It’s important to be able to do a colored acrylic fill quickly. Using an electric file to carve out a new smile line is a very fast way to remove your client’s old colored acrylic or white tip and quickly replace it with new product. I use a method called “reverse application.” When I started using this method I cut over a half hour off my pink-and-white and colored acrylic backfills.


1. First remove the old product by cutting with tip cutters or filing it down.


2. Cut away any lifting and prep the nail before filling the cuticle area.


3. Grasp the finger securely using an over-hand grip. This gives you more control when you are filing. Pull the finger away from the nail so that you can file deeper into the corners without touching the skin with the file bit. Use a carbide bit to carve the smile line. Set your electric file to a very slow speed. Brace your right hand against your client’s finger with your pinky. You must always brace your right hand to have control. Run the edge of the carbide bit along the nail starting up in the corner and continuing down into the smile.

4. When you have gone a little more than halfway across the nail you may want to adjust where you are bracing your pinky so you can carve up into the other corner of the nail.


5. Make sure that you remove nearly all of the old colored acrylic.


6. Apply a nail form.


7. Place one acrylic bead at the end of the nail on the nail form. Press the product up into one corner of the smile, then up into the other corner. At this point it is not necessary to keep the smile line clean. You can overlap the tip color onto the smile line — just make sure you have the product tucked all the way up into the corners.


8. With a carbide bit, refine the smile line, removing excess product. When the excess acrylic has been removed you will be left with a crisp smile line. File and shape the nail.


9. It’s optional, but I use a UV gel top coat as my last step.

Christie Gibson is the owner of Christie’s Nails in Ocean View, Hawaii. Check out her education site for nail techs at

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