Beauty Q&A: Is a Glass Nail File Better Than a Regular One?

June 03, 2021
Marisa Petrarca
By: Marisa Petrarca | by L'Oréal
hand wearing rings on fingers and nail art on nails

Glass nail files may look luxe, but are they really worth shelling out the extra dollars? People love these nail files for perfecting natural nails, namely because of the way they keep your nails from splitting or peeling, are easy to use and basically last forever (just be extra careful not to drop it). As beauty editors, we double as beauty investigators, so we reached out to nail artist and founder and CEO of Pamper Nail Gallery Vivian Xue for tips on who should be using a glass nail file and whether they’re a worthwhile investment for your manicure.

Can you give us some insight into what a glass nail file is?

Glass nail files are essentially hardened Bohemian glass. The glass surface is processed with a chemical etching to obtain a fine-grain abrasive surface. Blade edges are turned to be less sharp. In contrast, emery files have sharp edges depending on what grit you end up with; and they are also better designed to file coarser things like gel or acrylic. Glass files are designed for a very specific use (i.e. natural nails) whereas emery files come in a range of options, which are more suitable for more professional uses.

What’s the difference in grit between a glass nail file and an emery board?

Understanding differences between grit on traditional emery boards can be difficult. Glass files are designed to be gentler with a finer grit.


How is using a glass nail file different from using an emery board?

You don't have to score the edges to dull them out and they’re more washable and disinfectable than emery files because they’re made of glass. Overall, glass files are best used on only natural nails or on very thin press-ons.

So, what’s the verdict?

Glass files are pricier than a traditional emery file, but I do think they’re worthwhile for personal use. They are aesthetically pleasing, rather safe to store in a purse and don’t wear down quickly like emery files. If you cut your own natural nails at home, it’s a nice file to have as it can double as a buffer.

If you’re sold on adding a glass nail file to your makeup collection, check out the below glass nail file from Nail Tek. It comes in a pretty companion case to keep your file safe and clean from the confines of your messy bag for natural nails that look healthy and smooth. Complete your manicure with a bold shade from Essie’s new summer 2021 polish collection — we’re partial to Juicy Details, a vivid blue.
Glass nail file and Essie nail polish in Juicy Details

Photo: Melissa San Vicente-Landestoy

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