How To File Acrylic Nails: The Guide To Filing Your Nails At Home

How To File Acrylic Nails: The Guide To Filing Your Nails At Home

Filing your nails at home is no different than filing them at a nail salon. You use the same tools and the same process. If you are going to file your acrylic nails, you should ideally use an e-file to do so. The e-file is an electronic file that is stronger and faster than using a regular nail file. However, if you are at home and don’t have an e-file, you can certainly use a regular nail file to get the job done, and that’s what you should recommend to your clients. 

Let’s discuss why acrylic nails are different than other types of polish and nail types. We will also give you a step-by-step guide on how to file your acrylics with both an e-file and a regular file. We’ve got all the info you need to make sure your nails have the perfect shape and look amazing! 

How Are Acrylic Nails Different Than Gel Nails or Regular Polish?

We are going to talk about filing acrylic nails specifically because they are not the same thing as gel or regular polish. Acrylics are basically extensions for your nails. You wouldn’t apply acrylic powder to a natural nail, whereas with gel and regular polish, you can apply them straight to the natural nail. You can also apply gel and regular polish to clear acrylic nails if you prefer that method. Typically, though, people will use acrylic powder that has a color to create the artificial nail. 

Acrylics are made by using a mix of powder and liquid monomer. This mixture becomes a dough-like consistency, which is then applied to the natural nail and shaped according to the person’s preference. You can make acrylics as long or as short as you’d like, but most people opt for a medium to a long length that is eye-catching and noticeable. Another difference is that acrylics simply need to air dry in order to set. Gel needs a lamp to harden and dry the polish, and regular polish air dries as well.  

As you can see, acrylics are much different than gel or regular polish. Not only is the application process different, but it is also made of different materials and needs to dry differently. As a result, the filing process is slightly different as well. Most people use an electric file to file acrylic nails, while a regular nail file is most commonly used on natural nails. 

Step By Step Guide for Filing Acrylic Nails

The first thing you need to do is get your e-file ready and make sure it’s working properly. Then, you need to decide what tip/bit you want to use on the e-file. There are tons of different ones to choose from, and it all depends on the thickness of the acrylic and how much you are trying to file. For example, if you want to remove the acrylics, you can use a larger and tougher bit (like a carbide bit ) to simply cut through the acrylic until you get the nail down to a shorter length that will then be easier to soak off. Since you aren’t trying to shape the nail, you can use almost any bit to just cut the nail down. 

Now, if you are trying to file and shape the nail perfectly, the bit you use will matter. There are different bits that have different angles, sizes, and shapes. You can try something like a diamond tapered bit for shaping the nails with sharp precision. Once you determine the shape of the nail you want and the type of bit you will need, you are ready to start filing. The important thing to remember is that there are different techniques that need to be used for different nail shapes, so you will have to watch a tutorial to see exactly how to file for each shape. 

Overall, though, there is a basic way to file nails for any shape. You start by filing down any excess acrylic you don’t need for the shape and design on the nail. Then, you want to start to actually shape the nail with the e-file. This is where it will differ depending on the shape you are going for. You will want to use quick and precise movements to work on the angles on the nail. File the acrylic down until you have the desired shape. 

Then, you need to go over the tops and sides of the nail in order to complete the shape and make sure the nail is smooth. You might also consider changing bits for this step. Start on one side of the nail and smooth it down, following the natural curve of the nail. Do the other side, and then go to the middle and use the file on the top of the nail. You can finish by using a regular file to do any touchups. 

Can I Use a Regular Nail File?

Yes, you can absolutely use a regular nail file on acrylic nails. In fact, most people like to do a combination of both an e-file and a regular file for the best results. 

However, if you are at home or don’t own an e-file, a regular nail file will get the job done. The reason people prefer an e-file is that acrylic is very tough, and it can be tedious and time-consuming to just use a regular file. It will definitely take you a longer time (and a lot more effort) to file your acrylic nails the way you want them to look with a regular nail file. 

If you do decide to use a regular nail file for the whole filing process, you’re going to want to use a coarse or medium grit file in order to properly file the nails. It needs to be tough enough to break down the acrylic, especially if you are trying to shorten the nail. The process for filing the nail is the same as using an e-file, so it isn’t more complicated. It will be more difficult, but it’s not impossible, and you should be able to do it with ease once you’ve practiced a few times. A regular nail file is also great for doing touch-ups to acrylic nails after they’ve been filed with an e-file. 

Where Can I Find the Best Acrylics and Filing Tools?

The good news is, you’re already in the right place. V Beauty Pure has the best tools for filing and doing nails. Plus, we have an amazing and extensive collection of acrylic powder colors. We’ve got everything from nudes and neutrals to bright neons and sparkles. Whatever design or color scheme you or your clients are looking for, we’ve got you covered. Our products are the best in the business, and we use the highest quality materials. 

If you are looking for an e-file for your acrylic nails, try our VUnit-E-File. This handheld device is super-portable, so you can bounce from client to client with ease. Plus, it’s lightweight, yet very durable, so you won’t have to worry about it breaking or being too heavy to carry around. This can be used not only for filing acrylics, but also to complete almost any nail service. You can use it for gel polish manicures to perfect the natural nail or use it to create 3D art on acrylic nails. 

You get more bang for your buck with this multi-purpose tool. And did we mention it comes in a beautiful rose gold color with crystals on the handpiece? It’s chic and gorgeous, but looks extremely professional at the same time. The filing process doesn’t have to be boring when you have such a high-quality and beautiful handheld device to make it better (not to mention easier).  


Whether or not you want to use an e-file to file your acrylic nails is up to you. Most, if not all, nail technicians will use an e-file to at least start the filing process. It is faster, easier, and can give you precise angles, which is important when trying to shape the nail. 

A regular file can be great for touch-ups or going back over the nail to make sure it’s perfect. If you don’t have an e-file or if you are filing your nails at home, then you can definitely use a regular nail file, but just be aware that it will take more effort and time to achieve the same results as an e-file. 


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