Hand Filing Routine

Each nail tech establishes their own filing routine over time. Which ever order or way you choose to do things, we’re all looking towards the same end goal. Here’s how I go about it!

I complete my finish filing with a 180 grit hand file.

Step 1 : Sidewalls
Holding my file perfectly, vertically straight, I push the file into the side of the acrylic, in line with lateral folds and file up and down on each side. This creates the border, or ‘sides’ to the nail.

Step 2: Lower Arch
Coming up underneath the nail, I file any excess acrylic away that is sitting below the invisible straight line extending from the nail grooves.

Step 3 : Free Edge
Now that we have straight edges to keep our sight in check, we can file our free edge into shape. But to double check, you’ll also want to flip your clients hand around to see if it still looks straight when viewing it from their angle! (They’ll be the ones staring at them for 3 weeks remember!)

Step 4 : Perimeter and Cuticle
Starting from the top of the sides, I first come down from the top, to the left of the nail to smooth the wall we built when filing in our sidewall. Then, with long, sweeping motions to the right, I’m filing the cuticle bead flush and continuing from the top, down to the right side edge. At his point, every point on the nail has been touched, except the very top centre.

Step 5 : Body
Lastly, I finish the nail, making sure every area has been filed and finished. Starting at one side, I come up one side, across the top and down the other in a large horse shoe type shape. Up the side, across the top, down the other side…. etc etc
Now, I also look down the barrel of the nail to see if I need to spend any extra time on one side or area and that my shape and structure is correct. I also flip the hand again, to see the client view now that I’m almost considering the nail complete

Once complete, i give it a dust off, cleanse with beauty grade isopropyl alcohol and allow this evaporate before finishing with a colour or top coat.

Finishing with a 180 grit file is suitable for a gel polish or hard gel top coat finish as they are thick enough to cover the scratch marks from your filing. If you wish to finish with a normal polish or leave the nail un-coated, you will be need to buff to a smoother finish using a sponge buffer or buff in graduated grits to buff to a high shine.

Watch my video tutorial above to see me complete all these steps!