The Best Nail Files for Natural Nails

© Photo Courtesy of O.P.I.

Healthy natural nails are the most beautiful thing if you know how to take care of them like a pro.

Choosing the correct nail file is the first and critical step. Trust me. You can have all the nail polishes, bases, tops, oils, treatments, vitamins or repair systems in the world … but nothing will help in the long run if you don’t have the perfect nail file first.

There are a lot of different nail files out there. But if you need to gain skills, stick to the proven products and never pick the cheapest ones. I know it is tempting as they look exactly like the more expensive ones, often even more beautiful, cute and stylish. But still, I don’t recommend buying cheap or fake nail files.

Professional nail files for natural nails are not expensive, so there is no need to buy the cheapest products. You can purchase professional nail files for around $5 to $30.

Get one or two nail files for natural nails of high quality. You will have them for a very long time with proper usage and a little love.

Type of Nail Files for Natural Nails

There are billions of nail files made of metal, wood, plastic, paper, ceramic, glass, and electric … But 95 % of them are either too soft or too rough. Too soft means you will get no effect and go crazy; too rough means a much more intense situation – split and damaged nails. 

Imagine cross weave net and what happens if you rip it at one end. You do not want to do that to your lovely natural nails.

I constantly advised my clients to use only professional nail files with 240 grit on natural nails. You could use 180 grit, but remember that that is still quite rough, so you should seal the nail shape in the end with a softer 240 grit nail file. Read below what these numbers mean.

You will find nail fails in various shapes, colours, and sizes. Most often, they are in the form of a moon or banana, a rectangle, or a diamond-like shape.

The next good choice is a quality crystal nail file. 

Their biggest plus is that they are almost permanent and can be sterilized, washed with hot water and soap, sprayed with disinfectant, etc.

What Grit Level Should I Choose for Natural Nails?

As I said before, most nail files have a certain number on the surface, indicating how rough the nail file is. But what do these numbers actually mean?

A higher number means a more delicate or gentle nail file, while a lower number means a rougher one.

80 grit nail files:

They are designed for acrylic nail removal. With such a large roughness, a large amount of applied mass can be removed quickly. Never ever use them on natural nails.

100 and 150 grit nail files:

They are designed to shorten and form acrylic or gel nails.

180 grit nail files:

They are used to prepare a natural nail for gel application or re-application, but they can also shorten and form a natural nail.

240 grit nail files:

Gentle nail files that are used for shortening and shaping natural nails.

I’ve seen many damaged, infected, and permanently damaged nails, nail beds and cuticles, so no matter what anyone on YouTube says (all the DIY gel nails videos), 180 grit files will make permanent scratches if you will use them on your nail bed.

The problem with grit levels is that they differ from brand to brand (especially no brand). Two files with 180 grit can have quite different roughness on the nail, especially when they are brand new and unused.

Keep in mind that files will get softer after some use.

Shaping the Edges

I will explain in one of the following articles why it is important to form the edges of the nails when trying to get the desired shape (round, square, etc.). Wrong filing will result in splitting, breaking or even bending.

Nail Files you Shouldn’t Use on Natural Nails

I do not recommend emery, metal, cheap nail files or any nail file with grit levels of 60, 80, or 100. Do not buy them in supermarkets or cheap online stores. Buy them from professional nail companies like Magnetic, Young Nails, OPI, Artistic, Crystal Nails, etc. (So many of them!).


The nail file can quickly become a source of bacteria and infections, so you should clean and disinfect it after each use.

Professional nail files should not be washed with water, which would damage the product, but you can clean it with a plain plastic brush. When you finish brushing, disinfect the nail file all over the surface and along the edges with the spray disinfectant. Wrap it in a clean paper towel and store it in a drawer or similar until the next use.

A plastic brush can be later washed with hot water and soap.

Never lend your nail files to your friends; use a different nail file for your toes. Keep them separated.

Follow this procedure, and you can have your nail file for a very long time.

Proper Storing of the Nail File

Please, do not store your nail files in a cosmetic bag together with makeup, brushes and all that. I mean it.

Also, do not store it in your purse, along with other things like keys, mobile phones, etc. Keys can damage nail files permanently, and all bacteria from keys, mobile phones and similar can be transferred on your nail file. Yuck, you don’t want that, really.

You can buy a cute plastic hard case for a dollar or two and then carry it in your purse.

Now, if you are still here …

Short Sum Up:

  • For Natural Nails, the best nail file is 240 grit. If it is too soft for you, you can use 180 grit to shorten and shape the length of the nail, but always finish filing with 240 grit.
  • It is best to choose a professional nail file because they are made of high-quality materials and, even more important, they are resistant to disinfection.
  • After use, always disinfect it and store it in the appropriate place.

I hope you find this article helpful. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments below, and I will try to help.

Take care! <3


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