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How to File Your Nails and Get the Perfect Shape

April 24, 2020

There is no better way to improve the look of your nails than with a good ole’ nail filing session. This beauty tool prevents your nails from splitting and breaking and helps to keep your nails in shape, especially in between salon visits. If you’ve been tempted to try out trendy nail designs at home, learning how to file nails can go a long way in pulling your beauty look together. Don’t know the first thing about filing your nails? There’s no need to fret. Below, we’re sharing a step-by-step tutorial to help you learn how to file nails like a pro right at home! Happy filing!


Before you reach for a nail file, you’ll need to decide on your nail shape. Have your pick from seven of the most common nail shapes below.

1. Almond: Known as one of the most popular nail shapes, you can’t go wrong with almond nails. This shape features long straight sides with a rounded tip, emulating the shape of an almond. While this nail shape is typically paired with acrylic nails, you can also sport this shape on natural nails—as long as they have the right amount of length.

2. Mountain peak: Love the look of pointy nails, but can’t deal with a long set? The mountain peak shape is a happy medium. Featuring a shorter length with angled sides that build to a pointed tip, this shape is a great way to jazz up your nails.

3. Oval: Want to give your nails an elegant and feminine flair? An oval shape will meet your needs. As the name suggests, this nail sports an egg-like shape that gives your nails a bit of length. Of course, you can also opt for a longer oval shape if you desire.

4. Round: If you love to rock a classic look, rounded nails are just the ticket. Flaunting straight sides with slightly curved edges, this option is super easy to shape and an excellent choice for those who like to keep their nails on the shorter side.

5. Stiletto: Similar to the mountain peak shape, stiletto nails take your look to the next level. Offering a chic, spiky nail that is perfect for long-nail lovers, this shape easily turns heads. This look is also pretty common for acrylic nail sets, much more so than natural nails.

6. Square: Ah, square nails! This stylish shape has sharp sides with equally straight corners that are a great match for those who prefer short nails.

7. Squoval: Not a fan of sharply shaped nails? The squoval shape will tickle your fancy. Combining slightly rounded corners with a square shape, this look is a favorite for a good reason.


Now that you have all the fabulous nail shapes to choose from, it’s time to learn how to file nails. Follow our steps below to do just that!


Start by giving your nails a quick trim. This helps to keep your nails nice and even. 


Believe it or not, not all nail files are created equal. Nail files come in various shapes, sizes, and grits to suit your needs. For example, if you’re working with acrylic nails, you’ll need to use a nail file with a coarse or extra coarse grit. If you’re cleaning up your natural nails, a medium grit nail file will be your best choice.


After you select your nail file, it’s time to get to work. Start by filing the tips of your nails in one direction. If you file your nails back and forth, you run the risk of tearing and possibly breaking your nails.

Editor’s note: Working with acrylic nails? You’ll want to file your nails straight up and down on the sides of each nail for a neat appearance. Depending on the shape you desire, you may have to file your nails at an angle, which we’ll go over in the next step.


Want to give your nails a trendy shape? A nail file can save the day! Depending on the shape you desire, take your time to file your nails for a fresh look.

Editor’s note: Keep in mind, if you’re going for a stiletto, mountain peak, or almond shape, you’ll have to file your nail at an angle to get the look. You’ll need to put a little extra work in and round out your nails while filing them for a seamless finish.


Now that your nails have been filed to perfection, it’s time to remove the excess dust. Use a nail brush or fluffy makeup brush to sweep away dust super gently. Voila!

Next up: Congratulations, you finally learned how to file your nails at home like a pro! Ready for your next nail care lesson? Head on over to our article, What to Do When Your Nails Keep Breaking, for all the deets.

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