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What is a Nail Block?

By Felicia Dye
Updated May 21, 2024
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A nail block is a tool used for manicures and pedicures. There are various types. Some are two sided and some are four sided. Some offer the same characteristics on each side while others differ on each side. These tools are generally rather inexpensive and are widely purchased for personal and salon use.

Generally a nail block is a rectangular tool that can be used to care for the fingernails and toenails. The rectangular base is commonly made of some type of foam or plastic. The flat sides are then covered with different types of materials that can be used for a number of nail care purposes.

Every nail block is not covered on all sides. It is common to find those that only have nail care surfaces on two sides. The other two sides may be used for improved grip.

The type of nail care that can be executed with these tools varies depending on the surfaces. Some have either one or all sides that serve as an emery board. This is generally used to even out or shape the tips of a person’s nails.

There may also be one side that is used for smoothing. This is generally a tool for the whole nail bed. It may be able to eliminate ridges in the nails or smooth those that are peeling. When acrylic nails are applied, this surface may help make the acrylic coated nail bed smoother, resulting in a more natural look.

A third side of the nail block may be dedicated to buffing. Using a nail buffer helps eliminate buildup that has occurred from fingernail polish and other things. Buffing removes the top layers and allows for a natural shine. It also helps to further smooth the nails, which can allow nail polish to be applied more effectively.

The fourth side of a nail block may contain a shining surface. This may help improve the natural shininess that resulted from buffing. Sometimes the shining surface is treated with ingredients that help achieve this, such as natural oils. The oils contained on the shining surface may also help strengthen and repair damaged nails.

When a nail block has sides with different tools, these are generally meant to be used in a certain order. For this reason, it is common to find that the sides are numbered. This helps to inform consumers of the best way to utilize such tools.

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Discussion Comments
By SteamLouis — On Feb 14, 2012

@alisha-- I think you need a better one! There are some good ones in cosmetic stores in the mall.

I like nail blocks. If you just want minimum care for your nails, a nail file is fine but I'm never satisfied with that. Only filing my nails leaves the edges uneven and my nails look very dull. But when I file, buff and shine with a nail block, my nails look completely different. And it really does prepare the nails for nail polish like the article said. Polish goes on really smoothly and dries better.

By discographer — On Feb 13, 2012

I have a nail block but I don't use it that often. The only side of the block I've ever used is the filing side which didn't work very well for me at all. I don't know why but the grits on nail blocks are not strong enough to really file nails. The ones I've had until now haven't anyway. I've tried to file my nails with it a couple of times and it took forever.

I personally prefer to just use a nail file since I'm too lazy to use all the sides of the nail block anyway. I have had nail technicians use it on my nails though when I go for nail manicures. Maybe they have really good quality ones because theirs always works well and makes my nails look great. The one I have is not very impressive.

By candyquilt — On Feb 12, 2012

I do my own manicures at home and I use a nail file and buffer block every time. It's especially great for sealing the edges of nails. Sealing the edge means filing the edges of nails with a very fine emery board to smooth it out. What this does is that it prevents the nails from getting stuck on things and minimizes breaks.

The emery board on a nail block is perfect for this because it's usually very fine. I can't use anything too rough on the edges because it will not make them smooth, it will do the opposite. I follow all the steps of the nail block and then finish up by sealing the edges with the fine emery board.

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