Ms. Beauty’s Info


Electric Files what not to do

I have heard so many times women complaining about their damaged natural nails “caused by acrylic nails” or “gel polish”.  Any educated nail tech knows that acrylic or gel for that matter is not the issue.  A lot of the damage commonly comes from improperly aggressive filing or drilling on the natural nail plate. The big question is how do nail techs learn to use an e-file properly? Well, it takes instruction, lessons, and careful practice. You are going to have an accident here and there, especially in the beginning, but the goal is to learn and improve.


The nail plate is made up about 100 densely packed sheets of flattened cells.  It is a super-tough, non-living structure primarily made up of keratin.  It is also a smooth surface, which is why light filing (to remove the shine) is necessary during prep to ensure adhesion.  This light filing only removes 3-5 layers of the nail plate, which is safe and non-damaging.


The believe is that hand-filing is safer than e-filing, which is not necessarily true. Although you need to know how to hand-file before you e-file (hand-filing is a particularly important and fundamental skill and it comes in very handy when the power goes out or your e-file is being repaired). Many reputable nail salons and many nail techs will use a drill to file your nails correctly. Incorrect drilling over your nail bed and around the cuticle can cause “Rings of Fire” and damage the nail bed. ALL MANICURISTS ARE TRAINED TO HAND FILE. The only time it is okay to use the drill on your nails is to shorten them, clean under the free edge and to create a well for a back fill. Do not be afraid to tell your nail tech you want to be hand filed. It takes a little longer, but the health of your nail is worth that extra time.


NAILS SHOULD NEVER BE FILED OFF with a drill, (Electric file) or ripped off. These are just a couple of the major causes of nail damage, thinning and weakening of the natural nail.


What Are the Effects?
Here are a few symptoms of aggressive filing or drilling on the nail plate:

Rings of fire


Onycholysis: This is the loosening of the nail plate without shedding and it usually starts at the free edge and can continue to the lunula. The nail plate is held to the dermis (or skin) by a groove and rail structure.  That is how it stays on track as it moves or grows. Aggressive filing or drilling can dislodge the plate from the groove and rail structure, leading to Onycholysis. Onycholysis can lead to secondary infection and in severe cases, lead to nail bed scarring.


Splinter Hemorrhage: This is caused by physical trauma, which can include aggressive filing or drilling on the natural nail.  Under the nail plate, the nail bed contains blood vessels which carry nutrients and oxygen to the nail bed, as well as remove toxins. When the nail plate is damaged (in this case by aggressive filing or drilling) the blood vessels can leak blood into the nail bed – staining the nail bed in a vertical direction. The blood stain may last long after the trauma has healed.

Before using your electric nail file drill, though, you want to be sure that you have a thorough understanding of the way it works, especially if this is your first time trying one out.

Manufacturers are making e-files today with lighter weights and less vibration than ever, so together with proper training and classes, which can be found on the internet, at beauty shows and nail networking events, nail techs are using their e-files for more aspects of the nail service than ever before. Using practical tips from experienced e-file users to help stay on top of your electric file game.

Remember, while working on your natural nail, keep your drill at a speed between 2,500 and 6,000 RPM. Anything faster might risk damaging or cracking the surface of your natural nail. Keep the bit flat to the nail while you are working. Hold your drill in a horizontal position while you file.


You may even need to try a few different models before you settle on the one which really performs well to your standards. After getting some practice time in with your nail file drill, you will be using it like a pro in no time!

Resources/Photos: Nail Rehab; Nailcou; Byrdie; Young Nails Inc; Healthline; Jodi’s Nail Spa; Best Nail File; cute polis; nailpolis; Nail Art; Poise & Purpose and Nail Mag


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