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How To Shape Nails Step By Step

Are you looking to shape your nails? Looking for a step by step guide that will teach you how to do so?

Well you’ve come to the right place

My name’s Jemma and I’ve been a professional nail manicurist for over a decade.

I’ve shaped nails of every size, type, and condition imaginable. Today, I’m here to guide you on the journey of shaping nails with a step-by-step guide.

So grab your nail kit, and let’s get started!

Should You Use a Nail File or Clippers to Shape Nails?

Before we dive into the different nail shapes, let’s address the primary tools of the trade: nail files and clippers.

Both tools have their place in nail care, but when it comes to shaping, I’d always recommend starting with a good quality nail file.

Nail clippers are great for reducing length quickly, but they can often cause small cracks or splits in your nails.

This is especially true if your nails are a bit brittle. In contrast, a nail file allows for a gentler, more precise shaping process.

However, if your nails are extremely long, you may use clippers to trim them down before shaping with a file.

Always remember to clip your nails straight across and avoid rounding the edges to prevent ingrown nails.

The Different Types of Nails Shapes & How To Shape Them

Now, let’s talk about nail shapes.

There’s a myriad of them, each with its own unique style and personality.

Today, we’ll be focusing on three popular shapes: almond, oval, and square.


Almond-shaped nails are sophisticated, yet playful.

They’re characterized by slim sides that meet at a peak, similar to an almond.

To achieve this shape, you need to first file your nails to a point. Start by filing the sides of your nails at a slight angle towards the center, maintaining the length in the process.

Once you’ve got the sides slimmed down, round out the point to soften it. The end result should look like an almond!

Learn more: How To Shape Almond Nails


Oval nails are a classic. They’re timeless, elegant, and perfect for those who prefer a more traditional look.

To shape your nails into an oval, start by gently rounding out the tips of your nails with your file.

The sides of your nails should remain straight, and the tips should be rounded enough to create an oval shape.

This shape works well for longer nails and can make your fingers appear more slender.


Lastly, we have the square shape. It’s modern, bold, and perfect for making a statement.

To create a square nail, you need to ensure the sides of your nails are perfectly straight.

Start by filing the tips of your nails perpendicular to the sides.

Then, file down any rough edges to create a smooth, sharp square. Be careful not to over-file the sides, as this can weaken your nails.

Nail Maintenance: The Key To Beautiful Nails

As we wrap up our shaping journey, let’s not forget about the importance of nail maintenance.

Shaping your nails is just one part of the puzzle, and keeping them healthy and strong is another significant aspect.

Firstly, keep your nails hydrated. Just like your skin, your nails can dry out too.

  • Apply cuticle oil regularly to keep them moisturized. This prevents cracking and peeling and aids in maintaining the shape of your nails for longer.
  • Secondly, maintain a balanced diet. What you eat greatly impacts the health of your nails. Foods rich in biotin, such as eggs, avocados, and salmon, can help strengthen your nails.
  • Next, be gentle. When shaping or caring for your nails, always be gentle to avoid causing any unnecessary damage. Your nails are delicate, and rough handling can lead to splits and breaks.
  • Lastly, give your nails a break. If you frequently use nail polish, allow your nails to rest in between applications. This allows them to breathe and recover from any potential damage caused by the polish or remover.

Remember, beautiful nails are a reflection of good health and care.

As you shape and style your nails, don’t neglect the essential step of maintenance. Your nails will thank you for it!


What file should I use to shape naked nails?

A glass file is ideal for shaping naked nails as it will help prevent breakage and you will have finer control.

What file should I use to shape gel/acrylic nails?

A metal file is ideal for shaping gel/acrylic nails as its rougher edge will help you remove more of the nail faster.