If you're not a fan of filing like me — I literally cringe when a nail technician at a salon whips a file out — or if you want your nails to stay as healthy as possible in general, take notes.
You already know you're not supposed to , but here's another no-no, according to Madeline Poole, a pro nail artist and Sally Hansen's Global Color Ambassador: quickly filing your nails back and forth. "I usually liken sawing your nails back and forth to cutting your hair with a dull pair of scissors," she said. "When you aggressively saw your nails with a file, it makes the tip frayed versus a clean cut." Poole went on to explain that you also have less control over the shape you're trying to create — oval, square, round, etc. — because your nail shaves down quicker when you file it down too fast. "All of this is a gateway for peeling and premature breakage, since the harsh trauma of filing causes weakness," she adds.
Exibit A: The wrong way to file = sawing your nails back and forth.
The right way to file your nails? Poole schooled me and said you get the smoothest, fray-free finish when you file from the side of your nail to the center in one direction, lifting the file away from the nail, and returning to the starting point where your skin and nail connect. Poole suggests doing this on repeat until you've achieve your desired shape.
Exibit B: The right way to file = one fluid motion from side to center.
"By using this technique, you get less of a ragged tip — plus, the fluid filing movement is less traumatic to your nail bed," she adds. "Sometimes if the manicurist is too aggressive with the file, you can even see your nail move back and forth, like a loose tooth; this is exactly what you want to avoid."
Once you've achieved your desired shape, if you notice nail filings still attached to the tips — Poole refers to these bits as "feathers" — get rid of them by tucking the tip of the file under your nail and using a flicking motion to create a smoother edge.
If you've already frayed the eff out of your nails, Poole said it's not too late for your tips to be nursed back to health. To right the wrong kind of filing, it's best to trim them again slightly and refile them for a smoother result. Then, "apply a nail oil that contains vitamin E on them to help hydrate the nail bed," Poole adds. "This gives your nail more flexibility, which leads to less breakage." Try .