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How to Pick the Best Nail Shape That Will Flatter Your Hands

After choosing your nail design or color, another dilemma that comes with wearing a new manicure is picking the perfect shape. It’s understandable; these days, nail shapes are more detailed than they used to be a decade ago. And we have celebrities and influencers to thank for that; their manicure now features striking silhouettes that go beyond the conventional.

fingers showing wavy pink nails in one of the popular nail shapes

With the plethora of nail shape ideas everywhere, it’s easy to get caught up in the fad and end up with what’s popular instead of what suits you. But finding the best nail shape isn’t about blindly following trends. Instead, it’s about considering your needs and choosing the one that flatters your hands the most.

To help you along, we’ll show you the most popular nail shapes and teach you how to pick the ones that will transform your hands into a masterpiece while complementing your preferred nail art.

Why Pay Attention to Nail Shapes?

nude mani with pink and yellow tips all stiletto shapes

A good manicure goes beyond picking the perfect design or color. It also involves picking the most flattering shape you’d be adorning your fingers with. But selecting the nail shape that best suits you can be challenging, especially if you’re doing it for the first time. The good thing is, it’s worth it. 

The same nail art can look entirely different on a different nail shape. And if care is (not) taken, your chosen shape can make or mar your manicure.

Also, your nail shape can elevate the look of your hands and impact your mani’s appearance. What’s more, by choosing the right nail-shaping option, you’ll flatter your fingertips and revel in the beauty of your mani. 

As Lilly Rojas, founder of Brooklyn’s Lili and Cata nail salon, described, “Just like experimenting with colors you normally wouldn’t wear feels brave, finding your perfect nail shape can provide a sense of self-confidence and empowerment.”

ALSO READ: 42 Gorgeous Nail Colors that Flatter Dark Skin

What to Consider When Choosing Nail Shapes

beautiful swirly square nail shapes

When you’re not sure which shape to go for, nail experts suggest you mirror your fake nail shape to the shape of your cuticles. So if you have an oval cuticle shape, match it with an oval nail shape. Amanda Lee Founder of Iris Avenue beauty salon explains:

“If in doubt, go for the nail shape that mirrors the shape of your cuticles. Gently push back your cuticles with an orange wood stick to identify the shape then file the nails to match the shape.”

bright yellow arrow-head nail shapes

In addition, consider your personal style, preferences, and lifestyle. For example, if you love minimalist or bold fashion, ensure your chosen nail shape embraces this. And if you want a nail shape just because you like it, go ahead and rock it. Similarly, if your job or daily habits prefer trimmed lengths for convenience, keep it that way. Considering these factors ensures you wind up with a shape you completely enjoy wearing.

But if you’re still unsure about the shape to go for? Follow this guide:

How to Choose the Best Nail Shape for Your Manicure

nail shape chart

Source: Allure

Square Nails

long square nail shapes with a distinct geometric design

As the name implies, this shape is flat on top with straight, sharp corners. You achieve it by filing the sides of your nails straight and filing a straight edge across the top.  They’re stylish, low-maintenance, and suit both long and short nails.

Who it’s for: Wear this shape if you have long and slender fingers or narrow nail beds. It gives the illusion of broader nail beds, giving you a more balanced look. It’s also a practical nail ideal for anyone who spends a lot of time typing.

Round Nails

This is one of the easiest shapes to file your nails into. You achieve it the same way you start a square nail. The difference is you shape and file it round to an angle to create a curve.

Who it’s for: If your nail beds are narrow or you want to elongate your fingers, round nails are a great option. The shape also suits all hands and nail lengths. In addition, it’s perfect for anyone looking for a simple, neat-and-tidy manicure.

ALSO READ: 34 Pretty Nail Designs to Rock This New Year

Duck Bill Nail Shapes

yellow flare nail shapes

Otherwise known as flare nails, this shape flares upward and out. They’re sure to grab attention especially as the shape isn’t common.

Who it’s for: Don’t wear this shape if you use your hands more often. They can get in the way of your activities compared to regular shapes.

Almond Nail Shapes

multicolored almond nails

The almond shape has a feminine appeal. It’s wide at the base and slender along the sides, tapering to form a rounded top like the shape of an almond. Furthermore, it adds more length to your fingers and makes them look slender. Since natural nails are often too weak to hold this nail shape, strengthen it with gel or acyclic.

Who it’s for: Choose this shape if you have short or wide fingers. It will elongate your fingers and make them look slim.

Almondetto-Shaped Nails

Almondetto-Shaped Nails

This is a combination of almond and stiletto nails. It’s more or less long almond nails, hence the hybrid name.

Who it’s for: Go for this if you love almond nails but with more length and edge.

Oval Nail Shapes

Pink Oval Nail Shapes

To achieve this shape, your nail tech will file the sides of your nails straight but will leave the top softer with rounded edges towards the ends.

Who it’s for: If your nails are long and you’d love a more feminine look, the oval shape is for you. It’ll also elongates your fingers and gives a slimming effect.

Squoval-Shaped Nails

wine-colorfed squoval-shaped mani

These nails are a combo of square and oval shapes. They feature straight sides with slightly rounded corners. It’s one of the easiest nail shapes to maintain and doesn’t fail to give a balanced and flattering look.

Who it’s for: This shape complements the natural growth pattern of most nails so almost every finger type can wear it.

Stiletto Nail Shapes

stiletto manicure

These nails are long with sharp, pointy tips and are best suited for long nails. The shape is bold, edgy, and fierce. Though stiletto nails look intringuing, they’re difficult to maintain and easy to break.

Who it’s for: Choose this shape if you love to stand out or look daring. It’s also perfect for long and slender fingers as it adds length and gives a striking look.

Lipstick Nails

lipstick-shaped mani

As the name implies, this shape resembles a lipstick. You create it by filing the tip of your nails in a sharp asymmetrical angle. This shape isn’t practical for everyday use. Instead, it’s an excellent choice for special occasions or days you wanna make a statement with your hands.

Who it’s for: Lipstick nails flatters shorter nails or broader nail beds. The shape creates the illusion of length and elongates your fingers. However, they’re not ideal if you use your hands too often. So save this shape for the next time you’ll be attending a special occasion, say a wedding, black-tie event, etc.

Coffin Nail Shapes

short coffin nails

Also known as ballerina nails, this shape is simply stiletto nails with a square rather than a pointed tip. They are filed on both sides so that the nail tapers and flattens at the tip to look like a coffin or a ballerina’s slipper—hence the name. Also, this shape is narrower than regular square-shaped nails. It’s trendy and offers a bit of drama.

Who it’s for: If your nails are long and narrow, wear this nail shape. It enhances your nail length and creates a sleek look. Also, wear this shape if you want to make a statement with your hands. But if you have weak or short nail beds, go for short coffin nails instead as they’re less prone to breakage.

Edge Nails

French mani as edge nail shapes

Like stiletto, edge nails form a point. But this point isn’t as long as a stiletto shape. Instead, it has an angled tip with the sides extending straight before the top edges are filed to look like an edge.

Who it’s for: Choose this shape if you just feel like trying something new. It’s as fun as exploring a new style or color.

Arrowhead Nails 

Arrowhead Nails 

This is a lesser version of the stiletto shape but a longer version of edge nails. It has a shorter point with more dramatic angles that lead to the tip.

Who it’s for: Choose this shape if you don’t like super long nails but want to test the waters before diving into long, pointy nails.

Nail Shapes are Necessary for a Stunning Manicure

statement square nail designs

Your chosen nail shape can make or break your entire mani. So, just as you pay close attention when picking your next nail art or color, do the same for the shapes. And if you’re confused on which to go for among the many shapes you’ve seen, consider the tips shared in this guide. In addition, your style goals matter too. For example, if you aim to elongate your fingers, an almond (if you have some length) or oval shape will work. But if you just want things short and simple, round nails are your best bet.

Always remember to prioritize your needs and lifestyle so you can get optimum satisfaction from your manicure.

ALSO READ: 44 Fashion Nails Designs Every Trendy Woman Should Rock

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Victoria B. Willie

Writing has always been a part of me. From writing stories as a young child to studying Communication Arts in the university, it has always been more than a medium of expression to me.

And then one day, I found myself toeing the path of an entrepreneur and becoming a fashion enthusiast. This made me develop an interest in content marketing and copywriting which I've been chasing alongside my fashion career.

That aside, when I'm not sharing style articles, selling with stories, or sketching fashion-forward pieces for Ria Kosher, you'll find me telling wild stories that always come with a twist.

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