You may own one yourself or have given one a test spin at a women’s show or local fair – the new crystal nail file. Its sleek, colorful and very chic, but is it worth its $7 price tag and is it really superior to the emery boards we purchase by the dozen?
Emery boards are cardboard with small grains of sand adhered to them and in fact are interchangeable with sandpaper. As you file, the emery board literally tears your nail, that is the nature of how it files.
With emery boards you must file in one direction in order to minimize damage to the nail during the filing process. Sandpaper on a stick aka emery boards, come in different grits so you can file your nail down in length, shape it and then do your best to tame those lethal jagged edges that always form when using an emery board.
Emery boards are rough on your nails but they do get the job done. The coarseness of file you choose to use also depends upon if you have weak, thin, fragile nails or hard, strong hooves.
Unfortunately in doing the job they are designed to do emery boards cause more harm than good to your nails. When using an emery board, you leave the tip of the nail “open” as opposed to being “closed”, just like pores on your face being open or closed. Leaving the nail edge “open” means dirt and water can leech inside the nail itself causing chipping, cracking, peeling and weakening of the nails. Also, the harshness of the grinding action of the sandpaper weakens the nail.
Because of the porous nature of the cardboard, glue and sand, dirt and debris can get imbedded into the file and fungus and bacteria can grow rampantly. Though you might not see it with your eyes, a good micro-biologist and a microscope will enlighten you on your science project on a stick! There is no way to clean, let alone sanitize an emery board and they are so subject to bacteria that you should toss out your emery board after each use. This is the mandated practice per the FDA in professional salons and this bring us to the environmental factor. The emery board scores very low on the “green-o-meter”. The number of trees used to make millions of files and the landfill space taken up by these little 5 inch sticks, is more enormous than you can imagine. At least one entire football stadium can be filled each year with tossed aside emery boards and it takes years for one to fully decompose in the ground.
Metal files fare slightly better than their bacteria on a stick friend, the emery board, but not by much.
Metal files are manufactured in two ways: one, there are actual tiny flakes of metal adhered to a metal or cardboard stick and two, a metal stick is formed and the stick itself is roughened to create the filing surface. In both cases tiny, minuscule bits of metal flake off when filing. While metal is a lot stronger and more durable than sand granules, the metal used to make the files is usually of a lower grade and actually quite soft as far as metals go.
Metal files also grind the nail and leave the nail tip “open” as opposed to “closed”. Due to the nature of the metal bits on the file, dirt and debris can be trapped between the tiny little metal-like “teeth” and can stick to the metal. Metal is non-porous so bacteria growth on the file itself is not likely, however bacteria can grow on the nail debris and any dirt caught in the file itself. You can rinse off a metal file but you need to be careful of rust forming in any cracks and crevices between the “teeth”.
The metal files cannot be sanitized to the FDA’s satisfaction for the ultimate in cleanliness.
On the green-o-meter metal files score slightly higher than their cardboard friend because of the lack of trees used in its production. Metal does off-gas some nasty chemicals during the production process and metal files should be thrown out after several uses since they cannot be efficiently sanitized. They do take a lot longer than emery boards to decompose in landfills.
Your highest quality crystal files are cut from actual crystal and the surface of the crystal is treated in the manufacturing process to roughen it, creating the filing surface.
The crystal nail file is very smooth as it glides over the nail tip. It doesn’t tear the nail like the emery board or metal file, so you can file in both directions and as an added bonus – no more jagged edges! When you file your nails with a crystal file, you’ll notice how smooth the nail tip is.
The crystal file closes the nail tip and actually seals it, preventing water and debris from leaching into your nail. After using a crystal nail file for a period of about one month, users report a noticeable difference in their nails being stronger and they “don’t chip and crack and peel as much”.
Crystal is non-porous and very hygienic. No bacteria or debris can grow on the filing surface, nor get trapped in the roughened surface of the crystal file. The same is true for the crystal pumice file which can be left right in the bathtub without fear of mold, mildew, fungus or bacteria growing in it or on it!
Your better quality crystal nail files are made from recycled crystal. There are some factories that make them from new, large sheets of crystal-glass, but your highest quality crystal factories have found a use for the crystal left over after making vases and stem ware. The crystal is melted down and formed into large sheets. From these sheets, the various sizes of nail files and pumice files are cut.
There are no varying grits of a crystal file, with the exception of the pumice file. The pumice file is made with a coarser surface and can be used for calluses, dry skin, toe nails and artificial nails.
Crystal nail files meet all of the sanitization requirements of the FDA. They can be sanitized in alcohol, under UV light, and baked in an autoclave. Because of their hygienic nature, crystal files are perfect for diabetics – especially the pumice file. You don’t have to worry about cutting yourself while you’re taking care of your feet, the way diabetics do.
Crystal nail files will last years, if not a lifetime. Crystal is naturally very hard when it is found in nature. When crystal is formed in the earth, it has a slow cooling rate therefore the crystal molecules have more time to form strong lattice type formations, which have a tough, sturdy bond. As compared to glass, which cools very quickly and the molecules don’t have time to form the sturdy lattice support system, crystal is the superior material.
The crystal nail file scores high ratings on the green-o-meter because its made from recycled materials and several factories use lead-free, environmentally safe dyes. They last for such a long time that landfills will not be largely impacted by constant consumption such as their cardboard and metal stick friends. One crystal nail file and pumice file could last a person’s entire lifetime!