A short introduction on the types of nail files available and on the art of nail filing
We asked a few of our top nail technicians to explain the best way to file nails. Below are their tips and tricks for that perfect nail - Every time!
The higher the grit number, the softer the file. The lower the grit, the coarser the file. 80 & 100 files are coarse. Then you have 100, 180 and 240's which are a medium-coarse grit. A 600 grit file is fine. There are also files available for buffing and shining the nail. (Backscratchers white & gray).
The Basics of Filing Shape in Nails
The "trick" with filing shape is how you hold your file (angle) and what perspectives you look at to check the shape. For rounded nails: Hold the file flatter as you file underneath (bevel) the free edge.
(180 degrees is perfectly flat under the nail)For square: Hold it straight on (perpendicular) to the
free edge. The "flatter" your file, the rounder the nail. (Straight on, dead square is a 0 degree -i.e.: none! - tilt of the file!) Practice this shaping technique by varying the angle on the file to produce different shapes of nails.Whatever angle you hold the file at in relation to the nail as you shape, just be sure it's the same angle on all 10 nails. This will also help to keep the shape the same on both sides of the nail (left and right). Watch out for "drag" on the side you are handed. You will tend to file heavier on one side than the other, causing lopsided nails. Check this by looking at (and re-filing as needed) the nails from another angle (such as hold the hand up in front of you to see it, see "views.” Make a habit of checking the nail from 7 different vantage points when checking the shaping (identical of course) and the contouring (think almonds here!)
The 7 usual views of the nail to consider are
1) Our usual filing view (overall picture),
2) Left side lateral (landscape contouring and arches),
3) Right side (landscape contouring and arches),
4) Down the barrel ("C" Curve),
5) Held up in front of you forwards (shaping and proportionality),
6) Backwards view or the backside of the hand and nails (evenness and proportionality),
7) Clients view, turn the hand around to see what they see from their perspective (overall picture again!). Consistent and constant use of these 7 steps can eventually train your eye to see "most" common and obvious flaws from just one or two angles instead of needing to see all 7.
Clarification on a few of the angles
#5) Held up in front of you forwards (shaping and proportionality), Hand is held with knuckles facing you (the tech) and palm facing client, fingers pointed skyward.
#6) Backwards view or the backside of the hand and nails (evenness and proportionality),
This is the reverse of #5; Palm toward tech, knuckle side to client, fingers still pointing skyward
(clients elbow resting on table)
#7) Clients view: turn the hand around to see what they see from their perspective (overall picture again!). This is similar to #5 except it's like looking down the barrel of the nails from the cuticle end, not the free edge end. Palm is toward table, knuckle side up, nails pointing toward client, client elbow and wrist turned around toward tech. This is the lying down or flat view of #5 (while 5 is the standing up or vertical view.)
Choosing Nail Shape
Choosing a shape is a compromise between many factors. Client preference is just one of them. Clients many times will unknowingly ask for shapes that may be incompatible with their lifestyles or not flattering to their hands. It is our job as the professional to educate clients on other factors that will affect the final decision on shape, such as lifestyle, habits, hobbies, nail health, length the client wants to wear nails, her nail and finger width, length, etc. Generally the most flattering shape for fingernails will be shape or free edge that somewhat mirrors their lanula (moon), which will tend to be somewhat squoval for most (some rounder, some squarer). But of course, squarer tends to be stronger. Length can be a factor too, as some clients see shaping of the free edge to include all the sidewalls in the free edge, too. Let them know that "pointy" tapered nails are not durable. Rounded nails get rounded at the free edge only. By educating clients on what shapes will flatter their hands and be the most durable, you can generally compromise on a shape that works out well for them.