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Before we get to the good stuff, let’s just clear the air on one key point here. Nail drills are not, we repeat are not for the average, at-home nail doer. For that crowd, a standard file and clipper are more than sufficient. But for expert DIY manicurists, a nail drill can be an invaluable tool.
Essentially an electronic file, they’re key for smoothing and shaping nails on both hands and toes, can be used to buff off calluses and cuticles, and are pretty much a necessity for acrylic manicures. As we said, this is a powerful tool best reserved for the pros, but if you’re really confident in your mani skills, you can go ahead and give one a try. Just please proceed with caution; YouTube is rife with videos of electric filing gone awry, in case you don’t believe us.
When choosing one, it’s a good move to look for products that contain a variety of drill bits and that can work at various speeds—you want options. Don’t forget to clean it after use, just as you would any nail tool, and, as always, follow the directions closely.
Ahead, the best nail drills to power up your nail routine.
This checks all of the nail drill boxes and then some. It comes with five interchangeable attachments—all made of durable, sapphire-coated metal—that can do everything from remove dead cuticles to file acrylic nails. The drill also has a built-in LED light so you can see exactly what you’re doing, and two speed settings that work well on both natural and acrylic nails alike. At this price point, you’re getting plenty of bang for your buck, and we also appreciate that it comes housed in a convenient case and with a two-year warranty.
Some nail drills can be a bit bulky, but not this streamlined option. The pen-like shape is easy to take or store anywhere; it’s slightly over five inches long and weighs only a little more than two ounces. Still, you get all the benefits you’d get from a much larger machine. Namely, 11 different drill bits of all shapes, and adjustable speed settings that let you go from 0 to 20,000 RPMs. You can even change the rotating direction of the drill bit, making it easy to use on different hands.
When acrylics are involved, you’re going to want a little bit of a more intense machine. This one has an adjustable speed that can go up to 30,000 RPMs, higher than the 20,000 max many other machines offer. It’s choice for not only filing and shaping acrylic nails but also removing them. Plus, it has a foot pedal function and also emits very little heat, noise, and vibrations.
This particular drill rotates at 9,500 RPM, fast enough to be effective, but slow enough to help minimize the risk of damage, an essential feature for electric file newbies. Small and battery-operated, it comes with five different attachments, and even has a built-in mini UV light to speed up dry time after you polish your now perfectly-filed nails. Bonus points for the sleek and streamlined design.
This may be among the pricier picks the bunch, but it’s also the only one with the distinction of having drill bits that oscillate rather than spin. Why does that matter? The back and forth movement causes less friction, minimizing both heat and the potential for damage to your nails or skin. Use the four interchangeable discs to shape, smooth, buff, and shine your tips.
If you’re using an electric file on natural nails, it’s more important than ever to be careful, take things slow, and use the appropriate tool for the job. Enter this drill, which has six different speed settings ranging from 3,000 to 12,000 RPM; while that may be a bit too slow to tackle acrylics, it’s ideal for use on natural nails. There are also nine detachable tips and three built-in LED lights.
While this is a little bulkier than the pen-shaped drills, it offers significantly more power, up to 30,000 RPMs. Yet it’s still small and lightweight enough to carry around if needed and has two to four hours of battery life when fully charged. The handpiece works quietly and smoothly, with minimal vibrations, and the base also has a unique speed display that lets you see exactly how fast the drill is rotating.