Nail Files: All the different types and their pros and cons

Nail files are used to file, shape, and smooth fingernails. They are usually made of cardboard with small grains of sand, metal or glass. This blog post will explain the difference between these three types of nail files and why glass nail files are the most beneficial for not only the environment but for your nails.

Emery Board Nail Files

Emery nail files are made from cardboard with small grains of sand. However emery nail files cause the most damage to your nails whilst doing the job they were designed to do. When using an emery nail file, you are leaving the edge of your nail open rather than closed and while you cannot see it, leaving the nail edge opened means that dirt and water can enter inside the nail which causes chipping, cracking, peeling and an overall weakened nail.

The porous nature of cardboard, glue and sand particles also means that dirt and debris can set into the file which can cause fungus and bacteria to grow extremely fast. There's no real way to clean or sanitise an emery nail file even when they claim to be washable and so it is recommended to throw out your nail file after each use or at the very least you should only ever use the same nail file for yourself. This is mandated practice across professional nail salons. Which brings us to the environmental side of things. Did you know that at least one entire football stadium can be filled each year with used emery nail files and takes years to decompose?

Metal Nail Files

Much like emery nail files, metal nail files also leave the edge of your nail open rather than closed. From an environmental perspective, metal files are slightly more friendly than their cardboard counterparts because of the lack of trees used in their production. The downsides however, are that the production process produces off-gas chemicals. Since they cannot be adequately sanitised, it is recommended that they be thrown out after several uses and metal takes a longer than emery boards to decompose in landfills.

Glass Nail Files

Glass nail files are the best performing out of the three because they glide effortless across the edge of the nail and do not tear the nail unlike its emery and metal counterparts.

When filing with a glass nail file, you will notice how smooth the nail edges become. The glass closes the nail tip and seals it, which prevents water and debris from getting into your nail. After using a glass nail file for about a month, many people say that can they feel a noticeable difference in that their nails are stronger and don't chip or crack as easily.

Glass is non-porous and hygienic. No bacteria or debris can grow on the surface or get trapped in the roughened surface. They can be sanitised in alcohol or under UV light.

Environmentally, glass files are great because they will last for years if not a lifetime and because of this, landfills will not be impacted with constant consumption. They are also 100% recyclable.