5 Must-Have Tools for Your At-Home Manicure Arsenal

Everything you need to bring the nail salon to your home.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission if you purchase through our links. Please read our full disclosure here.


Don’t get me wrong: I love getting a professional manicure as much as the next girl, but I usually end up doing at-home manicures because I’m really picky about my nails. Also, I never have time or money to go to the salon! (I’m sure most of you can relate.)

When doing your nails at home, it’s definitely important to have great polish options, but it’s equally important to have the right tools to complete your perfect manicure and make it last.

My must-have manicure tools are a nail file, a nail clipper, a buffer, a cuticle clipper, and either a cuticle cream or treatment.

Read on to learn more about these must-have products, and why you need them in your own nail kit.

Nail File

Buy from Amazon.com

This is quite possibly the most important and most versatile tool for a top-notch manicure: the nail file, which is usually used after a nail clipper to groom your nails into that perfect shape.

I have tried many nail files in my life and finally settled on my favorite which I’ve now had for years: my Diamancel.

It works like a charm and makes a huge, noticeable difference in how neat and polished my nails appear. Plus, how cool is it that it’s made out of diamonds?

Even though it’s easy to grab cheap files at the drugstore, I highly suggest investing in a quality nail file for the best manicure results.

Nail Clipper

Buy from Amazon.com

I start all of my manicures with my nail clipper. Even though I’m in love with my nail file, I really need the nail clipper first so that I can get the perfect nail length with one snip.

This is one area where you can save your pennies: I’ve never really used a bad nail clipper – they’re pretty much all the same.

These are easy to find at the drugstore, and not expensive at all! The mini travel size ones can also come in handy if you ever have a nail issue on the go.

Nail Buffer

Buy from Amazon.com

Nail buffers are definitely among my favorite manicure tools – they’re so addictive! These handy tools feature four sides, with four different functions: file, buff, smooth, and shine.

Usually, I skip the “file” step because I’m already so in love with my regular nail file, but after clipping and filing my nails, I do the other three steps, and I love the results!

You can use a nail buffer before nail polish to create a smooth, clean base for your polish to adhere to (one of my favorite ways to get my manicures to last), or you can use it without nail polish for a super shiny, high-gloss look.

Again, this isn’t a product you have to spend a lot on – you can buy nail buffers at the drugstore.

If you want to get fancy, there are a few buffers that stand above the rest, though: this Amazon buffer, for example, has excellent reviews.

Cuticle Clippers

Buy from Amazon.com

Cuticle clippers are amazing! I use them all the time, whether I’m doing a manicure myself or maintaining my nails in between salon manicures.

Every time I come home from school (with manicure bag and polish bag in my luggage), my mom can’t wait to get her hands on mine. (I have these Tweezerman clippers.)

While these tools are great for trimming overgrown cuticles, they’re also great for hangnails and rogue, peeling cuticles (cue Black Swan scenes – ew).

Cuticle clippers are much better than nail clippers for these purposes because they are smaller and more precise, allowing you to get in ultra-close.

Cuticle Treatment

Buy from Amazon.com

I usually put something on my cuticles every night when I’m putting on my hand lotion and I wouldn’t have it any other way: When you take care of your cuticles, your nails and hands automatically look so much better.

In my manicure bag, I have a cuticle softening “pen” which includes three oils to moisturize those stubborn cuticles. I pretty much use it with every manicure, and it produces great results for a low price.

I also have a new favorite cuticle treatment I’m dying to share. In my Easter basket (yes, I still get one and love every second of it), I found a few yummy LUSH products including their “Lemony Flutter” and let me just say… OMG. I’ve used it on my fingers and toes every night since I got it, and I now don’t think I could live without it.

My cuticles are softer, prettier, and virtually invisible – it’s safe to say I’m in love.


What do you guys think about these at home manicure tools? Do you have any other tools that you swear by? Let us know in the comments below!

10 thoughts on “5 Must-Have Tools for Your At-Home Manicure Arsenal”

  1. As a gift I received a new set of manicure tools the other day. One of the tools is something that looks like a little bitty spoon on one end of the metal stick. I was trying to figure out what kind of manicure tool that is/what is it for. I never seen one of those. In the meantime I figure I can use it like an under-fingernail dirt cleaner.

  2. I agree, you shouldn’t cut your cuticles. You don’t need to, pushing them back is good enough and why risk getting an infection? I LOVE using those clippers for hang nails though (which are just dead skin anyhow). That nail file looks pretty neat, I have a glass one that I love.

  3. you really shouldnt use cuticle clippers. just push them back. its much easier and lasts longer. you dont really even need one of those sticks to do it either; i just use my fingernails and they look great.

  4. I need to try the cuticle treatment! but I love at home mani’s, paying to have your nails done all the time gets so expensive. and doing it yourself isn’t to hard if you have the time.

  5. NONONO Cuticle Clippers!
    Just say no! Push them back. The best tool for that job is Sally Hansen’s Instant Cuticle Remover. It is the BEST and inexpensive. Just apply, wait about a minute, and push cuticle’s back with an orange stick or a metal cuticle pusher.

    DO NOT cut your cuticles. I cannot stress this enough.

    As far as cuticle treatment goes, the best cream out there is Lush Lemony Flutter and the best oil, imo, is CND Solar Oil.
    For topcoats, one of the best is Sally Hansen Insta-Dri. Dries in about a minute and there’s no *ahem* shrinkage like there is with Seche. Has a gorgeous shine and keeps chips away for forever and a day.

  6. Thanks for the ideas – I love doing at home manis but my kit could use an update. I’m interested in checking out that lush product, as well as getting a nail buffer 🙂

  7. Yes to everything except the cuticle clippers because 1. cuticle maintenance makes me all weird/uncomfortable to begin with, and 2. if you slip up, you could draw blood and cause some serious infections. I actually love Sally Hansen’s Instant Cuticle Remover, because I can get them cleaned up in a minute, and a bottle lasts FOREVER. But I agree 110% on a good file. Home manicures are the best!

  8. Not exactly a tool, but Seche Vite quick-dry topcoat is the one thing I can’t live without. It’s a little pricey, around $10, but it only takes one coat and your polish is dry in under 5 minutes. No smudge, no gouges. It’s kind of amazing.

    As far as buffers, I love the four-sided ones. You can get them at Walmart for, like, 50 cents. So cheap and so useful!


Leave a Comment