Put down the brush and step away from that bottle of polish. Before you go about painting your nails, you need to file them – and yes, there is a right and wrong way. Take a look at the tips below on how to prep, shape, and file properly. After that, you have full permission to paint away.
Prep Your Nails
Wash hands and remove any dirt beneath your tips. Don’t worry about removing leftover polish, however – filing is actually easier with it on. Once your hands are clean, dry them completely. Wet nails are more likely to split and break while filing.
Choose Your Emery Board
For acrylic nails, you’ll want a file with a high grit number (80 – 100), but for au naturel nails, choose something less coarse, like a fine-grit cushion file (180 – 240). Avoid using metal files, as they’re harsh on your nails and cause splitting.
Pick Your Shape
Take a look at your options – from classic round nails to Lady Gaga’s wild almond ones, there are plenty of shapes to choose from. Can’t decide? Try merging the oval and square look together for the ever-popular squoval. And for fun, find out what your choice says about you with Vogue’s nail decoder.
Simply filing your nails back and forth, left to right isn’t going to cut it. You want to file from the outside of the nail to the center, doing a few short strokes and one long stroke at the end to prevent shredding. Need a visual? Check out this great nail-filing tutorial.
By Carolyn Schultz, Staff Writer
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