How to Trim Acrylic Nails: Your Acrylics Care Guide

How to Trim Acrylic Nails: Your Acrylics Care Guide

Acrylics are an investment that is totally worth the money, time, and care. They are sexy, durable, and beautiful. Not to mention, they last much longer than gel polish or regular polish. They’re also ideal if you’re into commitment!  

Acrylics take more work to apply and require an upfront commitment. That includes proper maintenance. One of the best ways to maintain acrylic nails is to shorten them between salon visits or DIY sessions. This is especially important if you get a crack or break in your nails. 

In this guide, you’ll find all the info. you need on how to trim acrylic nails and even more pro tips on taking care of your gorgeous full set.

Can You Cut Acrylic Nails?

We recommend filing over cutting, which we’ll explore in a bit. But if you intend to reach for the clippers, here are some guidelines to avoid making costly and painful mistakes.

What to Avoid and Why

Going in for the kill the same way you’d go about cutting a natural nail can cause big problems.

The Vertical Crack

We're not talking about faultlines or earthquakes here! Rather, the middle part of the nail which is the most vulnerable. When you clip the nail straight across all at once, both sides of the nail flatten to match the pressure of the clipper, causing tension in the center of the nail. If the center of the nail undergoes too much pressure, it can cause a vertical crack. 

Vertical cracks can be both painful and a pain. Not only will you feel it because the acrylic is attached to your natural nail, but you will have to remove the nail and put an entirely new acrylic on. 

Vertical cracks can also damage the real nail, leaving the natural nail at risk for infection because the skin underneath may be exposed—making it susceptible to bacteria growth. 

Cutting the Nails Too Much

You don’t want to cut too much length from your nails right away. You’ll still have to file and shape them before your next appointment, making them even shorter. Cutting too much length off the bat will set you up for failure. 

Using Dull Nail Clippers

The only worse mistake than using nail clippers is using dull nail clippers. If your nail clippers are low quality or dull, you’ll have to press harder on the acrylic to break it. That’ll cause more pressure on the entire nail, making it more vulnerable to a vertical crack. 

What to Try Instead

Instead of ruining your hard work and starting with a new setwhich is both time-consuming and easily avoidabletry the following tricks to ensure you carry out a seamless acrylic nail trim.

Cut from the Outer Corners

Since the middle of the nail is the most vulnerable to breaking, you’ll want to start by trimming from the outer corners. Line up the clipper along one edge of the nail—we’re only talking about a few millimeters, depending on how wide your nails are—and clip just the end. Then head over to the other side of the nail, repeat the process, and. . . don’t cut any corners; just start from them! 😉

After the two sides are clipped, you can clip the entire edge of the nail off because there is no more resistance from either side of the nail.  

Cut in a V Shape

If you want a lot of length removed, another option is to cut the edges off entirely in an upside-down, reverse V shape and then go in and chop down the center. Alternatively, after cutting the reverse V, you can use an electric nail file to file down the center part to the shape you want.

Cut a Little at a Time

Always cut them longer than you think you want because you will end up taking off more length when you complete the look through filing and shaping.

PRO TIP: Opt for an Electric File

Using an electric file is your best, safest bet when acrylic nails need to be trimmed. They operate with a power bit that spins to take the work off your wrist. Fair warning: They move quickly, so you’ll have to pay close attention whenever you’re using one.

Why Do I Need to File My Acrylic Nails?

For one thing, your natural nails are still growing. The longer your natural nails grow, the longer your acrylics will be. 

When it’s time to cut them a little shorter, you don’t have to wait until your next fill appointment. It’s especially important for at-home nail artists to keep up on your maintenance. Filing is our preferred method at VBP.

Use an electric file (an e-file) to shorten your enhancements to a more comfortable length. This method is safer, faster, and more effective than traditional filer. VBP’s VUnit E-File is a best-in-class tool. 

PRO TIP: Check out this video for a tutorial on how to use an e-file on your acrylics.

Can You File Acrylic Nails with Gel Polish?

Absolutely. The best way to file down your acrylic enhancements adorned in gel polish is to go slowly and be gentle. Using an e-file is our preferred method because it takes the guesswork out of the equation and makes things easy (and who doesn’t need their life to be a little easier? 😌).

If you don’t have an e-file yet, take whatever file you have handy, as long as it’s not dull. Then, file your nails down to your desired length using slow and steady movements. 

How Else Can I Care for My Acrylics?

Besides filing the acrylics, there are a few other things you can do to help maintain them and care for them.

Surrounding Nail Hygiene

One of the best things you can do for the nails (both natural and acrylic) is to moisturize your hands with lotion and apply cuticle oil to the cuticles. If you keep the area around the nailsincluding the fingers, cuticles, and actual nailssoft and smooth, there will be less chance of damage occurring. 

Dry and brittle cuticles can lead to nail cracks, peeling polishes, and eviscerated acrylics. Yuck. 

Preventative Measures

There are also a couple of things you can avoid doing to prevent damage. One common daily activity might just be the number one cause of nail damage: Typing on your computer and texting on your phone. The repeated movement might cause cracks or breaks if you use acrylics to type and text. 

You should also avoid putting pressure on the nails because they could snap. Don’t get us wrong, acrylics are durable and strong, but there is always a chance of breakage or damage if you aren’t careful.  

Dealing with a Broken Acrylic

So you followed all the protocols and precautions for trimming your acrylics without breaking them, but the process isn’t fool-proof, and accidents happen. Now it’s time for damage control.

If only the acrylic is cracked and the tip is not damaged, you don’t have to remove it and start from the beginning. Instead, you can file down the nail where the crack is to make it all level and put new acrylic on top. 


When you’ve got a vertically cracked acrylic nail tip, your only option is to remove the nail and start from the beginning. Use an electric file to file down the acrylic as close to the natural nail as possible. Then soak the nail in 100% pure acetone to break down the hard acrylic. Use a metal scraper to scrape off any remaining acrylic on the nail. 

Another option is to cover the nail in a pure acetone-soaked cotton swab, then wrap it in tin foil to secure it and keep it in place. This way, you can get to work on the rest of your nails without having to keep your finger resting in a bowl of acetone. 

If the natural nail is damaged or bleeding, you can not reapply a new nail and will have to wait until the nail heals. 

Keeping Your Nails Healthy Under Acrylics

While we love the glamor and beauty of a new full set, we still want to keep our natural nails as healthy as possible. The better shape your natural nails are in, the longer your acrylics will last, and the less likely you are to wind up with damaged nails. 

Here are some of the best things you can do to keep your natural nails healthy under your acrylics: 

  • Wash your hands regularly to keep your nails clean and reduce the chance of infection.
  • Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize, and then moisturize again.

What Do You Do If Your Natural Nail Breaks Under Acrylic?

Every nail art fanatic’s worst nightmare is your natural nail breaking under acrylic. While we try and prevent it from happening with proper maintenance and care, sometimes the dreaded broken nail occurs anyway. If this has ever happened to you, you know the intense pain and discomfort a nail injury can bring. 😧

Here’s what to do:

  1. Remove your nails using a disinfectant, a soaking container, and tweezers.
  2. Address the pain and the inflammation using ice packs and painkillers.
  3. If there’s an infection, seek medical attention.
  4. Keep an eye on the growth of your new nail.

How Do You Cut Your Nails Under Acrylic?

Having overgrown nails underneath your acrylics is not only annoying AF but can get in the way of your daily activities. 🙄 To keep this from happening, you can trim your nails underneath your acrylics.

Now, the best thing to do in this scenario is to go to your regular maintenance appointments with your nail technician. They’ll be able to keep your set in great condition and help protect the integrity of your natural nails. 

If your nails are bothering you between appointments, though, or you’re a DIY nail pro, here’s what you can do (you’ll need an electric nail drill and a needle bit for this process).

  1. Clean your nails thoroughly before starting. You don’t want an infection to cramp your style. 
  2. Slowly buff out the natural nail, starting from the middle and working your way to the side. 
  3. Work slowly (very slowly 🐢) until you feel a smooth surface. 

Where Can I Find the Best Acrylic Powders and Nail Supplies?

The best DIY nail art pros have the best supplies on the market. The great news is that VBP makes accessible products for nail artists of all skill levels, so you’ll find your perfect match.

Individual Acrylic Powders

Searching for one of the largest collections of individual acrylic powders on the market? Look no further than VBP. We have the most vibrant, beautiful colors to suit a wide range of tastes. No matter what look you’re hoping to achieve, we can help you create it. 

Our powders are made to show true color. Nothing is worse than choosing a powder and having it come out duller than you were going for. With VBP’s products, we promise you’ll never have that problem again. 

Acrylic Powders Collection

If you’re ready to dive in and want an expansive collection to start with, opt for our acrylic powders collection. You won’t be hurting for options. We have a lot of collections for you to choose from, so you’re sure to find something that matches your unique style. 

Our acrylic powders are designed to give you a flawless finish. No bubbles or uneven tones here. 🧼


Our acrylic powders work hard, but our professional tools make them work harder. Find your perfect clippers, brushes, cuticle pushers, and more.

Get the Best Acrylic Supplies on the Market at VBP

Taking care of your acrylics is essential to keeping them looking polished, beautiful, and clean. Keeping your nails healthy is a huge part of the process that’s easy to overlook. Now you know how to ensure the vitality of your nails and enhancements, which means it’s time to go shopping 🛍️. 

Visit VBP’s website for all the colors, tools, and collections you could ever dream of. There’s no limit to what you can create with our products.