Saturday, June 25, 2011

Buff this mother out

Ugh, got a peeling problem?  Let's nip it in the bud ... without sacrificing nail length.

Here is a before shot of the peel. Click to enlarge.  You may not even be able to see this, but this is the best I could do in the evening.  I just couldn't wait till day time to fix it ... ya know how panic mode goes.

Here is a day time shot after buffing out the peel.  As you can see the peel is gone, but the buffing does create a weak area.  Polish will not adhere in this area as well and I will show proof of concept at the end.

Before the how to ...

First a disclaimer: 
Prevention is really key.  Your nails should not be peeling on a regular basis. If they are you need to evaluate either your health or your day to day nail activities.  Consider your moisture routine, filing techniques, do you use your nails as tools or inflict other physical trauma, and are you using the right treatment?

Before you run for the buffing block you should understand some people with very thin nails should just avoid it all together.  Buffing will only make your thin, weak nails worse.   Perhaps it would be best to take down the nail length instead.

As always, you need the right tools for the job. If you are NOT familiar with nail files and their corresponding grit strength you may want to check out ...

A few other less relevant posts, but still helpful:
Taking down nail length
Shaping the free edge - Square
Shaping the free edge - Oval
Shaping the free edge - Squoval
Sealing the Nail Plate 

Now for the tutorial ... in video form! :D
Again ... buffing is not evil.  You just have to evaluate whether your nail is a good candidate and then be gentle.

Files used:
220/320 grit (blue)
400/600 grit (pink)
~320 yellow buffing block
~600/4000 grey/white

Proof of concept.  The buffed area has chipped first (and a very large chip at that !lol)

Revlon - Tropical Temptation

If you want to see more proof like this see my wear test for Sally Hansen Sweet Tulip


  1. Great post and video. I love how incredibly much interesting information you have on your blog!

  2. You rock! :) Thanks for the tutorial, it really helps. I have a peel on my right hand almost grown out but now I'll try to buff this mother out. HAHA

  3. I think the reason why it doesn't hold polish as well is because the nail tends to bend much easier at that point. Good information, though.

  4. @The Nail Buff - That is very nice to hear, thank you so much! :D

    @Ivana - :D LOL

    @Megan Harmeyer - yea I agree. That and also I think that part of the nail surface is not truly smooth. Even though we buff that area smooth, the nail surface is not really uniform. It has peaks and valleys with thick and thin spots, respectively. I think during polishing the valleys do not have polish touching the nail surface. Its more like there is a tiny air bubble there. The valleys have polish/air/nail layers while the peaks have direct polish/nail contact. So then when we do stuff, its much easier for the spots around the air bubble to start lifting. That's my crazy theory. I'm going to work on a graphic to show this :D Thanks!

  5. Great tutorial!!! I have very very thin nails. would it help if i put 2 layers of base coat before i buff it?? and are you sure you're not a full time scientist and part time manicurist??

  6. Great tutorial! I always ended up filing mine down. Will have to try this instead :)

    I tagged you with the Sunshine Award :)

  7. Great tutorial! You are Buffy the Nail Slayer!

  8. nice! my problem is my index finger, its sooo weak it chip every now and then.. argh!! by the way im your new follower you can visit mine :)

  9. Since I stumbled upon your blog, I have learned SO much! You are a godsend for anyone who wears polish on a regular basis, or even just the fabulous ladies who love to keep their nails looking great. Fantastic job as always, Anna!

  10. @Silence is Loud - First, I just want to remind you that I love your nails ;) Second, because you have thin nails maybe you should skip buffing altogether. I wonder if they are thin because the layers peel off (mine used to be like that), hmmm? I would instead find a good treatment or hardener AND moisturize like a crazy girl.

    LOL, I am a manicurist to 1 person, myself. Oh and sometimes my mom. I beg my sister too, I always get rejected though :( I wish I could be your manicurist >.<

    @Anutka - Definitely worth a try at least once or twice. Yay, thank you!! :) <3

    @Olivia - tee hee, where is my Luke Perry?!

    @Neelai - oooo try it! Oh and make sure you don't use that finger to pick at stuff because that could be the cause. If you comment I usually always go and visit :) - :D weeeeee thank you!! *I hug you really tight now!

  11. Okay, I mentally added a word to your title, gratis. xD

    I can't wait to watch this. I can't watch embedded vids, but I just figured out your youtube channel url. Doy. And I wish you could be my manicurist! I would let you be as adventurous as you want. xD

  12. LOL, you dirty dirty girl.

    OH yea maybe I should leave a link. I would be such a tyrant manicurist, throwing moisturizer in your eye if you don't moisturize enough lol

  13. Such a great and informative video I always wondered what the grits #s meant thanks so much! Your my #1 nail care resource I think my nails are in good shape I take healthy nail vitamins and I always use a moisturizing base coat and cuticle oil, but my nails always seem to peel more than buffing can fix, can u recommend a good base coat for peeling or do u have a fav one I would love to know.

  14. Hi! I think if you are moisturizing properly, at least three times a day, then it could be that your nail layers are weak and need hardening. But this assumption is very general and not considering any other factors. If you want to discuss further, email me,

    Otherwise if you want to try hardening, formaldehyde, fluoride, or DMU based hardeners may be able to help you. I have a series on hardeners you can check out.

    I hesitate to say what my personal favorite basecoats/treatments are only because our nail situation is different from mine so what works for me may not for you. So, need to waste your money.

    Email me if you have more questions.

  15. Love your blog! Question though: if the peel is so big that it goes below the quick, I can't cut it any further down. Is it still okay to buff out? and yes, i need to moisturize like crazy but I'm a diaper changing mama right now, so washing hands a ton. :P

    1. I would definitely buff it to try to prevent the peel from further creeping down the nail. Keep the nails short and hopefully with proper moisturizing it will eventually all grow out!

  16. For chronically peeling nails, you might want to check our a failrly new product called Nuvail. Was a mracle for my very thin, peeling nails. There's a youtube video on it.

  17. Toenails that have grown thicker over time likely indicate a fungal infection, also known as onychomycosis. Left untreated, curved toenail symptoms can become painful. Prompt treatment is key to curing the nail fungus.

  18. Toenails that have grown thicker over time likely indicate a fungal infection, also known as onychomycosis. Left untreated, toenail fungus treatment can become painful. Prompt treatment is key to curing the nail fungus.