The Art of Filing

Ever wondered why the nails you produce are a bit bulbous and rounded when you want them straight, all slightly different to each other on the same client or just not as perfect as you wanted them to be?

Or have you even examined the nails you do to see the flaws so you can correct them?

badly filed acrylic nails

The above nails are not completely bad, but they are inconsistent from one to the next and there is work to be done to make them look like a great set you get compliments on.

It all starts with your application, because if you apply acrylic or gel in the wrong places then you’ll most likely maintain that incorrect shape and structure as you file, it happens automatically… especially if you are a ‘just file it until they are smooth’ kind of nail tech.

There is a perfect structure to a strong and aesthetically pleasing nail enhancement, the thinness around zone 3, the sidewalls and the free edge, the apex placement and upper arch as well as the lower arch.

There are some common mistakes that occur and as this post is entitled The Art of Filing it is the filing we will be concentrating on. If you want more information on the application of acrylic or gel then there are some other posts you’ll be able to see on my blog here.

So, Filing… I go into more depth on my video tutorials on this subject but to get you started here are a few of my top tips to start thinking about:

  1. File only ONE area at a time – I see all too often tech’s waving a file around corners, up and over sidewalls and sawing back and forth with a rounded motion. Now this not only DOESN’T save you the time you think it does, but actually costs you more time when your client examines the nails at the end of the service and says things like: ‘this one is a bit more rounded than the others’ ‘this one is pointing a bit to the left’ ‘this one is a bit shorter than the others’ ‘this one looks a bit fat, can it be made  bit thinner?’

These are all comments you don’t want to hear at the end, because effectively you’ve finished!! but by filing only one area of the nail at a time you will eliminate the slightly rounded, slightly square, jelly bean shaped nails that are all different across a full set.

2. Keep your file straight and file like a robot (lock you arm/elbow into place). The more you keep your arm running in a straight line whilst filing the sidewall of a nail the straighter the nail will be. Simple. Take a quick look at the picture in the top of this post, notice how you can only see the middle blue line of my file, thats because it is directly on the sidewall, actually filing the SIDE of the nail, not filing a bit of the lower arch at the same time… remember tip number 1 above!

3. Support the other side of the nail. Without any support on the opposite side to you filing, the nail moves with the pressure of being filed. its only a small amount but other than it becoming quite uncomfortable for the client after a while, the nail moving means you cannot get a straight line or at least a perfect line. Once again take a quick look a the pic of me filing a nail a the top of the post, did you notice my middle and ring finger supporting THE NAIL on the opposite side to me filing? you do now, yes… my grip of the client is firm but not tight or enough to hurt, it is ensuring the nail doesn’t wobble down the length as I file. You can see a deeper explanation on this in my video tutorial on filing (coming soon)

4. Look at the nail from all angles. For the most part I see nail tech’s looking at the nail from the front/top as the hand is near the desk and they just file until they see the nail looking good on face value. Its only when the client takes a look, and some REALLY DO LOOK closely, that she starts pointing out little flaws, so ensure you do your job as a nail technician and look at the nail yourself! (honestly i don’t mean to sound obvious or condescending but I was surprised how many tech’s I watch who just haven’t looked at the nail and then exclaim ‘Done!’)

Look out for my new video tutorials coming soon!

Rebecca X


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