Can You Cut Acrylic Nails?

If you are between manicures and prefer longer styles, acrylic nails can become cumbersome as they grow out between appointments. Sometimes they will even come loose because of how long they are. You may have wondered how to resolve this issue and asked yourself, “Can I cut acrylic nails at home?”


Can You DIY Cut Acrylic Nails?

Yes! If you have ever struggled with your acrylic nails popping off due to their length, trimming them halfway between manicures might be the solution for you.


How to Cut Your Acrylic Nails

There are four ways to cut or shorten acrylic nails.

  • The first way involves a little more elbow grease but only requires one tool you probably have at home: your nail file.
  • The second way requires your nail file and a set of regular nail clippers.
  • The third way is the easiest, but you will need an extra item not usually found in the home.
  • The fourth way is best for slightly more seasoned nail enthusiasts, but can be mastered by anyone with just a little bit of practice.

Difference Between Gel Nails and Acrylic Nails


Nail File Method

Ways to Cut Your Acrylic Nails -Nail File Method

Filing your acrylic nails down shorter with a low grit nail file is the simplest, but most time-consuming, method. The lower the grit number of your nail file, the more textured it will be. Coarse, textured grit is essential for shaving down your acrylic nails. A softer nail file is better suited to natural nails and would not get this job done on acrylic nails.

For this method, all you need to do is start filing away at your nails! Make sure you do this in a ventilated area or outside; there will be lots of debris flying off your nails as you go.

You can either file your nails in the same shape you already have or do so in a different direction. For example, you may want to go from a stiletto (long and pointy) to a coffin (narrow with a straight tip) shape.


Home Nail Clipper Method

Ways to Cut Your Acrylic Nails - Home Nail Clipper Method

For this method, you will need your nail clippers and a coarse nail file. While this method is faster than the Nail File Method, it can cause painful damage and hurt your acrylic nails if done incorrectly. Please make sure you take your time with this method. Patience will save you from having to go back to the salon for a repair.

Using your nail clippers, cut a small incision near each side of the nail. Do not attempt to cut through to the center of the nail. Doing this will shatter your acrylic nail down the middle, which can put painful pressure on your natural nail and damage your acrylics.

With each side cut, you will be able to pop off the piece. You might have some excess in the middle, and that is okay. Just trim that with the nail clipper.

Repeat this process slowly on each nail until you reach your desired length, then file the remaining part.


Acrylic Nail Clipper Method

Ways to Cut Your Acrylic Nails - Acrylic Nail Clipper Method

Using acrylic nail clippers is by far the easiest and fastest method. These clippers are specially designed to fit thick acrylic nails and chop them right off! Nail clippers like this are best for cutting off large amounts of your nails.

Make sure you wear protective eyewear, or at least squint heavily, when using this tool. In the same way that natural nails tend to go flying when using regular nail clippers, acrylic nails do the same. This can be dangerous due to their significant weight and thickness compared to natural nails.

You will still need to file your acrylic nails after clipping. Using the acrylic nail clipper will greatly decrease the amount of time you spend on this step.


Nail Drill Method

Ways to Cut Your Acrylic Nails - Nail Drill Method

These days, you can purchase a professional-grade acrylic nail drill for relatively cheap online. For this method, you will be using an electric drill to file down the length of your acrylic nails.

This method is best for those of you who are a little more practiced or want to only take off a bit of length. Essentially you are doing the Nail File Method but with a little boost.

As a precaution, this method should be done in a protected area to catch all the flying bits of the shaved-off nails. You should wear protective eyewear for this method as well.

How to Know It’s Time to Fill Your Acrylic Nail?


Practice Makes Perfect

As a final note regarding any of the above methods, all of these take practice. Your acrylic nail cutting will not be perfect on your first try. That is okay!

Also, whatever finishes and polishes you may have on your acrylics will not look as pristine as the day you got them with any of these methods. You will be eliminating the nail cap—the gel paint your nail technician puts at the tip of your nail—and exposing the acrylic underneath. You may want to go the extra step and add a new layer of polish in a similar color to disguise this.

The next time your friend asks you, “Can you cut acrylic nails?” you will know exactly what to say.

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