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  • Writer's pictureCancerPal

Benefits of a glass nail file for chemo nails

Chemotherapy treatment can damage nails, leaving them weak, dry and brittle. It's recommended that you keep nails short during treatment to avoid accidently catching or breaking them, but it's also important to treat them gently which is why we recommend using a glass nail file.

What is a glass nail file?

A glass nail file, also known as a crystal nail file is a thermal-tempered, chemically-etched glass that buffs your nails down. This means that 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.

Made with fine particles of glass to create the gritty surface, glass nails are less damaging to natural nails because a glass nail file ‘seals’ the nails as it files, meaning the smooth edge has no cracks which can help to minimise chipping.

Glass nail file vs emery board nail file

The most obvious difference between a glass and emery board nail file is the material itself. A traditional emery board is a paper or cardboard file which sometimes has a thin layer of foam between the two grits (the abrasive paper).

Emery boards are generally cheaper than glass nail files but they aren’t necessarily the safest choice for natural nails, and especially nails that have been weakened or damaged by cancer treatment.

If you've ever used an emery board, you will know they can be a little rough on your nails. That’s because the super-gritty texture of the paper or cardboard 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, because they are firm but smooth versus gritty and flimsy. The grit on glass files is super finely sanded down, giving a finer abrasion which allows the glass nail file to glide over the nail, smoothing out the nail tip as it files..

A glass nail file seals the keratin layers together at the edge of the nail, creating a 'sealed' edge on your nails rather than a jagged, torn edge, which means damaged nails are less likely to peel or chip and also prevents water and debris from leaching into your nail.

When you use a glass nail file you’ll notice how smooth the nail tip is. And even though the texture of glass nail files is finer, they are extremely effective at shaping.

A glass nail file and an emery board also differ in how you can use them. A glass nail file can be used in multiple directions, whereas a traditional emery board should be used by filing in one direction only, but they rarely are, and filing in both directions causes the layers of keratin to shred, leaving the edge thinner and more prone to splitting and breaking.

Another bonus is that glass nail files can be sanitised and sterilised. A glass nail file has a non-porous surface, which means it won't absorb any of the oils and other substances from your nails, unlike emery boards, where the paper can peel up at the edges, meaning that a glass nail file won't get contaminated or stained and will stay clean and hygienic. This is of particular importance if you have open cuts on your hands or feet from damaged nails or skin as you are likely to be at an increased risk of infection whilst undergoing cancer treatment.

And finally, although glass nail files tend to be a more expensive option, they are incredibly durable and will last much longer than an emery board, which is a better for the environment.

How do you care for a glass nail file?

It's recommended that you give your glass nail file a good clean after each use with warm, soapy water. You can also use a scrub brush to remove any nail debris that may be on it.

Gently dry your glass nail file with a clean towel or simply air dry it and then store it back in its case or pouch when you're done.

Sally Hansen nail ambassador, Tracylee also suggests putting your glass nail file in the dishwasher once a month, but remember to keep your glass nail file separate from your metal utensils, as they could break the file. Tracylee says that "The high water temperature removes any build-up on the files and makes them look new."


CancerPal sells glass nail files in our MarketPlace together with a range of carefully researched products to help you care for nails, hands and feet whilst going through cancer treatement.


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