E-files can be intimidating for nail techs and clients who aren’t used to them, and they require careful training, but when properly used, they can save nail techs time and reduce wear and tear on their bodies. We asked nail techs new to e-filing what it was like to learn this new skill.
Training Is Key
It can take time getting used to e-file techniques. CND educator and NAILS FingerNailFixer blogger Holly Schippers says learning the new skill of e-filing has been a humbling experience. “It’s a lot like being in school, going back to square one of not knowing anything and learning from the ground up,” she says.
Part of the challenge can be getting past the bad reputation e-files have received in some parts of the industry. “I had to believe that I wasn’t hurting clients or their nail plates,” explains nail tech and OPI educator Amanda Feight. “When I first started working full time as a nail tech, I wanted nothing to do with the e-file. I even told my clients that I would never use one.” Although Feight says it was a challenge to explain to her clients that she had started learning to use an e-file, she came to understand that she could control whether the nail plate was compromised. Her fellow OPI educator Angela Saul agrees: “The biggest mental leap I had to take is getting over the reputation for damage associated with e-files,” she says. “E-files don’t damage nails, people do when they use them improperly.”
There Is a Learning Curve
Schippers says the hardest thing about learning how to use the e-file was understanding how gently techs should hold the handpiece. “It is really almost sitting on your hand versus being held,” she explains. “There is barely any pressure. It’s difficult to master letting it do the work without trying to add force.” She practiced on inanimate objects in order to get used to it. “Having a quality, professional e-file means it does not vibrate in your hand and you do not grip it or use pressure,” she says. Nail techs will also need to adjust based on their personal needs. As a left-handed e-file user, OPI educator Marni Ribnick says “maneuvering the handpiece on the left sidewall/cuticle is a little tricky.”
Speed Up Services
An e-file can make salon services go significantly faster, freeing up time to take more clients. That’s one of the top reasons why nail techs start using the e-file. Schippers says, “I would say that it saves at least 20%-30% of the service time on an enhancement service if you are using it properly, using the correct bits, doing average salon nails, and are experienced with it.” Feight estimates that using an e-file saves her 10 to 15 minutes per client.
Relieve Strain on the Body
In addition to the time savings, using an e-file can reduce strain on nail techs’ bodies by reducing the amount of effort required to file and shape nails and file off product. “With a quality, professional e-file you have a lightweight hand piece resting on your hand and you are just moving your hand around a bit,” explains Schippers. Ribnick has noticed a difference after switching to the e-file: “I’ve been doing nails for more than 18 years and have mild carpel tunnel. I occasionally wear a wrist brace to sleep but haven’t had to since I’ve been using the e-file.”
Although clients may be nervous of the e-file, especially if they’ve been warned away in the past, they’ll learn to feel comfortable with the tool if you reassure them that you have been trained and have their safety in mind. “My clients were hesitant because of experiences with other techs who used an e-file and did not care what they were doing to the actual nail plate,” says Feight. The best way to reassure clients is to focus on your education and establish yourself as an authority in their eyes. “My clients trust me and know I put a lot of time into education,” says Saul. “They were totally open to me using the e-file.”
Demonstrating the tool on yourself is another great way to reassure clients. “I used it on myself in front of them,” says OPI educator Lisa Kern. “They could see that it wouldn’t hurt them, and they were more comfortable with it.” Talking them through the techniques can help, too. “I explained why we would use the bits I had chosen and how we would use them, in addition to the fact that sanding bands would be disposed of and others would be disinfected,” explains Schippers. “The lack of pain and the knowledge that I had taken many classes and practiced for hours before trying it on them was also reassuring.”
E-File Buyer’s Guide
Do your research on different brands and models to find the e-file that’s best suited for your needs.