The Best Ways to Cut Fingernails

Make sure your nails are clean and dry before cutting.

Photo: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

If your nails are looking a little long and you're ready for a trim, it's time to break out your best tools -- no, not your teeth. Cutting your fingernails requires care, precision and cleanliness, and without all three, you could end up with some gnarly, mismatched and even infected nails. Sure, your nails are great for opening up cans of energy drink or loosening knots in your shoelaces, but they are also a part of your body that you have to take care of like any other.

Be Prepared

Without the right tools, you'll never cut your nails the right way, so gear up, girl, and bust out the manicure kit. Sterilize your clippers in boiling water before you start cutting, especially if you share them with anyone else -- this prevents the spread of fungus and infection. Scrub your fingernails and nail beds thoroughly and wipe them off with an alcohol swab to make sure they're clean, too. You'll need your sterile clippers, an emory board and manicure scissors to finish the job.

Keep Some Around

When you cut your nails, think of it like cutting your hair -- even when you go short, you want to leave something there. Cutting your nails too closely hurts, and with good reason. Your body is telling you to back off, because when your nails are too short, they can grow off-kilter and become ingrown nails. Your nails protect you from infection, too, so when they're too short you're exposed and vulnerable. When you cut your nails, leave a little bit behind instead of going as far as you can stand it.

Moisturize and Dry

After your trimming session, moisturize your nails -- and do it regularly. Any time you moisturize your hands, get the nails, too, to keep them strong. Moist nails are bad thing, though, when you're getting ready to cut them. Your nails get soft when they're wet, and when you try to cut soft nails, they can bend or tear. Dry nails are hard, so when you cut them, you get a clean, smooth cut, which is exactly what you want.

Taking Your Time

The proper technique when cutting toenails is to make small cuts -- don't try to get the whole nail in one clip. Clip your nails straight across, leaving sharp points on the corners. Clip the points to make them less sharp, then file them down with an emory board. If your nails have bumps or ridges along the tops, gently file them with your emory board, as well, to smooth them out.

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