How to Shape Short Nails Correctly

A YouTube tutorial that works.
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Dhani Mau
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A YouTube tutorial that works.
Backstage at Vera Wang. Photo: Anna Webber/Getty Images for JINsoon

Backstage at Vera Wang. Photo: Anna Webber/Getty Images for JINsoon

Beauty tutorials are big on YouTube -- a search for "makeup tutorial" and "hair tutorial" yields more than 5 million videos. In this weekly series, we put a mix of popular and under-the-radar tutorials to the test and show you what's best.

When it comes to my beauty routine, it's the simple things I have trouble with. Or, rather, doing those simple things correctly. One example: shaping my nails.

While I've always been pretty good at painting my nails, even with my non-dominant hand, they never look as good as they would after a salon manicure, and I think that is largely because I'm not good at shaping them. Do I cut them with a nail clipper first? Can I go back and forth with the nail file? How do I make them neither square nor round, but something in between? How do I make them even? These are the questions I ask myself.

My nail shaping endeavors are further complicated by the fact that my nails are usually both short and thin. We just don't choose the hands we're dealt in life, ya know?

Fortunately, I found this very in-depth tutorial by an actual nail technician, who explains and demonstrates how to do the short, square-with-round-edges shape I'm looking for, and how not to damage your nails in the process

She also makes the whole nail-shaping process seem so simple that I almost feel like an idiot, but I think that's what I needed. The key, it seems, is filing flat first, and then at an angle.

Watch below.