Thursday, April 26, 2012

Filing and Shaping Nails

Filing and shaping your nails is an important part of nail care, hygiene and aesthetics.  It is amazing that I say that statement, because I am a reformed nail biter. I also used to cut my nails.  I don't do that anymore, because my nails break or crack if I cut them down with a clipper.  If I want to shorten my nails I file them down. I basically use three items, either a file and buffing block or just a glass file.  First I will go over the equipment and then the basic method on how to file.

Clockwise from top: buffing block, glass file, angled file.

The glass file tends to be the holy grail of files according to a lot of bloggers and I can see why.  However, its a little tedious when you want to file down a bit of length. 

Why I like the glass file: 

It is a gentle one step process.  I can file down some length, (if I have patience), shape and seal the nail all in one step. 

Its washable and durable.  I keep it in plastic case to prevent it from breaking.  Glass files are suppose to be long lasting.  I have had mine for about nine months and it works like new. 

Why I don't like it:

It takes a while to file down your nails. 

Its a little expensive, $6-7 at Sally's.  I personally don't think that is a bad price for something that will last a while but other people might think that's outrageous.  Another customer started talking to me in the store one day, and asked me what is the BEST file for natural nails.  I showed her the swissco glass file.  When she asked me how much they were, I told her.  She thought I was totally nuts to spend that kind of money on a file.  So, with respect, I directed her to the regular nail files....  Sheesh, sometimes its about priorities and perspective.  Thank goodness for the 99 cent files that are pretty darn good, so those of us that are on a tight budget can have nice nails too!

Angled foam board nail file.
The angled foam board nail file, is a nice upgrade from an ordinary emery board.  These are washable and ridged for good control and durability.  These last me about three to four months.  The one pictured is 180 grit and probably the roughest grit my natural nails will take.  I use to use the 150 grit board but it was a bit too rough, and would sometimes tear the edges.  I would say I have medium strength nails, they are not too hard, but they are not soft and weak either.  The 180 grit is recommended for natural nail.  The 150 grit is recommended for both natural and artificial nails.  If you have really hard nails the 150 grit might be okay.  The lower the grit number the rougher the file, obviously.

I love the foam board file because when I want file down some length it does the job in no time.  Just like a glass file you can use these to shape the nail too.  Plus, they are nice and cheap, about 99 cents.  I have a couple of these scattered around the house.

The buffing block.

The buffing block is for finishing the rough edges after filing.  This is a 320 grit block, it leaves a nice smooth finish and seals the edges of the nails.  I also will buff the tops of my nails gently before I paint them, not all the time, just sometimes.  The sometimes is usually after removing glitter and there's still some around, or lint left over from a cotton ball.  By the way, this block does not buff to a shine.  These are about 69 cents at Sally's. 

I file my nails with dark nail polish on.  Here I'm wearing China Glaze's Foie Gras and its about three days old.  After a couple days of wear, I usually have pretty bad tip wear.  So, I'll take the opportunity then, to file my nails, if needed.  I start a the edge and work my way to the center.  Then, I stop at the center and go to the other side and work my way to the center again.  I'll do a couple of big swipes over the top to square it off.  Of course, you should always file in one direction.  The reason why I file my nails with dark polish on, is so I can see what the overall shape of my nails are, as I'm filing.  If I file my nails without polish, I tend to follow the nail line, and end up with crooked or lopsided edges. 

I usually file my nails in the squoval shape.  I love square nails but my corners tend to chip when I square them off. 

I file and shape my nails throughout the week as needed, usually when I'm hanging out in bed. 

Thoughts, questions?


  1. oh man, i should have gotten my glass file at sally's instead! i picked mine up at ulta, it was like around 15 @___@ i love it though, it leaves the filed edges a lot smoother even though it takes a bit to file my super long nails down sometimes!

  2. $15! Whoa, maybe its bigger than the swissco one? The one I have is kind of small.

  3. WHAT I had no idea nail piling is that important!!! well i should keep my nails VERY short now bec im trying to learn the guitar but wow i really learned a lot from your post. i thought all nail files are equal you know! and i didnt think that cutting nails was bad! I thought filing was bad!