8 best nail files for manicures at home

More of us than ever have turned to doing our own manicures rather than going to the salon this year, and a good nail file is key to that immaculate professional finish.

Even if you don’t want to faff around with cuticles and polish, everyone can appreciate a neat shape and no snags.

For such a simple job there is a lot of variation in both material and shape when it comes to choosing a nail file.

We find metal files too harsh (they can cause splintering), so we’ve avoided those here; our picks are either traditional emery board (card and sand), crystal (also sold as glass), or sandstone.

You may also opt for one that combines buffing (for the top of the nail) with filing for a professional finish.

If you choose an emery board, it will need replacing every three to six months, depending on how regularly you use it, and always file in one direction to prevent splitting.

You can trust our independent round-ups. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.

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Tweezerman neon filemates set These are traditional dual-sided emery boards but in two-tone neon, which makes the whole experience more fun. They’re a little thick and cushioned, and have a different grit texture on each side: 100 and 180. Use the finer grit on natural nails and the heavier on acrylics; we’ve also used it to buff the shine off gels before removal. While you could just use one of the three and save the others for when it needs replacing, we like to keep one in our handbag (in the case provided), one on our desk and one by our bed, so you always have one in reach for those pesky snags. {{#hasItems}} Price comparison {{/hasItems}} {{#items}} {{ merchant }} £{{ price }} Buy now {{/items}} {{#hasItems}} {{/hasItems}} Margaret Dabbs crystal nail file If you have brittle nails, or just generally want to treat them a little easier, a crystal or glass nail file is a great option for minimising splitting and weakness and also for getting a nice clean edge. Think of them like a low-impact adaptation of an exercise; they get the job done but with less risk of damage. They can also be washed with soap and water, whereas a traditional emery board can’t really be sanitised, and last far longer. Margaret Dabbs makes luxury products for hands and feet, and its crystal file is nothing short of perfect. {{#hasItems}} Price comparison {{/hasItems}} {{#items}} {{ merchant }} £{{ price }} Buy now {{/items}} {{#hasItems}} {{/hasItems}} Lavinia sandstone nail file This is a brilliant, planet-friendly option as it’s made from Swedish sandstone, which is natural, very hardwearing, long-lasting (it’s usually used in buildings!) and biodegradable. The feel and finish on your nails is more like using a glass or crystal file than emery, as the abrasive grains are very densely packed. It comes in a cork pouch so it’s protected when not in use or when travelling. {{#hasItems}} Price comparison {{/hasItems}} {{#items}} {{ merchant }} £{{ price }} Buy now {{/items}} {{#hasItems}} {{/hasItems}} Leighton denny quattro 4 in 1 nail file and buffer To tackle the texture of the top of the nail bed as well as the shape of the tips, this four-sided file features three different textures as well as an emery board to buff out ridges and add shine. Shape your nails with the file first, then use side “one, remove ridges” (they are labelled) to do just that, followed by “two, smooth nail” to refine further and “three, miracle shine” to buff up a natural shine. We particularly love using this file when we’re giving our nails a break from gels or polish, as it gets nude nails looking their best. {{#hasItems}} Price comparison {{/hasItems}} {{#items}} {{ merchant }} £{{ price }} Buy now {{/items}} {{#hasItems}} {{/hasItems}} Tweezerman neon hot 4-in-1 file, buff, smooth and shine block For a longer-lasting file, this is a clever option. It features four sides with different textures – file, buff, smooth and shine, as well as four replaceable sheets for each. Once one side has lost its grit from use, simply peel it off and replace it. We also found this short block easier to handle than the longer shape of Leighton Denny’s four-sided one, as you can hold it at both ends at once. {{#hasItems}} Price comparison {{/hasItems}} {{#items}} {{ merchant }} £{{ price }} Buy now {{/items}} {{#hasItems}} {{/hasItems}} OPI edge file white 240 grit This is a simple, basic file like those you’ll most commonly see being used in nail salons. It has a fairly harsh grit, so we’d recommend it for normal nails rather than for weak ones (it makes quick work of hardy toe nails too), and it doesn’t leave behind any flakes on the underside of the nail. We love its tapered shape, which gives you more to hold on to at one end, and narrow precision at the other. {{#hasItems}} Price comparison {{/hasItems}} {{#items}} {{ merchant }} £{{ price }} Buy now {{/items}} {{#hasItems}} {{/hasItems}} Jessica professional emery boards for soft nails This is a brilliant choice for those who have weak or soft nail that are prone to breaking and splitting. We often recommend it to older women, or to those whose nails have been damaged by acrylics or other salon finishes. Using an unnecessarily harsh a file on weak nails can cause further splitting and breakage, while a light grit will give the smooth shape you need without damage. There are two in a pack. {{#hasItems}} Price comparison {{/hasItems}} {{#items}} {{ merchant }} £{{ price }} Buy now {{/items}} {{#hasItems}} {{/hasItems}} Nails Inc easy filer nail file If you find holding a long thin board uncomfortable, this ergonomic design is a clever alternative. It’s hollow in the middle, so can grip it against your palm as you would a handle. It has three finishes: file, for shaping, smooth, for buffing out ridges, and, inside the loop, shine, to finish with a natural glow. Using the last of the three is a little tricky; we found it best to hold it flat with one hand and move the nails of the other inside it, rather than moving the file itself. {{#hasItems}} Price comparison {{/hasItems}} {{#items}} {{ merchant }} £{{ price }} Buy now {{/items}} {{#hasItems}} {{/hasItems}}

The Verdict: Nail files Our favourite is Tweezerman’s neon set for its no-fuss, effective finish, bright colours and value for money. If you’re willing to spend a little more for something that will last for years to come, Margaret Dabbs’ crystal file is a very close second.

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