but thoughtful design elements that delighted us. A tiny button at the end of the lever latches into a corresponding hole when you close the clippers, so that they won’t slide open in a pocket or toiletry bag. Unlike most of the designs we tested, the pin that holds the clippers together also doesn’t end in a hook, instead featuring a closed post-and-pin mechanism that’s impossible to detach. (If your nail clipper’s lever has ever fallen off when you try to open it, a pin-and-hook design is to blame — the pin has slipped off the hook.)
But we were ambivalent about a couple of extras. A metal nail catcher on the bottom of the Seki collects trimmings and slides back when you want to dump them. But as with most of the nail catchers we tried, it didn’t catch everything. You’ll still need to clip over a wastebasket to avoid a mess. And there’s an embedded nail file toward the base of the lever, which has the potential to rub against your thumb if you try to grip the clippers too closely.
At $17, the Seki Slim isn’t the cheapest option we looked at. But if you want clippers that make cutting your fingernails a comfortable — even pleasant — proposition, these are your best bet.
Others to Consider
The Mehaz is about half the cost of the Seki, at $10, but delivers almost as much bang for your buck. If you like to take your clippers with you, it’s also more convenient — it’s lighter than the Seki, weighing in at less than an ounce, and features a loop for a keyring.
Be aware that the ugly plastic nail catcher is removable. It took us a long time to figure this out, and we liked the clippers much more once it came off. (The catcher is so bulky that it’s hard to see where you’re clipping.) Overall, we found the Mehaz comfortable and easy to use. The lever curves up slightly at the end, providing a ledge for your thumb, and we appreciated the lack of an embedded nail file (Seki, take note).
The Mehaz’s lever does rely on a standard hook-and-pin to flip into position, and it doesn’t lock in place like the Seki, but the lever stayed put while we were clipping, with no slippage.
If you need a fingernail clipper that’s truly compact, the Swiss Army Victorinox is also worth a shot. This clipper is tiny enough to be barely noticeable on a keychain, weighing about half an ounce. Despite its small size, it offers a decent cut, but you’ll have to press harder than the Mehaz or Seki (remember, a small lever means less leverage). The jaws also don’t open as widely as our other top picks, making the Victorinox ill-suited to thick nails.
And there’s another fairly significant design flaw: The Victorinox comes with a nail file that automatically snaps out when you open the clippers. “The fold-out file is too pointy and jabs into my palm,” one tester lamented. Still, the Victorinox outperformed the other ultra-lightweight options that we tried. The $35 Zwilling J.A. Henckels Ultra-Slim Nail Clippers performed abysmally during testing: “It just would not cut through my nails,” said one tester. “Maybe I just got a bad pair, but these were duds. There’s no leverage to cut,” reported another.
We also looked at the Tweezerman Folding Nail Clipper, but its design was identical to the Victorinox’s, and it cost an extra $4 ($13, versus the Victorinox’s $9). So if you want ultra-portable clippers, the Victorinox is our pick — just be prepared to make a trade-off in terms of cutting ability and comfort.
Best for Toenails
Toenail clippers need to be heavy-duty enough to handle thick, tough nails. The Feather PaRaDa Medium Nail Clippers fit the bill, and then some. “These are like the Mack trucks of the clipper world,” said one tester. “You could run over them and they’d still work fine.” At more than 2 ounces (and over 3 inches long), the PaRaDa is a behemoth — but we found it surprisingly comfortable.
The PaRaDa is suited for toenails, with a cutting edge that’s almost twice as large as the Seki Slim.
In fact, it featured a level of precision we didn’t expect in toenail clippers. The PaRaDa has a broad cutting edge — 0.63 inch versus the Seki’s 0.35 inch — and jaws that open wide enough for thick nails. But its blades were so delicate that we were still able to easily trim our fingernails. Our testers did note that the PaRaDa’s clip wasn’t quite as smooth as the Seki’s, but it roundly beat out toenail clippers like the Keiby Citom, which testers complained lacked control, or the Mehaz Wide Jaw Toenail Clipper, which was so imprecise that one tester to cut his toe because “I couldn’t see what I was doing.”
Like Seki, PaRaDa is a Japanese brand, and these clippers feel similarly balanced, with smooth lever action, and an indented curve for your thumb to rest against. And again, we were impressed by the lack of sharp edges: “The PaRaDa feels so much smoother than the Kohm ClipPro Toenail Clipper,” one tester reported “The Kohm’s handle was so poorly machined that I worried about paper cuts every time I picked it up.”
The Feather PaRaDa will set you back about $20, but unless you lose it, it’s going to last — it felt nearly indestructible.
Others to Consider
Our testers preferred toenail clippers with a slightly curved cutting edge rather than a totally straight one. But if you’re worried about ingrown toenails, experts recommend a clipper with a straight edge. Sharply tapered toenails are thought to pose more of a risk for becoming ingrown (though we couldn’t find any rock-solid evidence to support this).
How do you clean nail clippers? After using, wipe clippers with rubbing alcohol or disinfectant. If you use the same clippers for fingers and toes, you should also wipe them before you switch to avoid spreading bacteria.
It’s probably not worth losing sleep over, but Podiatric surgeon Dr. Dana Canuso explains, “I was always taught to cut nails straight across. In practice, I’ve found that ingrown toenails often happen because a patient cuts their nails too short into the corners. Nails should also be kept short in addition to being cut straight.”
So if you’re looking for a straight blade, we’d suggest the Seki Edge Ingrown Nail Clipper. A bit smaller than the PaRaDa, it features the classic Seki quality, cutting through tough nails with no problems. Note that “ingrown” indicates that the clippers are supposed to help prevent ingrown nails, not that they’re designed to help with nails that already have problems. They don’t have quite the luxury feel of the Seki Slim, with testers noting that they felt a little large even for toenails, but also reporting that they were “precise,” and “cut through nails easily.” At $13, they’re also a little cheaper than the PaRaDa.
The FINOX was our only German finalist, with a brushed steel finish and a deceptively simple design that was — dare we say it? — kind of sexy. In fact, look and feel are what sold us on these clippers. Holding them just felt right, and our testers commented on the “smooth, contoured handle” and “rock-solid construction.”
You’ll find no attached nail file or nail catcher here: The FINOX has just one job and does it well, slicing through even thick nails with ease and leaving behind no jagged edges. The clippers have a heavy lever that’s satisfying to depress and a smooth indentation where your thumb can rest. And did we mention the carrying case? Supple tanned leather with a snap closure. At $32, the FINOX is definitely not a budget pick, but it’s an elegant creation that’s perfect as a gift.
We could see these clippers being suitable for either fingers or toes. They have a slightly curved cutting edge that’s the same size as the PaRaDa’s, and weigh about 1.5 ounces. In fact, size might be the FINOX’s only caveat: They’re not small clippers, and at least one of our testers felt they were more suited for men than women. “If only they were a little smaller, I’d love them,” she said. “They’re the perfect size for a man or someone with larger hands.”
Others to Consider
If you’re on a budget, but want a quality stocking stuffer, the Tweezerman LTD Deluxe Nail Set set features both a fingernail and a toenail clipper and retails for less than $10. But it feels far pricier. There are no frills here — no nail catchers, no files — but despite the minimalist approach, the clippers are solidly constructed from thick steel. They received a positive response from testers, and they trim nails smoothly and with no fuss.
Best for Mobility Issues
The Kai Seki Magoroku are definitely clippers of a different color — literally. The stainless steel cutting blades are encased in a black plastic housing. Their feature of note is a large, easy-to-turn plastic wheel that allows you to rotate the cutting edge 360 degrees.
The Kai Seki’s dial allows you to rotate its clipping edge a full 360 degrees.
To assess the Kai Seki, we got help from our oldest tester, a 91-year-old for whom regular clippers are difficult to use: They require too much hand strength and are hard for her to maneuver precisely. She loved the Kai Seki Magoroku, however. “With the rotating blade, I can position them without any difficulty,” she told us. “It doesn’t take much effort to work the lever.” The flexibility of the cutting edge also makes the Kai Seki an attractive option for anyone who is a caregiver and needs to clip someone else’s nails regularly.
The clippers have a half-inch cutting span and a weight of 1.5 ounces, making them big enough for all but the largest nails. To be blunt, though, the Kai Seki is the ugly stepsister to the FINOX’s Cinderella. Although they’re not uncomfortable, they look clunky, and you’re unlikely to sigh in satisfaction when you hold them. With so many plastic parts, we also doubt they’ll be able to match the longevity of a pick like the PaRaDa.
But our other testers liked them almost as much as our 91-year-old. “These are the most comfortable and flexible clippers I’ve used, but they are bulky,” said one. For our elder tester, though, that’s what made them work. “They’re big enough that I can pick them up without fumbling for them,” she said. The Kai Seki retails for about $28.
Others to Consider
Our older tester liked these unusual clippers too. A hybrid clipper/scissors combo, the Danielle Ergonomic Nail Clipper gave her more leverage for cutting stubborn nails than a standard clipper while putting a minimum amount of pressure on her arthritic joints.
The Danielle Ergonomic Nail Clipper is only $5, so be aware that it isn’t as high-quality an option like the Seki. The steel was noticeably thinner, and testers reported difficulty getting the clippers to cut through toenails. The pair we tested also had cutting edges that didn’t quite meet when viewed under a jeweler’s loupe, which means they didn’t give the smoothest cut. But if you stick to fingernails, and just want something that’s easy to use, the Danielle clippers are worth a look.
Did You Know?
You probably don’t need many extras.
Clippers sometimes come with additional bells and whistles, but during testing, we found that these features were usually overrated. About half the clippers we looked at had built-in metal nail files, for example, but most experts say that metal files are too abrasive and should be avoided unless you have gel or acrylic nails. Using them can create create snags and actually damage your nails.
Same with built-in nail catchers. They’re a great idea in theory, because who hasn’t been hit in the face with an errant nail clipping while trimming? But in practice, our testers found that they didn’t catch clippings consistently, and were often hard to empty. We didn’t eliminate clippers that had them, but didn’t see them as a benefit, either.
Some health conditions mean you shouldn’t clip your own nails.
If you have certain health challenges, you might not want to use nail clippers at all. “Those who have diabetes, circulatory or vision issues should never use any clippers or sharp objects on their feet,” says Caruso. “They should strictly use a single-use nail file which prevents them from cutting the skin or getting an infection.”
Ever wonder what it takes to cut your nails in space?
Neither did we, but then we watched this fascinating video by Chris Hadfield, a Canadian astronaut who was commander of the International Space Station. Suffice to say, it’s a little trickier than doing it over the bathroom trash basket.
You’ll hear conflicting advice about the “best” way to trim your nails. Some experts recommend cutting straight across the nail, then slightly rounding the corners. Others suggest that you mimic the curve of your cuticle. You do want to be careful with toenails: If you cut too much at the corners, you run the risk of ingrown toenails. We like GQ’s guide to cutting your nails like a pro.
Although you’ll find tools in every drugstore for cutting your cuticles, experts recommend that you leave them alone, or just push them back gently. Cutting them provides an entry point for germs, which can lead to infection.
One thing everyone, from podiatrists to salon professionals agree on, is to never cut nails so short that you risk cutting the hyponychium, or “quick” — the skin that forms a seal between the nail plate (the hard part) and the nail bed. Why? As with nail biting and cuticle cutting, this leaves your skin vulnerable to infection.
The Best Nail Clippers: Summed-Up
|Nail Clippers||The Best For....|
|Best Fingernail Clippers|
|Runner-Up for Best Fingernail Clippers|
|Runner-Up for Best Fingernail Clippers|
|Best Toenail Clippers|
|Runner-Up for Best Toenail Clippers|
|Runner-Up for Best Gift|
|Best for People with Mobility Challenges|
|Runner-Up for Mobility Challenges|