Monday, November 29, 2010

Ready, Set, FILE! - Square

This post will show how to file the nail free edge into a square shape. Obviously free edge is necessary, but the more the better because otherwise the nail corners maybe somewhat round.  However, if you keep at it you can eventually get sharp corners (that is if you want it).

Previously, I went over how to take down nail length and files, so you may want to visit those posts, there are some good tips. If you are not sure if square is right for you, the post on nail shape and balance may be helpful.

Nails with a high arching C-curve can easily achieve this nail shape and require the least amount of filing. If your C-curve is not as arched you may need more length or work on the side walls to achieve this look. I have to warn people, however, about messing with the side walls of their nail bed. I have found it is vital to nail strength so I discourage people from filing it, but if you must I have a few tips.

Before you begin you need a proper file.  I already posted on what I prefer and why so I suggest you check it out before you read on.  In general, a file with a grit strength of  320/400 will work for shaping.

Here is a before and after picture.

The before nail is some what squoval and we are going for a square nail shape.

I think this nail shape is the simplest for high arching C-curves because you only need to file straight across. Keep the file straight and steady in the horizontal direction (to the nail bed) until it is square enough to your liking.

I do have a few tips.

If you are filing in a horizontal direction, either sawing away with the proper grit file or in one direction, you will eventually end up with "nail shavings."

There may be shavings under the nail or on top as shown in the pictures.  We need to eliminate them to have both a clean look as well as to help seal the nail plate.

To get rid of the "on top" nail shavings:

1. Start the file flush with the nail bed
2. In one sweeping motion, of down and around, move the file 270° around the nail tip.

To get rid of the "under" nail shavings:

1. Place the nail at either a 45° angle OR 90° angle to the file.
2. File down in one direction.

Either will work depending on how square you want it. The 45° angle will give you a softer square look, i.e. rounder edges.

Although these steps will help seal the nail plate, sealing is best done with the polish off and will be covered in another post.  

Another way to soften the square shape is to take a finer grit file (320 or 400) and file from the corner to the center of the nail bed as shown in the pictures.  You can see the nail looks slightly more round on the right.  Now we are getting into the realm of squoval, and that will be another post.

Now a few words (and pictures) about filing the side walls of your nails beds.

If you are going to file the side walls, do not do it like this. Filing this way can injure the cuticle, skin and weaken the nail walls where a good bit of strength lies.

Here is a picture of one my nails. I used to have trouble with splitting and breaking right at the edge. The more I would file the side the more breaks I would get. The nail would crack before I could grow it very far from the free edge. Keeping that side wall intact (along with other things I will link here soon) eliminated that problem.

So is there a "safe" way to file the side wall? 

If you must file, to even something out, make sure the file only hits the free edge and lies at least at a 45° angle to the nail side wall. Be very gentle and light handed. Use a high grit of at least 400 to be as gentle as possible. (Ignore that I have a 320 file pictured, its for demonstration purposes only.)

Video version of the square shape can be found here.

If you have any questions or comments please let me know.
Now I have to grow my nails a bit so I can show you Oval and then file back to Squoval!

Other posts about filing:
Nail Shape and Balance
Taking down Nail Length
Oval Post and Video Post (to be linked)
Sealing the nail plate

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Roy G Biv!

Color Club's Revvvolution ..... so good it has 3 v's

I don't know where my brain or eyes were during the whole holographic craze (Oh I know, deep into Quantum Mechanics falling in love with Schrodinger's Equation and his awesome particle in a box!), but lucky for me I just discovered it some 3 months ago and let me tell you we're in the honeymoon phase. 

Okay enough dork talk, let's get to the pictures.

Where have you been all my life.  This baby goes on like a buttery dream.  The consistency is thick but very smooth.  It just glides on.  Because of the thicker formula its really easy to control.  It dries to a semi suede finish and a shiny topcoat may dull the holo effect.  However, even with topcoat, it still works magic in sunlight.

Look at it carefully and you will notice
Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet

Sun light is pretty hard to come by in my apartment.  Here was a sliver, but I couldn't get it very well.

The flash will have to do.

Here is one really close up from a wear test I will do on Revvvolution, so excuse the tip wear.

The ear test for Color Club Revvvolution can be found here.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Other rules to live by

Big Nail No No's

Just a round up of nail NO NO's, some already mentioned, but will be re-mentioned because they are important.

1. Soaking nails in water for long periods of time.

When your nails are submerged in water for long periods of time they tend to absorb a lot of it.  This causes the nail beds to soften and swell up a bit.  If you have any curving in your nails, you will notice after a long shower, they will become wider and un-curve a bit.  Your nails are at their weakest at this point so treat them kindly and do not do #2, attempt to file or apply polish!  Eventually your nail will dry up and harden.  However, as they dry, if you do not seal in some moisture, your nails can become very dry and hard and even become brittle.  Furthermore, as you can imagine, iterations of this wet/dry cycle can cause further peeling and breaking since the nail plate layers have weakened and can become separated.

Moreover, adding very hot water to this whole cycle makes things even worse.  So, what does this mean ... No dishes!....that's what men are for.  If one of those is not around, buy a nice pair of rubber gloves.  Same goes for heavy duty house work.  Gloves are your friend.  This does not mean "don't wash your hands."  What this does mean is, keep your hands clean with soap and water as needed and moisturize immediately after.

Proof of concept (via pictures) can be found here.

2. Nails are not tools .... anymore.

Yes, a nails job was once to provide aid and help with everyday tasks in the jungles or where ever we came from (again a bio expert I am not).  But, we have since evolved and developed tools to replace nails.  Long nails further developed (ca. Ming Dynasty) as a symbol of  wealth, attesting to a lack of manual labor.  I have found that using nails as tools is the easiest way to promote peeling, chipping and breaks.  Avoid at all costs!

Example: The following tutorial shows how to peel an orange (or other fruit with a rind) without using nails!

a. Get yourself an orange and hold it in one hand.
(I believe I am showing a tangerine.)

b. Get yourself a spoon and hold it in the other. (maybe not so butch like)

 c. Bring them together.

d. Pierce the fruit with the spoon.


e. Separate the rind away from the fruit, working back and forth in a sawing motion.

f. Eventually the rind will become loose and you can easily grab it and pull it off the fruit.  Don't forget to also handle the core with the spoon.

Yay, nails saved!

Or you could just get a knife and cut it up.
By the way, teeth should no longer be used as tools either, at least only for things like opening soda cans, because after all a girls gotta eat.  A spoon (or knife or fork) is also great for opening a soda can.  Try it, and tell me if it works for you.

3. Using too rough of a file (low grit). Discussed in greater detail here.
4. Don't cut the wrong "cuticle". Discussed in greater detail here.
5. Don't ignore nutrition or illness. Nail treatments are not a substitute for underlying medical conditions.
6. Don't avoid moisturizing your nails.

If you have any you want to add, please comment and I will add them.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Nail Hardeners

The wonderful world of nail treatments.  Boy back in the day this was it for me.  I loved trying new products,  but since I was a tween/teen/young adult without moola, I would buy one treatment at a time.  I used to save my lunch money, yes we are talking starving for nail polish, and stand in the makeup isle at Wal-mart/CVS/Sally's for hours, reading each and every bottle over and over (ingredients, claims, etc) trying to decide which product would be magic to my nails.  I always used up every bottle and often repurchased to see how and if the ingredients did their magic.  I wanted to know what each ingredient did.  What a weirdo, I know, but now I can tell you what I learned.

I think one of the biggest questions out there is, what is the best nail hardener?  The answer is not a simple one, but this series of posts will try to rationalize the possibilities. This entire series assumes your overall health is good, because no topical nail treatment can help you if you have some underlying illness.

Another very important factor to remember is that nail hardness is not the same thing as flexibility. Hard nails are great because they are strong, but there is such a thing as over hardening the nail plate. The harder that your nails get the more brittle they become. The nail plate must balance both characteristics, hardness and flexibility, to retain health, stability, and length. We can balance the hardness with nail flexibility by moisturizing and taking a break from nail hardeners intermittently if needed (that depends on the type you use)! Furthermore, you will find the healthier the nail plate the longer you nail polish will last (that is if you want it to).

There are, in my mind, only 6 categories of nail hardeners because each category of nail hardener works in essentially the same way.

1. Formaldehyde based - this post and here.
2. Formaldehyde free, protein based
3. A mix of #1. and #2 ... post here.
4. There are three subcategories: post here.
a.) #1 with conditioners, b.) #2 with conditioners, or c.) #3 with conditioners: all here
5. Fluoride based, Part I and Part II
6. Dimethyl Urea based
7. Nail Conditioner - DermaNail ( or NeoCeuticals Nail Conditioning Solution)
Video Review for DermaNail

#7 is different, I have not encountered anything else like it on the market.

I would encourage everyone to start reading the ingredients of all your nail products, especially nail treatments, so that you can eliminate similar class products that have not worked for you.  I will take you through the different categories and how they work.  Although, I may mention a few brand names from each category, I do not favor any, rather I favor categories. Personally, I like #2, #5, and #7.
Formaldehyde based nail hardeners:

Your nail bed is comprised of a protein called keratin. This protein has naturally occurring cross linkages which give nails their hardness.  However, not enough cross-links and the nail is very flexible and lacks strength.  One way to create more cross-links in keratin is with the use of formaldehyde.

Formaldehyde based nail hardeners are the most common type of nail hardener and contain 1-3 % formaldehyde. (Note: Formaldehyde is not the same as Formaldehyde Resin) Formaldehyde reacts with keratin and creates more cross-linkages.  Bottom line - they work. However, I have two main hang up's with this category.

1. Overtime and overuse of formaldehyde based hardeners causes the keratin to form too many cross-links and as a result the nail becomes very hard, looses its flexibility and becomes brittle.

2. Formaldehyde is a skin irritant and overtime people can build up an allergy.  Skin contact should be avoided.

Overall, these hardeners work, but should be used intermittently to avoid brittle nails and possible worsening of your nail's condition (i.e. more chipping, peeling, etc.). And as always, moisturizer should play an important role in nail maintenance.

EXAMPLES: Do check ingredients to make sure formula's didn't change!
- Nail Tek is a popular brand that salons may recommend
- OPI makes Nail Envy
- There are many many more! Pretty much each brand name has one.
- I have also seen nail hardeners (off brand) at the dollar store, just check the ingredients.

Next up: Are formaldehyde based nail hardeners right for you?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A nice bloody red for the holidays!

I have been looking for a nice red to fit my skin tone for the holiday's.  CVS was having a nice sale on both L'Oreal and Revlon products so I scooped up Revlon's Valentine (730) and Perplex (826) and L'Oreal's Lady Luck (450) and Caught Red-Handed (470).  Perplex is obviously not red, but I had to see what all the hoopla was about from the MUA nail boards.  Today I am going to show Revlon's Valentine.

Revlon Valentine

Base: Sally Hansen Salon Nail Lacquer in clear (x1)
Color: Revlon Valentine (730) x3
Top: None

What a sweet jelly like polish.  I love the darkness of this red.  It feels really rich.

Three coats was just about opaque.

When I first put this color on I felt slightly like an old lady, a la the two fat ladies (especially Jennifer), but I like it a lot!

Here is a picture with flash

Its hard to catch the true color with camera, but these are pretty close.

 Here is a picture with only two coats.  This is still a very nice color but there is some obvious nail line.

Here are a few more:

With flash.

Without flash.
My skin looks a bit washed out, but the color is more accurate.

In terms of application, it went on fairly streak free.  My only problem (with Revlon in general) is that sometimes if the coat is too thick or applied too soon over a previous coat, I get tiny bubbles.  Thin coats are key with ample dry time in between since I don't favor fast dry topcoats.  Top coat was completely unnecessary because the formula was soooo shiny/glossy.  I will however put on a topcoat every day (or other day) to make the mani last.

I hope everyone has a bloody good holiday!
What's your favorite red?

Removing dark colors is a pain. Here is how to do it neatly.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Are you a cutter?!

To cut or not to cut cuticles?  That is the question.  This question always seems to divide the MUA nail boards and raises up a storm of answers. 

I feel like one day we might battle .... the cutter's in one corner, ready to slice em and the non-cutters in the other corner ready to spray with cuticle remover.  How can we end this controversy??!!  Dare I say it ... I think I have an answer to make both parties happy ... but, it's not a short one.

I think there is a lot of misinformation or misunderstanding out there.  The bottom line is, the normal person either doesn't know or understand nail anatomy and wrongly identifies the "cuticle".  So lets all get on the same page.  The graphic below shows some nail parts.  We only need to concentrate on a couple terms at the moment.

The cuticle is comprised of living and dead tissue. There are two thin skin strips between the nail tip (distal edge) and the proximal nail fold. The skin strip closest to the proximal nail fold is called the eponychium and is alive, while the skin that grows on the nail plate is dead and is considered the true cuticle; it is located right underneath the eponychium.  So, just to summarize and finally clear the air, when we refer to the cuticle we are referring to the "true cuticle" (dead tissue) and not the "eponychium"  (live tissue).

Warning: Google image eponychium at your own risk ... it's mega gross!

With that said, it is completely safe to remove the dead cuticle (true cuticle).  Notice I said "remove" and not cut.  You should choose which ever method you are most comfortable with. 

It's no fun unless we have real pictures of fingers so, lets take a look of what to expect on your own fingers.

My husband was nice enough to be provide his nasty fingers for today's viewing.  Yes, I said nasty.  He won't let me fix them, so the consequence is of course name calling. 

The top image shows just the fingers and the bottom has all the parts labeled.  Look at the finger on the top left, I have slightly pushed back the true cuticle so you can see it (clearly more crusty white).  If you look very carefully to the finger on your top right you may just be able to see the true cuticle.  The true cuticle can be pushed back all the way to the eponychium, removing it thereafter can be done by trimming or with a cuticle remover.

Do your own research online and check out your own fingers.  If you are unsure about what is what, go to a reputable manicurist and get a manicure. (I stress reputable!)  I am sure they would be willing to show you where your cuticle is since this is what they learned in school.    

A couple of points I want to make:

1. Cutting the true cuticle is fine as long as you are confident in what you are trimming off.
2. Cutting the eponychium (or any live skin) can lead to infection, not to mention ragged cuticles.
3. Not everyone needs to cut their cuticles, this depends on what they have going on down there. Sometimes a cuticle remover is all that is necessary.
3. Simply pushing back the true cuticles would be a good start.  AND don't forget to moisturize!
I will eventually post how to remove cuticles both by cutting/trimming and with a cuticle remover.  Stay tuned!

Post about using cuticle remover can be found here.

My final words of caution .... Be careful before you start cutting away or you may end up like some of those Google images for eponychium .... gross!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ready, Set, FILE! Taking down length

So far, I have told you a brick wall is not a proper filing implement and filing after you have pruned yourself in the bathtub is also a bad idea.  I want to do a series of posts for successful filing of "normal healthy nails."  This is the first of that set.  This post will specifically cover how to take down nail length, specific nail shapes are covered here, while sealing the nail plate is covered here.

What do I consider a "normal healthy nail?"  It's when you DON'T have flaking, peeling, or tearing.  How to handle/file an occasional peel is covered in this post.  How to handle breaks or tears, especially on the side of the nail wall are covered in this post

There are several ways to take down nail length.  If you have significant growth (>1cm) I would recommend nice sharp clippers: otherwise, follow the steps below.

1.  It is best to start filing nails when they are in a normal dry state WITH polish on.  If you just took a shower/bath, did the dishes, or soaked your nails from a regular mani (which I don't recommend, more on that in this post*link*), apply moisturizer and let them dry thoroughly.  Leaving polish on your nails while filing will prevent and protect the nail from shredding or ripping due to over zealous filing (see #2).  Additionally, if you are wearing a dark color your nail shape is much more visible, thus easier to shape.  However, some filing will also be done after polish removal, particularly to seal the nail plate.

If you already took polish off or it's been off, apply some moisturizer anyway, its good for you!

2. Since this post is concentrating on taking down nail length, we first need to choose the correct file for the job.  See the older post on types of files, grit and uses.  Determine whether your nail is thick or thin.  Thick nails can use a 220 grit file, while thin nails are a bit more fragile and should start with a 300 grit file or higher.  Perhaps a crystal nail file would work for thin nails, but as I said previously, I am not that big of a fan.

Nail filing should, for the most part, be done in one direction and not in a sawing motion.  The exception is using a higher grit file (400+).  Grit this high is safe and will not tear the nail even if you are sawing away.   I can't comment too confidently on glass nail files, but from what I have read they seem to be safe.

Since you are not refining the nail shape, only keep a nail shape in mind.  Then file in one direction until your achieve length is achieved.  Or you can choose a higher grit nail file and saw away!  Maybe a video would be helpful.  If enough people express interest I will add one.

Now that you have taken down the length we can refine the shape!

Not sure what the right shape is for you fingers.  See this post!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Collateral Damage

Since last Thursday I have been cooped up under ground in a secret facility playing with x-rays.  There was some major damage .... nail damage.

My job requires for me to travel to this one special place every month or so, and it never fails, I always come back lacking sleep and usually a nail. :(

This trip was no exception! So lets take a moment of silence, curse the crappy bathroom door and take a look at the damage:


This picture was taken about 2 weeks before the incident.  The only other recent picture I have is in profile, see below. 

In preparation for this trip and what it usually brings, I filed down some nail growth to the following result.  This is just days before the incident.


Ouch!  My ego is hurt more than the finger.  I wanted to document the actual break, but I was in panic mode and just wanted to fix it.  Normally, I would have fixed this break with a soak off gel, but clearly I am on travel and there was no time for that.

That post can be found here.

And a profile picture below.....

Double Ouch.
Time heals all wounds.  Unfortunately, I am scheduled to travel to this God forsaken place again in two more weeks.  Great, just in time for the nail to grow back some.  uuuuhhhhh!

I think my main problem, besides forcefully shoving my hands in doors, is a lack of flexibility in the nail plate.  I need to balance hardness with flexibility.  My plan is to not forget my cuticle oil for the next trip.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Essie Waltz

Sheer white cremes, one of my favorite nail polish colors.  It's like putting on my favorite pair of jeans.

Today, I am going to show you Essie Waltz.  This and Demure Vixen were my first  Essie purchases ever.  My only other exposure to Essie was by way of an inherited color called Moda Scoota.

As sheers go, they can be built up to opaqueness if you can stand the dry time or own a quick dry topcoat.  I personally like a little bit of visible nail line.  Although, I am not a huge fan of quick dry topcoats (future post alert), you will see them in this post.  I am going to include both swatches of 2 and 3 coats.
Essie Waltz

Base: Revitanail
Color: 2 coats Essie Waltz
Top: None

Yes it's sheer.  And I like it that way.

Same as above only slightly more close up and with a random bottle of OPI.

One reason I love sheer white cremes is because it's like a french manicure in a bottle.  Check it out, how awesome is that!

Now, you can go for another look by adding another layer.  This is also a great way to refresh your manicure.

Base: Revitanail
Color: 3 coats Essie Waltz
Top: Seche Vite

In daylight

After a third coat this color is more opaque, but still has a VNL, which again is a-okay with me!

If you have the patience for dry time or own a quick dry top coat you can further layer with glitters or whatever you please.

Same as above, but at a different angle.

Same as above, but with flash.

So there you have it.  I would love to comment on wear and such, but I have not worn this color enough to confidently come to a conclusion.  My usual rule is to go through ~1 bottle to make a fair judgment, but that would be an eternity in the nail polish blog world.  So how about 3 - 5 times.  I will let you know how it goes in the future.

Note: Today's post comes from a request from: alluring_mum from

Tomorrow: Collateral Damage ... my misadventures underground and a sad before and after :(

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Nail shape and balance

What's the best nail shape for your finger?  Believe it or not there are rules.  No one says you have to follow them, but they are a good guideline for what is visually appealing.

 How awesome do these look?
Unless you're from Jersey, visually these probably seem a bit off.

This is my post talking about different nail shapes and how to best balance your finger past the free edge based on your nail bed shape.

There are 3 main nail bed shapes.  Look at your nail bed from cuticle to tip.  Forget anything past the free edge because you can manipulate that shape with a file.  Your nail plate is probably either rounded, square or triangular.  Below is a graphic I made of proper nail shapes past the free edge based on your nail bed shape.

As a warning, this graphic is very text book and I have listed other options that, in my opinion, will work very well.  Unfortunately, the triangle nail shape is the most limited.  If anyone has any suggestions please comment.

Here are links to a series of posts showing how you can manipulate the free edge into different shapes.
Taking down length

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Perhaps I should have mentioned this earlier, but to me it was sort of a default.  I realize however, this needs to be mentioned because everyone's diet is directly related to nail health, just like skin and hair.

Simple Rules ... (at least simple enough ... I admit I myself am a work in progress)

1. Stay hydrated.
You know that rule.... 8 glasses of water blah blah....eeehhh what a chore.  The good news (by way of Dr. Nancy Snyderman from the Today show), is that apparently those 8 glasses can be included in the food you eat.    All food has moisture in it.  Some has more than others, think watermelon vs. cereal.  Therefore, if for example you have tea or milk during the day this can be counted as your "moisture" and part of the 8 glass minimum.  Yeahy!  My only problem with this rational is, coffee and tea drinks contain caffeine, which is a known diuretic.  So, it seems all you are doing is quickly peeing out your moisture.  This is counter intuitive.  Does that mean you have to drink even more to make up for the loss or are your kidney's just happy enough they got something?  My mind is going in circles thinking about this, and biology is not my friend.    

2. Balance your fats, carbs and proteins.
I love all of the above.  BUT like nail buffing, all things are good in moderation.

3. Vitamins
Maybe this is a personal preference, but I think the best vitamins come from actual food.  I was raised in Russia and back in the day if I told my mom I yearned for an apple, she would say "sorry they are not in season and we can't afford them."  Then we would go stand in line for bread, or whatever they were selling in "the line" that day.

4. To Biotin or not to Biotin
If you decide to take biotin, the rule of thumb, from my research, has been 5 milligrams (mg) (or 5000 micrograms (mcg)) a day.  This is a favorite among both nail and hair forums.  However, a few words of caution on the side effects:

a. strong healthy hair growth (awesome!)
b. strong healthy nail growth (double awesome!!)
c. strong healthy mustache growth (what the .... eeehhhh, maybe I'll pass and stick to moisturizer.)

Others have also reported some skin problems, while others swear by it.
Everyone is different and individual results will very *insert 30 min infomercial here*.

Has anyone tried Biotin?  For how long, how long before seeing results?  Any side effects, good or bad?

Friday, November 12, 2010


Files, Files, Files, all kinds of files.
This is my opinion on the good, the bad and the ugly.

In this post I am not going to go into the specifics of how to file (i.e. proper nail shape, how to file square, oval, squoval), but rather what file is right for you and your needs at the moment.

Here is my gamut of nail files. 

I will go through most and what I use them for.

First lets look at a file made by the devil:

If you own this type of file please throw it out the window right now.  This file is as useful as filing your nails with a brick wall.  Really, I tried it once in great desperation.  It does nothing but tear your nail plate and accentuate any peeling that you may or may not have presently.


Nail buffers:

There are many kinds of buffers, but most have either 4 sides of the same grit or 3-4 sides of varying grit. These types of files are one of my favorite.  They are great for shaping,  getting rid of staining and peeling, and sealing the nail plate (with the right grit of course). 

I only use these sparingly when I have major staining issues.  All things are good in moderation, buffing is no exception.

Depending on the desired nail shape, these may not be your best option.  See next set of files.

Lets Talk Grit:

Nail files are categorized by their grit (how rough or smooth the grain is).  Many of them are labeled with their grit strength.  I have seen nail files vary from 100 to 4000+.  The smaller the number the rougher the edge.  In general the more rough the grit, the more damage it will do to the nail plate.  Nail salons use 100 grit to file down and shape acrylics.  You do not want to use anything that rough on natural nails; like the metal nail file above (or a brick wall) it will tear up the nail plate and make peeling worse.

I have found the magic grit strengths for natural nails are 220, 240, 300, 320, 400, 600 and 4000.

Thicker nails can use 220 for filing down large portions of nail, while thinner more weak nails should file down with 300, 320, and 400 grit.  A grit of 600 can be used to seal any nail and prevent peeling.  A very high grit, like 4000, is used to get a very shinny finish.  My only disclaimer is: there is a proper way to file (especially with files of rougher grit, i.e. lower number), so just because you found a nice file does not mean you will not cause damage to the nail plate. (is that a double negative, I hope you get the point)  File how to will be another post.

With that said, lets look at a few good options:

My personal favorites:

I love the files that have the grit written on them.  I have these all over my house, bag, work, etc.

I love that I can choose a fine or rough grit.  I file down my nails with 220/240, shape with 300/320 and seal with 400/600.  I love these files for the control they give to the filer.

I just discovered sponge boards a few months ago.  They are awesome.  They have some give to them. They will bend, but will not leave a bent mark like the ones above can.

Neither of these types of files last forever, but that's just fine for me.

Crystal Nail Files:
I prefer the files discussed above to crystal (glass) nail files. 
I just don't get the hoopla about these.  I bought these about a year ago and just can't get into them.  First, they only have one grit available (at least from my experience).  The grit is fine enough that it will not damage nails, and perhaps that is why everyone loves them, but I can't properly file anything down with these.  Granted, I did not buy a fancy brand name, but still I expected more.  I can do some shaping with these, but I don't think they are best for "sealing" as everyone claims.  I think the 400/600 grit files from above do a much better job at sealing the nail plate to prevent peeling.

More on "how to" in a future post.