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Nail Files

Which nail files should I be using. What are the different grit sizes in nail files.


Growing up I despised filing my nails! I use to cut my nails with a nail clipper or I hate to admit I would bite them…yes, I was a nail bitter! I always thought nail files were either to rough or to flimsy. So, I didn’t even bother filing my nails and left that to the professionals. However, it wasn’t until I was in beauty school that I learned about nail files with different grit sizes. I was amazed to learn that there were different files for different purposes. I was extremely happy to discover that not all nail files felt like sand paper and I would no longer had to suffer. I figured out that the file I was using as a teenager was only meant to be used on acrylics and never on my natural nails *ouch!* I never knew this because growing up a lot of the emery boards I had never seem to have the grit sizes written on them. Therefore, I would invest in emery boards or files that specify their grit sizes and purpose on the packaging.
What are grits in a nail file? Nail files have grits just like sand paper and they are measured by the amount of grit they contain in a square inch. So, the lower the grit size in a file the more coarse and rough the nail file will be. The higher the grit size in a file the more fine and softer the nail file will be.
There are many different types of nail files to choose from and each one is designed for a different purpose. So, don’t grab just any file, but select the best nail file to work with. For example you wouldn’t want to grab any curling iron size if you were trying to achieve a specific hairstyle. Take into consideration your nail type and prevent damage to your nails by using the right nail file.


80-100 grit files are used to remove, shape or reduce length of acrylics. This file should only be used on artificial nails and never on natural nails. This file is way too (coarse) harsh for natural nails. I would not recommend using this file, since you can run the risk of cutting the skin, and should ideally only be used by a trained professional.


CND Blizzard File 100/180


CND – Blizzard File 100/180 grit

Young Nails Blue File 100/100
Young Nails – Blue File 100/100 grit

Tweezerman Neon Filemates 100/180
Tweezerman – Neon Filemates 100/180 grit

150 grit file is great to use on thick and strong toe nails to file down the length of the nail faster. I normally use this file on toenails only when needed. In just a few strokes it can reduce the length of nails quickly. However, I would still use this file with caution.
(Tip* Remove the sharp edges of new files by rubbing all the edges of the file against another file in one long stroke)
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Young Nails Zebra 150/150

Young Nails – Zebra File 150/150

Tweezerman Premium EMry Board 150/220
Tweezerman – Premium Emery Board 150/220

OPI Edge 150
OPI – Edge 150/150

180 grit file is considered appropriate to be used on natural nails. However, it’s best if used on artificial nails. I normally use this file to reduce the length and shape my own nails. However, if your nails are thin, I suggest moving on up to a 240 grit file. I would not recommend this file to someone with brittle nails.


Young Nails Aqua 180/180

Young Nails – Aqua File 180/180

CND Boomerang Padded File

CND – Boomerang Padded File 180/180

OPI Edge 180
OPI – Edge  180/180

240 grit file is what I normally use to file down and shape my client nails. Ideally this is the file I recommend. This file has a finer and softer grit to file nails that are damaged and still recovering. On my nails I use a 180 grit file to take down the length of my nails and a 240 grit file to smooth and shape the free edge.

CND Kanga FIle 240/240

Ex: CND – Kanga File 240/240

Young Nails 18o File SpongeYoung Nails – Purple Combo File/Sponge  240/240

OPI Edge 240
OPI – Edge 240/240

500-4000 grit files are normally used to buff the nails in order to remove ridges, discoloration and smooth out the surface of the nails. They are the softest files and are considered finishing files. These files smooth out the surface of nail enhancements and gives natural nails a brilliant shine. (Use gently)

CND Girlfriend Buffer 2400/4000/12000

CND – Girlfriend Buffer 2400/4000/12000

OPI SHINER 1000/4000OPI – Shiner 1000/4000Deborah Lippmann Smooth Operator
Deborah Lippmann – Smooth Operator Buffer Filekaren g nails signature

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