First, you need to determine when exactly you should start clipping—before or after your shower?
You’ve probably heard never to clip your fingernails after a shower, but there is a little wiggle room with your toenails. And it all depends on how thick your nails are.
"For very thick nails, it may be easier to cut them after soaking or after a warm, steamy shower," says Jeffrey D. Lehrman, D.P.M., of Crozer-Keystone Health System.
Related: 6 Things You Should Never Do In the Shower
But if your toenails are normal thickness, do it before your shower.
“When they are wet or soft, the nail tends to crush, tear, or bend when you cut it versus creating a clean, smooth cut when trimming a dry nail,” says Dr. Hood.
Then, it’s time to get clipping: It may seem pretty basic, but there are a few rules you should remember when getting started.
First, the most basic rule for toenail clipping is to cut them straight across.
"Start with the cutting device 1 to 2 mm off the nail on the side—a corner starting point—so that you create a good straight edge. Then you can remove the other side of the nail with a secondary cut," says Dr. Hood.
So why the straight cut? That’s because it’s the best way to ward off ingrown toenails, a painful condition where the side of your nail grows into your skin, causing redness, swelling, or even infection. It prevents nail irritation and inflammation, too.
“If you start to cut down the side, a “slant-back” as we would call it, you run the risk of altering future growth of the nail and inciting an ingrown toenail,” he says.