Nail files and buffers are essential nail care tools that shape and smoothen the nails during manicures and pedicures.It is important to keep nails clean and neat because they tend to hide dirt and germs that could cause infections to the skin in the hands and feet. Additionally, nail grooming helps prevent nail damage like chipping, dry cuticles, and painful hangnails.

While a regular mani-pedi at the salon is ideal, it can be costly. Fortunately, you can replicate the experience at home by doing it yourself and save your quids in the process. There are a variety of nail files and buffers out there, but this short guide will tell you all you need to know about these tools.

The Different Types of Nail Files

proper use of nail file One of the biggest concerns of DIY manicures and pedicures is nail splitting. Improperly using nail files by using a sawing action will cause nails to split. The proper way to file is to use it in the direction of the arrows.

Emery Boards

An emery board is one of the most recognizable types of nail files. They are made from layers of cardboard paper and come in different grits. Sometimes they have numbers on them. Just remember that the higher the number, the smoother the file.

Very coarse files can be harsh, but they are suitable for acrylic false nails. Medium files can be used on thicker natural nails like the thumb or toenails. Fine files are great for shaping and smoothing natural nails. And lastly, the superfine files are great for smoothing out ridges and bumps.

One of the biggest drawbacks of emery boards is that they cannot be washed or kept sterile. Over time, they will lose their firmness and fray at the edges.

Metal Nail Files

As a natural nail expert, I steer clear of metal nail files because they are shred and split most natural nails too easily. They can be used for artificial nails like acrylics or natural nails that have been painted with gel polish. Like emery boards, these also wear out over time.

Glass Nail Files

glass nail files

Sometimes called crystal files, glass nail files are the gentlest on natural nails as it files without ripping or tearing than the previous file types mentioned above. They don’t wear out which means that it can be used for a very long time. Additionally, they are the most hygienic of the bunch because they can be sterilized with rubbing alcohol or peroxide.

However, not all glass nail files are created equal. Some are thin and will shatter if dropped. Our very own Fresh Therapies Glass Nail File is made with exceptional quality and kept in an eco-friendly wooden case for protection and ease of carrying.

About Nail Buffers

Some people don’t like to wear polish, and this is where nail buffers come in. These tools are great for polishing nails to give them a natural healthy shine. They can also be used to smoothen the fine ridges of the nails. Some nail buffers come in the shape of an emery board or as a block and sometimes, the sides are named or numbered to guide users on which order to use them in.

nail filing - using nail buffers
Generally, the order of using both files and tools are file, smooth, buff, and shine. Some may prefer to buff first, then smooth, but it does not make that much difference.

How to Use a Nail Buffer

When you have achieved the desired shape of the nails using a file, use the ‘smooth’ part of the buffer and work your way around the nail starting from top to bottom in an X movement. Go from the top right towards the bottom left, top left to bottom right, and top centre to bottom centre. Repeat the same action with each section of the block.

using a nail buff

DO NOT use in a sawing motion.
You should only do about four strokes per section. Be careful to not overwork the nail as it may become weak and thin, and therefore nail buffing should only be done once a month.

The Benefits of Buffing Your Nails

When done right and gently, nail buffing has a lot of benefits. Some of them are:

  • Increased blood flow to the nail bed encourages nail growth and strength
  • Smoother surface for better nail polish application
  • Leaves an attractive shine to the nails
  • Removes surface stains

Keep Your Tools Sanitized and Neat

Once you have discovered the joys of at-home nail care, it is advised to keep essential tools like the nail files and buffers clean and sanitized after use. Like any other personal item, do not share your tools with others because it could potentially put you at risk for serious skin and health problems.

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