How To Choose The Right Nail File For Your Nail Shape

If you're constantly battling brittle nails or breakage, one contributing cause might be your nail file. Depending on the type of nail file you use, you could be setting your nails up for uneven growth. In turn, you may be more likely to experience brittleness, hangnails, and more.

As it turns out, there are several factors you should be considering when you choose a nail file, according to Insight Cosmetics. Everything from shape to grit can play a role in how your filed nails turn out — and grow out — over time. Additionally, how you file your nails can also impact how your nails grow and retain their strength, according to Closer. Even if you aren't interested in rocking long ones, your nail file is everything when it comes to maintaining their health.

To make sure you're using the right file, you need to be able to identify your nail shape. Round nails are defined by their straight sides with rounded edges and follow the curve of the cuticle, per PureWow. Oval nails are similar, but their edges typically curve inward, making them appear slimmer. Squoval, coffin, and other flat-edge nail shapes are more distinct in the fact that they are typically lengthier. As you look to maintain the appearance and health of your nails, here is how to choose the right file for your nail shape.

Choosing a nail file based on shape and grit

According to Insight Cosmetics, there are five most commonly used types of nail files — banana, square, straight, oval, and half-moon — and they all have different benefits, depending on your nail shape. A straight file is perfect for filing the sidewalls of your nails and can help if you're going for a slimmer-looking nail. With an oval file, you'll be able to file around your cuticles with ease. A banana file can is also perfect for the cuticle area, and its rounded form can help you avoid creating harsh edges while filing. A half-moon file is ideal for straightening the sidewalls of your nails, as well as your nail tips. Because of its curve, it can also tackle the cuticle areas.

Once you select a file type for your specific nail shape, you can choose the best grit. As Pure Nails explains, grit is a term used to describe how sharp or fine the nail file is. The higher the grit number, the softer the file will be, and vice-versa. A soft file is perfect for prepping nails for a treatment, such as gel polish application, and contouring an entire nail. A file with a sharper grit is better suited for reducing nail length and shaping sidewalls. Those with higher grit numbers are also more effective while working with artificial nails, such as acrylics.

Filing your nails safely and properly

Once you have the proper nail file, it's essential to familiarize yourself with the filing basics to maintain the health of your nails. As Healthline explains, filing incorrectly can potentially weaken your nails.

Before you begin, consider using a nail trimmer if your goal is to eliminate extra length. After cutting, create a half-fist with your hand — the underside of your wrist and your nails should be directed toward your face. Start by filing one of the outside corners of a nail, working your way toward the center. Once the shape is to your liking, you can begin to file the opposite corner of the nail, and then work your way toward the middle. As you file each nail, do your best to avoid using a sawing motion, especially on your tips — this puts both your nail tips, nail beds, and cuticles at risk of damage. By taking your time and filing your nails properly, you can prevent issues ranging from breakage to peeling.

If you notice any abnormalities on your nails, such as discoloration, pain, or thinning, you may want to consult your doctor, per Medical News Today. These may be symptoms of an underlying medical condition such as psoriasis, which might require treatment. While many nail abnormalities are harmless, only a medical professional can determine if you need have a health issue that needs to be addressed.