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E-files: Myth vs fact

By Scratch Staff | 10 June 2021 | Expert Advice, Feature

Efile Nail Drill

Awarding winning tech & educator, Paulina Zdrada of The Nail Lab, tackles common questions about e-files.

Paulina Zdrada

E-files are one of the more versatile tools at your disposal in the sense that they can be used in a variety of ways for a range of reasons. Whether it be for prep work, bulk removal or shaping, this tool was designed to improve accuracy and speed.

Here I tackle some of the most common myths, worries and even fears I hear from clients, students and fellow nail techs alike…

Do e-files damage the natural nail plate?

If I could stress one thing over and over, it’s that the tool won’t cause damage if used correctly, so the importance should be placed squarely on using an e-file correctly – and then safety comes with it.

A very important part of using an e-file is knowing which bits to use and when. Carbide, ceramic, diamond, paper… the list goes on. Some bits overlap in their uses but generally, each comes with its own purpose so you need to be very clear on which to use. This won’t come without the correct level of training and education.

Just like a hand file, e-file bits come in varied grits or levels of abrasiveness – so much so that I even demo the e-file on my skin to show clients how safe they are in fully trained, fully qualified hands.

After all, I would trust a dentist with a dental drill, but I wouldn’t trust my postman with it. The right training is everything!

One thing I would say, however, is where possible try and use a bit with a curved/rounded tip. Some bits are made with a flat edge and if the client suddenly moves, sneezes or something that cause them to move their hand, a flat edge bit could catch the skin and hurt/scare them. The rounded edge bits are safe and you would avoid any potential distress.


It’s safer to remove product with an e-file?

In principle, the use of acetone should allow for product to be soaked off and leave the natural nail beneath in its original condition. The caveat with any method is it can depend heavily on the nail technicians use of the products and indeed, on the product itself.

When using an e-file, you should never file all the way down to the natural nail. You should leave a thin surface layer before prep and reapplication. In this way, the nail avoids being exposed to acetone and avoids over-filing whilst, in-fact, growing underneath as it remains protect by the product. Again, it’s just a matter of using the correct technique which comes from undertaking the required level of training.

The Nail Lab e-file: The Edge

Do e-files hurt when used? 

Using an e-file to prepare the cuticles area could leave them sore – very much in the same way that using hand tools such as nippers could leave them sore or damaged.

Misuse of any tool could have a negative impact and that is why it is absolutely vital that you learn how to an e-file from an accredited educator and give yourself the skillset to perform the treatment safely.

I personally find the e-file a more gentle, precise way of completing prep work

Understanding nail and skin anatomy will give the knowledge of what can and cannot be removed. This is crucial as removal of living tissue can cause soreness, pain, overgrown cuticles in the future and even infection ­– this is true for e-file users or those who prefer hand tools. When performing an e-file manicure correctly, you can actually ’train’ your cuticles to grow back in a better condition.


Is using an e-file worth it?

Running a successful business includes worrying about overheads and expenses – and purchasing an e-file is certainly an expense. Generally ranging between £200-£300, they can seem quite a commitment. But there is definitely more to consider.

First of all, correct (and qualified) use of an e-file can shave off 30 minutes from an appointment meaning you have the ability to increase the volume of clients you can see in a given day or week. In simple terms, it can give you the ability to realise more turnover through increased volume of clients.

Secondly we should consider that although an e-file is an initial, sizeable outlay, purchasing a good e-file will leave you not needing to reinvest for years – I’m still using the same e-file I bought six years ago! Purchasing acetone, foil and cotton wipes are cheap in comparison but they are single use items so the purchase outlay on them is little and often.

Your e-file bits can last three to six months on average depending on the quality and frequency of use which also saves on the need to regularly purchase large quantities of disposable hand files. Hand files often contain plastic, so are not recyclable.


Are e-files environmentally friendly?

I don’t think I can claim to be a leading expert on the impact, positive or otherwise, of any products and equipment we use – but if we take a look at the removal of product, an e-file has comparisons to draw on.

E-files themselves aren’t typically environmentally friendly in any particular sense, however an e-file and its component parts last and are reusable for the most part – unlike acetone, cottons pads etc (as well as the plastic bottles acetone comes in) that you will purchase on a regular basis. So no, I cannot claim buying an e-file will help heal the world, but it’s certainly worth considering the size of your ecological footprint when purchasing bottle after bottle of acetone and plastic bags full of cotton – neither of which can be used more than once.

So the thing I can conclude, I think, from the above is that using an e-file in preference to the manual process when it comes to removing product will dramatically reduce your day to day waste. Every little helps!

Find out more about Paulina’s training courses & product lines at