Acrylic Nails

Can you file down acrylic nails

The great thing about acrylic nails is they can last for a few weeks, so you don’t have to get a manicure that often.

But after a while, you’ll notice that they’re longer than you’re comfortable with as they start to snag on your clothes or scratch your skin. So you want to know if there’s a way to shorten them. 

If these were your natural nails, you’d just need to pick up your nail file to solve your problem.

But can you file down acrylic nails at home? Well, you’ll need to read more to find out.

What are acrylic nails made of?

What are acrylic nails made of

If you love getting your nails done, then you’ve probably tried acrylic nails in different shapes and designs. But do you know what they’re made of?

Acrylic nails are a mixture of liquid monomers and powder polymers to form an extension of your natural nails.

To differentiate them from gel extensions, see if your nail tech dips their brush into liquid then into powder to create a thick paste instead of applying a putty-like mixture on your nail.

Also, acrylic nails are only air-dried, so you wouldn’t need to cure them under a UV light to solidify them.

Once they’re dry, acrylics are stronger and more durable than gel nails. So you won’t have to worry about cracking or lifting them while filing and reshaping later.

Can you file acrylic nails after getting them done?

So you’ve had your nails done and are feeling pretty good about it. But when you slide your finger on one nail, you notice there’s an uneven edge. 

Since you want your acrylic nails to be perfect, you wonder how you can fix them.

If your acrylics consist of fillers, then it’s safe to say that filing them can easily fix the issue.

The filler could be uneven on that nail, which your nail tech may have then overlooked when filing.

You can go back into the salon to have them even out. But if you’re already at home, you can also file them yourself.

Don’t be afraid of using a nail file on your freshly manicured talons since they’ll already be dry. 

So a few quick swipes of your nail file can even the edges out. Just make sure not to file too much, or you’ll ruin the nail shape.

Can I file my acrylic nails shorter?

Have you ever picked a longer acrylic nail length than usual just to mix things up but then realized you hated them?

So instead of being stuck with that nail length until your next appointment, did you know that you can actually file them shorter?

Don’t worry; filing your acrylics won’t damage them since they’re pretty sturdy. Just make sure to press down on the middle of your nail bed to ensure the acrylics won’t detach from your nail.

Also, since acrylic nails can last between 1 week to 2 months, your acrylics can become lengthy over time since your natural nails grow. So filing them is just part of maintaining them.

So if you’re not comfortable having longer acrylics between nail appointments, you can file them down to a shorter length.

Can you reshape acrylic nails at home?

Can you reshape acrylic nails at home

Have you picked square-shaped acrylics because they looked gorgeous at the moment but now want oval nails instead?

A great thing about acrylic nails is that you can reshape them anytime you want. Since they’re made of polymers, you don’t have to worry about damaging them.

The trick to reshaping your acrylic nails is using a good-quality nail file, as it can help you reshape your nails quickly. Depending on your skill, you can either use an electric file or a hand file.

Make sure the shape you’re changing your nails into is close to your current shape, so they’ll be easier to file. For example, you can go easily from a square to an oval shape. But going from a stiletto to a square shape is more challenging unless you want to file them down really short.

Also, avoid filing the tops of your nail bed if you want to preserve your nail polish, or else they’ll end up scratched.

I accidentally got my acrylic nails too long

Going to the nail salon and having your nails pampered can be quite a relaxing experience. So we won’t blame you if you fall asleep in the middle of your appointment.

So by the time your nails are ready, you see that they’re longer than you prefer. Yikes.

Long nails are pretty; they’re just not practical for your lifestyle.

Since you don’t have the time to go back to the nail salon to fix your nails, you wonder if there’s anything you can do to shorten them.

As mentioned above, you can file your acrylics down to reduce length. As long as you use proper tools and techniques, you won’t have to worry about ruining them.

How do you file acrylic nails?

You’ve probably seen your nail technician use an electric file on your acrylics to shape and smoothen them. But can you also use them at home?

The answer is, yes, you can. Electric files, or e-files, can file and buff nail extensions faster than hand files.

So if you prefer to wear acrylic nails, you can invest in a good-quality e-file to maintain them at home.

Using the tool will need a bit of practice, especially if you have never used one before. But when you get the hang of it, filing your nails will be a breeze.

To use an e-file, hold the tool vertically to get an even shape. 

Start by filing the sides of your acrylics using the tips of the drill bit. Then move to the top, or free edge, of your nails. As you go along, re-adjust the angle of your e-file depending on the shape that you want.

Remember not to put too much pressure when pressing the drill bit to your acrylics, or you’ll end up with much shorter nails.

Also, lift the bit away from your nails from time to time to avoid building up heat that could damage your nails.

If you want to reshape them, you can also use a marker to draw your desired shape on your nails. That way, you’ll have a guide on where to position the drill bit so the shape will come out even.

How to file acrylic nails without electric file?

How to file acrylic nails without electric file

If the thought of using an electric file on your nails makes you nervous, don’t worry, you can use a hand file.

You’re probably familiar with nail files by now, but did you know that nail files also come in different grits? 

So instead of just picking up any nail file, let’s determine which type works best for filing acrylics.

Remember, the lower the grit, the coarser the nail file will be, so check the label to know if you have the right one.

Since acrylics are harder than your natural nails, they will need a coarser grit. So a 100 grit nail file will smoothen your nails faster than a lower grit.

The shape of the nail file won’t matter as long as you have the correct grit grade.

When using a brand new nail file, remember to score it by rubbing it a couple of times against another nail file. That way, you’ll blunt the surface a little so it wouldn’t cut you if the file touches your skin.

Start by filing the free edge of your acrylic nails. Then move on to the sides in an upward motion away from your fingers. Re-adjust the angle of the nail file according to the shape that you want. Then repeat the steps until you get your desired nail shape and length.

How can I shorten my acrylic nails at home?

If your acrylic nails are now longer than what you’re used to, you can use nail clippers to chop off some length.

It’s faster than filing them down, especially when you want a large chunk of the acrylics off.

But this can also be tricky since acrylic nails don’t bend as your natural nails do.  So you can accidentally cut off more length than you want, be cautious when you do this. 

Also, avoid cutting your natural nails if you don’t want to damage them.

To trim your acrylics, place the side of your nail clippers to the length that you want your acrylics to be. Press the clippers to create a crack on your nails. Avoid placing the clippers on the center of your nail, or you’ll risk splitting them across.

Repeat the step on the other side of your nail until the unwanted length is off.

Once you’re done trimming your acrylics, you can shape and even them out using a hand file.


How to shorten acrylic nails without breaking them?

If you want to go on a safer route to shorten your acrylic nails, you can use an electric file or hand file.

If you prefer an electric file, you’ll need to use a 180 grit sanding band to shorten your nails faster.

To file, turn on the e-file to 15,000 rpm (rotations per minute), making sure the drill bit rotates away from you. Position the e-file vertically on the free edge of your nail and start filing straight across. Repeat until you get to your desired length.


Once you’re satisfied, reshape your acrylics, and you’re done.

But if you want to use a hand file, it will take you longer, but it will still give great results.

So you will need a 100 grit hand file to shorten your acrylics. To start, file the free edge of your nails straight across and repeat until they get to the length you want. 

As you go along, you can also switch to the sides of your acrylics to start shaping them. Once they’re short enough, make sure your nails are all even, and you’re good.

CHECK OUT: How to take off acrylic nails with hot water

Final thoughts

Acrylic nails can be an exciting way of adding length to your nails, but sometimes too much length can get in the way of your day-to-day life.

So filing down your acrylics between your appointments can make your life easier.

You can choose between an electric file or a hand file, but make sure you’ll use a coarse grit to get the best results.

Once you’re satisfied with the length, you can enjoy fabulous nails without the fear of scratching yourself.

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