Over Filing of the natural nail and how to avoid it - Maria Cientanni

April 29, 2023

Over Filing of the natural nail and how to avoid it - Maria Cientanni

Over filing of the natural & how to avoid it.... by Maria Cientanni


If you are worried about ‘allergies’ or your customers getting ‘those’ nails, please read this.
I have attached a picture of the 3 layers of the nail plate to explain how easy it is to over file. One swipe on the nail removes the shine to provide a perfect surface to apply gel polish. The 2nd swipe over the same area is the beginning of removing the layers of the nail surface. The top of the nail plate is the hardest and the more it is filed (during application, re-application & removal) the thinner and softer it becomes to the point of where it becomes skin.

 The 3 ways an allergy can occur is ingestion, inhalation and absorption. When the nail plate turns to skin through over filing and gel polish is still applied, that nail/skin is now absorbing the gel polish. If the ‘nail’ has been really over filed the gel will pass through the nail/skin and enter into the blood stream. The nail/skin will go in to defence mode and try and rid the body of the gel polish as the ingredients in gel polish are not suitable to be placed on the skin for a long period of time. This will take on the look of crustiness under the hyponychium, nail separation (the nail is so thin it detaches from the nail bed) and a pinched/narrowed look when viewed down the barrel (again where it is no longer connected in the middle it loses its shape and strength). The majority of nail separation is mainly on the middle section, the side areas are often not as extreme as the file is held and used differently.


These symptoms will appear from roughly month 4/5 of wearing gel polish if the whole nail surface has been continuously been filed at every appointment. If you look at a nail with an ‘allergy’ you will see 9/10 times the middle section leading to the free edge is the most affected part but leading back to the cuticle area it is okay. This is because the nail in the cuticle area is new and has not had much filing but the older the nail is, the more filing it has had and now it is distressed and trying to save itself.


Good quality pure gel polishes do not need to be removed on every visit so always opt for infilling instead of removing and starting again. By infilling gel polish you are only ever putting the file onto new nail growth only. You have more chance of keeping the nail healthy by infilling.


If you want to remove on every visit, make sure you remove correctly. Don’t get impatient with soaking and then file/scrape the remaining gel off, you will end up filing on the natural nail - no matter what your skill level or experience is. Do not remove the shine from the whole of the nail again, only remove in the regrowth area.


Know your nail files. A 150/100/80 grit file should never be used on the nail surface as they are too coarse and will damage the nail plate very quickly. These files are for the removal or rebalancing of acrylic or hard gel only as the particles are big enough to remove a lot of product very quickly – and also a lot of nail.
A 180/240 grit file can be used on the nail surface provided the gel is only being removed once every few months. During visits you will only use these files on new nail growth. If you need to remove the gel and reapply, again the file is only used on the new nail growth as the rest of the nail has previously been prepared.
A 180/240 white block should be used on gels that are being removed and reapplied on each visit. The removal procedure will be much easier as only the shine is removed and the nail is not etched. Again, good nail polishes do not need the nail surface etched, only the shine removed. Remember, use the block on the new nail growth only.


If you are unsure how much pressure you should apply when using a file/white block on the natural nail, try removing the colour from a brown egg. An eggshell is just slightly thinner than a nail on the pinkie finger and gives an excellent indicator of how far you can go. Once the colour is gone, it’s the equivalent of being on the intermediate section of the nail.



REMEMBER – Gel polish can only be applied on a healthy nail plate. Only the shine needs to be removed, avoid etching the natural nail. If you are not confident in infilling, there are lots of in person training available. If your brand recommends the use of a harsh grit file, ask them if there is an alternative option like a softer file or a primer.


We’re not saying this will cure every issue as there are some people who may become allergic/sensitive to gel polish, but following the above should almost eliminate most issues. 


Maria Cientanni - Owner of Lecente 

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