Let's Talk About eFiles

Let's Talk About eFiles

So, of course, we would say this but at The Nail Lab we think electric files are quite harshly tarred in some quarters as dangerous, problematic, more harm than help. We take a look at some of the reasons behind this and fact-check a couple of the myths surrounding eFiles whilst also giving you a quick 101 on what to look for.


The eFile: Friend or Foe?

In our busy salon in Leeds we do occasionally cross paths with an apprehensive client who knows someone who knows someone who went to school with someone who's cousin was cut or hurt by an eFile. So, while I would never suggest this is anything other than true, the cause doesn't need to be the electric file itself.


The first thing we should get off our chest quick is education. eFiles are machinery and do rotate at speeds north of 25,000 RPM and as such, require the users to be thoroughly and properly trained, qualified and insured to use it. Using an electric file correctly is as safe as using one incorrectly is unsafe - the wording may not be there but you get the point!


Modern eFiles are quieter than their predecessors but do still emit a noise, something I've heard reminds some people of a dental drill. Well, that isn't altogether that surprising as the technology behind the two are pretty much the same. In The Nail Lab salon we try and reassure our clients not by word but by sight; a preferred method of doing this is to switch on the eFile and run it along your own skin. We do this to show the customer that even on skin there is no damage and this is due to the quality of the tools and the delicate nature of the tech.... it works a treat!


The Myths

There are two schools of nail techs generally; those who love & use eFiles and those don't. I recently spoke to a tech who doesn't use one and her reason was the expense. Ok, so it's hard to argue that - they aren't the cheapest of tools you'll have at your disposal in a salon,  but when bought correctly, they will certainly be one of the longer lasting. 


“It’s safer to remove gel with acetone instead of an eFile”

In principle, the use of acetone should allow for the product to be soaked off and leave the natural nail beneath in its original condition. The caveat with any method is it can depend heavily on the nail technicians use of the products and indeed, on the product itself. 


An example of the above would be certain products take longer to soak off and as such, means you leave your skin & nails exposed to acetone for longer. Acetone is a harsh chemical liquid (and needs to be to do the job its being tasked with) and as such can have a negative impact on your skin and nail. Over exposure to acetone can dry out the skin surrounding your nail and could even leave the nail itself brittle. Certain dermatology experts even suggest extreme over-exposure could lead to troublesome irritant contact dermatitis. 


This is a long way of saying any method you take can have a negative effect if undertaken without due care & attention, however the use of acetone has inherent risk, regardless of the care taken.


When using an eFile, we never file all the way down to the natural nail. You should leave a thin surface layer before prep and reapplication. In this way, the nail avoids being exposed to harsh chemicals and avoids over-filing whilst, in-fact, growing stronger underneath as it remains protect by the product. Again, it’s just a matter of using the correct technique which comes from undertaking the required level of training.


What to look for in an electric file 

So what to look for isn't something that can be pinned to a single answer or a simple check-list, but you can arm yourself with the right level of knowledge to pick whats right for you!



RPM or revolutions per minute is important for a couple of reasons. First up, the lower RPM eFiles will have a harder time chomping their way through product compared to the faster eFiles. More-over, a more powerful electric file will have the luxury of not being run at capacity all the time. 

Like any piece of machinery, running something at full throttle every use will surely take its toll. Running a machine with a lower RPM will increase the amount of time it spends maxed out - thus increasing the strain you put it under. 



Torque is one that is not spoken about enough. so to jump right in, what is torque? The purely technical definition would be that torque is the rotational equivalent to linear force - in short, torque is the eFiles force, strength, grunt, power!

Why is it important? well, interestingly, the RPM could be rendered relatively inconsequential when coupled with a low torque. This is because the speed at which the drill bit turns when met with friction (like making contact with product) will dramatically drop if it does not have the power to see it through.

If your electric file had a high RPM and low torque, the friction of touching product could even cause juddering which is surely an unsightly, undesirable experience for your clients - especially those who are of a nervous disposition.


Sound & Vibration

Coupling these together isn't to say they are mutually inclusive - they can be separate issues but deserve to be discussed as a pair. 

Sound will very much depend on your individual tolerance levels. All electric files will have a motor, be it brushed, brushless or coreless and as such will emit some noise. Too much noise could be disconcerting for your clients, so keep that in mind. 

Vibration will happen, be it very subtly or more noticeably. The one thing to consider is the vibration could become a real issue if it is strong enough to cause the physical movement of your drill bit. Sudden or strong vibration can easily lead to inaccuracies on your work and cause unsettlement for your clients. 

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