HomeGrooming ToolsThe Comprehensive Guide to Different Types of Nail Files

The Comprehensive Guide to Different Types of Nail Files

Nail files are essential tools in both professional nail salons and personal grooming kits. Yet, the variety of nail files on the market could leave anyone bewildered. According to texture, material and shape, there are different kinds of nail files – each designed for a specific purpose. Read this comprehensive guide to understand the various types of nail files.

Emery Board

Emery boards are the most common type of nail files, made of cardboard or foam with emery paper on both sides. The dual-sided feature provides different grits – one for shaping the nails and the other for smoothing them. However, they are not suitable for brittle nails and don’t last very long as they wear out quickly.

Crystal Glass Files

Also known as crystal files, these are made from hardened crystal glass. Known for their durability and hygiene, crystal glass files are gentle, yet very effective. Their finely etched glass surface is ideal for sensitive and brittle nails. Moreover, they can be cleaned and sterilized easily, which makes them a favorite among salon professionals.

Metal Files

Metal files, usually made from stainless steel, are a long-lasting choice and can be sterilized with ease. Despite their less gentle approach compared to glass or ceramic files, they are perfect for use on acrylic nails or for reducing nail length rapidly. However, they aren’t recommended for use on natural, fragile nails.

Ceramic Files

Ceramic files offer a balance between durability and delicacy. Like glass files, ceramic alternatives are gentle on the nails, reducing the risk of splitting and peeling. They are durable, easy to clean, and less prone to damage compared to emery boards or glass files.

Diamond Deb Files

Diamond Deb nail files have a finely-grit surface commonly used for thick, viral-infected, or fungal nails. They are strong and durable, often preferred by podiatrists.

Electric Nail Files

These versatile tools offer a multitude of filing options depending on the attachment used. Electric nail files are often used in professional nail salons for shaping and refining acrylic nails. However, they require practice and caution to use safely at home, not recommended for use on natural nails without professional supervision.

Choosing the Right Grit

In addition to knowing the types of nail files, it is also important to understand grit numbers. The higher the number, the finer the grit. Coarser grits (80-100) are preferable for acrylic nails, while medium grits (180-240) are universal and work well on natural nails. Fine grits (280-600) are excellent for finishing touches and buffing.


Choosing the right nail file is as essential as having a good nail care routine. By understanding the different types of nail files and their specific uses, you can ensure the health and beauty of your nails. Whether you prefer the common emery board, the durable metal file, the gentle ceramic file, or the versatile electric nail file – your choice should align with your nail type and beauty needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Which nail file is best for weak nails?

For weak or brittle nails, crystal glass or ceramic files are recommended due to their delicate filing action.

2. Can you file nails with a metal file?

Yes, metal nail files can be used, however, they’re more suitable for acrylic nails. Using them on natural, fragile nails might cause splitting or peeling.

3. How often should I replace my nail file?

Disposable emery boards should be replaced after four uses, or when they become dull. Durable files like glass, ceramic, or metal ones can last for years, provided they are cleaned and cared for properly.

4. How do I clean my nail file?

Metal, glass, and ceramic files can be thoroughly cleaned with warm soapy water, then disinfected with rubbing alcohol. Emery boards cannot be cleaned and should be replaced regularly.

5. Can I use an electric file on my natural nails?

Yes, but with caution. Electric files are very powerful and could cause injury if not used properly. It’s best to leave the usage of electric files to professionals, especially if you have natural, thin nails.


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