Last updated: August 18, 2021

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We know that your hands are very important, the way they look says a lot about you, that's why they must have a very special care, so that they look impeccable.

Nails are, without a doubt, the most attractive part of your hands. A good manicure will transform them completely. For this, it is vital to use a nail file, which will give them the perfect and even shape that they should maintain, as well as strengthening them to prevent them from breaking. The best files result in the best manicures.

We love you to count on us when deciding, so we present you this article where you will know everything about nail files, so you can make the perfect purchase and be satisfied with the final finish on your hands.




The most important facts

  • Nail files are the best tools for your hands. They give them an even finish that makes them look great even without polish. They also help to polish them and stimulate their healthy growth and strength.
  • There are different models of nail files, with special functions, so you should pay attention to the details before you buy one. Nail files can be very soft or very rough, and a wrong application can deform or weaken your nails in an uncorrectable way.
  • Although it may not seem like it, the hygiene and disinfection of the files is fundamental, it is very important to avoid fungus that can harm you. Materials such as glass or steel are easier to clean. In the case of files with porous surfaces, it is good to replace them after a while to avoid any kind of infection.

The best nail file: Our picks

Buying Guide

By now you may have a slightly clearer picture. Likewise, it is important to clear any hint of doubt, as only then will you be able to make a purchase that meets your needs. You should keep in mind that your purchase depends on the level of need you have, so that you can make the right choice of the perfect nail file model.

Choosing a good file is vital for your manicure. (Photo: belyjmishka / 123rf)

What are nail files and what are their advantages?

Nail files are a tool for manicure. With them you can give a particular shape to your nails, achieving different styles depending on your intention. They are vital to keep the nails even, making the presentation impeccable, even if there is no nail polish on them.

Among the best benefits of this product, in addition to the uniformity of the nails, is the stimulation of growth, strengthening, hygiene and smooth finish, avoiding uncomfortable snags on clothes, for example.

This product sounds excellent, but as always, there are advantages and disadvantages, which you should analyse consciously. That is why we present you the following table, where you will see the most significant ones:

Advantages
  • They perfect the finish of the nails
  • They help the growth
  • They can prevent breakage
  • Its price is quite cheap
  • There are a variety of models to achieve the perfect shape of your nails.
Disadvantages
  • If you file too hard, it can weaken the nail
  • They wear out easily
  • Misuse can deform the nails
  • They can generate fungus due to poor cleaning of its surface

Glass nail files, cardboard nail files and metal nail files - what should you pay attention to?

There is an important gap between these two types of files, and although they both achieve the same task, they have different characteristics. So when choosing between one and the other, it all depends on what you, as a customer, need.

All files have the same function: to shape the nails. However, there are variations in the material they are made of, which will ensure a better level of quality or not.

Glass nail files. Glass nail files are an excellent investment, as their durability is almost inexhaustible. Because of the material they are made of, it is very difficult for them to wear out, so you would not have to buy files regularly, but one would be enough. The thickness can be a bit thicker than other files and that is due to the material.

They may be prone to damage from a fall, for example, but if you take good care of them, you won't have to spend money on replacements. In addition to this, these files are easy to clean, and because their surface is not porous (like regular files) there is no risk of fungal infection.

Of course, they can be a bit more expensive to buy than standard ones. It is because of this that you should take into account whether you use the file recurrently or only a few times, because investing in an inexhaustible file that you will hardly use would not make much sense.

Cardboard files. This type of files are more accessible and transportable, you don't run the risk of damaging them if you drop them as they are not fragile, and they will file your nails perfectly wherever you are.

These files provide an excellent finish, and are easy to acquire, as they are the "standard" or commonly used files. You can find them in different thicknesses and at very convenient prices, and even in packs of 50 or more.

The details that these files have are their durability and surface. The wear starts from the first use, so replacement is a must after a short period of use, that's why they are sold in packs. Also, their porous surface can be unhygienic after a while, causing fungus.

Metal files. This type of files have good durability, and offer defined and perfect finishes, but it is advisable to use them only with artificial nails, because their material makes them very aggressive with the natural nail. If you use this file on your real nails, you can weaken them enormously.

They are easy to carry, and comfortable to handle as they are not very thick. If you consider buying this type of file, make sure it is stainless steel, otherwise it will deteriorate easily.

The price of metal/steel files can be high, although it depends on the brand, they are usually expensive. Keep in mind that they are special use files, and that they are used most of the time by professionals, so their cost is influenced by these factors.

Glass nail files Cardboard nail files Metal nail files
Durability Virtually inexhaustible Do not last long after first use Long lasting
Hygiene Easy to disinfect Prone to infection and fungus Easy to disinfect
Thickness Thicker than ordinary files Can be thin or thick Medium term
Price Higher than usual Very economical Can be very expensive.
Aggressiveness Delicate, perfect for natural nails Depends on thickness Only used on acrylic nails

What is the grit gauge and polishing file?

Before you consider buying, you should understand what these two pieces of information mean, as they are often overlooked, and you could end up causing permanent damage to your nail.

Grit thickness indicator. File grit is the material used to achieve the finish on your nails, it is abrasive and strong, so you need to know how to handle it. Each file has a thickness indicator, which will tell you the amount of grit in your file per square centimetre.

You should note that the lower the number on the gauge, the more abrasive the file is, but if the number is high, then the file is soft. The existing thickness levels are 80, 100, 120, 150, 180, 180, 220, 240, 400, 800 and 1200 and each has its function.

80, 100 and 120: They are used only on acrylic nails, not on natural nails. They are very abrasive, and can cause severe damage. They help to shape the acrylic.

150: They are not suitable for natural nails, they are only used to work on acrylic or gel, i.e. artificial nails.

180: Works in a similar way to 150, but with a higher level of softness. It can be used for degreasing the nail surface or polishing.

220: Can be used to remove scratches prior to buffing.

240: Used for filing natural nails.

400, 800 and 1200: These have specific uses, which are to polish both artificial and natural nails.

Buffing file. Also known as "buffer", it is a file with a padded base, soft to the touch, some are shaped like a "taco" (parallelepiped). These files are exclusively for polishing and finishing the nail, mainly acrylic. Their grit is 180 to 240.

How much does a nail file cost?

Depending on the type of file, the cost may vary. Keep in mind that each file has its function, and the material they are made of can also have an influence.

There are nail files for 25 or 30 MXN, as well as sets of files from 150 to 300 MXN. Glass nail files range from 150 MXN to 200 MXN. While steel nail files can be between 100 MXN and 300 MXN. These prices are not so different from each other, as it all depends on the need you have.

For example, if you are someone who doesn't use nail files very often, investing in a long lasting and expensive file may not be very convenient; however, if you use them constantly, it may be a better purchase to buy a file that you don't have to replace often, as you will end up spending even more money.

Where to buy a nail file?

To buy the nail file you are looking for, you can go to some department stores, such as Sephora, where you will find a variety of models and prices. You can also go to Plaza de la Belleza and choose the right file.

Another alternative is to shop online at shops like sualbeauty.com, where you can browse excellent, high-quality products from home. You will be able to see buyer ratings and a product review. This type of benefit is also offered by the Amazon.com.mx website, along with a list of best sellers.

Buying criteria: factors that allow you to compare and rate different nail files

Finally, you should know certain important points that will help you in your final choice, as they can be vital to avoid a wrong purchase, always taking into account your needs.

A bad use of the file can damage your nail permanently, that's why it is necessary to be careful. Not all of them are the same, and their design obeys a scheme thought for specific uses. Below you will see the factors you should take into account:

  • Material
  • Thickness
  • Durability
  • Shape

Material

The raw material from which it is made has a lot to do with its quality. A file made of cardboard is not the same as a file made of steel or glass. The finish tends to be better, but also the cost increases. In addition to this, hygiene is much better, because on non-porous surfaces it will always be easier to disinfect.

You should bear in mind that the material you use depends on the frequency of use of the file, as well as the ease of transport.

Daily use: In these cases, the most recommended material is glass or crystal, as it can last for years without wearing out and is easy to clean.

Sporadic use: If the file will be used once a week or every 15 days, for example, it is best to use the cardboard ones. They are very affordable and you can find them in packs. Eventually you will replace them but they will last a long time.

Did you know that nails can indicate some health problems such as lack of vitamins or fungus?

Thickness

As we saw earlier, each thickness works for different nail jobs. If, for example, you buy a very thin file for acrylic nails, it won't work. Always keep in mind that the coarser the grit, the more abrasive it is for the nail. Therefore, you need to know exactly what type of nail you have, in order to apply the right file to it.

The wrong thickness can remove more layers of nail than it should, which is normally a maximum of 3 out of 100 layers, if you apply an abrasive file on your natural nail you will weaken it almost immediately. This could happen, for example, with an 80 file, which works hard from the first pass.

If you want to file your natural nails, the best thickness is between 180 and 240, as it will not damage your natural nails. When it comes to acrylic nails, low thicknesses such as 80, 100, 120 and even 150 are more recommendable, as the surface to be worked is stronger.

With brittle nails it is better to use a 240 glass nail file, or even a 400 cardboard file, depending on how fragile the nail is. As for the particular case of men, the 400, 800 and 1200 files are normally used to give shine, as it is common that they reject the use of nail polish.

Durability

This point will even determine the cost of the file. There are inexhaustible files, which do not wear out due to constant use, such as those made of glass or crystal, there are others that are very resistant, but for special uses, such as those made of steel, and others that are basically disposable, which are of very little use, such as those made of cardboard.

A cardboard file, which is the most typical, usually lasts from 2 to 4 weeks, depending on the level of use. For example, if you use it daily, it may lose its quality within a week and need to be replaced.

A glass or steel file can be reused and last for at least 1 year without losing its quality. If you find that constantly replacing your file is too tedious, a one-time investment in a glass file will be the right thing to do.

Steel files are suitable if you have special work done, such as artificial nails or acrylic nails. We would love to give you an approximate lifespan, however, if properly cared for using a brass brush, they can last over 2 years.

Shape

Last but not least, the shape of the file also influences your purchase. Straight files help you to get excellent finishes, especially when you are looking for a square or pointed shape as the final result of your manicure. But, in case you want to round them, curved files can be more comfortable.

There is the straight file, which helps to reduce the nails and give them shape; the "banana" or curved file, which can be used to file the surface gently, avoiding damaging the cuticle; the half-moon file, which can be seen as a hybrid of the two previous ones; and finally, the "taco" file, which are exclusively polishers.

(Featured image photo: Rido / 123rf)

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