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  3. 10 Best Nail Files 2023 | UK Makeup Artist Reviewed
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10 Best Nail Files 2023 | UK Makeup Artist Reviewed

You’ve probably bought a nail file at some point in your life, right? Not only for shaping and trimming, filing will keep nails strong, healthy and free from breakage. Our grooming habits are all different, so the best file for an acrylic or gel addict won’t be the same as someone who favours the natural look. A browse through sites like Amazon and Boots brings up dozens of options – glass crystal files, buffers to polish and even professional-grade electric files. 

There’s also grit or coarseness to consider in emery boards, which can make or break weak or damaged nails. We promise this guide and our top ten picks will get your talons in tip-top condition! Moreover, we have partnered with Makeup Artist Marie Dancer for reviewing and fact-checking the article so that we can deliver the best information to our users.

Last updated 06/02/2023
Marie Dancer
Expert
Makeup Artist
Marie Dancer

As a professional make-up artist of ten years, Marie's job has taken her all over the UK working at top events, on TV shows and making up beautiful brides. For all her clients she loves emphasising their natural beauty by creating a flawless base that still looks like skin.

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Fact-Checked & Approved by Makeup Artist Marie Dancer

Fact-Checked & Approved by Makeup Artist Marie Dancer

As a professional makeup artist of ten years, Marie's job has taken her all over the UK, working at top events, on TV shows and making up beautiful brides. For all of her clients, she loves emphasising their natural beauty by creating a flawless base that still looks like skin.


Find out more about Marie and what are her favourite makeup products are through her Instagram! She even shares some industry tips on makeup application too. And if you're interested in getting your makeup done by Marie, you can contact her via her email found at the top of her page.

How to Choose a Nail File in the UK – Buying Guide

Key Points to Consider
  1. Use a Glass Nail File for Natural Nails, or Emery Board for Acrylics
  2. Go for an Electric Nail File for At-home Salon Manicures
  3. Opt for a File With Nail Buffer for Polishing and Shaping
  4. Observe the Grit Number: 80-100 for Acrylics and Gels, 240-600 for Natural Nails
  5. Select Curved or S-shaped Files for More Precision
1

Choose a Glass Nail File for Natural Nails, or an Emery Board for Acrylics

Choose a Glass Nail File for Natural Nails, or an Emery Board for Acrylics

Opt For a Glass or Crystal File to Help Strengthen and Maintain Natural Nails

The makeup artist’s top choice, glass nail files are usually referred to as crystal or glass crystal files. Although they still do an excellent job, they’re gentler on natural nails than most files so they suit those with fragile or damaged tips. If you do have acrylic nails, they are still coarse enough to handle them too, just in a much kinder way!


On top of this, when you file with glass you are actively sealing the keratin layers on the edge of the nail, preventing chipping and splitting and boosting nail strength and growth. And finally, even if they’re a bigger upfront investment, glass files are more economical, sustainable and hygienic as they’ll last for years, and can be washed between uses.


Another way to maintain strong, healthy nails is by using cuticle oils - browse our top 10!

Traditional Emery Boards Have a Coarser Grit, Making Them a Great Choice for Acrylic Nails

The very same that you’ve had knocking around your desk drawer for years, simple and cheap emery boards are backed with grains of sand, just like sandpaper. They will vary in their grit, or abrasiveness, and therefore offer options for standing up to the filing of gels or acrylics as well as softer grits suitable for natural or weak nails.


It is worth checking if the core is made from traditional cardboard, or a material such as EVA foam, as this will determine whether the file is washable and how long they last. Cardboard files are usually intended for use only a handful of times before they wear out and need replacing, and will not be able to be washed.


If you only need a file for occasional use you may find these perfectly sufficient, but otherwise, you can check the product description for the material and washability if you’d like something longer lasting.

2

Pick an Electric Nail File for Salon Manicures at Home

Pick an Electric Nail File for Salon Manicures at Home
Electric nail files, known as nail drills (they're not as scary as they sound, honestly!), are the closest thing to a real salon manicure or pedicure you'll get without leaving the house. Featuring up to 10 separate attachments for tidying the nail beds, shaping, buffing and trimming, they are definitely one for nail enthusiasts who are happy and willing to splurge a bit more.

For a professional manicure at home, an electric nail file - known as a nail drill or e-file - will give a perfect finish to both false and natural nails. Electric files are geared more to experts and should be handled safely and with care. Using one of the many attachments you're able to file, shape and clean up the nails as well as remove gel and acrylics. 


Different settings and speeds will help you navigate using both your dominant and less skilled hand and to suit your different nail needs. Practice makes perfect with the electric nail file but once you learn you can save money on costly salon visits!

3

Look For a File With a Nail Buffer for Polishing and Shaping

Look For a File With a Nail Buffer for Polishing and Shaping
Often numbered on each side to denote the order in which they are to be used, cubed or squared padded buffers are an easy way to a DIY mini-manicure. From shaping the nails through to buffing them to a gleaming shine, they’re an all-in-one product suitable for both natural and false nails, as well as for prepping the nails for a trip to the salon or applying your own polish.


More durable than a cardboard file, they usually come in multipacks so you can choose as many as you see fit. Again, it’s worth checking whether they are washable for hygiene reasons, although their cores are commonly made of plastic.


Here are the best manicure sets for all-rounded nail care!

4

Consider the Grit Number : 80 - 100 Grit Files Are Great for Shaping Acrylics and Gels, but 240 - 600 Grit Is Better for Natural Nails

Consider the Grit Number : 80 - 100 Grit Files Are Great for Shaping Acrylics and Gels, but 240 - 600 Grit Is Better for Natural Nails
Perhaps one of the more confusing aspects of nail file selection is understanding the numbers stamped on emery boards (other types do not have a grit number, but will usually state if they are coarse, medium, or fine/soft). A lower grit number is more coarse and a high number more soft; worth remembering when choosing!


Some also have dual-sided grits, whereby the coarser is to be used for filing, and the softer for smoothing and shaping. Our advice is to ensure you use the appropriate abrasiveness for your nail type and condition, or you could end up doing more harm than good. 


Here’s an explanation of the numbers to get you started:


  • 80-100 Grit: The most coarse you'll find, suitable only for shaping false nails such as extensions, acrylics, gels and dipped nails. They’re also rough enough to remove your gel topcoat at home instead of heading to the salon. 

  • 180 Grit: The lowest you should go when purchasing a file for natural nails, and the most common grit number featured on emery boards. Considered medium-coarse, they will also be able to take off gel nails.

  • 240-600 Grit: Known as a fine grit, this level is most suitable for natural nails and toenails, especially those that are brittle or suffering from previous nail treatments. You will still be able to shape and tidy the nails with fine grits.

  • 600-2400 Grit: Referred to as ultrafine, this grit is more of a buffer, and will bring a mirror shine to nails whether polished, false, or natural. Very weak nails may want to consider this grit for shaping and filing.
5

Try a Curved or S-Shaped File for Better Precision When Filing

Try a Curved or S-Shaped File for Better Precision When Filing
Beyond the usual straight nail files we’re used to, the latest innovations are curved (referred to as boomerang files, or sometimes banana files) or S-shaped. Backed by professionals and beauty buffs, both of these types of file allow for better control and precision when rounding and shaping the nails, and more so for the toenails.


You may prefer to stick to straight if that’s what you’re used to, or if you only require a basic file; either way, you will generally only find emery boards or padded files available in these distinct shapes.


If you're looking for a reliable pair of nail clippers, we got you covered too!

Was the Buying Guide helpful?

10 Best Nail Files in the UK

This ranking has been compiled by the writing team at mybest UK via careful evaluation of the points made in the buying guide and thorough research of each product and comparing multiple verified customer reviews across the EC sites used.
Popularity
Products
Image
Click to purchase
Key features
1

Leighton Denny

Crystal Nail File

Leighton Denny  Crystal Nail File  1枚目

Award-Winning Crystal Nail File That’ll Last a Lifetime

2

Bona Fide Beauty

Glass Nail File Set

Bona Fide Beauty Glass Nail File Set 1枚目

Glass Files That Are Gentle Enough for Weak Nails

3

G.Liane

Crystal Glass Professional Nail File

G.Liane  Crystal Glass Professional Nail File 1枚目

Medium Grit Tempered Glass File for Both Gel and Natural Nails

4

Teenitor

Professional Nail File Set

Teenitor  Professional Nail File Set 1枚目

A Complete Set or Emery Boards Ranging From 100 to 4000 Grit

5

Tweezerman

Neon Hot Buff Smooth and Shine Block

Tweezerman Neon Hot Buff Smooth and Shine Block 1枚目

Practical Block for Filling, Shaping and Buffing

6

Jessica

Professional Emery Boards, Soft

Jessica Professional Emery Boards, Soft 1枚目

Gentle File Designed for Brittle Nails

7

Mont Bleu

Small Crystal Nail File3 pack

Mont Bleu Small Crystal Nail File 1枚目

Pocket-Sized Crystal Nail File for Travel

8

The Edge Nails

Zebra Curved Emery BoardsPack of 5

The Edge Nails Zebra Curved Emery Boards 1枚目

Pro Emery Board Especially for Acrylics

9

MelodySusie

Electric Nail Drill Set for Beginners

MelodySusie  Electric Nail Drill Set for Beginners 1枚目

Electric Nail File Kit for Salon-Style Home Manicures and Pedicures

10

Lictin

Professional Emery Boards120/240 Grit

Lictin Professional Emery Boards 1枚目

Cheap Multipack for Shaping Acrylic Nails

If you don't see the product you're looking for, you can request that it be listed.
No.1

Leighton Denny Crystal Nail File

Crystal Nail File  Image 1
Source:boots.com
Reference price
£12.50
Reference price
£12.50

Award-Winning Crystal Nail File That’ll Last a Lifetime

Winner of no less than 15 beauty awards, beautifully designed and crafted with expert care, this crystal file from Leighton Denny had to be our number one. The medium grit is suitable for every nail type, and will restore and maintain nail health for many a decade.

An aluminium hard case is included too which is always welcome, and the brand even proclaim this as the toughest file on the market. This file has it all – it's pretty, it's washable, it’s reasonably-priced, and it’s just the right size for at home or on the move. We can’t fault it!

Was this Ranking helpful?
No.2

Bona Fide BeautyGlass Nail File Set

Glass Nail File Set Image 1
Source:amazon.co.uk
Reference price
£12.97
Reference price
£12.97

Glass Files That Are Gentle Enough for Weak Nails

Crystal glass files really do last for many years, so this set of five would be most suited to daily filers who like the idea of having one to hand in every bag, pocket, drawer and bathroom. You may also buy them as singles, in the same rainbow of colour options.

Able to be used in any direction and coming in on the finer side of medium coarseness, they’re gentle enough for weaker nails as well as those sticking with natural talons. The pointed end is also great for cleaning beneath the nails.
No.3

G.Liane Crystal Glass Professional Nail File

Crystal Glass Professional Nail File Image 1
Source:amazon.co.uk
Crystal Glass Professional Nail File Image 2
Source:amazon.co.uk
Reference price
£8.99
Reference price
£8.99

Medium Grit Tempered Glass File for Both Gel and Natural Nails

Loved by many a blogger and at-home nail enthusiast alike, this gorgeous file pairs a luxe look with brilliant craftsmanship, and it’s surprisingly affordable too. It's made from quality tempered glass using double-sided etched technology, and claims to feel like new even after hundreds of uses.

The coarseness of this file is medium, which means it's suitable for most nail types, even gels. There’s also a premium gift box and a case provided for preserving its cleanliness and protecting it whilst on the go – and looking stylish while it’s at it, of course. 
No.4

Teenitor Professional Nail File Set

Professional Nail File Set Image 1
Source:amazon.co.uk
Professional Nail File Set Image 2
Source:amazon.co.uk
Reference price
£5.99
Reference price
£5.99

A Complete Set or Emery Boards Ranging From 100 to 4000 Grit

Featuring practically every grit range there is from 100 all the way to 4000, these five curved files are suitable for trimming natural and false nails alike, and can remove polish or nail gel as well as shape and shine.

We particularly like that the brand has also provided detailed instructions on the most suitable purpose for each file – great for nail newbies. Double-sided, curved for precise shaping and able to be washed, this set would make a lovely gift for a nail art fan, be it to yourself or someone else!
No.5

TweezermanNeon Hot Buff Smooth and Shine Block

Reference price
£12.00

Practical Block for Filling, Shaping and Buffing

Bored of dull grey and brown files? Sure to brighten up your grooming kit, this cushioned nail file can be used for each step of the nail-care process, as each coloured sticker is clearly numbered and labelled to show whether it’s for filing, buffing, polishing or shining.

Reviewers report it to be surprisingly long-lasting compared to similar block-style emery designs, and there’s a spare set of stickers for when it does eventually wear down to boot. With a back-up set, your block will surely last a while, making this great value for money indeed. 
No.6

JessicaProfessional Emery Boards, Soft

Reference price
£3.95

Gentle File Designed for Brittle Nails

This two-pack of basic emery boards from Jessica is our top recommendation for those with damaged, weak or flaking nails. They do not list a grit number, but are indeed very soft and gentle.

Caring for your fragile nails with a board like these should help with nail health and regrowth, and are a particularly good buy for someone who does not often want or need to file as they are disposable and unwashable.
No.7

Mont BleuSmall Crystal Nail File3 pack

Small Crystal Nail File Image 1
Source:amazon.co.uk
Small Crystal Nail File Image 2
Source:amazon.co.uk
Reference price
£7.95
Reference price
£7.95

Pocket-Sized Crystal Nail File for Travel

At only 9 cm long, this small but perfectly-formed glass file is great to tuck into your bag for snagged nail emergencies on the go, or perhaps to take on your travels. Each file is handmade to high standards and is crafted from strong Czech-tempered glass, so you won't have to worry about it breaking in transit. 

This file is highly rated for its quality finish and bacteria-shunning protective pouch, and even comes with a lifetime guarantee. You can also purchase a pack of three or six if you'd like to stock up or have one for every handbag!

No.8

The Edge NailsZebra Curved Emery BoardsPack of 5

Zebra Curved Emery Boards Image 1
Source:amazon.co.uk
Reference price
£4.39
Reference price
£4.39

Pro Emery Board Especially for Acrylics

From the range by renowned UK salon The Edge, this curved file has been created especially for acrylics and pedicure work. Whether you’re a pro or not, you’ll appreciate the clog-free zebra design that limits acrylic dust, and the compressed aluminium oxide grit.

Unfortunately these files are not washable, but they are quite cheap and last longer than most emery boards. Also, be aware that the 100/180 grit, whilst suitable for some natural nails, is better off used for falsies as it is very coarse.
No.9

MelodySusie Electric Nail Drill Set for Beginners

Electric Nail Drill Set for Beginners Image 1
Source:amazon.co.uk
Electric Nail Drill Set for Beginners Image 2
Source:amazon.co.uk
Reference price
£22.99
Reference price
£22.99

Electric Nail File Kit for Salon-Style Home Manicures and Pedicures

If you’re having a pamper evening or love nothing more than beautifying yourself from fingers to toes, it may be worth stepping up to an electric file. This cute gold drill can perform many a duty, including buffing and shining natural and false nails, removing calluses and ridding the feet of hard skin, to name a few.

The included haul of 180 grit sanders can also be used for shaping acrylics, gels, and natural nails alike, and there's even a manicure set with clippers and cuticle tools thrown in too. For the average person, it would most likely be a hassle to get out each time you need to file, though! 
No.10

LictinProfessional Emery Boards120/240 Grit

Professional Emery Boards Image 1
Source:amazon.co.uk
Professional Emery Boards Image 2
Source:amazon.co.uk
Reference price
£3.88
Reference price
£3.88

Cheap Multipack for Shaping Acrylic Nails

Ideal for shaping and maintaining gels and acrylics between salon trips or for a DIY manicure, this exceptional value pack includes 16 double-sided emery boards with both 120 and 240 grit coarseness. The 240 is coarse enough for gel removal, while the 120 is great for filing.

The downside is that they’re a disposable item and will wear down after a few uses. However, unlike most emery boards they can actually be washed, which will ensure they stay hygienic between filing sessions. 

Advise From Makeup Artist Marie Dancer

Advise From Makeup Artist Marie Dancer

An additional technique to add in: When using any nail file, it's essential to only file in one direction, changing direction where necessary. You shouldn't file back and forth like a saw because you can cause trauma to the nail bed, weakening the nail.

Written and researched by Natasha Dziubajlo

Top 5 Nail Files

No. 1: Leighton Denny Crystal Nail File

No. 2: Bona Fide BeautyGlass Nail File Set

No. 3: G.Liane Crystal Glass Professional Nail File

No. 4: Teenitor Professional Nail File Set

No. 5: TweezermanNeon Hot Buff Smooth and Shine Block

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When you purchase products mentioned in the article, part of the sales may be returned to mybest.
The descriptions of each product is referenced from the content available from the manufacturer, e-commerce sites etc.
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