This Is What Happens To Your Nails When You File Them Every Day

A nail file can be a woman's best friend and is oftentimes a handbag staple. If you get a little snag in your nail and that snag keeps getting caught when you run your hands through your hair or when you touch a piece of fabric, you can simply reach into your purse for your trusty nail file and begin smoothing the snagged nail out. You might even  decide to touch up each finger. Why not, since the file is already in hand, right? If you file your nails on a daily basis, are you helping your nails or hurting them? Scientists believe they may have the answer and it's not what you think.

According to the Daily Mail, a study from Britain's University of Nottingham found that daily nail filing can lead to damaged nails that become cracked and split, often leading to weaker nails. The study placed part of the blame on the societal pressure to have perfectly manicured nails, citing the proliferation of nail salons that have cropped up globally across cities, towns, and states over the past several decades.

The study refers to bent and cracked nails as "pincer nails" while split nails are known as "spoon nails." However, there are ways to maintain nail perfection without causing too much long-term damage. One way is to aim for a straight shape rather than angled or curved nails. This leads to minimal stress. Nails have a tendency to change shape over time when filed too often using the wrong methods, which then can lead to long-term damage that may be hard to correct.

It's all in the method

Sometimes, the way you file your nails makes a big difference in their long-term health if you file them too often. So, file them using the correct methods and your nails will stay stronger and more durable throughout your life.

It might be tempting to use a back and forth motion when filing your nails. It feels natural and seems more quick and efficient, but Cosmopolitan insists that's not the way to do it. Instead, use what they call a fluid motion, starting at one end, lifting the file as you move, finishing at the other end, and then repeating the motion until you have the nails you've been dreaming of.

"When you aggressively saw your nails with a file, it makes the tip frayed versus a clean cut," Madeline Poole, a Global Ambassador for Color at Sally Hansen told Cosmopolitan. "All of this is a gateway for peeling and premature breakage, since the harsh trauma of filing causes weakness."

Keeping your nails happy and healthy

Once your nails are filed to your desired length and shape, it's imperative that you keep them healthy. One way is by resisting the urge to file them daily, and another is to keep them either straight or never use the quick back and forth method of filing. However, once filing is complete, you must keep your nails hydrated and the best product you can use is some type of Vitamin E oil, according to Cosmopolitan. When you keep your fingers and nail beds hydrated, you might avoid the thing that leads you to whip that nail file out to begin with — a snagged or chipped nail you feel the overwhelming need to smooth.

"This gives your nail more flexibility, which leads to less breakage," Poole told Cosmopolitan. With the right hydration and filing method, a little prevention can go a long way in keeping your nails exactly the way you like them.