I believe that electric nail files have a place in the nail industry when they are properly used. However, just because you can buy an electric file, doesn’t mean you know how to use it correctly and safely. To do so requires knowledge, practice, and skill which doesn’t come with the purchase of a new electric nail file. A lack of these three things often leads to using e-files in an unsafe manner and may result in serious nail damage and/or injury. For this reason, I don’t recommend their use on the natural nail. I realize that some possess a great degree of skill and claim to never over-thin the nail plate. They are far from the norm and their use is potentially risky for the client’s natural nail plates. Overfiling the natural nail is one of the biggest problems facing the nail industry.
Overfiling the nail plate is already too easy with a manual file. The risks of nail plate damage greatly increase when electric files are used. The reason for filing the nail plate isn’t to remove multiple layers. Instead, it is to increase the surface area so that the nail coating has more to grab and hold on to in order to increase adhesion. Increasing the surface area of the top few layers will provide the same adhesion benefits as stripping away ten layers. So, if the adhesion levels are the same, why strip away ten layers of the natural nail? There is no reason for doing this, other than a lack of knowledge and/or lack of attention.
This misguided practice is a leftover from the early days in the nail industry when many incorrect practices were taught, still exist today, and are continued by some nail educators. To use any nail file safely requires knowledge, practice, and skill. It also requires care and attention to the client’s nails.
Because of the potential for nail plate damage, my recommendation is to NEVER use it on a client until after the nail professional gets training from another nail professional who possesses the necessary knowledge and skill. In short, if used carefully and properly, electric nail files can be used safely. However, they can create serious injury and significant damage when improperly used. Therefore, they should be avoided unless the nail professional obtains specialized training in correct use.