The Right Nail Shape For You
Updated: Apr 28
Are you dumbfounded when the nail tech asks you what nail shape do you want? Do you usually leave the choice to the technician? Or are you stuck in a rut with the same nail shape and would like to venture out of your comfort zone? Look no further! With this handy guide, you'll be able to pick the perfect nail shape according to your hands and occasion. So let's get right into it!
WHAT ARE THEY: These are your most basic button nails which you can maintain simply by clipping your nails and minimal filing. Also called nubs when too short, most people opt for these because it's simple and manageable. Mostly au natural, you can opt for gel manicures for a long lasting mani. The shape and size makes these nails sturdy and not prone to breaking, so they're perfect for everyday use.
SUITABLE FOR: Small hands and button nails go perfectly together. They are ideal for everyday use and in jobs where long nails are an hinderance or not acceptable. If you have issues growing out your nails, starting off with round nails and eventually growing them is the way to go (see here how).
PAIR WITH: Soft pastels and glitters or deep dark wines and blacks. Short nails perform well at the opposite ends of the light and shade spectrum. Kawaii nails are best suited to short button nails. Nailart isn't impossible with them either, you just have to be smart with placement (see here).
WHAT ARE THEY: Long nails with a rounded edge are called #oval nails. Most common for newbies to the long nails club and a good starting shape for extensions. Fairly easy to attain with minimal filing.
SUITABLE FOR: Oval nails elongate your fingers and make them seem slender, so they are perfect for stockier hands.
WHAT ARE THEY: Flat at the top with perfect sharp edges make for square nails. They require some maintenance when on natural nails because the edges are prone to breaking, but that is not an issue with extensions.
SUITABLE FOR: Everybody! Yes, short hands, long hands, thin hands, thick hands; #square nails are for everyone. They flatter all outfits and are suitable for any occasion with a slight tweak in length.
PAIR WITH: Anything! Square nails are like a universal blank canvas and look good with any colour or design. Go for glitters and bold colours for special events and nudes and whites for everyday wear.
WHAT ARE THEY: Square nails with rounded edges making them an intermediate between square and oval nails.
SUITABLE FOR: All hand types with tweaking of the length to suit the design. This nail shape is perfect for people who love the square look but are unable to maintain the sharp edges or it is a hazard for them. A favourite hack of mine is, to file the edges of square nails if there are breaks at the edge, to make them #squoval and still retain the design.
PAIR WITH: Just like square nails, this shape goes with all colours and designs. They are also the ideal nail shape for French tips.
COFFIN/ BALLERINA NAILS
WHAT ARE THEY: The OG #Instagram statement nails. If you look for #nails on Instagram, you're bound to find oodles of long nails all in this distinct shape which resemble a coffin when slender and straight or a ballerina's shoes when slightly chubby at the sides.
SUITABLE FOR: Since coffin/ ballerina nails tend to be chunky and long, they are best suited for slender fingers. Even if you don't have slim fingers, you can still rock them, just ask the nail technician to file your nails on the side so your nails don't look bulbous. This length and shape is hard to attain with natural nails, so #extensions are the way to go with these. Not really suitable for most 9 to 5 jobs, you can get them for special occasions and then simply file them down when it's time to head back to work.
PAIR WITH: Anything fun! Since they are meant to stand out, go with bold colours and designs. Even a simple matte shade will stand out with this shape. Ombre french manicures look absolutely sexy on this style of nails. Rhinestones, 3D art, inlays, this shape can take it all.
WHAT ARE THEY: Oval nails with tapered nails to resemble almonds. Edgier than oval nails but still subtle compared to stiletto nails.
SUITABLE FOR: Stocky hands with stubby fingers. Oval and square nails may look chunkier on them, but almond nails elongate the fingers and make them appear slender. Almond nails tend to look bulkier on slimmer hands and fingers.
PAIR WITH: Anything. All designs look great on #almond nails, especially bottom heavy designs which taper towards the free edge. Look particularly great with metallic and chrome colours.
WHAT ARE THEY: The ultimate Instagram baddy nails! Extremely long and slender, like the heels of a '#stiletto', hence the name. Practically impossible with natural nails, you'll need to get extensions done for these. One might wonder about the practicality of them, but they aren't meant for being practical! They are not for your 9 to 5 job but to stand out and grab all the attention.
SUITABLE FOR: Anyone who can handle the length and learn how to do daily chores with talons that will get in the way. Great for standing out if your outfit is loud and you need nails that can keep up.
PAIR WITH: Bold designs, colours and accessories. They are meant to be extravagant so don't dull them down with basic nudes and pastels (you can and they will look good, but why?). Go with metallics, inlays and studs and chunky nail #accessories. Go bold and wild with this shape so you don't waste it's potential.
MOUNTAIN PEAK/ POINTED
WHAT ARE THEY: Pointed nails which aren't long enough to look like stilettos are called #pointed or mountain peak nails. Basically they are baby stiletto nails. Easily doable on short and natural nails.
SUITABLE FOR: People who like the stiletto look but can't keep the length due to various restrictions. Looks especially good on #short chubby hands because they elongate them without getting bulky on the nail bed (when on natural nails).
PAIR WITH: Glitters and blacks to pack a punch with little real estate. Use nudes for everyday and subtle looks, and deep colours and accessories for special events.
1. EDGE/ ARROWHEAD
3. FLARED/ TRAPEZE
WHAT ARE THEY: Designs you don't see on regular folks. Only seen on the internet, I personally feel the nail artists are trolling us with these.
EDGE/ ARROWHEAD: When the tip of the nails resemble an arrowhead, they are called the same. Not in demand, they are having a resurgence currently in the #3D nailart world just as a show of skill.
LIPSTICK: Slanted nails resembling lipsticks in a tube, they are used rarely, usually to mimic lipstick tube nailarts.
FLARE/ TRAPEZE: This has to be a troll, otherwise, why would anyone consciously wanna wear these? But to each their own. As the name suggests, this shape flares at the end and has a trapezoid shape. Looks like the nail tech forgot to file at the edges though.
There you have it, all the possible nail shapes under the sun and a handy guide on which shape to select the next time you get your nails done. Check out the blog for more nail art inspiration and tips and hacks. Take care and flaunt those gorgeous nails.
P.S.- None of the images used are owned by us unless watermarked with @nails_by_sujata.