How Do You Shape Your Nails?

How Do You Shape Your Nails?

To shape nails, use a nail file to file each nail into the desired shape. If the nails are very long, trim them down with a nail clipper before filing.

Shaping nails at home is a convenient and affordable alternative to getting a manicure. To shape nails, run through the following steps:

  1. Choose a nail shape.
  2. There are a variety of different nail shapes to choose from. The desired nail shape determines the length of the nail and the filing pattern, so it is important to decide which shape to use in advance. Common shapes include round, oval and square.

  3. Trim nails.
  4. If the nails are longer than the desired shape, use nail clippers to shorten them. A nail file can also work, but it can be very time consuming if there is a lot of length to trim off.

  5. File the nails.
  6. File nails into the desired shape using a nail file. Emery boards, metal files and glass files can all work, but glass files offer more accuracy.


Round nails work well for people who want to keep their nails short. To file nails into a round shape, file down the side walls, then file around the nails working inwards towards the centers.


Oval nails look traditional and suit most nail and finger shapes. To file into an oval shape, file the side walls straight and then file upwards towards the centers to create rounded tips.


Many acrylic nails have a square shape. This shape is very popular, as it tends to be more durable. To file into a square shape, even out the side walls with the file and then file the top edges so that they are flat. To achieve a more conservative version of this look, round off the tops slightly.