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.



  1. Handy post! Thanks! I am using a crystal nail file for ages and it works fine. But I could use another file for sealing, 'cause with the crystal ones you don't have many options...

  2. And what girl doesn't like options, whether it be nail files or polish :)

  3. When I first got into nails I use to use a metal file because I like t better than emery boards but then I took the advice of the ladies at MUA and bought a glass file and it was like a revolution for my nails! Less peelies and a must smoother finish!

  4. I love my glass file for shaping but agree with you: it's no good for filing down or sealing...After reading your post on yellow nails I tried using my 6 step buffer from Essence, but I hate not knowing grits (so far I used just the rough one to file down nails)!

  5. @Mena - yay! I am glad you found that it works for you :D

    @maisenzasmalto - Me too. Once you purchase a couple whose grit strengths you know, you can start to kind of have a feel for it even if it is not clearly stated.

  6. Hey loodie,
    i think it was in a video where you show how to file the sides of the nail. i don´t get the sense of doing that, can you explain?
    Thank you :-)

    1. I'm not sure I understand the question. Do you want to know why you would file a certain way or file the sidewall at all?

      To answer the first question... The whole idea is to avoid damaging the nail sidewall because there is a lot of strength that comes from that part of the nail. Filing it gently and at the right angle insures you don't take off too much or further weaken the sidewall or nail plate.

      To answer the second... Some people are not happy with the shape of the nail for various reason, so manipulating the side walls helps even things out and makes the nail look more aesthetically pleasing.

      Here are links to the post and video describing those points...

      I hope that helps!

  7. Loodie I love your channel on how to keep your nails looking good. My name is Alicia from plymouth