The shape of your nails frame your manicure. Before you start painting them, it’s important to know how to file properly. This is one of the basics that any DIY manicurist should know about.
Choose the right nail file
The most basic, inexpensive emery boards are more flexible and kinder to nails. The grit on metal files is often too harsh and can cause peeling and chipping if used incorrectly. Stick to a simple drugstore emery file if you have want a no-frills file or have brittle nails, it’ll save you money too!
Clip your nails
Clip your nails if you want to take a lot of length off. Leave a square edge with enough length for you to shape it with a file.
Choose your nail shape
There are a few shapes to choose from:
The squoval is one of the most popular shapes as it combines the elegance of the oval with the modern look of the square. (For a more detailed guide on nail shapes, check out this post.
If you have a wide nail bed, try the squoval. The oval is good for short, low-maintenance nails and the square complements narrow nails.
You should also bear in mind the manicure design you want to do when you’re deciding on a shape. For every shape, start from the sides before working into the top/center. Follow the natural curve of your cuticles as a guide.
File in one direction only
Always file in one direction only, working your way towards the center. DO NOT saw back and forth with the file (a very common mistake) – this causes nails to chip and break. Be careful not to file too deeply at the edges of the nail as that can weaken the nail wall. Stroke it from the corner towards the middle and repeat till you get your desired shape.
- You should only file your nails when they’re completely dry. They are weaker and prone to chipping when wet.
- Nail polish helps protect during filing and prevents splitting. If you have any left on, it’s a good idea to file your nails before you remove it.
- File gently under your nails to remove the soft nail tissue that may remain after filing.
- Buffing after filing smoothens and gives shine, but buffing too often can damage the nail. Buffing about once a month is recommended.