How To Do a Manicure for Men (Illustrated)

Updated on October 22, 2016

The first three thing a woman notices when meeting a man for the first time is his shoes, his watch, and his nails. These three things say a lot about you.

Good shoes say you have style, and a nice watch says style, but might also hints at maturity and financial status. Nails, on the other hand, are always a good indicator of personal hygiene. I'm always amazed at how many guys have dirty nails. If you can't keep your nails clean, there's a good chance that much else isn't either —and that's not the message you want to send.

Strive for Healthy Man Hands

You're constantly interacting with people throughout the day. The one area of your body that's always exposed, besides your face, is your hands. Even if you're not touching, hugging, or shaking someone's hands, people always see your hands.

There are a few things that make up clean and well-groomed hands:

  • Clean and soft hands
  • Healthy cuticles
  • Clean and trim nails

Clean and soft hands

Your hands should always be clean. No one likes to be touched by dirty, clammy hands, so make sure you wash them throughout the day. If you have rough hands, it would also be good to use hand cream regularly to keep your hands soft (being touched by you should be a pleasure).

Healthy cuticles

I see a lot of guys with dry, peeling, and even bloody cuticles. It does look gross. If you suffer from this issue, make sure that you invest in a good cuticle nipper to safely remove dry, hanging skin. Also, you'll want to use hand cream regularly to keep your cuticles healthy. There are cuticle oils on the market that can be used to help moisturize cuticles, but I think most hand creams will do the job.

Clean and trim nails

Lastly, your nails should always be clean. There should be no dirt under your nails. Your nails also need to be cut regularly. Nails growth does vary, but most people need to clip their nails every week or so. If you're a nail biter, try to ween your self off this bad habit. Nail biting, can create some nasty looking nails.

How To Do a Manicure for Men - Step-by-Step Instructions

Follow these 5-steps to do a proper manicure.

Step 1 - Setup your manicure tools and work area

Step 1 - Setup your manicure tools and work area
Step 1 - Setup your manicure tools and work area | Source

To do a proper manicure, you will need a few tools, and you'll need to setup a work area. Make sure that you have disinfected all your tools with rubbing alcohol before using them.

The tools you will need include:

  • Fingernail clippers
  • Cuticle remover liquid
  • Cuticle pusher
  • Cuticle nipper
  • Nail block
  • Hand cream
  • Small clean towel

You will want to setup your work area to do your manicure; it's important to have stable hands while you're performing a manicure, and you should preferably do this at a table.

Step 2 - Clip your fingernails

Step 2 - Clip your fingernails
Step 2 - Clip your fingernails | Source

Use your nail clippers to clip the edges of your fingernails. Do not round the cut of your nails, as this could create ingrown nails--they should always be cut square.

You can also use the scoop at opposite end of your cuticle pusher to clean out any dirt and dead skin from under the nails.

Step 3 - Push back your cuticles and use cuticle nipper

Step 3 - Push back your cuticles and use cuticle nipper
Step 3 - Push back your cuticles and use cuticle nipper | Source

You should remove your cuticles so that you have a clean, finished look to your nails. Removing your cuticles is also the trickiest part, but it's not too hard to do--just takes a little practice.

Part 1 - Apply Cuticle Remover Liquid To Your Cuticles

Apply cuticle remover liquid to your cuticles. This will soften the cuticles so that they can be easily removed. This product starts to work in less than a minute in less than a minute

Part 2 - Use Your Cuticle Pusher

Now, use your cuticle pusher to push back and remove the cuticles. The cuticles may just wipe away, however if they are still stuck, just push them to the top of the nail. You can use your cuticle nipper to remove those pieces.

Part 3 - Use Your Cuticle Nipper

Last, use your cuticle nipper to remove any remaining excess skin from your cuticles. You will run the nipper gently across the edges of the cuticle, nipping away at the excess skin. You only want to nip dead skin, so be careful not to nick yourself during this process.

Step 4 - File and buff with the nail block

Step 4 - File and buff with the nail block
Step 4 - File and buff with the nail block | Source

Next you will want to use your nail block to file and buff your nails. There are 4 sides to a nail block and they should be used in numerical order (as they are numbered).

Side 1 is the filing side. You use this side to file and soften the edges of your nails so that they aren't so sharp. You don't need but just a couple strokes on the edges of your nails with side 1.

Side 2 is for filing and smoothing the ridges on top of your nails. You take this side and swipe back and forth gently on each nail to remove the ridges.

Side 3 is for smoothing and buffing the nails. Take this side and swipe gentle a few strokes until the nails are smooth across the top.

Side 4 is optional. This side will produce a shiny buff on your nails that will last for several days. Most guys don't opt for a shiny buff finish on their nails--it does look a little girly. But, if you like it, go for it!

Step 5 - Apply hand cream and massage hands

Step 5 - Apply hand cream and massage hands
Step 5 - Apply hand cream and massage hands | Source

Now that you've completed your manicure, you need to massage a little hand cream on your hands to moisturize and nourish your hands, nails, and cuticles. Massage your hands for a few minutes to help improve circulation into your hands and fingers.

Recommended Manicure Supplies for Men

Every man should build a proper set of manicure tools. Below are some of my personal favorites that have been specially curated to help you build your own manicure set.

You can of course, go buy a manicure kit, and there are many good sets out there. However, I think you'll find that building your own set of the best tools (which come from different brands) is better than getting a full set of tools that may not all be the most effective or the best.

Zwilling Pour Homme Ultra Slim Clipper

Zwilling Pour Homme Ultra Slim Nail Clipper
Zwilling Pour Homme Ultra Slim Nail Clipper | Source

This nail clipper is the king of all nail clippers--made in Germany by Zwilling J.A. Henckels.

Zwilling J.A. Henckels is a heritage brand and one of the oldest makers of knives, cutlery, utensils, and other metal goods. They've been making these products for almost 300 years.

What I really love about this product is it's slim profile, German-style design (square, modern look), and soft cutting curve. A lot of nail clippers have a very round cutting curve. Nails need to be cute into an almost square-like shape--this helps prevent ingrown nails. So, the softer, less round cutting curve on this nail clipper is perfect.

In addition, you would expect a knife maker to produce the sharpest pair of nail clippers, and they do. You'll find no other clipper sharper than these.

Sally Hansen Cuticle Remover

Sally Hansen Instant Cuticle Remover
Sally Hansen Instant Cuticle Remover | Source

In order to remove the dead skin from your cuticles, you will need to apply a small amount of liquid cuticle remove to your cuticles.

Cuticle remove will help soften the cuticles so that they can be removed by pushing and nipping, with either a cuticle pusher or a cuticle nipper.

I recommend the Sally Hansen Instant Cuticle Remover; there are a couple other brands on the market, but I think this one is just as good as the others, and very affordable.

You just apply a few drops to your cuticles and in about 15 seconds you can start to remove the cuticle. It contains aloe and chamomile to sooth and condition your cuticles.

Suvorna Cuticle Pusher

Suvorna Cuticle Pusher
Suvorna Cuticle Pusher | Source

You will need a cuticle pusher to do a proper manicure. I recommend the Suvorna cuticle pusher.

This cuticle pusher is made from surgical grade steel and has a nice textured grip that makes this tool easy to grip and maneuver.

This pusher is double-ended; it has a cuticle pusher on one end (the long, flat end used to push the cuticles), and a scoop spoon on the other end (to help clean under your nails).

Cuticle Nipper & Trimmer

Cuticle Nipper & Trimmer
Cuticle Nipper & Trimmer | Source

You will also need a cuticle nipper. Cuticles sometimes stay stuck onto the skin, so a nipper will help gently remove that dead skin from your cuticle area. You can also use this to cut hang nails (but not as a nail clipper).

These nippers are made from carbon steel and guaranteed not to rust or corrode, and come with a lifetime replacement warranty.

I find that they are perfect for use with man hands--they've got a nice size to them that make them easy to maneuver around the cuticles.

The Body Shop Nail Block

The Body Shop Nail Block
The Body Shop Nail Block | Source

There are many nail blocks on the market. I think The Body Shop makes the most durable and effective nail block out there (and the Amazon reviews vouch for that as well).

The problem with nail blocks is that they seem to come apart after one or two uses; I think you'll find that this one stays together a little bit longer, and that the filing and buffing surfaces seem to do a much better job.

What type of finish do you like on your nails?

See results

O'Keefe's Working Hands Cream

O'Keefe's Working Hands Cream
O'Keefe's Working Hands Cream | Source

O'Keefe's is some pretty amazing stuff. There is no cream on the market that's more moisturizing and healing for the hands (and it's the #1 best seller on Amazon for hand creams).

I love using this stuff after a manicure--just leaves your hands feeling really smooth and fresh; but what I love best is that it's odorless and non-greasy.

It's perfect for guys who put a lot of wear and tear on their hands either working or playing sports.

Which product do you like the best?

See results

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


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    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 

      4 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      My finger nails are good. But my toe nails are the worst catching everybody's attention. I should trim and manicure them now even applying nail gel.

      Your tips are great for manicuring. I dealt with a manicuring hub for women recently.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      4 years ago from Oklahoma

      I have never personally put much effort into keeping my hands nice, but I've always been interested. Maybe I'll give it a try now.

      Great hub!


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