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How To Pick the Right Nail Shape

Posted on September 15 2021

How To Pick the Right Nail Shape

Getting a manicure can require some ~tough~ decisions, and we’re not just talking about polish color. The nail shape you choose will significantly impact the final look of your mani and the multitude of shape options can be overwhelming—enter our handy guide to eight of the most popular nail shapes out there. 

From soft round nails to sharp stiletto nails, scroll down for our nail shape breakdown.

Round Nails
Definitely the simplest and cleanest option, round nails mirror the contour of your natural nail with a circular edge at the tip. If you have short fingers or prefer short nails, consider this your go-to shape—it will soften and elongate your fingers.

Stiletto Nails
The unique and ultra dramatic stiletto shape won’t go unnoticed, since it’s one of the longest styles and filed to a fiercely pointed tip (à la the heel of the same-named shoe)—but it does come with a downside. Because the tip is super pointy, it can break easily and you’ll likely need acrylics to reinforce your nails.

Square Nails
As one of the most practical nail shapes, square nails are fairly easy to maintain and ideal for anyone who spends a lot of time typing. Though the straight sides with a blunt top edge can make those hands with already wide nail beds appear short and stubby—but if you have narrow nail beds and long fingers, the sharp edges look très chic.

Lipstick Nails
This standout shape may be all over your social feeds, but lipstick nails are not an ideal shape for anyone who uses their hands a lot (though they look gorgeous in an Instagram snap!). The shape can be worn on long or short nails and is essentially achieved by filing your nails at an angle to create a diagonal slant that resembles a lipstick bullet. 

Oval Nails
In the elongating oval shape, the tip of the nail is filed to mimic an egg-like appearance. It works well for small hands and short fingers because it’s filed in on the sides to add subtle drama and length. Of longer shapes, this is one of the easiest to maintain and most practical.

Almond Nails
Inspired by the nut it’s named after, almond nails are shaped to be slim on the sides and wide at the base coming to a chic rounded peak. While this shape will elongate your fingers and make them appear thinner, the shape isn’t very practical for anyone using their hands a lot—expect your nails to break fairly easily.

Squoval Nails
The easy, super functional squoval nail shape is the easiest to maintain as it mimics the way most people’s nails naturally grow—square-shaped nails that have been rounded at the corners. That also makes it universally flattering, although it tends to look best on nails that aren’t longer than your fingertips. 

Ballerina Nails
Imitating the design of a ballerina pointe shoe, the ballerina nail shape is tapered at the top and narrowed on the sides. While not the most practical shape on a daily basis, they will definitely grab attention and work particularly well for people with long nails and slim fingers. 

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