The Biggest Mistake You're Making When Filing Your Nails

The time you spend in between manicure appointments can be a landmine of obstacles for your nails. Whether you're chopping vegetables, typing up Excel sheets or lifting weights at the gym, your flawlessly polished nails are at risk of breaking and chipping. Per Houston Training Schools, you should not take your nails to the salon every day — and since you can't exactly avoid doing things with your hands, you should focus on perfecting a nail care routine.

A good routine puts your nails' hygiene first, and includes regular trimming, cutting, filing and moisturizing. Filing is one of those things that seems like it's an extra step, but it can prevent breakage and help your nails retain their shape for longer periods of time when you don't want to cut them too much, according to Healthline. On the flip side, filing nails incorrectly can lead to weaker nail beds, frayed nails and painfully ugly nails. Therefore, it's important to know how to file them correctly, and avoid one of the biggest mistakes people typically make when reaching for the nail file.

Don't saw your nails back and forth

On average, HowStuffWorks reports that your nails should be filed once a week. You can adjust this timeline based on how fast your nails grow, but if you're doing it the way you see it done on TV, you may be doing more harm than good. Speaking to Coveteur, manicurist Amy Ling Lin emphasizes the importance of picking the right tool. "My favorite nail file that I use at home is an emery cushion board. Since it has a cushion in it, it's very gentle to your nails and causes the least breakage," she says. Filing can be harsh for your nails so it's important to pick a tool that is gentle.

On that note, one of the biggest mistakes you could make is sawing your file back and forth against your nails. "You never want to file in a 'saw-like' motion. When you only file in one direction, it protects the nail from splitting and tearing," nail artist Cassandre Banel told Byrdie in 2020. Instead, follow celebrity nail artist Erica Marton's steps for optimal results. "Stick to one direction only in this three-step process: File side to center, where you go on the side of nail to the tip at a 45-degree angle, then the other side to the tip, and then finish at the top of the nail," Marton shared with Reader's Digest. The direction and angle you use make all the difference between a shaped and frayed nail.