How to Shape Your Nails Square: Filing and Styling Tips

If you’ve been dreaming of a more chic, modern nail shape, it’s the perfect time to learn how to shape square nails.

Instead of softly rounded edges like the oval and squoval, square nails feature sharp corners and a flat tip that works best with short or mid-length nails.

Despite their dramatic shape, square nails are incredibly versatile. They can be dressed up for an event or down for everyday wear, depending on your choice of polish.

It’s also one of the most uncomplicated shapes to recreate at home because you don’t have to file rounded edges, making it an excellent option for those who are just starting to do their own manicuring.


Are Square Nails the Right Choice for You?

choosing nail shape for you

Square nails are best for those who prefer to keep their nails short but still want them well-manicured and shaped. Unlike the elongated oval and almond nail shape, square nails have blunt edges.

Because of this, they tend to add width and make the fingers appear shorter. That’s why they look most flattering on long, thin fingers and narrow nail beds.


How to Shape Square Nails

It won’t take long to master how to shape square nails. With a bit of practice, your nails will always look fresh from the salon without ever leaving the comfort of home.

Tools of the Trade:

  • Nail clippers
  • 240 grit glass or paper file
  • Buffing block with multiple grits: 400+ for smoothing, 1000+ for buffing, and smooth for polishing


Step 1: Thoroughly Clean Your Hands and Nails

Clean before shaping nails

Start by washing your hands and nails with antibacterial soap and warm water. Scrub and clean under your nails with a brush, removing any built-up grime.

Washing removes any bacteria, dirt, and oil and softens the nail to prepare it for trimming.

Once your hands are clean, dry them with a cloth. Never shape wet nails, or you risk creating cracks and splinters.

Related: Best Nail Shapes for Chubby Fingers


Step 2: Trim Off the Length with Nail Clippers/Scissors

Trimming nail length to shape square nails

Use nail scissors/clippers to cut down the length a little longer than you want the outcome to be. You’ll file down the rest of the nail when you start shaping.

When trimming, cut straight across, leaving the free end of the nail flat. This saves you time on filing and creates the basic square shape.


Step 3: Use a 240 Grit File to Shape

Use 240 Grit File to Shape Square Nail

A medium grit file is best for shaping the free edge of your nail, so choose a glass or paper option with 240 particles per square inch.

Hold your file at an angle from the corner of the nail, running it in one direction along the clipped edge until you reach the center. Do this 2-3 strokes at a time to avoid filing too low.

Then, move to the opposite corner and repeat the process. Once the edges are well shaped, file straight across, creating your squared tip.

When you’re first learning how to shape nails square, using your cuticle line as a reference is helpful. The free edge of your nail should be parallel to the cuticle for the most flattering result.

Once you’re happy with the length and the shape, flip your hand over and look at the other side to check that the lines are straight.

Continue to shape until your nail has a flat top and 90-degree corners that taper out to the nail bed.


Step 4: Smooth And Buff

Use Bluffing Block to Smooth Nails

Now that you’re happy with the shape, it’s time to perfect the edges with a much finer grit file. Choose one that has at least 400 grit. Gently move the file across the free edge from the front to the back.

This step helps seal the ends of your nails, preventing cracks and breakage.

Then, use a 1000 grit buffing block to remove any pits or nail ridges. Buffing too long or too hard can weaken your nails and remove the protective layers, so do so sparingly.

Finish by using a smooth file to polish your nails. Move the block in a circular motion until the outer surface is glossy.


Step 5: Moisturize And Apply Cuticle Oil

Apply Cuticle Oil After Shaping Nail

Your nails will need some hydration after you’ve shaped them, so apply a moisturizing product to your hands. Pay special attention to the cuticles and tops of your nails, where most moisture loss happens.

Once your lotion is absorbed, apply a drop of cuticle oil along the bottom of your nail, where it meets the skin. Massage it with your fingers.


How Will You Style Your Square Nails?

After you get the hang of how to shape square nails enough, you’re sure to fall in love with this simple yet stunning style.

Just remember to take your time. With enough practice, you’ll soon have the perfect canvas for showing off all of your favorite nail lacquers and polishes.

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