How To Get The Nail Shape You Want
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How To: File and Shape Your Nails

With Pro Nail Artist Bana Jarjour

By: Meddy Hurd
Mar 12 2021

For expert advice on how to achieve the perfect nail shape, we tapped LA-based manicurist, Bana Jarjour. Not only is Bana a go-to on Instagram for nail inspo—get her Glow Up collection on ManiMe—but she’s also trusted with shaping the nails of iconic trendsetters like Kourtney Kardashian to Constance Wu. 

Bana weighed in on how to nail the perfect shape and avoid common filing mistakes. Here are her tips...

The proper nail shape can make or break your entire manicure. It can even alter the appearance of your hands entirely. But, before we get into assessing shape, let’s begin with the first step of any manicure—acrylic nails, gel nails, press-ons, you name it—the perfect manicure always starts with a solid foundation.

Here is how to prep your nails for shaping:

  1. Push your cuticles back: Carefully remove unwanted cuticles to reveal the true size of your nail bed—you may not even realize how much length you actually have to work with. 
  2. Even out your nails: Use the buffer side of your ManiMe file to get rid of any unevenness or excess nail.
  3. Smooth the nail bed: Use a fine grit buffer to smooth any rough spots on the nail.

Now that your nails are prepped, here’s how to achieve each of the four most popular nail shapes:

Square

Arguably the most popular shape.

Best for: Easy maintenance. 

Style: Natural. 

Get the look: File straight across the tip of your nail. Soften by buffing sharp corners.

Round

A softer appearance than a square shape.

Best for: Short nails.

Style: Elongated nails. 

Get the look: File the nail upward in a curved motion and follow the shape of your cuticle.

Oval

Egg shaped.

Best for: Long nails.

Style: A rounded style with a little something extra. 

Get the look: File nails similar to a rounded shape, then hold file at an angle and remove some of the edges. 

Almond

Least blunt of all nail shapes. 

Best for: Nails with length. 

Style: Elongates the fingers most. 

Get the look: Cut the corners off with a nail clipper, then file nails at an angle so they come to a point. If needed, buff the tip to soften.

Top filing tips and common filing mistakes to avoid:

No hack-saw ridge:

File each side in one direction towards the middle, from the corner to the center of the tip. Avoid using a sawing motion, as this could create chips in the nail. 

Follow the straight and narrow:

If your finger leans more to one side, file the nail so that it angles toward the opposite side (i.e. my middle finger leans to the left, so I file the nail more toward the right). This creates the illusion that your finger is straight 

Create a buffer:

A buffer is much softer than a file and can be used to smooth uneven parts of the nail without taking off length.

Only a little off the top:

A common mistake people make is cutting too much of their nails prior to filing. If your nails aren’t very long, you may not need clippers at all. It’s best to cut less than you would like removed, and file the rest to avoid this issue.