How to Safely Cut Natural Nails Under Acrylics

As a nail technician, one of the most common requests I receive is for help with cutting natural nails under acrylics. It can be difficult to navigate, as you don’t want to cut too deep and accidentally damage the natural nail. However, cutting natural nails under acrylics can be a breeze with the right tools and techniques.

How to Cut Nails Under Acrylics

I will walk you through the steps to properly cut natural nails under acrylics so you can achieve clean and precise cuts every time.

Gathering Supplies

Before you begin, it’s essential to gather the necessary tools. You will need:

Nail clippers: Choose a sharp and precise pair, as this will make it easier to get a clean cut without damaging your nails.

Nail file: A nail file will smooth out any rough edges after cutting and shaping your nails. Look for one made of soft abrasive material, such as a fine-grit emery board or a crystal file.

Cuticle pusher: A cuticle pusher is a small, spoon-shaped tool used to gently push back the cuticles around the base of the nail. This will help prevent hangnails and keep your nails neat.

Acrylic nail remover: You will need a specific product to remove your acrylic nails. Look for one that contains acetone, as this is the most effective ingredient for breaking down acrylics. You may also want cotton balls or pads to help apply the remover.

Removing the Acrylic Nails

Start by trimming your acrylic nails as short as possible. This will make it easier to remove them and minimize damage to your natural nails. Use a pair of nail clippers or a nail file to trim the acrylics carefully.

Next, apply the acrylic nail remover to a cotton ball or pad. Be sure to follow the instructions on the product packaging for how much to use.

Place the cotton ball or pad on top of your acrylic nail, and wrap it securely with aluminum foil. This will help the remover to work more effectively by trapping heat and moisture.

Repeat the process on each of your acrylic nails. Allow the remover to work for the amount of time recommended on the product packaging, usually around 10-15 minutes.

Once the remover has had a chance to work, gently pry the acrylics off your natural nails. You may need to use a cuticle pusher or a pair of tweezers to lift the acrylics’ edges gently. Be careful not to pull too hard, as this can damage your natural nails.

If any acrylics remain stubbornly stuck to your natural nails, apply more remover and wrap them in foil again. Allow the remover to work for an additional 5-10 minutes before trying to remove the acrylics again.

Trimming and Shaping the Natural Nails

To determine the appropriate length and shape for your natural nails, consider the shape of your fingertips and the length of your acrylics. If your acrylics are longer than your natural nail bed, you will want to trim your natural nails shorter to match the length of the acrylics. If your natural nails are shorter than your acrylics, you can leave them at their current length or trim them slightly longer to create a more balanced look.

As for shape, a classic square or rounded shape is typically flattering for most people. Avoid shapes that are too sharp or pointy, as they may be prone to breaking.

To trim and shape your natural nails, start by using a pair of nail clippers to snip off any excess length carefully. Be sure to clip straight across rather than at an angle to prevent your nails from becoming too thin. Next, use a nail file to smooth rough edges and create your desired shape. If you have a nail buffer, you can also use it to give your nails a smooth, shiny finish.

Finishing Touches

After trimming and shaping your natural nails, it is essential to moisturize and condition them to keep them healthy and strong. You can use a cuticle oil or a nourishing hand lotion to keep your cuticles hydrated and prevent dry, cracked skin. You can also apply strengthening nail polish or treatment to help prevent breakage.

To maintain healthy natural nails, avoid biting your nails and using harsh chemicals, such as nail polish removers containing acetone. It is also a good idea to wear gloves when doing household chores to protect your nails from damage.


Is it safe to cut my natural nails under acrylics?

Yes, cutting your natural nails under acrylics is safe as long as you use the proper tools and techniques. Be careful and gentle when cutting to avoid damaging the acrylic or your natural nail.

Can I use regular nail clippers to cut my natural nails under acrylics?

Yes, you can use regular nail clippers to cut your natural nails under acrylics. However, using a sharp pair designed explicitly for cutting nails is best. This will make the process easier and help you achieve a cleaner, more precise cut.

How do I file my natural nails after cutting them under acrylics?

To file your natural nails after cutting them under acrylics, gently file the edges in a back-and-forth motion using a nail file. Avoid sawing the file back and forth, as this can cause the acrylic to lift. Instead, use a gentle, smooth motion to shape and smooth the edges of your natural nails.

Final Thoughts

In summary, cutting natural nails under acrylics requires careful planning and attention to detail. By following the steps outlined above, you can trim and shape your natural nails to match the length and shape of your acrylics, resulting in a polished, cohesive look. Remember to moisturize and condition your nails after cutting and shaping, and take care to prevent breakage by avoiding biting and harsh chemicals. With proper nail care, you can enjoy strong, healthy natural nails.