What Are Ways to Shorten Acrylic Nails at Home?

You don't have to wait til your next nail appointment to shorten your acrylics.

Photo: Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images

As just about any young, hot, fresh and popping female will tell you, details are everything. If you’re walking around with chipped, half-painted nails, that’s a problem. Enter acrylics, which give you even, manicured, long-wearing nails. However, when your nails grow, so do the acrylic tips. Trim them down some until you’re ready to go back to your nail lady for proper maintenance.


One way to shorten your acrylic nails is with a large toe clipper. But since the acrylic is so thick, you have to take your time with it. Don’t clamp down on a large chump and clip it like you would your toenail because that could cause the rest of the acrylic nail to crack. Clip it off little by little until you get it to the length you want. You could also use a cuticle cutter to clip off the acrylic.

Electric Filers

Your nail lady doesn’t have a monopoly on electric filers. They sell these at some beauty-supply shops. The electric filer has different cartridges, ranging from fine to coarse, that shave down acrylic nails in no time flat. Start off with a coarse attachment, flip the switch and drag it back and forth slowly along the tip of your acrylic nail. When you get your desired length, go back over the nail a few times with the finer attachment to smooth it out.

Manual Filing

If you’re too cheap, er, frugal to buy an electric filer, you might have to use some good old-fashioned elbow grease to shorten your acrylic nails. You need a strong, sturdy metal nail file for this job. File it just as you would your own nails with just a bit more pressure. But put on a movie and relax first, because this might take awhile.


Acrylic nails look nice for a time, but they aren’t so nice to your nails. The thick, acrylic paste that your nail lady paints onto your nail bed contains chemicals like formaldehyde that weaken your own nails and can turn them yellow. The removal process for acrylic nails often weakens the nail underneath. Acrylic nails also sometimes get infected. Talk to your nail lady about your concerns so that she can prep your nails properly before putting them on and also take extra care when removing them.

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