What Professional nail tools you need

What Professional nail tools you need

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Becoming a nail technician can be so overwhelming. I remember the first time I went into a nail store, I was mesmerized with all of the colors, tools, art, and most importantly, the glitter! Knowing what to buy and where to start can be a bit of a challenge as asking the store employees might not always work out as planned. They might see you as naive(which, let’s be honest, we are when starting), and can advise you to buy many things that aren’t as necessary at the beginning of your nail career.

It might feel like you need to buy every single color of gel and acrylic, and every mix of glitter. But in all honesty, t begin you’ll only need a couple of base colors, like nudes, red, white, and pink. If you are buying gel, even better as you can mix colors and make new colors. 

Let’s dive into the wide expanse of tools every professional nail technician needs. When you have completed your training you will be left with some basic tools and colors in your kit. That is a great start as it can be a bit expensive to buy everything you need all at once. But once you get started some things might not be included in your kit which is quite essential for building your business, working faster and more efficiently, and building a name for yourself, which in turn will gain you more clients and a bigger income. I did an in-depth dive into what you need for a salon in my 40+ salon must-haves article that you can check out.

Table of Contents

Basic manicure tools

Basic manicure tools are things that are relatively cheap and straightforward. Some of these you might not even have thought of getting but they are essential for any nail technician. I wrote a piece about the different manicure tools and how you should use them.

Nail clippers

Having a sturdy nail clipper in your kit is so important and helpful, Not only will it b used for the obvious, clipping nails but you can use it to clip the edges of tips to make shaping easier. Honestly, that is what I use my clippers the most for. You can alternatively use cuticle scissors to cut the sides of the tips as well. I would just be cautious as that can dull the blade of the scissors making it harder to effectively cut the skin, like hangnails.

When doing [edicures, some people have thickened toenails, especially older clients. Having a strong, sharp set of clippers will make your life so much easier. I wrote an article covering the best nail clipper and nail clipper sets, that include reviews and clear comparisons.

Cuticle pusher

A cuticle pusher is one of the most important tools you’ll need in your kit. Usually, when doing your nail course, you’ll be given a pack of disposable wooden cuticle sticks. These get the job done as well but can be quite wasteful as you’ll need to dispose of each one after being used. Having a durable stainless steel cuticle pusher that can be sterilized in-between uses is a game-changer.

Most stainless steel cuticle pushers also have some sort of scraper at the back which you can see to gently remove dead skin buildup from the nail plate, and even clean underneath the nails.

Cuticle nippers

Cuticle nippers are great for cutting hangnails and dead skin around the finger. I would not recommend cutting the actual cuticle as it can cause damage to your nail and can even lead to an infection when not done correctly.

These things have helped me insanely when doing pedicures as I can easily trim in-grown pieces of toenails that I wouldn’t have been able to reach with regular nail clippers.

Tip cutter

Tip cutters are a fundamental part of being a nail technician. You will need one of these when you start. If you are only planning on doing natural nails without using extensions like tips and sculpture, then you won’t need to buy a set of these. But most nail technicians make use of tips.

Nail tool disinfecting jar and disinfectant

Disinfecting your tools in-between uses is one of the most important practices in a nail salon. Make sure to invest in a container that can withstand the cleaning agent. Buy something like Barbicide that has been specifically manufactured to kill any germs, bacteria, and funguses that might be present.

Nail lamp

A nail lamp might not seem like a basic tool you need to do nails, but without one, you will find yourself coming short in many aspects. Nail lamps are needed whether you are using gel or acrylic. Most quality topcoats need to be cured using a nail lamp, and you will also need a lamp when doing painted gel nail art. Read this article on the best available nail lamps before you buy one.

Basic pedicure tools

Most nail technicians broaden their horizons and branch into doing pedicures. Having a couple of essential tools is not only important for getting the job done effectively and efficiently but it will help you bring in more money each month if you can provide professional, quality pedicures to your clients. Although this article covers very basic tools, I wrote a comprehensive guide to pedicure tools and went into more detail.

Toenail clippers

Using regular nail clippers can be challenging when it comes to toenails. Some people can have misshapen and thickened toenails that can be hard to trip easily without hurting your client. A nipper-styled toenail clipper can get into those hard-to-reach corners and will help you cut tough nails. Be sure to buy a sturdy one that has sharp blades to make cutting easier.

SIdewall cleaners and ingrown toenail scraper

Something you might be faced with quite regularly when doing pedicures is ingrown toenails. It’s a painful condition that many people suffer from. To properly get rid of one you will need the right tools. These tools are great as you can effectively clean the sidewalls of your clients’ toenails while using the rasp to gently lift out the ingrown toenail and file down the sharp edges.

Stainless steel foot file with replaceable sanding paper

Foot files are another essential. Using anything like files or foot files should be done in a sanitary way. You should never use one for more than one client. This is a very cost-effective way as you can simply discard the sanding paper after each use and sterilize the file before your next client. Filing the feet will help with cracking, you can read more about how to get rid of cracked heels in the article I wrote. If you are wondering about which foot file is better as there are so many on the market, read my article on different foot files.

Foot spa

A foot spa might not seem like something you need straight away, but let me tell you. They make your work so much easier. Not only does soaking your clients’ feet in lukewarm water with a bit of foot soak do wonders for neutralizing odors and bacteria, but it also helps soften the nails and any dead skin, which will make the entire experience a lot easier, and will prevent you from potentially during your client. I wrote an article on the best foot spas in different price ranges.  

Nail tools to buy in bulk

Nail files

Nail files are something you can never have enough of. The right way to serve clients will be to give each person their nail file, as emery board nail files can not be disinfected properly, and for hygiene reasons, it is better to use one per client. They are coast-effective and you can sanitize each between uses and store it in a container with your clients’ name. 

I like to use the 100/180 grit files as they serve my needs perfectly. You can however buy other grit files if you need something with a higher(softer) or lower(more abrasive) grit.


Buffers, just like nail files need to be products that are changed out in-between clients. Only use one per client. Buffers are used to smooth out the nail extensions after filing has been done, to get rid of any deep scratches.

Sanding bands

If you own an e-file you fill need to buy sanding bands. Just like with nail files they come in different grits. I do recommend not reusing the sanding bands on multiple clients. Like with regular buffers, use one per client for hygiene reasons.

Toe separators

Toe separators are great when doing pedicures. Some people’s toes are very close together and can cause the polish to smudge before getting a chance to dry properly. It will just make your job so much easier. For obvious reasons, it is better to use one set per client and to not use it for more clients. They also do not last forever so buying them in bulk and making sure you have extras is great.

Nail brushes

Nail brushes are used for multiple purposes in the nail industry. It can be used to properly clean your clients’ nails before the service, especially if they are hard-working hands. You can use it to clean cracked heals before filing to ensure optimal healing. You can also use it to clean the nail from dust after filing. I have two different colors. One-color for manicures and the other for pedicures. You can properly clean and reuse the brushes in-between clients and you can also have one per client. These brushes last a long time but will wear out in time so it is a good idea to buy a couple of them.

Nail art tools

Nail art is a very big part of being a nail technician. With the growth of social media so many amazing nail techs are charging their creations online. You shouldn’t be shocked when some of your clients expect some artistic creations from you as well. I wrote an article on things you can use for easy nail art if you are not super artistic or if you’re looking for something more minimal. I also have some tips on becoming better at nail art fast if you’re not sure where to begin.


SOme nail art tools you absolutely need when starting your nail career is:

Dotting tools

Dotting tools are the first nail art tools I got myself, and I use them to this day even though I have gotten a lot better at hand painting and nail art overall. There are so many cute creations you can make using a dotting tool and gel paint or even nail polish. You can also use them as sculpting tools to refine details when creating 4D nail art using sculpting gel or acrylic.

Striping brushes

Striping brushes have been a serious game-changer for me concerning nail art. Having a set of striping brushes will help you so much when you start hand painting nail art. Not only that but drawing straight lines have never been easier.

Stamping kit

If hand painting isn’t for you then using a stamping kit might be more your forte. There are so many amazing stamping plates out there you can create awesome designs.

The big guns

These are things that can be a bit more on the pricey side but will seriously change the nail game for you. This equipment isn’t super essential to buy right off the get-go but is a great investment as your business grows.


My e-file is such a big part of my nail business. It cuts my working time by at least half. I would recommend getting a good-quality e-file as soon as you can. It is however important to go for training before you use an e-file as it can hurt your clients if it’s not used properly. I wrote articles on the best overall e-files as well as the best battery-operated e-files.

Dust collector

A dust collector is something I would invest in as soon as possible. There are many different dust collectors and you can find out whether the brand you are working with sells them as well. A dust collector is very important for ensuring a safe work environment. They absorb most of the fine dust that can be inhaled while working. They also minimize dust in your work area. There are many different dust collectors of varying sizes and strengths. Some can be built-in into your table. One thing to look for when purchasing one is that it makes use of a HEPA filter to make sure that no small dust particles will travel into the air.

Air purifier

An air purifier is a great addition to any home not only a nail salon. The purifier will remove any odors, allergens, and dust from your salon. Make sure that your work environment is safe and clean. Be sure to read my articles on the single best air purifier for a nail salon as well as what is the best air purifier for you, before you buy one.


An autoclave is a very big investment but will leave your tools sterilized and safe for your clients. An autoclave uses steam, extreme heat, and pressure to clean the tools. This is the next level of having a clean work space.

These are just some tools you can purchase but they outline the most important parts of being a nail technician. Start small. You don’t have to buy everything from the get-go. One day you’ll wake up and realize that your collection has grown exponentially. All in time.

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