Wait, Why Aren't You Using a Glass Nail File Already?

·4 min read

From Cosmopolitan

TBH I’ve never really been that picky when it comes to nail files—like, if it’s under $10 and it works, I have zero complaints. It wasn’t until my nail technician suggested I invest in a glass nail file—aka crystal nail files—that I started seriously reconsidering my at-home manicure game. I quickly found out that glass nail files not only sound really effing luxe, but they’re also kinda genius for maintaining your nail health (especially when you compare 'em to the rough emery boards I was using).

So if you feel like it’s time to upgrade your filing routine, I suggest you keep scrolling to find out everything you need to know about crystal nail files—including, yup, the best ones to shop RN.

WTF are glass nail files?

I’ll get your first question out of the way: Nope, crystal nail files aren’t little shards of glass that poke and cut up your fingers as you’re filing (that would be...hell). They’re chemically treated and tempered pieces of glass—meaning the entire piece is heated up until it’s sturdy and smooth—so it feels like a dense piece of plastic rather than a fragile strip of glass in your hands.

Are glass nail files better?

If you’ve ever used an emery nail file, you know they be a little rough on your nails. That’s because the super-gritty texture of the cardboard or plastic can shred, rip, and tear the edges of your nails—even if they look smooth—leaving them susceptible to flakes and cracks later on.

While glass files still have grit, they tend to be much gentler than emery boards, thanks to the fact that they’re—again—firm but smooth versus gritty and flimsy. Basically, the grit on glass files is super finely sanded down, so you’re able to create a clean, smooth, “sealed” edge on your nails rather than a jagged, torn edge, which means less peeling and chipping for your manicure.

What is the best glass nail file?

When it comes to picking out a glass nail file, there isn’t too much criteria to consider. You’ll want to choose a file that feels lightweight and comfortable in your hands—i.e., you should be able to maneuver it fairly easily. Also, looking for a file that’s aesthetically pleasing doesn’t hurt either, since (spoiler) you’re going to have it for the long haul. The four top-rated crystal nail files above are a great place to start.

Do glass nail files dull?

One of the coolest things about crystal nail files is that they don't really dull. Unlike traditional emery boards—which peel, bend, and dull the more you use them—glass nail files can last up to one year if taken care of properly (more on that in a bit). So if you're someone who regularly files and shapes their nails, you should definitely consider switching to a long-lasting glass nail file.

How do you clean a glass nail file?

If you're trying to make your glass nail file last as long as possible (and, uh, why wouldn't you?!), you'll want to wash it with soap and water after each use. If you notice any oils or debris, you can also use a soft sponge or brush to help you out in the cleaning process. Dry off your file with a towel, then store it back in its case when you're done.

Hot tip: Some—but not all!—glass nail files are dishwasher safe, which is great for monthly cleaning or whenever your file feels especially dirty. And by the way, if you’re letting a friend borrow your crystal nail file, just spritz it with a disinfectant before and after you lend it (which, fun fact, is why glass files are a hygienic alternative to the single-use files and buffers you typically find in salons).

How do you use a glass nail file?

If you know how to use a classic nail file, you already know how to use a glass one. The only real difference in technique is that glass nail files can be used in any direction, whereas emery files are supposed to be moved in only one direction (sawing back and forth can lead to that dreaded breaking and peeling). For a quick refresher on how to file your nails like a pro, check out the easy-to-follow tutorial above.

So, should I start using a glass nail file?

At the end of the day, whether you use an emery or a glass file is totally up to you and your nail preferences. That said, if you’re worried about your nail health, you want your manicure to last longer, or you’re looking for a more sustainable option, crystal nail files are definitely the move. The only caveat? It might take you a hot sec to get used to the sound, which, although it doesn’t quite bother me, has been described by friends as “similar to nails on a chalkboard.” Do with that information what you will.

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