Quick Guide: Nail Shapes

Nail Shapes

Square

The top of the nail is flattened and the walls of the nail come straight out from the nail bed. They should not taper in or flare out.

This is arguably the strongest nail shape, but isn’t necessarily the best looking nail shape if your nail beds are short and wide. Additionally, the sharp corners can snag or scratch things, so it’s not ideal if you work with textiles, are around children, or just don’t like pointy edges in general.

Squoval

This is a variation of the squared nail with softened corners. This is likely the most popular of nail shapes for its strength and versatility with out the risk of accidentally clawing someone.

This is the best of both worlds as far as strength and versatility are concerned – the sidewalls are straight, which provides maximum reinforcement, but the corners are softened to prevent snagging & scratching. Because it is slightly softer in shape, it’s also quite a bit more flattering in shape for most nail types.

Round

The rounded nail shape follows the natural curve of the nail bed with walls that come straight out from the nail bed, but are softened to remove any corners.

This shape’s strength is provided by the straight sidewalls, and is ideal for short nails.

Oval

Oval nails are rounded at the tip all the way to the walls. The walls still come straight out from the nail bed, but should have a slight natural taper to smoothly meet the curve of the tips.

This shape is on the weaker side because a portion of the sidewalls is filed away. However, it is also a delicate and flattering shape, especially for those with wider nails who want to achieve a more feminine look.

Almond

Almond nails are tapered at the walls to end in a rounded point.

This shape is highly flattering, but tends to work best for very long, strong nails (especially if they are reinforced with gel or acrylic) because it is also a weaker shape.

Ballerina

Ballerina or coffin nails are tapered at the walls, but end in a flattened point.

Like almond nails, this shape works best for long and strong or reinforced nails because the tapered sidewalls take away from the nail’s natural support & strength.

Stiletto

Stiletto nails are tapered sharply at the walls and end in a sharp point.

The stiletto shape is the weakest of all shapes and depending upon how sharp it is can scratch and snag. It is a fun shape and can be highly flattering, especially for longer nails, but should be reinforced with gel or acrylic to avoid breakage.