How To Trim Acrylic Nails At Home Without Breaking Them? 

Why don’t you save some bucks and time by shortening your artificial nails in the comfort of your place? 

In this post, you’ll learn a cost-effective and convenient way how to trim acrylic nails at home:

Trimming acrylic nails involves three stages:  

  1. Cutting them to the desired length
  1. Filing the edges to smooth out any roughness and shaping the nails 
  1. Buffing to get a polished and shiny appearance  

Although I’m a nail technician myself, I would never suggest you make an appointment at the salon just for the sake of cutting or trimming your synthetic nails.

Because you can do it yourself easily with a few simple tools, good guidance, and preventive measures, this is what this post will explain.

How To Trim Your Acrylic Nails Step By Step?

Although getting your acrylic extensions short is quite simple but doing it the wrong way may end up breaking your nails from the middle.

You may also get them misshaped, leading you to refill them. So let’s learn How To Shorten Acrylic Nails Without Breaking Them? 

Tools And Supplies Required

  • Acrylic nail clippers/Nail tip cutters
  • Fine-grit nail file/Buffer
  • Nail brush/clean cloth
  • Nail oil/cuticle oil

Step 1: Prepare The Workplace 

Find a well-lit and comfortable area to work. Place a piece of cloth or towel under your hand to catch nail clippings and dust. 

Also, clean your tools with an alcohol-based solution to sterilize them and ensure hygiene.

Step 2: Assess The Length

Examine your acrylic nails and decide on the desired length you want to get. If you have gotten long acrylic nails accidentally, you may want to decrease their length slightly.

I will also suggest you maintain a length that is manageable and suits your lifestyle or the specific event you’re decorating your nails for.  

Step 3: Begin Cutting Acrylic Nails

Here is how to cut fake nails with nail clippers.

Hold the nail clipper or nail tip cutter parallel to the artificial nail, aligning it with the desired length.

Trim small sections at a time and go from one side of the nail to the other. The best way is to cut the left and right sides first, creating a pointed tip or a V-shaped nail. Then you can cut the tip.

This will prevent your nails from breaking in the middle.

Always be careful and don’t trim too close to your natural nail bed, as it can cause discomfort or damage.

Regularly check the length during the trimming process to avoid over-cutting.

Step 4: Shape The Acrylic Nails

After reducing the length, use a fine-grit nail file or buffer to shape the acrylic nails. I usually use 180 grit size. 

The finer the grit size, the lesser the pressure you will put on your nails, which reduces the risk of breakage. If you’re a beginner, you should start with 240 grit size. 

Prefer to file the edges of each nail, moving in one direction (avoid back-and-forth sawing motion).

You can get any nail shape, including square, oval, round, or almond, based on your requirement.

Also, check for the nails if they are even in length and symmetrical in shape.

Step 5: Smooth Out The Edges 

Use the nail buffer or a fine-grit side of the nail file to smooth out any rough edges or sharp corners.

Lightly buff the edges of the nails and make sure you get a seamless transition from the acrylic to your natural nail.

This step helps prevent snagging or catching on clothing or other objects.

Step 6: Cleanse The Nails

Once you’re done with all the work, you’ll be left with acrylic nails covered by dust.

Take a soft nail brush or utilize a clean cloth to remove all kinds of dust and debris.

Gently brush or wipe away the residue by paying attention to the nail bed and surrounding skin.

Step 7: Moisturize Your Nails

Apply a small amount of nail oil or cuticle oil to the cuticle area and massage it in.

This step helps moisturize and nourish the nails to promote their health and flexibility.

You can repeat this step daily or as needed to maintain nail health. 

How To Trim Press On Nails?

Press-on nails are artificial nails that can be easily applied and taken off without the need for glue or adhesives.

Use a good quality nail clipper that is specifically designed for trimming artificial nails, and try to avoid using regular scissors or clippers, as they may cause the press-on nails to crack or shatter.

Trim the press-on nails gradually and carefully. First, cuts a small amount and then adjust as needed. It is advised to trim them slightly longer initially, as you can always trim them further if needed.

Can You File Down Acrylic Nails At Home?

Yes, you can file acrylic nails at home for shaping and reducing the length of both acrylic and natural nails. 

You can use back-and-forth motions with the nail file to remove the shiny top layer. But don’t be too aggressive, as you don’t want to put pressure on and damage your natural nails.

The filer can also be used for achieving a specific nail shape. Start filing from the edges and move on to the tip to create a smooth contour. 

Can You File Acrylic Nails After Getting Them Done?

Yes, you can definitely utilise a filer to give your new acrylic extensions a definite look or a specific structure after you have put them on. 

It is also very beneficial for a final shiny touch and correcting imperfections. 

Can You Cut Acrylic Nails With Scissors?

Yes, it is possible to cut acrylic nails with scissors, but I will not recommend doing so because acrylic nails are more durable and harder than natural nails, so using a scissor may not provide a clean or precise cut. 

Additionally, there is a risk of causing damage or splitting the acrylic nail if it is not cut properly.


Can I cut my nails with gel on them?

It is not recommended to cut your nails with gel polish on them. Gel polish is cured and hardened under a UV or LED lamp which makes it difficult to cut cleanly without potentially damaging the nail or causing the gel to lift or peel. So it’s the best choice to remove the gel polish before cutting your nails to ensure a safe and precise trimming.

How to cut acrylic nails shorter at home?

In order to cut acrylic nails shorter at home, soak them in warm, soapy water to soften them. Then, use nail clippers or a nail file to gradually trim the length of the acrylic nails. File the edges smoothly to acquire the desired shape. Be careful; don’t file too aggressively to avoid nail damage. Finally, after trimming, apply a moisturiser or cuticle oil to nourish the nails and keep them healthful.

How much does it cost to trim acrylic nails?

On average saying, a basic trim of acrylic nails can cost between $10 to $30. However, prices may be higher at high-end salons or if you go for additional treatments such as reshaping, polishing, or applying a fresh coat of acrylic.

What to do if fake nails are too long?

If your fake nails are too long and you’re not happy with their length, simply cut them with a clipper or nail cutter and then smooth out the imperfect edges by filing or buffing. 

Is it better for fake nails to be bigger or smaller?

Well, I will suggest you keep your fake nails at a length that is easily manageable and does not disturb your daily routine work. Too long nails are prone to breakage as they put more stress on the bed, and they also enhance the chances of lifting.


In a world where self-care and DIY beauty treatments have gained immense popularity, learning how to trim acrylic nails at home is an invaluable skill.

Now, armed with this guide, it’s time to make it practical and take your nail care routine into your own hands. 

Transform your fingertips into works of art while saving time and money. 

Marissa Arnold

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