Nail File Grit Guide: All You Need to Know as a Nail Artist

As a nail artist, achieving the perfect manicure or pedicure requires precision and attention to detail. One essential tool in your arsenal is the nail file. Nail files come in various grits, each serving a specific purpose in shaping and smoothing the nails. Understanding the different grits and their uses is crucial for any nail artist. In this article, we will explore the nail file grit guide, providing you with all the information you need to enhance your nail artistry.

What is Grit?

Grit refers to the level of coarseness or abrasiveness of a nail file's surface. It is determined by the number of abrasive particles per square inch. The higher the number, the finer the grit, and the smoother the file's surface.

Low Grit (80-100)

Low grit files are the coarsest and most abrasive. They are primarily used for nail extensions or removing significant length or acrylic enhancements. These files are not recommended for natural nail use, as they can cause damage or lead to nail thinning. If you need to remove gel or acrylic nails, start with a lower grit file and gradually switch to a higher grit for a smoother finish.

Medium Grit (150-180)

Medium grit files are versatile tools suitable for both natural nails and extensions. They are ideal for shaping and refining the nail's length and edges. These files are also great for removing rough patches and calluses from the feet. Their slightly smoother surface compared to low grit files minimizes the risk of causing damage while providing adequate control and precision.

High Grit (240-600)

High grit files are the finest and least abrasive in the grit scale. They are perfect for buffing, smoothing, and refining the nails' surface. Use these files to shape the free edge, remove ridges, and prepare the nail bed for polish or gel application. High grit files are gentle on the nails and can be used for regular maintenance and touch-ups without risking excessive thinning or damage.

Different Types of Nail Files

  1. Emery Boards: Emery boards are inexpensive, disposable files made of sandpaper-like materials. They are available in various grits and are suitable for basic filing and shaping. However, they may not last as long as other types of files and can have a harsher texture.

  2. Glass Files: Glass files have a finely textured surface made from tempered glass. They are gentle on the nails, preventing splitting or peeling. Glass files are durable, easy to clean, and can be sterilized, making them a hygienic choice. They often come in higher grits, making them ideal for finishing and shaping natural nails.

  3. Metal Files: Metal files are made of stainless steel and are known for their durability. They are suitable for removing gel or acrylic enhancements due to their high grit. However, metal files can be quite abrasive and are not recommended for use on natural nails, as they can cause damage.

  4. Buffing Blocks: Buffing blocks have multiple surfaces with different grits, allowing for shaping, smoothing, and shining the nails. They are excellent for creating a glossy finish without the need for polish. Buffing blocks are generally gentle and can be used on both natural and artificial nails.

Choosing the Right Nail File

Selecting the appropriate nail file depends on the task at hand and your client's needs. Consider the following factors:

  1. Nail Condition: Assess the condition of the nails before choosing a nail file. If the nails are weak or brittle, opt for higher grit files to minimize damage. For thicker or artificial nails, start with lower grit files to remove excess material efficiently.

  2. Purpose: Determine the purpose of the file—whether it's shaping, removing length, or buffing. Different grits excel in specific tasks, so having a variety of files in your toolkit is essential.

  3. Personal Preference: Experiment with different types of files and grits to find what works best for you. Everyone has their preferred tools, and finding the right combination will enhance your nail artistry.


As a nail artist, understanding the nail file grit guide is essential for achieving flawless manicures and pedicures. Knowing the right grit for each task and selecting the appropriate nail file type can make a significant difference in the quality of your work. By using the correct tools and techniques, you can ensure the health and beauty of your clients' nails. So, equip yourself with the knowledge and the right nail files to take your nail artistry to the next level!

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