There are so many nail files and buffers on the market. But what are the best nail files for natural nails?
Here’s what to look for in the best nail file for natural nails. Plus a guide on filing and buffing your nails like a pro.
|Makartt Zebra 100/180||100/180 emery boards for shaping natural nails and extensions, ergonomic semicircle shape, 12 pieces||CHECK ON AMAZON|
|Makartt Zebra 240/240||240/240 emery boards for buffing the shine off your natural nails before applying gel polish or extensions, ergonomic semicircle shape, 12 pieces||CHECK ON AMAZON|
|Makartt 100/180||100/180 straight-shaped emery boards for shaping natural or artificial nails, 12 pieces||CHECK ON AMAZON|
|Onsen||120/180 straight-shaped emery boards for shaping natural and artificial nails, 10 pieces, made in the USA||CHECK ON AMAZON|
|Tingbeauty||Set of 6 semicirlce emery boards with pretty flower prints, 80/80, 100/100, 150/150, 180/180, 240/240, and 320/320 grits for shaping and buffing both natural nails and extensions||CHECK ON AMAZON|
|Iridesi||12 pink-colored straight 280/320 emery boards for buffing natural nails||CHECK ON AMAZON|
|TsMADDTs||Set of 6 100/180 straight emery boards and 120 grit buffing blocks for natural and artificial nails||CHECK ON AMAZON|
|Jpaco||12 straight emery boards with 6 cute novelty prints, 120/240 for buffing natural and artificial nails||CHECK ON AMAZON|
|Cliganic||12 straight 180/240 emery boards for shaping natural nails and buffing the shine off them||CHECK ON AMAZON|
|Teuki||12 semicircle 180/240 grit emery boards for shaping and buffing natural nails||CHECK ON AMAZON|
|Hermounas||Large set of 18 100/180 semicircle emery boards for natural nails and extensions||CHECK ON AMAZON|
Best nail files for natural nails
Makartt Zebra Nail Files, 100/180 Grit
Makartt is known for its polygel nail kits, gel nail polish sets, nail drills and lamps, and nail embellishments.
This Zebra nail files set contains 10 double-sided emery board nail files.
Makartt nail files are useful for professional salon use and for doing nails at home.
Emery board is the best nail file material for natural nails because it’s gentle on the nail plate, strong enough, and lightweight, and comfortable to hold.
One side of these nail files has 180 grit coarseness, which is the ideal grit for filing and shaping natural nails.
The other side is 100 grit, which is great for filing and shaping artificial nails, like acrylic, gel, and polygel nail extensions.
So you can use Makartt Zebra files for any type of nails.
These emery board files are easy to wash. You can just rinse them with soap and warm water. The emery boards won’t unglue off the base even if water gets in.
The files are also disposable. So if you’re a nail tech you can use a new file for each client (which is more hygienic) and give the nail file away to the client after you’ve finished their manicure.
Makartt nail files have a nice ergonomic half-moon/semicircle shape.
They are super convenient because this shape lets you get a good grip.
So your hand won’t get tired too quickly while you’re filing nails.
I’d also recommend buying Makartt Zebra 240 grit nail files together with these files.
Makartt Zebra Nail Files, 240/240 Grit
If you want to apply gel nail polish to your natural nails or use nail extensions then I’d recommend also getting 240 grit Makartt Zebra nail files.
These professional nail files are double-sided emery boards too.
However, both sides have the same 240 grit coarseness.
This grit is great for buffing the shine off natural nails before applying gel nail polish or before building nail extensions.
If you remove the shine layer off your nails gel polish and extension materials will adhere to your natural nail plate better and will stay on longer.
You can use 240 grit nail files for buffing acrylic, gel, or polygel extensions to perfection after you’ve built them and filed them to the necessary shape.
These files also come in a convenient semicircle shape for a better grip.
This Zebra nail file set contains 10 pieces too.
Makartt Nail Files, 100/180 Grit
If you don’t like the semicircle shape you can buy a set of 10 straight-shaped Makartt nail files.
These files are also double-sided emery boards with a 100 grit side and a 180 grit side.
So you can use them for natural and artificial nails too.
Unlike Makartt’s half-moon Zebra files, which are gray, these emery boards are black.
And the straight shape is easier to fit into a small handbag. So you can carry a nail file with you everywhere you go.
If you prefer this color and shape for your nail tools you can get this set.
These files have almost the same quality and construction as the top pick on this list but feel a bit more coarse.
These emery board files are also washable, easy to clean, and disposable.
Onsen Japanese Nail Files, 120/180 Grit
The Onsen set includes 10 double-sided straight emery board files in a pretty turquoise color.
These files are pretty coarse.
One side is 120 grit, which you can only use on artificial nails.
The other side is 180 grit, which is ideal for shaping natural nails.
You can also use the 180 grit for buffing nail extensions and overlays.
However, you’ll need to buy a higher grit for buffing natural nails and for adding finishing touches to them
The files are washable and water-resistant. No need to worry about emery board coating ungluing from the nail file when you rinse them after use.
All Onsen products are made in the USA and are 100% cruelty-free.
Tingbeauty Flower Pattern Emery Boards
If you want to use bright and cute-looking tools for your manicure you can buy this set of 6 nail files.
They are all decorated with lovely watercolor flower prints and have different grits.
The files are double-sided but each piece has the same grit on both sides.
So you’ll get 80/80 and 100/100 files for shaping nail extensions. Plus a 150/150 grit file for buffing artificial nails and overlays.
And for natural nails, you get a 180/180 file for shaping them, a 240/240 file for buffing the shine off them before gel polish application, and a 320/320 file for finer buffing and adding finishing touches to them.
This is a great starter pack for anyone who wants to do their own nails.
All the files in this set have an ergonomic shape.
They are all washable and water-resistant. So it’s easy to keep them clean.
The downside of these files is that they don’t last for too many uses and the set includes only one file of each grit. So there’s no replacement.
That’s why they may not be suitable for professional work.
Iridesi Light Pink 280/320 Grit Nail Files
This set of 12 straight-shaped double-sided emery board nail files is perfect for buffing natural nails.
One side is 280 grit and the other side is 320 grit.
Use the coarser 280 side for buffing the shine off your natural nails and for adding the finishing touches to natural and artificial nails.
And the 320 side is soft. So it can be used for finer buffing and for preparing natural nails for high-shine buffing if you don’t want to coat them with polish.
These files are great for thin and fragile natural nails.
However, you may need a coarser grid for shaping natural nails.
If you use a soft grid nail shaping would take too long.
And these files won’t be useful for shaping nail extensions at all.
The pink color looks really pretty. So these files would make a nice gift or would be a cute addition to your vanity table.
All the files are washable, easy to clean, and water-resistant.
The emery boards won’t come off the base when you’re washing these files.
TsMADDTs Nail Files And Buffers
This popular set of nail files for natural and fake nails also contains a set of colorful buffing blocks.
There are 6 straight-shaped sandpaper emery board nail files and 6 cute-looking buffing blocks.
One side of each emery board is 100 grit. You can use it for shaping nail extensions.
The other side is 180 grit that is great for shaping natural nails.
Each buffing block has 120 grit surfaces on all sides.
These buffing blocks are useful for buffing acrylic, gel, or polygel extensions only.
They’re too rough for natural nails though.
Teuki Professional Nail Files, 180/240 Grit
This budget-friendly set contains 12 emery board nail files.
They all have a super-convenient semicircle shape.
The files have two sides.
One surface is 180 grit, which is perfect for shaping natural nails.
The other is 240 grit, which is great for buffing natural nails.
These files are not suitable for shaping artificial nails.
You may only use them for a bit of buffing and adding a few finishing touches to nail extensions.
All the files are washable and the adhesive emery boards stay on the base well.
These nail files are more suitable for at-home nail care.
They aren’t durable enough for salon work because they can wear out pretty quickly and are a bit too bendy.
Hermounas 100/180 Grit Nail Files, 18 Pieces
This large and budget-friendly set of nail files contains 18 double-sided emery boards.
All the files have an easy to hold semicircle shape.
One side is 100 grit for filing nail extensions into shape and the other side is 180 grit for shaping natural nails or for buffing artificial nails.
If you want a file for buffing natural nails you’ll need to buy it separately.
These files have nice quality but their downside is that they are a bit flimsy and bendy for working on tough materials like acrylics.
However, they work great for natural nails.
These files are washable but they are also disposable. You get many pieces in one set so you can toss them away after each use.
JPACO Nail Files, 120/240 Grit
This is another set of 12 nail files with 6 cute designs.
The files are decorated with lovely bright novelty prints, including strawberries, elephants, cherries, bananas, and cupcakes on white, pink, and cream backgrounds.
These nail files are straight shaped emery boards.
One of their sides is a 120 grit emery board and the other side is 240 grit.
The 120 grit side should only be used for artificial nails. It’s too coarse for filing natural nails.
The 240 side is perfect for buffing and smoothing natural nails. However, it’s too soft for shaping natural nails.
So you’ll have to buy a 180 nail file for shaping natural nails in addition to the JPACO novelty set.
JPACO is a small private company that manufactures party favors. So these nail files are great for giving away as gifts or for putting in goodie bags.
You can also buy them as a decoration for your vanity table.
But you can even use them for professional work because they do the job pretty well.
Cliganic 12 Pack Nail File Set, 180/240 Grit
The Cliganic set includes 12 straight-shaped black emery board nail files.
One side of each file is 180 grit and the other side is 240 grit.
You can use these files for quickly filing down the length of your natural nails and for shaping them.
However, the downside of these nail files is that they are a bit rougher than what the grit numbers on them indicate.
So you can buy a softer file for buffing natural nails.
All the files are washable. But you can dispose of them after use.
The manufacturer promises that all their products are never tested on animals and have PETA’s cruelty-free badge.
What is the best nail file for natural nails?
Best nail file material for natural nails
Nail files come in several materials, such as glass, metal, and emery board.
I’d recommend using emery board nail files.
Emery board file is the best kind of nail file for natural nails.
It’s strong enough to do the job quickly.
It doesn’t cause splitting.
Emery boards are washable. So they’re easy to clean. You can just rinse them with warm water and soap after use.
Emery boards are budget-friendly.
When your emery board becomes unusable you can toss it away and replace it easily.
Emery boards are disposable.
If you’re a salon worker you can use a new emery board for every appointment instead of washing them.
So it’s a lot more hygienic than using the same file for several clients.
By the way, there’s no need to toss away the used emery board. You can give it away to the client. So that they can take it home and continue using it.
Glass files are not strong enough for filing the nails down quickly.
Metal files are bad for the nails because they cause splitting.
Metal nail files are also heavier. So you’ll get tired of holding a metal file faster.
Use emery boards and buffing blocks for buffing natural nails.
Best nail file grit for natural nails
Emery boards come in various degrees of coarseness.
The best nail file grit for shaping natural nails is the 180 medium grit.
And here’s why:
Coarser nail files should only be used on artificial nails (nail extensions). Such as gels, acrylics, and polygels.
80-150 grit nail files are too coarse for natural nails.
But they are great for shaping nail extensions because artificial nail materials are harder than natural nails.
Best nail files for buffing natural nails
Soft nail files that have a 240 or higher grit should be used for buffing natural nails.
Shaping your nails with these files would take too much time.
Use the 240 grit to buff the shine layer off your natural nails before applying gel nail polish or nail extensions.
Best nail file shape for natural nails
There are many shapes of emery board nail files that you can use for natural nails.
Emery boards come in straight, curved/banana, half-moon/semicircle, and various novelty shapes. Such as hearts, stars, and other die-cut shapes.
However, the best shape of a nail file for natural nails is the half-moon or semicircle shape.
It’s a combination of the straight and curved/banana forms.
This shape is the most ergonomic one.
It’s the most convenient kind of emery board for holding in your hand.
You’ll get a good grip with it.
It also has a pretty large working area.
Use a high grit buffing block for high shine buffing of natural nails.
When you’ve just bought a new nail file that has sharp edges that cut your skin you can file these edges down a bit with a buffing block or by rubbing these edges against an orangewood stick. So they won’t be too sharp anymore.
What is the best nail shape for natural nails?
The best nail shapes for natural nails are rounded, oval, squoval, and square.
These shapes are pretty durable and natural nails have enough strength to support them.
Since you can’t grow natural nails too long these shapes look great on shorter nails.
And some shapes, like rounded, are perfect for very short nails.
Almond is another shape that you can use on natural nails.
However, almond nails look best when they’re long. Plus, this shape can make a nail break easier than, for example, a square shape.
So your natural nails must be very strong and healthy if you want to wear almond nails.
The popular coffin (ballerina) and stiletto shapes are mostly suitable for nail extensions.
How to file natural nails with a nail file
- Keep the nail file under the natural nail’s free edge when filing to prevent overfiling.
- That way you’ll have better control over the amount of filing that you perform on that nail.
- When shaping natural nails make sure you only file their free edge.
- That’s the area between two nail growth points.
- Each side of each nail has one nail growth point. So each nail has two growth points.
- That’s where the nail’s free edge leaves the nail bed and detaches from the skin, just where the nail’s lateral fold begins.
- Never dig into your finger with a nail file beyond the nail growth points.
- You risk detaching the nail from the skin and that’s really painful.
- You also risk overfiling the nail’s sidewalls and creating notches in your free edge. And that can make the nail break later on.
- So no matter what nail shape you choose, file each side of the nail going from its respective growth point to the end of the free edge.
- You can make the end of the free edge flat and the side edges parallel to each other if you want square nails.
- Or file the side edges at an angle to each other rounding the tip in the process to create rounded, oval, or almond nails.
- Shapes that require significant nail lengths, such as ballerina/coffin or stiletto nails, can only be created on nail extensions.
- They are really not suitable for natural nails because they have to be made from a stronger material or they can break.
- Make the file go in one direction only, unless you’re filing the flat end of a square nail.
- Don’t file back and forth in a sawing motion when you’re working on the side edges to avoid overfiling them or making the edges frayed.
- Make both sides of each nail symmetrical.
- The middle of your free edge should be placed on the central axis of the nail plate.
- One nail growth point can be naturally located higher than the other point.
- So that’s why the central point of the free edge should not be placed in the middle between two nail growth points.
- Place it in the middle of the nail bed’s central axis.
- Now, about nail lengths:
- The nail plates of the index and ring fingers on both hands, should have the same length from the cuticles to the tip of the free edge.
- The thumb’s and middle finger’s nail plates should be +1 or 2 mm longer than the index, and ring finger nails. They have wider nail beds.
- And the pinky fingers’ nails should be -1 or 2 mm shorter than the lengths of the index, middle, and ring finger nails. Pinky has the narrowest natural nail bed.
- So in the end the nail plates of all your fingers will look balanced.
- Turn each finger and look at it from the side.
- For square nails, file the side edges to make them parallel to the finger’s axis when you’re looking at the nail from the side.
- That will prevent your nails from looking curved and bent downward or upward.
How to buff natural nails with a nail file
- You can either buff the nails before applying gel nail polish or nail extensions or buff them to a high shine instead of applying polish to them.
- Buffing before gel polish or any artificial material application is needed to roughen the nails and to remove the shine off the natural nail plate.
- This will make the polish or extensions adhere to your natural nails better.
- If you want to buff the shine off your natural nails you’ll need to take a 240 grit emery board nail file.
- Don’t select a higher grit or your nails would be too polished and no materials would ever stick.
- One mistake that most people make when buffing nails with a nail file is holding the nail file horizontally and buffing from side to side in a sawing motion.
- You risk overfiling the nail plate if you do that.
- The safest way to buff your nails is by holding the nail file vertically at a 45-degree angle to the nail plate and gently buffing it up and down.