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Workbook: Manicure and pedicure tools

Workbook: Manicure and pedicure tools

Site: Technical and Vocational Skills Development
Course: Manicure and Pedicure 101 (master)
Book: Workbook: Manicure and pedicure tools
Printed by: Guest user
Date: Tuesday, 25 January 2022, 1:17 PM

1. Overview

This module will help you identify and select appropriate tools, equipment, material and products to carry out a manicure/pedicure service. You will also learn about different methods of infection control and how to set up for a service.

Work your way carefully through the pages in this workbook. 

Once you have completed the workbook you should be able to:

  • describe the use of manicure/pedicure tools and equipment
  • outline the use of manicure/pedicure products
  • setup the workstation for manicure/pedicure service
  • put together your own manicure and pedicure tool kit


  •  compile a kit with manicure and pedicure tools and upload a picture of its contents to your ePortfolio
  • earn 80% or higher on a quiz identifying tools and equipment and their uses
  • earn 80% or higher on a quiz for identifying and describing materials and their uses
  • complete a discussion with pictorial evidence of a manicure/pedicure workstation set up
  • reflect on what you learned
Study Time
It will probably take you 3-4 hours to complete this module. Note that the information will be repeated during the practical sessions on manicure and pedicure treatment, therefore you will have a chance to understand it better then.

2. Mani/ Pedi Tools, Equipment & Material

You will notice that some tools, equipment and material are used for both manicure and pedicure treatments while others are used strictly for manicure or for pedicure. Before you use any of these, make sure that they are thoroughly disinfected and/or sterilised. Some tools must be used with extreme caution so as to avoid cutting the skin, removing too much of the cuticle and thinning the nail plate.

 In the following topics you will learn about :

  • Cutting and trimming tools
  • Filing tools
  • Cleaning and buffing tools

You will also learn about equipment used in manicure/pedicure.

2.1. Materials for Mani/Pedi

In this topic you will learn about the materials used to carry out manicure/pedicure services. They should be dust free and disinfected. Materials should also be changed after every client to avoid cross infection. Lets take a look at materials.

Toe separators

These are used to separate toes while painting.

Manicure/pedicure mittens

They are usually used following the application of hand/massage cream. The hands are dipped in paraffin wax and wrapped with a cling film or plastic placed inside a plastic pocket and place then into mittens for about . Electrical mittens or heated gloves are also used for the same purpose during paraffin wax treatment.

Pedicure slippers

These are worn by a client after painting nails, to avoid messing up the nail colour that has been just applied with their closed shoes.


Gloves: These should be worn to protect both yourself and client from possible cross infection. They should be disposed of after each service on individual clients.

Plastic wrap: used to seal in moisture, e.g after dipping hands/feet in paraffin wax. It must be disposed of after each use on every client.

Paper towels

Used to line the area on which you set up products.



Cotton towels

Used to rest client’s hands during manicure and for drying hands and feet.


2.2. Nail Files

Nail files

Nail files are made from different types of material and come in different grit levels. They are used to shape the nails. Nail files come in varying degrees of coarseness. The grit level states the coarseness or fineness of the file. Never use a coarse file on thin, weak nails. The rule is: start with a finer grit if uncertain about the condition of the nail.


Below are the numbers assigned to indicate the coarseness or fineness of the file. The lower the number the coarser the grit.

80 grit: This is very coarse and should never be used on natural nails. Some might use this on artificial nails but even then it's still a little too rough.

100 grit: This is still a coarse file but 100 grit can safely be used on artificial nails only.

180 grit: This is the lowest grit that should be used on natural nails but if your nails are damaged or prone to damage, you might want to use a finer grit.

240 grit: This is a softer grit and a file with this grit is often used for buffing the nails to a smooth finish or buffing away stains.

500 grit: A file with this grit is a very soft one that would usually only be used to buff/polish the nail.

2.3. Types of Files

Double-sided emery board

Is ideal as it is not too bulky and has a fine and coarse side. Grits are stated.

Emery board

A disposable file. The grit is not stated. It is not for professional use.


Crystal file

Is ideal for fragile nails. It has the highest grit number making it very fine. It may be too fine for strong, thick nails. It is more expensive but lasts a long time.

Metal file

This type of file must be avoided. It is very hard on nails and causes damage to nails if not used properly.



2.4. Activity: Filing practice

Take the time to do it right. You should be filing toward the tip of your nail on each side of your finger. Start by filing the sides to get the shape you want, then finish the tip in one direction. Do not file your nails back and forth!

The right way to file your nails is to file from the side of your nail to the center in one direction, lifting the file away from the nail, and returning to the starting point where your skin and nail connect. Repeat this until you have your desired shape.

2.5. Nail Brushes, Buffers and Cuticle Pushers

Nail brush

Used to clean under and around the nails, with the aid of warm water and soap.


Nail buffers

There are 3 types of buffers:

a)      Chamois buffer – is covered with chamois or leather: used with a buffing paste or powder to polish the nails to a high sheen.

b)      Block buffer – is a four-sided block which has all rough sides. It is used directly on the nail plate to smooth corrugated lines or to reduce thickness of the nail plate.

c)      3-4 sided buffer – it is in block form like the block buffer. The coarse sides of the buffer are used to eliminate ridges and smooth the nail surface ready for the application of the nail polish. The finer sides are used to polish the nails and create a natural-looking shine.


Cuticle pusher (metal)

Used to loosen and push back cuticles around the nail.

Orange wood stick

This is a disposable stick used to loosen the cuticle around the base of the nail or to clean under the free edge. You can use a cuticle pusher as an alternative.



2.6. Cutting and Trimming Tools

Cuticle knife
Has a straight cutting edge; is sharp and must be used with care. It is used to remove cuticles or built- up dead skin on the nail plate

Cuticle nipper

Used to trim or cut excess cuticles at the base of the nail, they are also used to remove hang nails.

Nail clippers
Used to shorten nails, clipping nails will reduce the filing time. 

Nail scissors used to reduce nail length                                                              

2.7. Pedicure Tools

The following tools are used only for pedicure treatments. They are always set up separately from manicuring tools. 

Toenail clipper

A large clipper used to reduce the length of toe nails and reduce filing time.

Credo /corn blade

A blade to remove callus or hard skin under the feet. The use of this tool is illegal in some countries. Avoid using it. It is better to use a foot file to reduce tough thickened skin.


Foot file

This is used to remove build up of dead cells on the soles of feet. It could be used after sanitising the feet and before soaking and then again after the foot rasp to smooth roughness.


Foot rasp

Used to remove any build-up of hard skin. It comes in many different grits and shapes.


2.8. Mani/Pedi Equipment

In order to effectively use the tools which you learnt about in the previous topic, the salon is also equipped with specific equipment. These also must be kept clean through the use of disinfectants. The following are the common equipment found in a mani/pedi salon:

Finger bowl

 A bowl used with warm soapy water and antiseptic to soak nails during a manicure treatment.


Bath filled with warm water, antiseptic and a soaking solution to soak the feet during a pedicure treatment. Sometimes essential oils are added, for example tea-tree, peppermint, eucalyptus and menthol which have a cooling and invigorating effect.

Sanitiser for tools

A container with a disinfecting solution used to place tools during the manicure.



Good lighting is essential to enable manicurist/pedicurists to identify minute details that will indicate the condition of the nail and cuticle and to carry out precise work on cuticles and nails.



Used for sterilising metal tools at high temperatures


3. Quiz: Mani/Pedi Tools

Check you understanding of the mani/pedi tools by earning 80% or higher on this quiz.

Quiz: Check your knowledge of mani/pedi tools

4. List of Nail Products

This list of products will help you to remember the names of products show in the previous video.

Acetone/nail varnish remover

Acetone is used to remove nail polish. It has a drying effect on nails and skin. It must not be used on acrylic nails.

Non acetone is used on acrylic nails


Prevents the multiplication of micro-organism, used for sanitising hands before treatment, as well as soaking client’s hands and feet during the treatment.


Colourless liquid applied on the nail before coloured nail polish, to prevent staining of the nail plate and also it allows the nail polish to readily adhere to the nail surface. Some base coats have nail strengtheners.

Buffing paste

Used to smooth out ridges on the nail plate and helps to remove surface stains, creating a high lustre, which is sometimes preferred to coloured nail polish.

Cuticle cream

Used to make the cuticles pliable so that they can be pushed back without causing damage or discomfort. Cuticle oil is also used as an alternative.

Cuticle oil

Special oil used to soften and lubricate cuticle around the fingernails and toe nails. Cuticle cream can be used as an alternative

Cuticle remover

A solution mixed with an alkaline, glycerine and water, is used to soften and remove dead cuticles from around the nail. It also works by breaking down the cuticle so that it can be scraped away gently from the nail plate with a cuticle knife.

Cuticle exfoliant

A gentle grainy substance used after a cuticle trimmer to help sweep away dull, dead cells to leave your nails and cuticles soft, smooth and tidied up.

 Hand creams

 A cream used to soften the skin on the hands and cuticles. It provides a ‘slip’ for massage; this means that the therapist‘s hands glide smoothly over the skin without causing friction and discomfort. Hand creams have an oil base and where as hand lotions are water based.


A product used to remove dead skin cells, cleanse the skin; conditions soften and refresh the skin. It is applied with a deep circular massage movement and used on both hands and feet to improve blood circulation. It is also called a scrub.

Foot cream

A rich cream used to massage the feet leaving them soft and supple. Essential oils can be added to take away tiredness and puffiness of the feet.

Foot powder

Powder used to sprinkle on client’s feet to absorb moisture and before wearing closed shoes.

Hygienic liquid soap

Used with warm water to soak hands and feet in preparation for pushing back cuticles.

Nail hardener/strengthener

There are many different types available, used for strengthening damaged and brittle nails, condition and protect against, breaking, splitting and peeling.

Nail polish/varnish

A nail colour or paint used on the nail plate to beautify and protect nails, assorted colours are available to choose from.

Nail polish remover

Used to remove nail polish and to remove oil from the nail plate before applying nail polish.

Nail polish thinner

Used to thin nail polish that has thickened.

Nail white pencil

Used to whiten free edge which has become discoloured, you can use this to create a ’French’ manicure, a nail bleach can be used also to whiten stained nails.

Top coat

A liquid colourless sealer applied over polish to protect the polish, prevents chipping and impart a high gloss.

Nail polish dryers

There are different types of nail polish dryers that can be used to speed up the drying process, for example quick-dry sprays, a liquid dropped directly to the nail polish, top drying coats and ultra violet lamps.

4.1. Mani/Pedi Products

Manicurists use a variety of products in order to maintain hygiene and safety, to cleanse, exfoliate and moisturise clients'  hands, feet and nails. 

Manicurists must be aware of the acidity and alkalinity of the products they use during and after manicuring. Alkaline products disturb the acid mantle of the skin causing it to become sensitive and irritated and exposed to bacteria. A product is considered to have an acid balance when it has a pH of 0-7; a product is alkaline when it has a pH of 7-14. Soap is alkaline having a pH of 9. Therefore, manicurist/pedicurists should avoid over exposure of client’s hands and nails to soap or any other alkaline product. .

In this section you will learn the names of different products and their uses. Products could be grouped into categories. 

To find out more about products, go to the Cosmetics Info website.

4.2. Quiz: Mani/Pedi Products

Check your knowledge of mani/pedi products by earning 80% or higher on this quiz.

Quiz: Check your knowledge of manicure/pedicure products Edit title

5. Activity: Build your professional kit

The proper tools and products are the key to a professional-looking manicure or pedicure. We have compiled a list of tools we recommend you purchase.

Tools recommended for your mani pedi toolkit

Now it is your turn to compile your manicure and pedicure tools. 

e-PortfolioIn your e-Portfolio upload a picture of the manicure and pedicure tools you have compiled.

6. Hygiene and Sanitation

As a manicurist you must be vigilant about maintaining your personal hygiene as well as maintaining a clean and safe environment. In order to maintain infection control you must be aware and apply three levels of sanitation.

Sanitising is the lowest level of decontamination or cleaning. It is done by wiping, washing, sweeping or dusting to reduce the amount of germs and bacteria on tools and surfaces. Before disinfection or sterilisation, it is essential to first sanitise tools, surfaces and equipment by the appropriate method.

Disinfection is the next level of decontamination. This is a chemical process that will kill most of the germs if correctly carried out but will not necessarily kill them all. A good quality disinfectant will be effective and fast acting against most pathogenic bacteria. It is the most used form of decontamination in the salon. Carry out research to learn more about disinfectants.

Sterilisation is the highest level of decontamination. It completely destroys all the living organisms on an object (both harmless ones and pathogens). Sterilisation is used for tools and equipment. The tools are placed in a container at very high temperature in order to kill all germs and bacteria. If you do not sterilise thoroughly, some bacteria will remain. When you visit the doctor or dentist, it is comforting to know that he or she will only use tools on you which have been sterilised. It is the same for your clients in the salon.

There are several local and international policies and regulations regarding Hygiene and Sanitation. The Ultimate Nail Salon Guide provides important information on the topic.

6.1. Table Set up

As a manicurist you should follow the rules of sanitation. Ensure all implements have been sterilized or disinfected. Your workstation must also be wiped with a hospital grade disinfectant and be orderly. It is important for you to cultivate a disciplined, systematic approach to manicure and pedicure.

What is important is that there is a place for every tool or implement. 

There are several ways to set up the manicure table. However, what is important is that there is order and order must be maintained throughout the service.That means that placing tools in the correct order before, during and after service. 

The video below gives an example of a professional setup. 

6.2. A place for every tool

What is important is that there is a place for every tool or implement. The table below tells you where to place tools, implements and material.



Placement on table



1. towel wrapped arm rest


6. finger bowl and brush

Slightly to the left of client

2. nail files (different grits)

on the right next to arm rest

7. disinfecting tray

left of manicurist/pedicurist

3. cuticle implements

next to the files on the right

8. creams, lotions, cuticle remover/oil, nail varnish

in a tray to the left of manicurist/pedicurist

4. sanitiser

Next to cuticle implements

9. plastic bag for waste

stuck with adhesive tape to  either side of the table

5. cotton wool container

Next to the sanitizer

10. nail whitener, pumice stone buffer, etc.

in the drawer

6.3. e-Portfolio Activity: Mani/Pedi Workstation

Now it is your turn. Set up a mani/pedi workstation in your home or work place using the Tool Kit you have compiled for conducting manicures and pedicures.

eportfolioStart a new discussion in your e-Portfolio. In the subject area write "Mani/Pedi workstation setup". Add a picture of a mani/pedi workstation that you setup in your home or workplace.

In about 10 sentences, explain how you set up your workstation and what rules you followed and what things of importance you learned about setting up your workstation. What advice do you have for others?

7. e-Portfolio Activity: Reflection

eportfolioIn your ePortfolio, start a new discussion. In the subject field write "Reflection: Manicure and Pedicure Tools Unit

In about 10 sentences, reflect on what you learned.  Tell us what new information you learned about, for example, the use of nail files with different grits, care in using cutting implements and methods used to clean different types of instruments, materials and work surfaces.

What did you learn about setting up the manicure/pedicure workstation?

8. Summary

In this module you learned about different types of manicure and pedicure tools, equipment, products and material and their uses. You learned about the different grits of files, about cutting and buffing tools and tools that are used for both manicure and pedicure and those used for pedicures only, e.g. the fool file, credo blade and rasp. You also learned about the importance of sanitising, disinfecting and sterilizing tools. The importance of setting up and keeping an orderly manicure/pedicure station was discussed.

To demonstrate that you understand what knowledge and skills are required for using manicure/pedicure tools, products and equipment you should have :

  • read the pages in this workbook
  • compiled a kit with manicure and pedicure tools and upload a picture of its contents to your ePortfolio

  • completed a  quiz on tools/equipment and their use and earned 80% or higher

  • completed a  quiz on products/materials and use and earned 80% or higher
  • contributed to a discussion and added a picture of your setup for manicure/pedicure to your ePortfolio
  • reflected on what you learned