Tuesday, March 13, 2012

How often is too often: Buffing & Filing

Firstly, I just want to say, NEVER go to Yahoo! Answers in search of nail care tips! Oh man. 

From blogging for a year, I already know that buffing about once a monthish is alright, but I decided to research the topic a little further and I made the mistake of clicking on Yahoo! Answers... I saw everything from things like "let your nails rest between polishing, they discolor because the polish isn't letting oxygen get to them, they need to breathe" to "my nails are weak, but I don't want to use any polish or strengthener, I just buff them all the time to try and help". -.- Oh ignorance truly is bliss.

Anyway, buffing is a nail care technique that involves rubbing lightly against the nail with a buffing board or cream, [that] can make your nails shine and smooth without any uneven ridges in them.1 Also, buffing will increase circulation to the nail bed2, which will promote nail growth.

It can take three to six months for your nails to grow from cuticle to tip. This is why it's important to gently buff your nails only when needed so that the same spot doesn't get buffed too much -- in this case, less is really more .1

I, personally, only buff my nails maybe once every other month. I don't have ridges, so I just use it to remove some of the yellowing that constant polish causes. Buffing too often or too vigorously can thin and weaken your nails. If your nails do not have ridges, or you use a colored nail polish and don't need to shine your nails, you can consider allowing a longer time between buffings.1 Rather than buffing, ridge fillers are a great solution, too, if you'd prefer to just avoid buffing altogether.

When it comes to vigorous buffing, it can cause burning. Obviously this isn't something that you're going to realize afterwards. As you're buffing, you'll feel the pain if you're buffing too harshly; just lighten up. The little battery-operated files with different tips for grinding, filing, buffing, and so on, I've noticed, are good about doing this. I hate those things and highly recommend not using them. The boards you can control the speed of yourself are better and safer, I think. Upon finding better solutions, mine permanently became solely a sculpture sander. =P


On the other hand, filing is pretty self-explanatory. For our purposes here, nobody probably cares to know about how often you should file your nails to keep them super short and all that. As much attention as we hoarders pay to our nails, we know when the time comes to file, based on personal preferences.

The Discovery Health website, though, says to make sure you're using an emery board to smooth edges, not to saw off excess nail growth.1 They say to pull out the clippers first. I, and many other nail bloggers, completely disagree with this. Clippers just promote tearing, cracking, peeling, and splitting.

They do make one good point, though: File in one direction, the direction in which the nail grows, rather than back and forth, to avoid later splitting and peeling.

When it comes to files, I prefer the good ole cardboard & sandpaper ones. Some people swear by glass/crystal files, and I have tried about 4 different ones. They seem to wear out after just a couple of light uses, so I don't think they're worth the price.

I like the huge ones that are about $1-2 at Sally's. They're by a brand called Tropical Shine and are from the "Colossal Collection". To take down nail length, I use the 100/180 grit board #707333 and the 400/600 #707331 (the highest they make) for everything else (including buffing). These things last forever! I've only used maybe 1/8 of one side of each board. I'm not going to need to get new files for a year or better and I've already had them for a while. Plus, a little extra bonus, they have adorable little palm trees on them!! ^.^

All-in-all, don't buff like a maniac, and don't use clippers. We pretty much know these things, but hopefully this could help at least one person somewhere at some time. I spent an entire night researching all of this and didn't learn anything new. I guess it's true, we long-time nail bloggers do tend to know more than the "pros" when it comes to the world of nail care and manicures. No cockiness intended. =P

If you have any other tips and tricks, feel free to share! Buenos días. =)

I only used two sources in assistance for this post, Discovery Health1 and WebMD2.