How to choose your perfect nail shape

Different Nail Shapes

It’s more important than you might think

July 04 2022

Popular opinion: Getting a manicure is stressful. Yes, it should be totally relaxing, but seconds after you sit down you’re forced to make some pretty crucial decisions. And more often than not, you’re rushed into making a choice between a veritable rainbow of colours and different nail shapes because a) it’s busy as hell, and b) you want to pretend you know what you’re doing. If you’re anything like us, you immediately regret your choices.

First world problems, right?

But while you’re more than likely aware of the plethora of different nail polish options, you might not know just how many different nail shapes there are out there (hint: there are TONS), so it can be hard to choose one that’s right for you. So, what's the best nail shape?

To help you know what to ask your manicurist for the next time you're in the nail salon, here's a breakdown on the most common nail shapes and who they’re best suited to...

Square nails

Square nails are characterised by straight edges, and are squared off at the tip of the nail. This kind of style is perfect for those with shorter nails or long, slender fingers, according to nail expert and Mavala's National Trainer, Tracey Winder. This shape also breaks less easily than other nail shapes, so it’s a goodie if you’re a low-maintenance gal.


Round nails

This classic round shape is another great choice for short nails, or for those who want to add the look of length to their fingers. Similar to square nails, round nails feature straight sides, but curve at the edges to follow a natural shape of the fingertip.


Oval nails

While they might sound like the same thing, oval nails are actually different to round nails. Instead of straight sides, oval nails are filed down on the sides in addition to the tips, so the curvature is a little more intense. This shape is ideal for anyone who has short fingers and would like to elongate the look of them.


Squoval nails

You guessed it – squoval nails are a combination of square and oval styles. This shape is just like the square shape, except the edges are a lot softer. It’s a pretty popular shape, and also really easy to maintain. “The most commonly requested nail shapes are square and oval, or a balance between the two,” says Winder. “Squoval nails flatter all fingers and because of this, they never go out of style. They also work with both short and long nails, and they help keep nails strong,” she says.


Almond nails

With almond-shaped nails, the sides are usually quite slim (like oval nails) and they taper towards the end in a round peak. Wide on the base, they have a similar shape to, well, almonds! While it is possible to do this shape on natural nails, they are usually too weak, so you will probably have to get gel nails or acrylic nails to support the nail length.


Stiletto nails

If you love long nails and want to add a touch of drama to your mani, the stiletto shape is your jam. Starting off the same as the almond shape, this style ends at a much sharper point and usually has a wider base. As your natural nails won’t have enough strength to hold this shape, you’ll have to opt for acrylic nails.


Ballerina or coffin nails

Ballerina nails (also known as coffin nails) have become a popular shape thanks to celebrities like Kylie Jenner (it’s her go-to!). If you like longer nails, this is another great option for you. This particular style takes a similar shape to the stiletto nail, however instead of being pointy at the tip, they are squared off to resemble a ballerina’s slipper, or a coffin – however you’d like to picture it! This shape also holds up a lot better with acrylic nails, rather than natural nails.

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Main image credit: @thuybnguyen