juni 27, 2023

The Art of Filing Gel Nails: A Comprehensive Guide to Manual Files and Techniques

Door Lesley Pieters
The Art of Filing Gel Nails: A Comprehensive Guide to Manual Files and Techniques

Filing gel nails is an essential step in achieving impeccable manicures. Whether you're a professional nail artist or a DIY enthusiast, mastering the art of manual filing is key to achieving flawless nail shapes and a smooth finish. In this article, we will explore different types of manual files, such as zebra files, glass files, and buffers, and delve into the techniques required to achieve optimal results.


When it comes to manual nail filing, it's crucial to understand the various types of files available and their specific purposes. Let's explore some commonly used types:


Zebra Files: Zebra files, also known as emery boards, are versatile and widely used for shaping and refining gel nails. These files typically have a rough side (coarse grit) and a smoother side (fine grit). The coarse side is used for initial shaping and shortening the nail, while the fine side helps smooth out rough edges and refine the nail shape.

Glass Files: Glass files are known for their durability and precision. They have a gentle grit that allows for smooth filing without causing excessive damage to the nails. Glass files are ideal for shaping and refining natural nails, as they provide a seamless and precise filing experience.

Buffers: Buffers are essential tools for achieving a glossy and polished look. They consist of multiple layers of different grits, ranging from coarse to fine. The coarsest side is used for removing imperfections and refining the shape, while the finer sides are used for smoothing and adding shine to the nails.

Diamond Files: Diamond files are highly durable and effective for shaping and filing nails. They feature a grit surface embedded with diamond particles, allowing for efficient and precise filing.



Choosing the right grit is crucial when using manual nail files. The grit of a nail file refers to the coarseness or fineness of the file's abrasive surface. It plays a significant role in determining the efficiency and effectiveness of the filing process. Consider the following guidelines:


Coarse Grit: Coarse grit files, typically ranging from 80 to 100 grit, are ideal for quickly shortening and reshaping the nails. However, they should be used with caution to avoid excessive nail damage. Coarse files are generally recommended for nail extensions, gel or acrylic.


Medium Grit: Medium grit files, ranging from 100 to 180 grit, are suitable for shaping and refining the nail surface. They strike a balance between removing excess length and maintaining nail strength. These files are commonly used on natural nails and gel extensions.


Fine Grit: Fine grit files, ranging from 180 to 240 grit, are primarily used for smoothing and buffing the nail surface. They are gentle on the nails and help achieve a polished finish. Fine grit files are suitable for natural nails and gel extensions.


Now that we understand the different types of manual files and the importance of choosing the right grit, let's explore the techniques required for mastering manual filing:



Prepping the Nails: Before filing, ensure your nails are clean and free from any polish or debris. If needed, gently remove the existing nail polish using a non-acetone nail polish remover. Wash your hands and nails thoroughly and dry them before beginning the filing process.


Shaping the Nail Bed: Start by assessing the desired nail shape and carefully file the free edge of the nail. Use light, gentle strokes and file in one direction, moving from the outer edge towards the center. Avoid sawing or back-and-forth motions, as they can cause nail splitting.


Refining the Nail Shape: Once the desired length is achieved, focus on shaping the sides and corners of the nails. Use the appropriate file—zebra file, glass file, or buffer—to shape the edges smoothly. Be mindful of maintaining symmetry and balance between both hands.

Smoothing the Nail Surface: After shaping, switch to a buffer to smooth out any rough edges or ridges on the nail surface. Lightly glide the buffer across the nail in a sweeping motion, using gentle pressure. This helps create a seamless and polished appearance.


Adding Final Shine: To achieve a lustrous finish, continue using the buffer's finer side / polish side. Gently move the buffer across the nail surface in a back-and-forth or circular motion. This helps bring out the natural shine of the nails, leaving them looking glossy and well-polished.


In addition to zebra files, glass files, buffers, and diamond files, there are other specialised files available in the market, such as ceramic files and electric files. Ceramic files offer a smooth and controlled filing experience, while electric files provide speed and efficiency for professional nail technicians.


Conclusion: Mastering the art of manual nail filing is a fundamental skill for achieving flawless gel nail manicures. By understanding the different types of manual files, choosing the appropriate grit, and following proper techniques, you'll be able to shape, refine, and polish your nails to perfection. Remember to prioritize nail health, practice patience, and refine your skills with each filing session. Happy filing!