© 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 right nail file is the first and really important 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 do not have any skills as a nail technician, 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 far 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 at all so there is no need to buy the cheapest products. You can buy professional nail files for around $5 to $30.

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

Type of Nail Files for Natural Nails

There are billions of nail files made of metal, wood, plastic, paper, ceramic, glass, electric … But 95 % of them are either too soft or too rough. Too soft means you will get no effect at all and you will go crazy, too rough means much more serious 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 always advised my clients to use on natural nails only professional nail files with 240 grit. You could use 180 grit, but keep in mind that that is still quite rough, so you should seal the nail shape in the end with softer 240 grit nail file. Read below what these numbers mean.

You will find nail fails in various shapes, colors, 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 quality crystal nail file. 

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

I will try to put the best nail files here and update this post, so keep in touch. In future articles, I will write how to file and maintain natural nails so they can stay strong and healthy.

What Grit Level Should I Choose for Natural Nails?

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

A higher number means a more fine or gentle nail file, while the lower number means a more rough one.

80 grit nail files:
They are designed for acrylic nails removal. With such a large roughness, a large amount of applied mass can be removed in a very short time. 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 for the preparation of a natural nail for the gel application or re-application, but can also be used to 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 it on your nail bed.

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, unused.

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

Shaping the Edges

As I will explain in one of the following articles, why it is very important how 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 file, metal nail files, cheap nail files or any nail file with grit level 60, 80, 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, as that would damage the product, but you can clean it with a plain plastic brush. When you finish brushing, disinfect 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 next use.

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

Never lend your nail files to your friends and use a different nail file for 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 within your purse, along with other things like keys, mobile phones, etc. Keys can damage nail file 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 you can 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. They are made of high-quality materials and even more important they are resistant to disinfection.
  • After use, always disinfect it and store it at the appropriate place.

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

Take care! <3

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