How to File Nails – Get the Right Shape for Your Nails

Do you want your nails to stay and look as healthy as possible? Well, if that is the case, you need to learn how to file nails.

We know that we are not supposed to cut our cuticles, but there are things you need to know when you learn to file nails.

Now, you can always go to a salon and let a nail technician do this for you. But let’s be honest, who wants to go to a salon for something you can do at home?

There is a right and wrong way to file your nails.

Prepare your nails for filing

The key to success for every treatment is preparation. The better your preparation, the better the results will be.

Step 1 – Wash and your hands

wash hands

Before you even file your nails, wash your hands thoroughly. Use soap and water to get rid of any film or oil that can disrupt the nail filling.

After you wash your hands, make sure they are dry before you begin. Any liquid residue can dehydrate the nails and make them prone to breaking. You do not want your nails to broke midway through the filing. Or just few days after filing.

Step 2 – Choose a nail file

nail file

Nowadays, there are several different types of nail file from which you can choose.

Emery boards are usually considered most effective and most affordable.

Go for one with a high grit to get the smoothest finish. Look for a nail file with a grit between 300 and 600

If you have acrylic nails, use coarse grits, with around 80-100 grit. Using them on your natural nails will cause the nails to tear up.

Avoid metal files, as they can also tear up your natural nails. If you want to be fancy, go for glass or crystal files. They are both effective and can be cleaned in the dishwasher.

Step 3 – Choose the right shape

Shape your nails

Same as there are many different types of nail files, there are different nail shapes you can go for.

The basic shapes include oval, almond, and square. Decide on what shape suits your lifestyle and character the most.

But as a basic understanding, here is a quick description of all nail shapes:

  • The oval shape is great for growing out and maintaining your nails. They are widely considered the most functional shape since your nails are least likely to break off if they are done in the oval shape. Your nails are basically symmetrically round at the tip
  • Square-shaped nails are good for making a statement. They work great with people who have long nails. Otherwise, they do not look as good. The square comes from filing the nail straight at the tip all the way across the nail
  • Almond nails are great for making fingers look slender. The shape mimics the curve at the base of your nail
  • What to do if you have short nails that cannot be shaped? It is no problem. Use what you have to work and apply cuticle oil to them every night to help them grow faster

Shape your nails

This is the part where you need to pay special attention. Once your nails are prepared, it is time to learn how to file nails.

Step 1 – Cut your nails

Before you begin the filing process, you need to cut your nails. Sometimes, your nails are longer than they should be, so it is a wise move to cut them down so you can get the nail shape you want.

For example, cutting long nails is always mandatory if you want oval nails.

On the other side, if you want square-shaped nails, you can skip this step. That is because square nails require longer fingernails.

For those who want oval-shaped nails, cut your nails a little shorter. But make sure to cut them in an oval shape.

And if you are gunning for almond-shaped nails, cut down the sides of your nails more than the tip.

Step 2 – Filing your nails

Start by holding the file parallel to the side of the nail when you begin the filing process. This will prevent breakage of your nails. Make sure not to file too far into the side of your nails. This can also make your nails susceptible to breakage.

File by moving from the side of the nail to the center. Newer go back and forth. Instead, go from the side to the center in one direction using a fluid motion to ensure that your nail is smooth.

Hold the file flat against the nail tip to prevent weakening the nail while filing. Filing at an angle from above can cause the nails to thin. When you already have thin nails, hold the file flat to your nail, tilting it to file from slightly underneath the nail.

Step 3 – Finishing touches

Finish the filing process by holding the file parallel to the other side of the nail. Move your nail from its perpendicular position at the tip to the opposite side of the nail from which you began.

In the end, lift the file away from your nail for another pass. We said you should never use a sawing motion. Once you finish the file movement, lift the file away, return to the side of the nail, and go for another pass.

Bonus Tips

Having good nail shape is just as important as having great nail art. With these bonus tips, you will be sure you correctly file your nails:

  • When you finish filing natural nails, opt for a soft file, which means a higher grit number. This will prevent tearing of the nail. Your best option is a 240-grit
  • Always file in one direction only. Some might tell you that back and forth is a good option. But that is not the case. Do not go into sawing motion. Use a side to center motion, where you sweep the file over the tip of the nail in one direction, and then shape your nail
  • While filing, hold the file flat against the nail tip. If you angle the file, you will thin the nail tip
  • If your nails are dry, brittle, and they tend to break, you need to protect them. You can do that by skipping soaking fingertips in soapy water before the manicure
  • Do not file too far into the sides of your nails, as it will weaken the nail at the stress point, and cause breakage sooner rather than later
  • If you accidentally file your nail too short, do not panic. Your nails will grow back. In the meantime, polish your nail plates with a neutral color. This will give the illusion of added length until your nails grow back
  • You can nurse your tips to health, even if you frayed out your nails. Trim them again slightly, and refile them for a smoother result. After that, apply a nail oil that contains vitamin E to help hydrate the nail bed

How to File Nails

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