Investing in an electric file means knowing how to properly use it — and that means getting the right education. Here, we show you where to go and why it’s important to keep learning.
For more than two decades, nail technicians have used electric files for all types of services. Despite their wide use, there hasn’t been consistent or widely available information or education on their proper use in salons. It’s no wonder they’ve been misused so often, says Lysa Comfort, veteran nail tech and founder of Charisma Nail Innovations.
In recent years, however, e-files have gained new ground. More than ever, manufacturers and nail technicians are aware of the importance of knowing how to properly use such a tool. Without proper education and practice, a nail technician can seriously damage a client’s nails and, potentially, permanently damage the nail matrix and inhibit nail growth.
“Electric files still get a bad rap from nail techs who use them improperly, from techs who don’t use them and fear them, and from the myths that some nail techs still insist on believing and propagating,” says Barb Wetzel, a LaGrange, Ill.-based independent educator and founder of www.nailsplash.com, an educational website. “Sometimes our industry is its own worst enemy.”
Although those words may hold some truth, it’s also a fact that the industry is stepping up its efforts and attempting to make nail professionals as skilled as possible with these instruments.
Enter the Association of Electric File Manufacturers, or AEFM as it’s more commonly known. Started in 1998 in response to the bad reputation electric files were developing in the nail industry, the AEFM is a group of manufacturers with a mission to better train professionals in electric file use. By training educators who in turn train other nail techs and state boards, the organization is making proper electric file use a reality.
In fact, the AEFM’s educational program has become so recognized and accepted that numerous schools and state boards have implemented the program into their curriculums.
With more and more salons vying for the public’s attention, proper education is one good way of putting yourself ahead of the rest.
And we’re not just talking about getting nail techs more education. You also need to keep your clients in mind. “Educate clients by explaining the benefits of using the electric file,” suggests Gari-Dawn Tingler, vice president of Hand and Nail Harmony. “Let them know why electric files can be a good choice.”
Once you’re well versed in electric file use, you’ll be able to speak with confidence and authority to clients as well. After all, there’s nothing worse than a nail tech who can’t explain what she’s doing to a client or seems unsure.
If you encounter a client who’s had a bad experience at another salon, it’s all the more reason to show her you know what you’re doing.
Only with proper education will electric files be able to beat the bad rap they’ve gotten in recent years. It may sound a bit contrived, but knowledge really is power.
Using an electric file can help get a client in and out of your salon in no time. From repairing cracks to grooming natural nails, these handy machines do a lot. Here, we’ve illustrated some of the most common things an electric file can be used for.
Editor’s Note: Lysa Comfort provided this selection of demos showing some of the techniques and bits you can use with e-files.
Lifted product is one of the most common complaints associated with artificial nails.
Here’s how to get rid of the pesky problem.
Type of bit to use: Tapered
Cracks appear too often on acrylic nails, but with the help of an electric file they can easily be removed, says Comfort.
Type of bit to use: Mini French-filled diamond
Getting the nails ready for a full set is one of the most important steps in artificial nail application. Doing a proper prep ensures the nails will adhere longer and prevents the possibility of any product lifting.
Type of bit to use: Either a fine sanding band, medium to fine diamond, or a coarse silicone
“As long as it’s done properly and with the right tools, an electric file on the natural nail can be just as safe as a regular nail file,” says Comfort.
Type of bit to use: Extra-fine diamond, extra-fine sanding band, or silicone
Doing a backfill with an electric file can help you achieve faster and more accurate results. Backfills should only be done along a client’s natural free edge, says Comfort.
Type of bit to use: French-filled diamond, carbide straight barrel, or specialized backfill
Finishing a Nail
An electric file is the perfect tool to use on a nail when you’re trying to achieve a smooth, finished look.
Type of bit to use: Either medium barrel, diamond, or carbide; extra-fine diamond
Safety, how to go about purchasing an electric file, and other helpful tips are important things to keep in mind when it comes to drills. Not only will you be up to date, it’ll also assure clients you’re giving them the best service possible.
Cleaning and disinfecting bits is probably the most ignored yet the most important procedure when using an electric file. The care you take to keep your bits disinfected should be at the same level as your other professional implements.
Would you ever use a dirty nail file on a client? The same logic applies to electric file bits, which can be easily cleaned and disinfected between clients.
Drill bits (carbide or diamond) should first be scrubbed with a brush and soapy water to loosen dust and particles. You can also soak the bits in acetone to dissolve acrylic dust and build-up.
Then, disinfect the bits in a disinfecting solution specifically formulated for use with metal instruments. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions on soaking time.
After soaking the bits, allow them to air dry thoroughly. Keep bits in a dry, covered container when they’re not in use.
So what can’t be disinfected? Sandpaper bits, or sanding bands, for example, are one-use items that must be discarded. Rubberized abrasive attachments, abrasive stones, and porous accessories and attachments cannot be disinfected. Chamois and fabric buffing attachments are also considered one-use items.
Keep in mind that bits may rust in the disinfection process. Some carbide bits have a tendency to rust, but a high-quality diamond should not. The disinfectant you use may also be the culprit. If you are using a high-quality bit and are disinfecting it for the proper amount of time, then you shouldn’t have any problems.
So you’re interested in purchasing an electric file but aren’t sure what to look for. What’s a nail tech to do?
First and foremost, go with an electric file that feels comfortable in your hand. Make sure the bit turns true so it doesn’t wobble or hammer on the nail. If the bit vibrates, it can damage the client’s nail matrix. And, says Comfort, just as important is a good warranty and repair service. After all, if you spend hundreds of dollars on a machine only to have it break down and there’s no repair service, you’re stuck. Most machines come with one-year warranties.
Variable speed is also important. It’s nice to be able to turn the machine slower when doing delicate, intricate work or faster when doing bulk reduction.
Also think about purchasing an electric file with standard size shanks. If you buy a machine that doesn’t take standard size bits you’re limited to purchasing what that manufacturer has to offer.
Here are other things to consider: