Katie Barnes
Katie Barnes

How to tell when nail files need replacing

By Katie Barnes | 11 July 2018 | Business, Expert Advice, Feature

Nail Files That Need Replacing

Educator and award-winning nail technician, Katie Barnes, reveals why its important to know when your nail files need replacing…

Something that is often overlooked (but is one of the most important tools in a tech’s kit), is the nail file. Without files, we cannot prep the natural nail or get the finish and shape we desire.

We couldn’t work with our cuticle pusher, scissors or brush when completely worn or damaged, so why do many techs still try to work with their nail file when it’s way past its optimum life? While cost can be a part of this, it is usually poor understanding or education. I have seen so many techs trying to get every inch of grit out of their file, with little to no grit left on it, but what they don’t realise is that they are actually making the job harder. Think of it this way, would you take down bulk with a buffer? You may laugh, but by working with a file without much grit remaining, this is exactly what you are doing.

There is often a debate about whether techs should be using one use files or are able to reuse. Leigislation in some countries will stipulate that disposable nail files must be used, and if so, you must follow this. In the UK, there is no such legislation. While it is paramount to clean and disinfect reusable files after every use and replace them regularly or when they come into contact with blood or bodily fluids, I want to share some other important reasons for keeping on top of replacing these frequently.

The quality of the file and the grit will help to determine the life of the file. Poor quality files may not even be sufficient for one set, causing the tech to work harder and apply additional pressure to achieve the same result. A good quality file has no more than four uses in it for optimum effect.

This will also depend upon how much filing is required. If you are applying too much product, then more filing is required and this will shorten the life of your file. Having to file excessively on an enhancement may wear the grit down so much, you could only be able to use that file once. If your product application is precise, then you should only need to refine, leading to longer lasting files.

As well as the above, if you are working with a file with no – or very little – grit left, you will be forced to apply more pressure. This will cause three problems: damage to the nail plate, additional time and additional stress on the tech’s hands and shoulders.

In this industry, many of us suffer with back, neck, hand and arm problems. Remember – tools are there to make your life easier and work with you, not against you. Your file should glide over the product easily. You want the file to do the work, not your arm. If you are having to put any force into the filing, then it is time to replace your file. If you are experiencing this from the offset, then it is time to research and invest in better quality files.

If your product was under-cured, even when it seems to be cured when the client left you, if you are finding the product clogging up your file, then the product wasn’t fully cured and it important to get to the reason for this by addressing your application and curing techniques.

Many that use an e-File tend to forget that while these bits have a longer life than a hand file, they still get blunt and need replacing and cleaning and disinfecting regularly – and depending on usage, replacing these can range anywhere from three to six months.

Make sure you are regularly keeping on top of replacing your files to ensure you aren’t creating more work for yourself and risking damage to the client’s natural nail.

Love Katie B x