The 90-10 Rule Is a Better Way to Trim Your Nails

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I once read an interview where Kim Kardashian mentioned that she always makes time for a manicure because even if everything else is in disarray, there’s something about having well-groomed nails that makes her feel more put together.

And you know, Kim and I may have wildly different beauty regimens (no Vampire facials for this gal), but we are fully aligned in our commitment to manicures. Thankfully for me and my non-Kardashian income, I’ve learned to give myself a pretty solid mani at home, a skill that I homed in on during the early days of quarantine.

This is largely thanks to the tips I’ve picked up from the brilliant nail artists I’ve met throughout the years, and also because the tools have gotten so much better. I was reminded of this when I was visiting my parents recently and had to use my mom’s clunky nail clippers, which I swear she’s had since I was in middle school.

When we talk about manicures, often the focus is on “what shades are trending” or “what nail art is currently popping awf” (that’s “off” said with flair, in case you didn’t already know). But I’d like to turn your attention to what I think is an equally if not more important detail for nailing your manicures: the shaping.

Enter the “90-10 rule” from Olive & June that forever changed the way I trim my nails. The 90-10 rule refers to the ratio of how much you should cut versus file your tips. Specifically, you should cut your nails to your desired length and shape 90 percent of the way and file the remaining 10 percent to smooth out the edges.

When you do this, you’ll want to use straight-edge clippers. Not those curved or angled clippers like my mom has, but the straight-edge kind that make it easier for you to trim with maximum control. Which brings me to my last point: Please don’t trim your nails in a single clip. Instead, do a few smaller clips around the perimeter of your nails to prevent putting too much pressure on them and again, have more control over the final shape.

OK, I’m going to go buy my mom some new clippers now.

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Jenny Jin Headshot Vertical 2023

Beauty Director

Jenny Jin is PureWow’s Beauty Director and is currently based in Los Angeles. Since beginning her journalism career at Real Simple magazine, she has become a human encyclopedia of...