Featured on the menu at some of our 500+ spas, the file and polish is a shorter version of the full spa manicure or pedicure. This express treatment is great for giving your nails some much-needed TLC. In this guide, we take a look at the meaning of the file and polish and offer some tips on getting the most out of this short and sweet spa treatment.

What is included in a file and polish?

The file and polish can be for the fingernails or for the toenails. Spa packages usually offer the choice of one or the other. The therapist will spend much of the treatment time shaping the fingernails, with the option of ovals or squares, or neatly trimming the toenails.

Once the shaping is complete, you will be asked to select a nail varnish colour. A neutral base coat and a transparent top coat will also be applied. These additional layers will help to protect your nails and seal your chosen colour for durability. If you don’t want a coloured polish, you can simply have a base coat applied or leave the nails natural.

In addition, a gentle moisturiser may be applied to your hands or feet, while the therapist may spend time tidying your cuticles and addressing hangnails.

As with all spa treatments, inclusions can vary. Contact us or your chosen spa ahead of your visit if you have any questions about what the treatment involves.

Manicure vs file and polish: what's the difference?

The treatment time for the file and polish is usually around 15 to 25 minutes, while a spa manicure (or pedicure) can last up to 50 minutes or longer. This is because there are additional stages involved.

The file and polish focusses on simply shaping the nails and applying polish. However, during a manicure or pedicure, your hands or feet are exfoliated and massaged before attention is turned to the nails and cuticles. As such, it is a more pampering and luxurious spa treatment.

Do I need to prep my nails before the treatment?

To get the most out of the file and polish, remove existing polish before you arrive. Otherwise, the therapist will do it, cutting into your allocated treatment time. This is particularly important with the file and polish, given the shorter treatment time. Gel polishes can be particularly difficult to remove, so avoid these in the days and weeks leading up to your spa visit. We also recommend arriving for your appointment promptly and jewellery-free.

File and polish aftercare advice

If you treat your toenails to a file and polish, wear flip flops and keep your feet dry for as long as possible post-treatment to allow applied polishes and top coats to fully harden.

Wearing rubber gloves while cleaning your home or doing the washing up is advised for those with painted fingernails. Contact with certain chemicals and long soaks can cause polishes to peel away or to fade.

You may wish to consider purchasing a bottle of polish from the spa’s shop in the same colour, so you can maintain the look once you have returned home.

Helpful tips

Rummaging around in your bag/purse straight after your treatment will almost certainly dent or chip your newly-applied polish. Keep some loose change, car keys or a cash card in your pocket, so you can pay for your treatment, drive home or buy lunch without ruining your fingernails!

Some spas will not carry out the file and polish on acrylics or other false nails. Always check with your selected spa before finalising your booking 

Don’t worry if you’re a nail biter or your toenails look less than lovely: nail technicians and spa therapists are used to seeing nails in all kinds of conditions and can paint even the shortest of nails!

If you’d like to enjoy a file and polish, selected Pamper Day vouchers feature a 30-minute version of the treatment, as well as some other great inclusions. You can also explore our full range of spa day and spa break packages at venues across the country.

Other articles you may like…

Alexander House spa massage
Lea Marston Poultice
The Greenway Hotel and Spa Back Massage