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When we’re in a rush to fix up our nails before hitting the town, we don’t think much about how we’re using the nail filer. But you could be filing your nails the wrong way, which can cause some nasty damage to your delicate nail beds. Madeline Poole, a professional nail artist and Sally Hansen’s Global Color Ambassador, chatted with about the dos and don’ts of at-home nail filing.

The number one thing you have to remember is that any back-and-forth sawing motion is a big no-no. “I usually liken sawing your nails back and forth to cutting your hair with a dull pair of scissors,” Poole said. This action will make the tips of your nails fray out, rather than give you the clean cut you desire. “This is a gateway for peeling and premature breakage, since the harsh trauma of filing causes weakness,” she insisted.

Moreover, “when you aggressively saw your nails with a file,” you can’t really control the shape you’re trying to get out of your nail, so your fingers end up looking pretty gnarly.

Poole says the right to do it is to file from one side of the nail to the center, in one fluid motion. Lift up the file every time you’re done with one swipe, and start over again at the spot where your skin and nail meet. “By using this technique, you get less of a ragged tip,” Poole said. “Plus, the fluid filing movement is less traumatic to your nail bed.” Whatever you do, don’t take out any pent-up aggression on your pretty nails. They don’t deserve it.

You should be taking care of your nails in between filing and polishing as well by applying a cuticle oil that will moisturize the nail bed. Also, remember that, if you ever see your nail technician going too rough on your nails with the filer, you have every right to speak up and let them it’s not kosher. Your nails need to be protected.