- The emery board nail file should not be used to buff the surface of the nails. They are meant only to shape them from the side.
- The medium grit can be used to smooth ridges and surface irregularities. This can be done before applying nail polish or as a first step before finer buffing.
- The fine-grained buff is used to smooth the nail to a matte surface.
- The finest finishing grit gives the nails a glossy shine.
Traditionally, a buffing cream and chamois skin have been used. Modern instruments are much more efficient and are similar in appearance to a large rubber eraser, with different sides for different levels of coarseness. As buffing is gentle surface abrasion, it should not be performed too strongly or too often or thinning of the nail may result.
In manicure, nail buffing is an alternative to chemical nail polish, and buffing may be more socially comfortable for men.