BEST NAIL DRILL BITS FOR GEL REMOVAL AND CUTICLE PREP
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Electric filing also known as e-filing is so important for a nail technician to learn. It can all seem so intimidating and scary at first but coming from a nail tech, I can promise you investing in this skill and these tools is SO necessary and helpful on your body, your service times, and your patience!
My name is Katie Masters and I am a nail artist with my own private salon in Santa Monica, CA. I have been doing nails for over 5 years now and I definitely understand all of the confusion behind the e-file drill bit talk.
So I am here to take you through a super simple guide on the bits that I KNOW will help ease your mind and get your gel manicures to be the most top notch you’ve ever seen!
I like to keep things very, VERY simple. I use two bits total per service.
*A note I have for you before you dive in to this easy list- my service list is only natural nail gel manicures with the occasional gel extension repair. This means that I only remove gel color off of my clients.
I do have the occasional client come in with maybe dip powder/acrylic from elsewhere that I need to remove, but these bits I am listing do that trick for you as well!
So if you are looking for good natural nail bits as well as enhancement (gel extensions/acrylic) removal and refining bits, you have come to the right place!
First thing’s first, let’s get into product removal!
✅ REMOVAL BITS:
Let me talk about my removal process:
I am someone who builds up my client’s nails with base gel. And by build up I mean create an apex to add strength and body to my client’s nails. This creates a strong and thicker layer of base gel so when color is added on top everything it gives the nail some body instead of being super flat and weak. Then when they come back for another manicure, I use these next bits to file off all of my client’s gel color.
With all that being said, when I am filing off my clients’ gel color, I am never touching the natural nail again for the most part unless is it completely lifted! So I don’t have to worry about my gel removal bit touching or damaging the natural bare nail. Here is a quick example of my process:
Let’s go over three different removal bits and the pros and cons:
1. This “T-Rex” bit. I know it sounds and looks scary because of the “teeth” but I promise it’s a dream!
- Has options for both left and right handed users
- Great strength and efficiency for removing gel color (with thicker base underneath), hard gel, gel extensions, acrylic, etc. because of the “teeth”
- The “teeth” don’t wear out as fast as other carbide barrel style bits so you get longer use
- Top of the bit is rounded out helping prevent any cutting around the cuticle/ sharp edges
- Not ideal for beginners because you could risk damaging the natural nail
- If you don’t build the base coat underneath with at least a semi hard gel, you might damage the natural nail when filing gel color off
- Thicker and more clunky of a bit so it takes some getting used to around the cuticle area since it’s a little wider
2. This “Flame” bit. Now this is similar to the T-rex but the teeth are a little more compacted inward and it’s a different more thin and tapered shape. I switch between the T-Rex and the Flame often, it really just depends on how far away from my hand it is to reach for in the salon. Truly. I do like this shape slightly more than the T-Rex though!
- Has both left and right handed options
- Great tapered shape for way more refined cuticle area gel removal, you can really evenly file the gel off around the cuticle without risking digging in by accident. One of my favorite drill bit shapes.
- Great strength and efficiency for removing gel color (with thicker base underneath), hard gel, acrylic, etc. because of the “teeth”
- The “teeth” don’t wear out as fast as other style carbide bits so again, longer use
- Top of the bit is rounded to help prevent cutting the client
- If you don’t build the base coat underneath you might risk natural nail damage during removal
- Has slightly smaller “teeth” so sometimes I feel like it might wear out quicker and be a little slower than the T-Rex with a lot of daily removing gel (but that honestly might just be in my head)
3. And finally this “Violet Safety Bit” This one I don’t use as often just because of the shape of it, but I can tell you this is the exact style of bit I used during my whole first year as a nail tech! Here is why:
- Has both left and right handed available
- Amazing for beginners!!! The smooth top is so large and so protective against any cuticle cutting in case you go too far.
- Great for refining the cuticle area of gel extensions and acrylic after application because of the super rounded top and the way more smooth and smaller teeth. (It won't be taking chunks out of your fresh enhancements as opposed to the previous two)
- Much less damaging on the natural nail in case you don’t build the base enough or you accidentally file through.
- Great for removing gel polish.
- These barrels tend to wear out quicker than the flame and the T-Rex for me after a few weeks in the salon (heavy duty use), so get a couple on deck for yourself. You can usually tell when bits wear out by them starting to build up heat on your clients or yourself.
- The barrel shape doesn’t have any tapering shape for when you file in the cuticle area, it does square out a little bit where the teeth end and the rounded top starts, so I find that sometimes I catch myself digging that squareness into the nail leaving an indent on the nail as opposed to the tapered Flame bit that is already adjusted for that. It all depends on what shape you are used to!
- Not good for acrylic removal, best if you use this to removal gel or just for refining!
Now that we got those removal bits out of the way for you to analyze and choose from, the next thing on the list is-
✅ CUTICLE REMOVAL BITS
1. The “Russian Flame” bit I use this bit on every client. I have used this cuticle bit for maybe about 3 or 4 years now. It seriously does all of the work for you and I cannot recommend it enough.
- It’s a diamond bit that is so gentle on the natural nails
- The tapered shape fits so snugly when parallel to the surface of the nail and goes under the dead skin with close to no risk of creating any indents or rings of fire
- It lifts up all of the dead skin on the cuticle so there is never any question on what you need to nip off of the skin because it does all of the work for you
- The sharp point is so great for the most detailed cuticle work especially in those hard to get corners
- You can even use this on the skin around the nail to exfoliate dead skin without cutting or hurting your client
- The sharper point makes you move a little slower because you are more focused on where you are placing it and making sure you’re not going to poke the client, there is no rushing this manicure.
- If you have not pushed the cuticle back properly enough you could risk hurting your client trying to force it with this bit, you have to push the skin back first
- Be careful cleaning it...you might accidentally drop it down the sink drain:(
2. And second the “Russian Nib” cuticle bit. I don’t use this bit nearly as often as the Russian Flame, but when I DO use it is usually when I am in a huge rush or my client needs to get out of there much quicker than usual. Its stubbier and less pointy nature makes your cuticle work go WILDLY quicker than the Russian Flame.
- It’s a diamond bit which again means it’s very gentle on the natural nails
- SO great for beginners!!!
- The more rounded and nubbier tip is so much more gentle than the extreme point of the Flame bit which makes your cuticle work go SO much faster because you aren’t worried about going too far and poking your client. This bit has saved me on super busy days.
- You can use this bit on the actual skin as well to help exfoliate the dead skin with no risk of cutting your client!
- The sort of bulbous and less tapered belly of the bit can dig a little bit more into the nail while you are busy focusing on the cuticles. Takes a little bit more spacial awareness on the way you are angling the bit, because if you let it dig, it’ll indent the nail.
- I tend to find that it’s much harder to really get up in there especially in the hard corners of the cuticle because of the more bulbous belly of the bit holding it back. Take my word with a grain of salt though, I am a really intense perfectionist that definitely needs to chill out most of the time.
- Sometimes if you aren’t able to get into the trickier areas of the cuticles and sidewalls with a thicker bit, your gel application will tell on you and not be as smooth as you want.
NOTE: If you are a DIYer looking for what else you might need for your kit, click here for my easy blog post on all of the gel nail supplies you need for your at home gel kit!
And there you have it!!! Those are the top electric file bits you need for your manicures. I hope the pros and cons list helps you make more educated decisions on this usually overwhelming process!