People are getting ‘COVID nails,’ and one expert says the unusual lines could be as useful as an antibody test to prove previous infection

Horizontal lines across fingernails referred to as ' COVID nails'
So-called ‘COVID nails’

  • A horizontal line across the nail could be a sign of a previous COVID-19.
  • If “COVID nails” were an infection marker it could be as useful as an antibody test, Prof Spector said.
  • The lines can happen on the fingers or toes and are harmless.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Odd-looking nails could be a sign of previous coronavirus infection, a top UK scientist has said.

Horizontal lines across the nail that appear several months after catching coronavirus can happen in both fingers and toes, Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College, told Insider.

Spector, who leads the world’s largest coronavirus symptom study, said that he’d received multiple anecdotal reports of so-called COVID nails from people using the ZOE COVID Symptom Study app, a symptom tracker with more than 4 million users globally.

Spector’s hunch is that this isn’t a random phenomenon as it can happen after other infections too.

The underlying theory is that a stress line forms after the body shuts down for a brief period of time to fight the infection. During this time period nails don’t grow. It also can happen after other stresses like chemotherapy and severe malnutrition.

“It’s like a mark on a tree when an event happened,” Spector explained.

Dr. Tanya Bleiker, president of the British Association of Dermatologists, told HuffPost UK that dermatologists have seen COVID-19 patients with horizontal lines on their nails too.

“These changes have long been recognized as ‘Beau’s lines’ and are transverse indents in the nail of many, or all, fingernails and sometimes toenails,” she said.

Beau’s lines are not harmful themselves and usually grow out after several months.

Red, moon shaped lines across the nail are another coronavirus nail manifestation reported by dermatologists in August.

Read more: How coronavirus variants called ‘escape mutants’ threaten to undo all our progress

A cheap alternative to an antibody test

Spector said that it’s not yet clear whether the nail changes are linked to disease severity for coronavirus. With other infections, the more severe the disease, the more likely you are to have a marker on your nail, he said.

“It may be a marker of severe infection [for COVID-19], but it would be more helpful if it wasn’t,” Spector added.

Spector explained that if nail changes were a marker of previous coronavirus infection then it could help people figure out whether they’ve had COVID-19 before without the need for a test that can be invasive and expensive.

“If we get enough numbers that are associated with asymptomatic COVID-19, that’s a cheap antibody test,” he said. “People just need to look down at their nails.”

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The best nail files in 2021, according to nail artists and nail technicians

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Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • DIY manicures require more than the right nail polish.
  • The right nail file can literally make or break your tips.
  • Professional nail artists and technicians’ favorite nail files include drugstore and high end picks.
Best nail files (Valentino, Sephora, CND, Amazon) 4x3

There’s more to achieving a salon-quality manicure at home than choosing the perfect polish. In fact, the color is only part of the equation: The finished product reflects how you prep and prime your tips, and that includes steps like buffing your cuticles and filing your nails. And similarly to how you might have your favorite nail polish brand, people also have strong opinions regarding nail tools, specifically which nail files are the best nail files.

According to licensed nail professional Patricia Reign, the owner and founder of Traveling Aura mobile spa, having the proper tools to achieve the perfect manicure is key. That includes choosing the right nail file, of which there are many kinds like wooden files, crystal, and glass nail files. There are also metal and electric models, and chunky buffing blocks.

Which kind of nail file you buy will depend on how you intend to use it. For example, glass files are mainly used on natural nails because their natural smoothness “can help prevent splitting, chipping and breaking,” Reign explained, while a 100/180 grit nail file is specifically designed for nail extensions and enhancements. Once you know the look you’re going for, then you can shop for the right tool. We’ve listed a few nail artists preferences below to help narrow down your options.

Here are the best nail files, according to experts, in 2021:

Valentino 100/180 Grit File

Best nail files_Valentino Grit File_Valentino

The Valentino nail file is ideal for shaping enhancements.

Reign told INSIDER she religiously uses Valentino’s nail files as they are great to achieve the perfect, stiletto, square or coffin shaped enhancements. “Their functioning is super easy,” she said, adding that the file also doesn’t hurt clients out of the box, “which tends to happen a lot when using newer files.”

100/180 Grit File (button)
Medicool Pro Power 30K Precision Electric File

Best nail files_Medicool Pro Power 30K Precision Electric File_amazon

Medicool’s electric nail file is a professional tool that requires practice to use.

Medicool’s e-files are an investment, but for seasoned artists with proper training, Reign said this professional tool is at the top of its class for enhancements like acrylics, gels, and fiberglass. “If you’re looking to create the perfect smooth surface for your nail enhancements, Medicool is a great way to achieve this so you can have the perfect surface to apply your nail enamel,” she explained.

Pro Power 30K Precision Electric File (button)
Tammy Taylor Peel N Stick Cutie Files

Best nail files_Tammy Taylor Peel N Stick Cutie File_Amazon

Tammy Taylor’s Peel N Stick nail file is one of the easiest to use.

A nail technician of 15 years, Jenna Bean (aka Nail Trapper) said the Tammy Taylor Disposable 3-in-1 File, Cuticle Pusher- Shaper- Smoother is a “gamer changer” because its unique shape and size make it incredibly easy to use. “[The file] offers to push back cuticles, shape the nail and also smooth your nails for finishing look,” Bean told INSIDER, unlike ordinary nail files that just shape your nails.

Peel N Stick Cutie Files (button)
ORLY Buffer File Duo

Best nail files_Orly File Buffer Duo_Orly

ORLY’s double-duty nail file is great on natural nails and extensions.

Celebrity nail artist Queenie Nguyen told INSIDER she uses ORLY’s nail files every day. “They’re the perfect grid to use on natural nails as well as extensions,” Nguyen said, noting their dual sided design with a file on one side and buffer on the other  makes  them an awesome travel tool. Plus, she added, “the unique shape of the files make it easy to reach all areas around the nails to file.” 

Buffer File Duo (button)
Flowery MyLar PuriFile

Best nail files_Flowery MyLar PuriFile_Sally Beauty

This drugstore option from Flowery is affordable, reusable, and can be disinfected.

Nguyen also mentioned she loves Flowery’s MyLar PuriFile because it’s reusable and disinfectable. “They’re meant to be immersed in disinfectants post use each time or cleaned with soap and water before storing for next use,” Nguyen explained, adding that the grid is also safe to use on natural nails. 

MyLar PuriFile (button)
KISS Power File

Best nail files_Kiss Power File_Amazon

KISS nail files are widely available and reliable.

Celebrity Manicurist and Smith & Cult brand ambassador, Jessica Tong told INSIDER this file from Kiss Nails is her go-to drugstore pick. “You can find it anywhere and it will always get the job done,” she said.

Nail Files Wide Board Grinder (button)
CDN Blizzard Board File 100/180 Grit

Best nail files_CND Blizzard Board File_CND

CND files are salon-quality and work for all different nail types.

For DIY home manicures, Tong recommended CND’s range of files. With 100/180 grit, they’re great for “shaping, buffing or shining,” she explained, and can shorten the length of enhancements and acrylics. Plus, they’re gentle on natural nails. 

Blizzard Board File 100/180 Grit (button)
Deborah Lippmann Smooth Operator Buffer Nail File

Best nail files_Deborah Lippmann Smooth Operator Buffer Nail File_Sephora

Deborah Lippmann’s Smooth Operator Buffer file is incredibly gentle on natural nails.

For healthy, natural nails,  lead nail technician at Chillhouse Molly Romah told INSIDER Deborah Lippmann’s Smooth Operator Buffer Nail File is one of the best. It’s made with an extra gentle custom material to prevent breakage, and the fabric of the buffer smooths the surface of nails plus adds a nice, healthy shine to the finished product.

Smooth Operator Buffer Nail File (button)
Germanikure Glass File

Best nail files_Germanikure Glass File_Amazon

Germanikure’s glass nail file is good for your nails and easy on the environment.

To avoid micro tears on the nail’s free edge, NYC-based celebrity manicurist, Julie Kandalec told INSIDER a glass file, like this option from Germanikure, actually seals it to prevent peeling. Kandalec also loves this file because it’s disinfectable and “never wears down like traditional nail files, so it’s not only better for you and for your nails, it’s better for the earth too.”

Glass File (button)
Erica’s Diamond Hand File

Erica’s Diamond Hand File

This diamond nail file is a great pick for precise shaping. 

Erica’s ATA Diamond Hand File is another favorite of Kandalec because “they outlast 500 paper files and are disinfectable and sterilizable.” They are also made from 100% real diamond, and are thinner than regular nail files, which, she said, allows you to “file with precision, especially under tight corners.”

Diamond Hand File (button)

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