How To Buff Nails The Right Way Every Time

LuxeLuminous is reader supported. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission.

Are you skipping the salon and doing your nails at home? When doing your home manicure, do you skip buffing your nails and go directly into painting them? If so, you’re not alone! Many skip the buffing stage. 

However, that’s not good practice if you want your nails to look their best. Buffing your nails is an important step in giving yourself a manicure. 

Do you know how to buff nails? Many skip the step because they don’t know how to do it properly.

Today, I’m going to teach you how to buff your nails properly. I’ll also discuss a few precautions when buffing your nails so you don’t end up ruining them.


Nail Buffers 101

Nail Buffer

There are many different types of buffers available, with different grits and designs. Those with coarser grit are useful in decreasing the length.

Only use those with coarse grit to remove the length from your nails. For shaping your nails, use a finer grit so that you don’t overly file off your nails. 

Using finer grit will help create a smoother edge that is snag-free.

I definitely recommend getting a buffer box that has multiple sides.

4 Way Shiny Block / 4 Step Buffing Block Shine Nail Buffer
  • Function: 4-Ways sponge buffer blocks,...
  • This nail buffer is made of professional...
  • The buffer block can be used for both...
  • This sanding falls in the category of...
  • This sanding block dimension is 3.5" x...

How To Buff Nails

Nail Buffer Sides

It’s time to learn how to buff nails! All you have to do is to follow these steps:

Step 1: Make Sure Your Nails Are Clean And Dry

The first step is to prepare your nails. Make sure that they are clean and dry. It’s best to shape your nails when they are dry. 

Step 2: Wash Hands In Warm Water

Wash your hands in warm water with mild soap to remove any dust and debris. While the skin is damp, clean around the cuticles as well as under the nails. 

This will help remove any excess debris and dry skin that can be found on the cuticles and under the nails. 

Step 3: Dry Hands And Remove Hangnails

Dry your hands completely, and carefully remove any hangnails you see. File them or clip them as needed.

You don’t want them to accidentally snag on something and irritate your skin. It’s easy for hang nails catch your nail on something and damage your nails, cause a split nail, etc.

Step 4: Prep The Nails

Removing the oils on your nails will help you achieve a high-shine buff result. 

You can remove the oils on your nails using rubbing alcohol, white vinegar, or nail polish remover on them. 

Step 5: Buff The Nails with a Buffer

You can now use a fine grit buffer to gently buff the nail surface. Do it gently because there is no need to over-buff the nails. If you over-buff it, your nails will thin out and you should avoid that. 

Buffers usually have a smooth surface. The smoothest side of the buffer will produce a high shine. If you want to maintain the shine on your nails, be sure to use the smooth side to buff clean dry nails!

Use light pressure to buff out the rough edges. Move in one direction using the smooth side of the buffer.

Here’s a short video showing the proper movements and pressure:

Even if buffers seem like they won’t do anything to your nail surface, they do. So don’t over-buff your nails. By buffing them, you make them smoother so they look shinier and glossier. 

Note: Don’t Confuse a Buffer with an Emery Board

When buffing the nail surface, it is very important to use nail buffers and not to confuse them with an emery board. Emery boards are too rough and too gritty for buffing the nail surface. 

This is an emery board:

Emery Board

Step 6: Use Cuticle Oil Or Lotion

After buffing, you can apply cuticle oil. Massage it on your nails and fingers. These will nourish the nails after the manicure and keep them from getting weak and brittle.

Effect Of A Nail Buffer

Using a nail buffer is something that you should do when you treat yourself to a home manicure. It does several things to your nails such as smoothing out the ridges. 

Snagging is quite annoying because it can ruin your nails. To avoid that, buff your nails so that the edges are smooth.

This will prevent you from breaking your nails or snagging on clothing that you don’t want to ruin. 

Buffing can make the surface of your nails very smooth. This helps make sure that the polish you place over them doesn’t look bumpy or textured. 

Lastly, buffing the nails can make them look shiny. When you want to take a break from using polishes and other nail products, you can still make your natural nails look shiny by buffing them to give them a glossy finish. 

When you want to take a break from using polishes and other nail products, you can still make your natural nails look shiny by buffing them to give them a glossy finish. 

How Often Should You Buff Your Nails?

Buffing the nails should be done once a month. It is best to avoid over-buffing your nails because it can make your nails thinner. 

Though you can definitely go longer if your nails aren’t rough or if you use nail polish over them. When buffing your nails, be gentle because you may overdo it. 

Things To Remember When Buffing Your Nails

Buffers come in different grades or grits. It’s important to know them to get the results you want. Those that are rougher in texture should only be used to shape or smooth the edges of the nails. Those that are smooth are the ones that you should use on the surface of your nails to give your nails that high-shine finish. 

When buffing your nails, you should do it in a single direction only. You should do this gently and slowly. Buffing too vigorously can damage the nails and can cause too much friction. This can be painful to your nails. 

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).