Expert Tips for Choosing the Right Nail File

With all the nail file options available, it’s important to know when and how to use them on clients. Gino Trunzo, Director of Education for Essie, always keeps a traditional metal nail file handy for sharpening orangewood sticks to a finer point for precision when pushing back cuticles or cleaning up polish if it touches the skin. He also prefers to use white or silver nail files, which keep manicures looking clean and fresh. “Black or colored files can leave a residue and cause the manicure to look dirty,” says Trunzo. “I also use sanitizable nail files like Purifiles, or pre-wrapped files intended for one-time use.”

The Essie Education Professional team uses 180/240 grit files that are suitable for natural nails—gentle enough to prevent fraying, yet strong enough to create different shapes and lengths. “The lower the grit, the coarser the file,” says Trunzo. “Eighty up to about 120 grit files are very coarse, 180 to 240 grit are considered medium files, and buffing files can go into the thousands when it comes to grit.” Keep in mind that all filing and shaping should be done after sanitizing clients’ hands, which is when Trunzo applies Essie Apricot Cuticle Peel and Essie Apricot Cuticle Oil, finishing with Essie Many Many Mani Intensive Hand Lotion for a hydrating feel.

At Base Coat Nail Salon, nail techs use glass files for all services. “They seal the keratin layers together at the edge of the nail, preventing chipping and peeling,” says Shelly Hill, General Manager at Base Coat DTLA. All clients are encouraged to purchase a Base Coat glass file to take home so that they can maintain a clean edge between manicures. Looking for other creative uses? “Glass files come in handy for smoothing out babies’ nails so they are less apt to scratch themselves, and are less risky than using clippers,” says Maddie Costigan, Lead Manicurist at Base Coat LOHI in Denver, Colorado. “Additionally, they can be effective at smoothing out pulls on your favorite sweater, or sharpening a lip or eye pencil to a point without wasting a lot of product.”


On File

From shaping to buffing, these nail files have you covered.

  1. OPI Crystal File is ideal for natural nails and prevents nail chipping and peeling. The nonporous glass surface can be sanitized and disinfected between services.
  2. Spilo Starry Night File pushes back cuticles and removes grime easily. The file comes in a sleek translucent case for added protection.
  3. Artistic Grit Buffer Perfect finishes buffing the artificial nail and removes demarcations on the surface.
  4. Tweezerman Filemate Neon Hot Nail File features 100/180 grit for medium sanding of acrylic nails and filing of natural nails. Comes in three fun color combinations.
  5. Hand & Nail Harmony 240 Thin Wooden File lasts three times longer than most nail files and is ideal for shaping the natural nail.


From the March issue, click here for the digital edition.