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Men's Nail Care

by Zack Evar |  | 1 comment

Perhaps the most basic of all aspects of men's grooming is cutting your nails. This is something that we tend to not put a lot of thought into, especially when compared to our female counterparts and the countless hours they spend doing their nails. Though you may think of your nails as a sort of private part, the fact is that people do take notice of your fingernails. So whether you're dating, interviewing for a new job, meeting prospective clients, or just simply riding the subway every morning - Keeping good care of your nails is a no brainer.

Fingernail shape

Don't cut straight across, that's a good strategy for your toes (which we'll get to later). A good rule to follow is to create an oval shape with your nails. Take a look at your cuticles, and the U shape that they create. Now, try to mirror that shape with the end of your nail (as best you can). This is a simple and clean cut look to keep with your nails. Try to cut them 1-2 times per week, or as needed. I always like to cut mine after a warm shower, when the nails are easier to work with. 

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What about the white part? Leave a little bit. Too long and your nails tend to appear a bit gnarly. If you are a nail biter (past or present), you may have shorter looking nails. If this is the case, leaving a little extra white is fine, it can make your nails look just a bit longer. The key to looking well manicured is to make sure the white part of your nails is the same length on all your fingers. 

Cuticle care

Cuticles are your body's way of protecting you from bacteria and pathogens that can make you sick. Don't confuse your cuticle with your eponychium. The eponychium is the sensitive fold of skin where your skin meets your nail bed. Cuticles are layers of dead skin that form between your eponychium and nail. This layer forms a seal that prevents bacteria from getting into your body. The problem with cuticle is, it is unsightly, and can be all too tempting to pick and peel off. Whatever you do, don't give in to temptation! 

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For the best care you can take of your cuticles, you'll need 2 tools. The first is a cuticle pusher, the second is a cuticle cutter. A cuticle pusher is a metal tool with a flat end that you can use to push your cuticle against the eponychium. Do this every couple of days after you shower, when the cuticles are soft and pliable. Pushing will actually strengthen your eponychium, and for those of us with short nails, this is a great way to make your nails look longer and healthier. Cuticle cutters come in many different shapes. When you have too much cuticle, or you've pushed so much that your eponychium is raised, you'll want to use a cutter to clean things up. BE CAREFUL! Cutting your eponychium or nail bed is extremely painful and can expose you to bacteria and infection.


Guys, our feet are gross. Like really gross. Your feet are suffocating in your sweaty socks all day, hidden away by stinky old sneakers. This creates a breeding ground for athletes foot and fungi. The only way to prevent these issues is to air your feet out as often as possible. During summer, wear sandals! more often than not, sandals aren't an option, so do your best to keep your feet dry. Use powders in your socks, which can keep your sweat at bay. A visit to the dermatologist or podiatrist may be in order if you've got chronic fungus or conditions like eczema and athlete's foot. If you have any of these issues, sterilize your tools before and after use to ensure the fungus on your big toe doesn't spread to your other toes. 

Toenails tend to grow slower than fingernails. Everyone is different, so take notice of how fast or slow yours may be growing to get on the right schedule. For the athletes and runners out there, try and cut your toenails more often than you think is necessary. This can eliminate foot pain by eliminating the pressure caused when your toenails get jammed up in your sneakers. You'll thank yourself. 

There isn't really a way to enhance the appearance of your feet, so the least you can do is trim your nails regularly. This is where things differ from trimming your fingernails. For starters, some people's toenails are far thicker than their fingernails, so you may want to use a larger nail clipper. Next, your toenails shouldn't be cut in an oval shape, they should be cut in a straight line. This will prevent painful ingrown nails which occur more commonly in your toes. 


You're never going to get a perfect cut with nail clippers. Similarly, guys who bite or pick their nails are going to look all jagged and out of shape. This is where a file comes in. My suggestion is to use an emory board. An emory board is easy to use, and will help maintain the shape and length of your nails. Use one after cutting your nails to give the edges a smooth look and feel. Use it again in between trims to keep things fresh. If you haven't filed in the past, start nice and slow. Filing too fast or hard can cause breaks and cuts, so be careful. A good tip is to angle the file downwards and file from beneath the nail, which helps you get a better sight line. Start from the outside of your nail and work your way to the center using short, gentle strokes. 

Getting professional help

This is where things get a bit dicey. A man's first trip to the nail salon can be a bit awkward, and chock full of preconceived notions. But let me tell you guys, I've become slightly addicted to going to the nail salon. There's just something about sitting back and letting someone else pamper you. Every once in a while, take a trip to the nail salon - I have literally never met anyone that said they do not thoroughly enjoy a manicure, or better yet, a pedicure. Don't be scared, or shy. Walk in there like you own the place and ask for a mani/pedi. They'll wash your hands and feet, cut your nails, push and cut your cuticles, give you a hand and foot massage, and apply lotion. It's a treat, and once you realize what you've been missing out on, you'll become a frequent customer. Lots of places offer more services that you can and should take advantage of, like eyebrow threading. 

Further reading

Did you know that your nails can offer a glimpse into your overall health? If your nails appear pitted, discolored, ridged, cracked, or misshapen, this can be a sign of an underlying disease or condition. In fact, sometimes, the appearance of your nails can display a tell tale symptom of an ailment you may be dealing with. If you have nail issues, go to a doctor and get them checked out. Here is a slideshow from the Mayo Clinic explaining some common nail problems.

Comments (1)

  • Shirley on August 09, 2018

    As a pro nail tech, I’m impressed! You are one of the few writers to differentiate between the cuticle and eponychium. There are some excellent tips here!

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