There’s no harm in buffing your nails as long as you don’t overdo it. It’s possible to make them so shiny that others will think you’re wearing polish.
It’s also essential to file and buff your nails for a manicure. Buffing provides traction for polish or glue if you wear artificial nails.
But which is the best nail buffer? How do you know which grit you need?
It all depends on why you’re buffing your nails and what their condition is.
How to buff your nails, according to the experts
There’s not much of a difference between nail files and nail buffers. Typically, files are flat, and buffers are blocks. But it doesn’t mean you can’t use one in place of the other, depending on the purpose.
If you are preparing to apply polish, artificial nails, or extensions, you need to remove your natural nails’ shine (1).
It’s convenient to use a nail file to shape the natural nail first. Slide the file from the corner of the nail out to the middle. Maintain this action, moving in only one direction, until you achieve the shape you desire. Please don’t file back-and-forth as that can weaken the nail.
After shaping, use the gritty side of the nail buffer to rough up the surface. Make a few gentle strokes in one direction, then create an X-shape by coming from the other side. Use gentle motions to avoid thinning your nail too much. Even if there are still some ridges or rough spots, the polish will help smooth the surface.
That’s as far as you need to go before applying polish or artificial nails.
But if you wish to make your nails glossy without polish, wipe off the dust with a dry cloth. Now, continue with the fine grit side of the buffer. Use a few more unidirectional strokes to smooth the nails further.
Finally, hold the smooth side against the surface and move it in small circular motions. A new buffer should make the nails glossy quickly. Add cuticle oil, and you’re done. The plant oils and vitamins will strengthen the nails.
Your nails will stay shiny for days afterward. Plus, you can touch up the shine once a week (or more frequently if you use only the smooth side of the buffer).
Which kind of nail buffer is best?
We’re fans of the block buffers with different grits on different sides. But there’s no problem using nail files as long as they aren’t too abrasive or gritty.
It’s crucial to protect the nails by avoiding harsh abrasives. Never use a nail buffer that’s coarser than 180-grit on the surface of the nail (2). (The smaller the number, the rougher and grittier the file).
Next, 240-grit is suitable for the smoothing stage. Just be sure to remove the dust before switching to the more refined texture.
You might also enjoy using a chamois buffer with buffing cream. This adds extra gloss and helps protect the nail.
Best Nail Buffer in 2022
Soft N’ Style 4-Way Shiny Block
When we say “nail buffer,” it’s likely that you’ll imagine something like this product. It’s a foam block with a different texture on each side.
This one is appropriate for artificial and natural nails. The coarsest side can file and shape the tips. Next, the second side removes ridges.
The third side erases stains and smooths the surface. Lastly, the fourth side polishes to a high shine.
Revlon Beauty Tools Shape ‘N Buff Nail Buffer
Revlon’s nail buffer is compact all-in-one tool. The black coarse side is ideal for shaping the nail tip, while the white side smooths ridges.
But this isn’t a two-trick pony. Look at the edges of the buffer, and you’ll see there are two more options—one buffs, and the other polishes the surface. Buffing removes stains, and polishing leaves the nail gleaming.
Reviewers say it leaves their fingers looking like they have clear nail polish on them.
The only downside is that this is a disposable product. After a certain number of uses, it won’t perform as well as it did when it was new—plan on replacing it after approximately twenty manicures.
Teenitor Gel Nail File Set
Here’s the best nail buffer for gel nails. Actually, it’s excellent for any manicure type as comes with a versatile set of nail files.
Moreover, they are washable, which means you can sanitize them to prevent transferring fungal infections and bacteria.
The kit comes with sturdy double-sided files with a variety of textures.
For example, there is a silver-colored file with 150-grit that quickly sands long nails. Follow that with the silver 180-grit file to grind the edges. Both of these are helpfully marked “Edge.”
The FLEX files, meanwhile, are for the nail surface. They are thicker and labeled with the grit number, like 200/280, 100/180, and 1000/4000. The first two can remove bubbles from the polish before the next coat or prep for gluing extensions. The latter is excellent for making the nails glisten without any polish at all.
Makartt Fine Nail Buffer Block 10PCS
Are you addicted to shiny nails? Would you buff them every day if you could? Then this is the best nail buffer for you.
This pack of ten dual-sided files will smooth and shine the surface of the nails. One side is 400-grit for buffing, and the other is 6000-grit for a mirror-gloss finish.
Keep in mind these aren’t ideal for shaping nails. Instead, they are gentle enough for frequently touching up your manicure.
DR. MODE Professional Manicure Glass Nail Shiner
Glass nail buffers are washable and durable. They can be reused many times and are safe for the nail surface. They are also an eco-friendly solution.
The nano glass only takes 30 seconds to shine up the nails and smooth the edges.
The dark-colored file has a coarser texture, while the light-colored one has a fine grit.
Reviewers say the glass files outlast other products they’ve tried. They work surprisingly fast and don’t fall apart like typical emery boards.
Onsen Secret Professional Nail Buffer
One of the best nail buffers for ridges comes from Japan. Although it has four sides, it only offers three steps. That’s because there are two white sides for shining up the nail. Since that’s the part that wears out first on nail buffers, it’s a smart design.
As the manufacturer points out, buffing your nails is good for them. It cleans the surface, removing leftover chemicals and improving circulation. Moreover, the file features minerals from Japanese hot springs to heal the nails.
Each time you buff your nails with this product, the effects should last up to 10 days. Be sure to seal in moisture and nutrients by finishing with a cuticle conditioner.
BTYMS 7-Way Nail File and Buffer Blocks
When they call this a “seven-way” buffer block, that’s incorrect. It’s a collection of four two-sided nail files with a variety of textures. Each step in the process is clearly labeled and numbered, and each part of the file is color-coded, too.
There’s coarse and medium for shaping and refining. Then, there are options for conditioning, smoothing, buffing, and polishing.
But wait, you’ve noticed that there are four files. Therefore there should be eight textures. What they’ve done instead is duplicate the polishing step on two different files. That’s handy as it’s the part that wears out the fastest.
All of the files are washable and reusable.
Tropical Shine Mini 4-Way Nail Buffer Block
This is the essential nail buffer block with all the bases covered. One side is filing and shaping, the next for removing ridges, the third for smoothing the surface, and the fourth for creating a glossy shine.
The advantage of this block is that it has a cuticle protection edge so that you don’t give yourself hang nails.
The biggest complaint we heard is that it’s hard to buff short or little nails with this size of block.
Tachibelle 4-Way Super Shine Buffing Block
Fans of K-beauty are already aware of this product. It’s a salon-quality buffer block made in Korea.
Yes, there are four sides, but only three steps. The first step for shaping the nails is available on two sides, not just one. Since that’s the grit that gets the most use, it’s a genius design.
If you follow the manufacturer’s instructions, you can finish each fingernail in only 20 seconds.
Biutee Nail Files Buffer 10pcs Set
The serious manicurist will appreciate this set with all the nail files and buffers needed for manicures and pedicures.
First, there are five black coarse files. One side is 100-grit, and the other is 180-grit. They are tough enough to shape artificial nails and extensions, not just natural nails.
Next, there are five colorful buffer blocks. Three of the blocks have just one texture each. They are coarse enough to be useful for removing the shine of gel polish prior to soaking in acetone.
The other two are four-sided buffers for filing, smoothing, and polishing.
The downside is that this set is not the best for brittle, weak, or thin natural nails.
Tweezerman Neon Hot 4-in-1 File, Smooth & Shine Block
This brand makes useful products like this renewable buffer block. It comes with an extra set of stick-on pads. That’s excellent as it’s less garbage for the landfill.
The four pads include file, buff, smooth, and shine functions. As your buffer block wears out, you can peel off and replace each part.
Furthermore, the neon colors are quite cheerful. It will be hard to lose this buffer block in your bag.
Keiby Citom Nail Files and Buffers
Someone finally realized that buffing curved nails with rectangular blocks is awkward. These nail files are curved ergonomically instead.
The shape of the foam block follows the curve of the nail to make polishing quicker and more efficient.
There are four steps available: shaping, grinding, smoothing, and polishing.
Malva Belle Best Crystal Glass Nail File
We bet you’ve never seen a glass nail file this elegant. It comes with a protective case, too. Choose from light pink, pastel green, and lilac colors.
What’s more, these files aren’t just washable. They are dishwasher-safe. So yes, you could reuse them in the salon as you can sanitize them for sure.
They are made to last hundreds of times longer than a regular emery board. Plus, they come with a lifetime guarantee and the promise of a full refund if you’re not satisfied with their performance.
Winning Nails Chamois Buffer & Buffing Cream
The best nail buffer cream comes in a set with a chamois nail buffer. Besides polishing the nail with the cream, you can use it to soften and push back cuticles for removal.
The chamois is an ultra-gentle abrasive that puts an extreme shine on your natural nails, artificial nails, or extensions. It’s mounted on a handle for convenience.
Fancii Professional Electric Complete Portable Nail Drill System
How about the best electric nail buffer? Here’s one that comes with a UV lamp for curing polish.
It has five attachments that remove calluses and trim cuticles. It also serves as a nail drill and an electric nail file.
The attachments are a standard size common to this type of tool. (They are rotary tool tips). They include a grinder with coarse grit for shaping the nails and a grinder for smoothing the edges. There’s also a felt pad for polishing the surface of the nails to a glossy finish.
The tool is cordless, and it runs on three AAA batteries, so it’s perfect for travel. It comes with an 18-month warranty.
Some say that the best nail buffer is the one you actually use. But it’s vital to incorporate all the essential textures in your tool kit. You’ll need to shape, grind, smooth, and polish.
There are many options available, whether you prefer chunky buffer blocks, dual-sided files, a chamois buffer, or an electric nail file. But for the basic home manicure, a four-sided block is generally ideal.
If you take the time to regularly buff your nails, they will be easier to maintain and polish. You won’t have to deal with ridges and stains the next time you want your nails to look healthy and perfect.
1 https://www.wikihow.com/Buff-Your-Nails by Marta Nagorska, published May 27, 2020, accessed November 23, 2020
2 https://www.nailpro.com/technique/article/21156435/5-steps-for-high-shine-nails published June 26, 2014, accessed November 23, 2020