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A nail file is a small grooming instrument, usually in a shape of a flat piece of
cardboard, metal or glass, which has grains of various materials and fineness attached
to it, either on one or on both sides of the tool used for gentle shaping, trimming
and/or smoothing out the edges of nails. Nail files are most often used during a
manicure and pedicure, but are also very handy and helpful for quick fixes of rough
or even broken nails on the go.
When you're looking for this seemingly simple instrument the variety and choice
could be a bit overwhelming. Not only do nail files come in every imaginable color,
they are also made of various materials, most common on which are cardboard (emery
boards), metal and even glass, as well as in variation of coarseness and sizes.
To make your choice in picking the nail file that is just right for you below we've
described the main types and materials of the nail files.
View entire selection of various nail files
Size & Coarseness
Metal/Sapphire Nail Files
Glass & Ceramic (Crystal) Nail Files
Care & Cleaning
SIZE & COARSENESS
Nail files of all types come in various sizes and fineness (or coarseness) for different
uses and jobs. Both the size and the coarseness of the board is completely a matter
of choice of the user, however here are some suggestions.
- It is advisable to have files of different coarsenesses to accomplish various tasks
during a manicure or a pedicure.
- Pick the overall size of the file to better accommodate the size of your hands and
fingers and make sure that it is comfortable to hold and use. For quick touch ups
there are small, pocket size nail files that you can carry with you everywhere.
- Nail files sometimes come with a pointed tip that doesn't contain any abrasive grains.
This tip is meant for quick cleaning under the nail. Make sure that this tip is
small, thin and smooth so that you don't damage your nails and do not tear the nail
from the nail bed.
- Depending on what you're trying to accomplish pick the appropriate grain (coarseness)
of the file. If you need to remove a large length of the nail or need to do some
heavy filing on really thick nails start out with a coarser file to quicker complete
the job. If you need to polish or smooth out the nail, or file away a small imperfection
on the nail a finer grain is much better suited for the job.
- No matter how big a job you're planning for your nails make sure to pick a nail
file that is not too rough or harsh.
Emery boards are nail files that are made out of cardboard and covered either with
emery or emery paper. Emery is a very hard rock-like mineral, black or dark gray
in color, which mostly consists of mineral corundum, or an oxide of aluminum, in
combination with other iron based minerals. Its structure makes emery perfect for
use as an abrasive. Very fine, powder grains of emery are applied to the cardboard
or paper and used to gently smooth out the nail edge.
Though these files come with a variety of emery grain fineness, with different coarseness
for various needs and results, emery boards are usually gentler than metal files
and are lighter in weight. Because they are gentler emery boards are more suitable
for the finer filing and will take more time if used to file down longer length
of nails, than metal or glass nail files.
Emery boards are much cheaper than files made out of most other material. Due to
their low cost they could be easily be discarded, which is safer from a sanitary
perspective than metal or glass files that could potentially be used on more than
one person and could transfer infections from person to person. Besides being affordable
emery boards are often conveniently made with various surfaces and coarsenesses
on the same board, or as a set of multiple boards for various purposes.
Samples of Emery Boards and Nail Buffers:
METAL/SAPPHIRE NAIL FILES
As the name suggests metal nail files are made of various metals and their abrasive
grains are made out of mineral corundum, which in its transparent, blue form is
known as the precious gem sapphire. The metal base and the sapphire coating makes
these files the harshest of all types.
Its metal base makes these files more durable than emery boards, and make them last
longer. However, metal files are also often more abrasive and coarse than emery
boards and are more often used for tasks where heavier filing is necessary, for
example very thick nails or quick filing of longer length of nail needs to be done.
Metal nail files are also more bendable than glass or ceramic (or crystal) nail
files and sometimes are easier to use.
Due to their durability metal nail files sometimes come with a pointed tip that
doesn't contain any abrasive grains and is meant for quick clean ups under the nail.
Samples of Metal Nail Files:
CRYSTAL GLASS NAIL FILES
The Crystal Glass files are a relatively new development in the field of nail files. Made out of a micro crystal material that is specially hardened at very high temperatures
to make them durable and produce the extra fine grain of the file. The structure
of the material allows not causing as much damage to the nails as with conventional
files or to open up and tears the pores of the nails. In addition this newly developed
material allows grooming the nails without the need to soften them by holding nails
in the hot water for prolonged period of time, which is a great advantage for pedicures.
Though crystal glass files are more expensive than its metal or emery
counterparts because their surface is finer and smoother than even the fine emery
board they prevent nail peeling and splitting. Glass files are so fine that they
wouldn't be practical to use for large or tough jobs, but rather for really fine,
Samples of Crystal Glass Nail Files:
CARE & CLEANING
Though care and cleaning of your nail file might change depending on the material
you choose, here are some basic tips that should keep any instrument in good shape
as well as keep your nails healthy and prevent infections and diseases.
- Ceramic and metal files made of stainless steel could be washed in water with soap,
but that wouldn't disinfect the instrument sufficiently, and the dirt and bacteria
could still be trapped in the grooves. In addition to washing the file off they
should always be sterilized.
- As stated above nail files should always be sterilized before and after each use
and never shared with others. Instead if you can, use disposable emery boards.
- After several uses the grains on emery boards get filed off, for best results they
should be replaced on regular basis.
- If your metal or glass nail file comes with a cover, put it on whenever the nail
is not in use to prevent from being damaged.
- Nail files shouldn't be dropped, but if your glass (or crystal) nail file falls
or is struck in any other way inspect it very well. Don't use it if the file is
cracked or chipped, you can injure yourself with it.
View entire selection of various nail files