How To File Down Acrylic Nails At Home

Acrylic nails can be pulled-off as an understated accessory to instantly enhance your everyday ensemble. They last up to six months and save you from several days of hassle around applying and waiting for your nail-paint to dry off. It is also feasible for everyone who finds it difficult to grow long nails naturally, or are too lazy to maintain it.

In fact, the nile filing process is versatile in terms of design, and can help you keep up with major aesthetic trends like Y2K, cottage-core, pastel or minimalistic.

However, your natural nail growth continues after the insertion of acrylics and at some point, you might feel your nails have grown too long. The design and appearance may also begin to look unflattering. While you can remove the acrylics altogether, filing them down is a much more viable option because it lasts longer and it also saves money since setting up and maintenance is an expensive process.

Here is a detailed procedure on how you can go about filing down your acrylic nails.

How To File Down Acrylic Nails At Home

Assessing The Length

The first step is to observe the nails carefully and evaluate the proportion of natural growth compared to the attached acrylic. Depending on the growth and the desired length, you need to tentatively measure the length of nails you want to let go of. If the portion is minimal you can trim them with a filer retaining the same shape. If it is longer, you can experiment with shapes and make use of both nail clipper and filer. Also check if the distinction between the grown nails and the acrylic one is not too prominent, since it will help with the shaping.

How to File Down Acrylic Nails at Home


Acrylic nails are firm and rough, and hence to perform any alteration to that, it is important to keep the skin around your nails safe. Dry cuticles can make the surface of the nail patchy and even make the acrylic peel off. You can use any regular lotion or hand-cream to moisturise the skin and protect it from any soaring or bruises during the process. It is also important to maintain nail hygiene during the process to prevent any kind of medical complication.


Note that the thickness of the acrylic is high in the middle and its firmness reduces towards the edges. Hence, it is ideal to begin the thinning process from the sides. You can place the clipper little above the desired length and cut it in an inwards manner (towards the middle). You can use toe-nail clippers if the regular ones don’t work out. A motorised nail grinder may also help. After doing the same on both sides, you can begin the shaping process using the filer.

Since acrylic nails are thicker than regular nails, make sure you use the right filer to ensure a seamless trimming process. The grit of the filer will differ depending on how coarse the surface has to be for the process. To begin the regular thinning from edges, a 100 grit filer will be sufficient. For the thicker parts towards the centre, a filer with 180 to 220 will be more adequate.

How to File Down Acrylic Nails at Home


Once the excessive length is toned down, you can shape it in several ways based on your preference. If your cuticles are curvy, you can go for an oval or almond shape, but if they are more crisp and angled, it is better to go for a square or squoval (a combination of square and oval).

Begin filing towards the direction of the nail growth. You can also go back-and-forth from the tip, but there are chances of breakage or messy texture.

If you file the nail straight from the top, you will get a square nail. If you tilt it towards the inner nail and file, you can shape it as a squoval. If you tilt and shorten it even more it turns into an oval, and if you thin it to the extent of a slightly narrow tip, it will be shaped as an almond. Oval and almond can also be differentiated on the basis of length because oval looks better with shorter nails. If you keep edges broad and form a pointy tip, you can get a stiletto shaped nail.

Once the basic shape is created, you can file from the sidewalls for a smoother finishing. A ‘ball bit’ with finer grit would make the process simpler.

Buff around the edges of the nails with a finer grit to lock your desired shape and clean the flaky portions. You can use a ‘safety bit’ for rolling along the surface of the nail and ensuring the cuticles are intact.

Pair the same fingers together (like left and right index finger and so on) to ensure the length is uniform and make any changes if necessary. Once it is settled, you can use sanding bands to polish the thick shaped nails.

How to File Down Acrylic Nails at Home


Remove all the dust and residual flakes carefully to make sure they don’t prick. Thoroughly wash your hands and dry them out. Dab the nails with a shiner and wash it once again. After they are dried up, apply the cuticle oil around the cuticles to ensure zero damage.

Ensure your hands are completely clean before applying polish. Apply a transparent base coat in the beginning to add strength to your nails. Your top coat doesn’t have to be the same shade, you can use some paint from the same colour family. Choose your colour wisely because when it comes to acrylics, the colour of paint may differ from the colour it turns into on the nail’s surface.

If you want an entirely different shade, you can use a non-acetone polish remover to remove the colour altogether. Soaking the nails in a bowl of acetone helps the process as well. You can also get creative with the grown out portions and try a chunky design with two complimentary colours. There are several accessorising elements like glitter, crystal stones and more that can ease the process of unifying the natural growth with the acrylic.

Ensure that the top coat is generously spread till the cuticles for a cleaner finishing. You can use a cotton swab to dab out all the extra paint around the nails. Apply another transparent coat to retain the polish for a longer period of time. Immerse your hand in a bowl of ice water if you want it to dry out faster. You can also use a cool blow dry for the same. This process will help you retain the nails for a few months more.

Filing Acrylic Nails At Home: FAQs

Is it safe to carry out this entire process at home?

If you follow all the steps carefully, there wouldn’t be any form of damage. However, during the process of clipping and filing, if the nail breaks off vertically, or you don’t feel confident performing any step, you should immediately visit a salon or beauty professional to get it fixed. The key is to be comfortable with the instruments and patiently shape them for best results.

Does the same process apply to acrylic nails with gel polish?

Gel polishes are more firm as they help seal and secure the nails from all sides. Since many people choose to apply it due to its enhanced appearance, flexibility of those nails can be an issue. Manually trimming or removing them can be painful in nature and may lead to further damage. It is advisable to get it done professionally in a salon or nail studio. ˘

Will I contract an infection from the texture of nails?

If you sterilise all your instruments such as filer, clipper, or nail buffer properly you won’t be exposed to any kind of infection. You can also add a spoon of alcohol to the water for a deeper cleanse. Applying lemon juice using cotton balls will also help remove any possible bad bacteria. After you have chipped off the undesired growth, you can wash your hands twice or thrice to avoid any risk.

How to avoid any breakage while dealing with acrylic nails?

Acrylic nails are firm but they require constant care and maintenance. Since they are composed of chemicals, avoid soaking them in moisture for a longer period of time as that will further a risk of fungus. Avoid exposing your nails to any brittle surface that might cause scratch or breakage. Keep oiling the cuticles regularly to further prevent the risk.

Will the nails continue to remain smooth after they are filed down?

Yes, the smoothness depends on the coating method and texture of the applied nail paint. It is ideal to use a newer paint as it contains more moisture and avoids overworking the brush. Be precise with the direction and angles while painting and you will be able to retain the similar texture as before. To retain the texture, you can use petroleum jelly, jojoba oil or coconut oil for best results. Soak it in a soft cloth and gently spread it over the nails. They also help strengthen the nails and keep them intact.