How often should I buff my nails?

Girl fingernails being manicured.
Personal Hygiene ­Image Gallery Buffing your nails can give them a smooth shine, but is it possible to buff them too much? See more personal hygiene pictures.
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Your fingernails are a subtle but important part of the impression you leave with others. When you shake a person's hand, borrow a pen or text a friend, for example, someone is probably going to notice your hands and nails. So whether you prefer manicured, polished nails or opt for a more natural look, you might want to consider buffing as part of your nail care routine.

Buffing, a nail care technique that involves rubbing lightly against the nail with a buffing board or cream, can make your nails shine and smooth out any uneven ridges in them. Also, some buffing treatments can provide health benefits to your nails, including stimulating blood circulation for healthy nail growth [source: Cosmetics & Toiletries]. But how often does it need to be done to keep your nails looking their best?


There are a few factors to keep in mind as you're deciding when to buff your fingernails. First off, buffing too often or too vigorously can thin and weaken your nails [source: Bruno]. Therefore, you probably should buff your nails only about once a month. 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.

In addition, the average person's nails grow at a rate of 0.08 to 0.12 inches (2 to 3 millimeters) per month [source: American Academy of Dermatology]. Given this rate, it can take three to six months for your nails to grow from cuticle to tip [source: KidsHealth]. 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 really is more.

To learn more about caring for your nails, click on the links on the next page.


Lots More Information

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

  • American Academy of Dermatology. "Nail Fungus & Nail Health." (Accessed Oct. 4, 2009)
  • Bruno, Karen. "What's New for Your Hands and Nails." WebMD. Aug. 5, 2009. (Accessed Oct. 4, 2009)
  • Cosmetics & Toiletries. "Nail Cosmetics Get in Gear for the Changing Season." Sept. 26, 2006. (Accessed Oct. 4, 2009)
  • Kids Health. "Your Nails." March 2007. (Accessed Oct. 4, 2009)