What Kind of Oil Can I Use to Buff My Nails?

Natural oils can help moisturize nails and enhance shine.

Photo: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Although it's fun to sport polished nails in a rainbow of eye-catching colors, taking an occasional break from polish is actually a good thing. Healthy, glossy and well-manicured fingernails can be attractive, and you don't have to slather on a clear coat of polish to get the look. A buffing block and a few drops of natural oils can amp up the shine and take your nude nails from dull to dazzling.

Details of Dry Nails

Substances that can dry out your nails over time include fingernail polish, nail polish removers, harsh soaps and household cleaners. Formaldehyde-based nail hardeners, although they may appear to improve the condition of your nails at first, can affect them over the long run. Using natural oils to moisturize and protect your nails may be an option for you.


Fingernail buffers -- those nifty little rectangular or pyramid-shaped thingies that feature three or four different levels of abrasiveness -- can help restore the natural shine to your nails. They don't break the bank, either; they can be purchased for around $4. After shaping your nails with the coarsest part, use the next most gritty level to smooth away ridges by stroking gently several times in one direction across the nail plate. The section with the finest grit -- it will feel smoother than the other parts -- is for buffing and shining to a mirror finish. An even fourth section, if there is one, is for additional polishing.


A variety of oils applied post-buff can help bring your nails to a high gleam. Avocado oil, packed with hydrocarbons and monounsaturated fatty acids, is an excellent option for moisturizing and protecting your pretty nails. Rosemary oil -- also no slouch when it comes to adding gloss -- may also work to boost nail health to protect against nasty fungal pathogens, according to Drugs.com. Jojoba oil is credited by Drugs.com with having hydrating effects similar to glycerol. Finally, fingernail-savvy docs -- including Elizabeth Abel, M.D., clinical associate professor of dermatology at Stanford University School of Medicine -- point to petroleum jelly as an option. Although it may seem gross to smear this greasy substance on your nails, Abel says that its emollient qualities allow it to hold valuable moisture around and under your nails.


Even natural oils such as rosemary and avocado can cause dermatitis if you are allergic to them. If the skin around your nails becomes reddened or itchy, discontinue use. Protect the factory finish on your newly buffed nails by wearing gloves when cleaning and washing dishes; letting gasoline, paint or other harsh chemicals touch your nails is taboo, of course. If you start wearing polish again, Mothernature.com says you can minimize nail polish remover's shine-diminishing qualities by mixing in 1/2 teaspoon of castor oil for every ounce of remover. Yale Medical Group adds that it's a good idea in general to lay off the fingernail polish every so often and take a peek at your nails au naturel. A change in their color or appearance that lasts more than a few days calls for a trip to your doctor.

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