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How to Cut & Shape Nails

Learn how to cut and shape nails from Spa Taxi owner Danielle Corbin Jaime in this Howcast nail tutorial.


Before you soak your nails, always cut your nails first. You don't want your nails to absorb the water, get too soft, and then as your cutting and then shaping them, they will start to fray, like jeans. Think about the shape that you want first. Do you want something that's really pointy, or do you want something that is an active length and it's going to allow you to do everything you want to do during the day.

I always recommend squared with rounded edges, because it doesn't stag your pantyhose. It doesn't snag your clothes, and if you were to hit your nail up against the wall or anything, you wouldn't feel it as much, because the corners actually help absorb the shock. Which is kind of cool thinking about how your nails can do all these things for you.

I also like the oval, which on the nail is a little pointy, but it also smooths out the tip of the nail, which does the same thing, absorb the shock, if you were to hit the nail. I recommend oval nails if you have a longer nail bed. It doesn't look good, if your nail is really short. Let's try the squared with the round edges first.

You clip the nail, if it needs to be clipped, and then you take a nail file, and you file across, safety tip. If you're at a salon, you want to know that you're the first person that used the nail file. It should be wrapped, depends, if not look around the sides and make sure that it hasn't been used. If not, you can request it.

To shape it square, you always go straight across, to give it that squared shape. Now, this is an emery board. File straight across and then you'LL take your fingers and of course if you're at home, squeeze the skin on the side and always go in one direction, when you are doing the corners. This way, you don't create hang nails.

If you are doing the squared with rounded edges, you file flat across here and then put your nail file at a 45-degree angle, and file across this way. What it does, is that it smooths out the corner of the nail so that it doesn't snag, and it just gives it a nice rounded side, with a nice, flat look straight across.

To create the oval look, you definitely cut the nail on a stronger angle, about 45 degrees. And you are going to cut it as if you are making a v on the nail. If you are at home, you're going to cut this way, and then this way. This time you're going to file on a deeper angle, because you want to create that oval look. It's almost like you're filing your nail into a v, and once you get that point, as you can see the nail is starting to form a point. Always file the same direction. Squeeze the finger on the side, always downward to avoid the hang-nails. You see that there's a diamond shape, or a v at the free edge now.

So to round that off and just smooth it out, take the nail file and go straight across and tilt it up just a little bit to round it off. I also recommend sometimes, if you want to do this type of filing, use a glass nail file. It really smooths out the free edge, and it avoids the hang nail. You'll see a big difference.

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