Smooth buffer by Flowery
I often am asked about how to prevent peeling nails. What is surprising is how often such damage to the nail is unintentionally self inflicted. The culprit for the most part is improper filing and choice of tools. I am going to share my techniques for sealing the free edge of the nail against damage and selecting proper files.
The most important tool in my apothecary of nail care is the smooth buffer. It's a buffer that feels soft and foam like. It has almost no texture when you rub your fingers across it. Below I am showing an example of a smooth buffer by Flowery. I purchased this buffer in a two pack from Ulta.
The second half reads:
Step 1: Red side, Lightly Buff 10 times
Step 2: White side, buff to shine
You may already have this tool in your cabinet. Most buffing blocks have a smooth side. Those will work just as well. I prefer to have a separate smooth buffer apart from the block. I like working with a tool that handles similarly to a nail file.
The smooth buffer will seal the free edge of the nail after filing. Nails are made up of tiny plates similar to fish scales. Filing will imperceptibly rough up the free edge as length is removed. The plates will loosen and pull back slightly. As they detach, this can result in peeling.
After filing, run the smooth buffer in one direction across the free edge of the nail. I typically repeat this action a couple times to be certain the nail is totally sealed against potential damage. I use the smooth buffer every time I file my nails, which I accomplish weekly. For ladies with longer nails, the smooth buffer can be gently run along each exposed side of the nail. This will help prevent the small cracks that lead to breaks.
As an experiment, touch the free edge of the nail after filing. Use the smooth buffer and compare the feeling. The sealed nail will have a smooth edge like thin plastic.
Black Panther Nail File, Course/Med, 100/180
Above is an example of a nail file with 180 grit. These will be clearly labeled at the beauty supply store. I have no brand loyalty when it comes to files. My main concern is to check the numbers to make sure I am working with 180 grit or higher. This particular file I am picturing has a coarse side of 100 grit and a medium side of 180 grit. I use the medium side. I tend to buy files that read 180/180.
I can also recommend crystal files or glass files for nail maintenance. I bought a salon quality crystal file for my mother as a part of her holiday gift last year. The only reason I don't own a crystal or a glass file is because of my tendency to drop my tools in the sink. I drop my tools often enough that one would think it was done out of enjoyment.
Here is what to avoid: metal files and emery boards. If you have a metal file, please toss it or take up lock picking. Perhaps your emery boards could replace popsicle sticks in a child's craft project. One of the things that I found so surprising when I learned about nail care beyond basic painting was how many products are available and in common use that are not good for nail health.
My mother had used emery boards her whole life. She always has had weak and brittle nails. The crystal file I purchased helped reduce the damage she had and allowed her nails to grow more comfortably. There may be some of you out there who can use metal files and emery boards without complaint and still maintain long nails. We all have our genetic code that shapes our tolerances to products and techniques. These recommendations are for those who need them and are in no way to suggest deviating from a working routine for those who don't.
One thing to remember is that peeling damage travels further down the nail than we can see with the naked eye. If your nails are peeling, It would be good to lightly buff the peeled area and use a little brush on nail glue on the area affected. When I switched my filing habits, it took me a few months to be rid of damage. It's been years since I have experienced any peeling.
There is more to the story about peeling nails regarding diet, which I will gladly go over in a future post. I wrote a little about diet and nail health in the FAQ.
Do any of you out there already use a smooth buffer? I am curious!
I will leave you with the image of a crocus flower greeting the lovely spring weather.
Happy painting, ladies!