Not all shapes are created equal.

By Erin Lukas
Jul 03, 2020 @ 2:30 pm
Credit: Julian Birchman

Picking a nail polish shade isn't the only decision you have to make when you're at the nail salon.

There will be a moment when your manicurist asks you what shape to file your nails, and your choice will ultimately affect the overall look of your manicure.

Whether you have long or short nails, prefer a basic manicure or want to experiment with an extreme look, there are more nail shapes out there than you have fingers. And surprising to no one, decoding all of the shape options can be more overwhelming than choosing between a coral or salmon nail polish.

From soft round to sharp coffin, we've broken down eight of the most classic, trendy, and hotly debated nail shapes with the help of Sundays Studio founder Amy Lin. With her expert tips, you'll be able to figure out which nail shape is best for you.

Round-Shaped Nails

Credit: Julian Birchman

Definition: "Round nails are achieved the same way you start a square nail, except you round the nail out to an angle to create a curve," says Lin.

Who it's for: If you have narrow nail beds or want to elongate your fingers, round nails are a great option. The shape is also great for anyone looking for a simple, neat-and-tidy manicure.

Square-Shaped Nails

Credit: Julian Birchman

Definition: This shape is created by filing the sides of the nail straight, then turning the file perpendicular towards the tip and filing a straight edge across the top.

Who it's for: Arguably one of the most practical nail shapes, Lin says square nails are ideal for anyone who spends a lot of time typing on a keyboard. "It's easy to maintain, and one of the most common nail shapes for hands and toes," she explains.

Oval-Shaped Nails

Credit: Julian Birchman

Definition: "Oval nails are where the sides are filed straight, but the top of the nail is softer with rounded edges towards the ends," explains Lin.

Who it's for: This is another nail shape that will make fingers look longer and more slender.

Almond-Shaped Nails

Credit: Julian Birchman

Definition: This shape is inspired by the nut it's named after. "You can achieve this shape by keeping a wide base and then rounding edges towards the top of your finger," says Lin. "The best way to create this look is insuring the narrowest part of your tip line is perfectly aligned with the center of your nail."

Who it's for: While almond nails will elongate your fingers, it's not the most practical shape. Lin cautions that if you do a ton of work with your hands, it's easy to break a nail.

Squoval-Shaped Nails

Credit: Julian Birchman

Definition: Squoval nails are similar to a square shape, but with rounder edges.

Who it's for: This is an easy, functional nail shape. "It's common for hands and toe nails, not to mention it's used on ingrown toe nails," says Lin.

Stiletto-Shaped Nails

Credit: Julian Birchman

Definition: Otherwise known as "pointed nails," this shape works on long nails. To achieve the look, "file sidewalls of the nail straight," says Lin. "You then file the nail up and over from the sidewall to center on both sides."

Who it's for: While this unique shape won't go unnoticed, since the tip is so pointy, it's super easy to break.

Coffin-Shaped Nails

Credit: Julian Birchman

Definition: This shape has tapered ends that are squared off. The dramatic look is achieved by filing the edges of the nail toward the center, followed by filing off the tips.

Who it's for: Anyone who wants their nails to get some attention at a special event. But on a daily basis, coffin nails aren't the most practical shape choice. "If you have weak or short nail beds, I would advise going with a short coffin nail look because it leaves you less exposed for nail breaks, but still feels creative," Lin suggests.

Lipstick-Shaped Nails

Credit: Julian Birchman

Definition: Just like the name of this shape implies, the end is filed so the nail looks like a lipstick bullet. "You create this pointed look by filing your nails in a sharp asymmetrical angle at the tip," says Lin.

Who it's for: Lipstick nails are a shape that will elongate your fingers, but it's not an ideal shape for anyone who uses their hands a lot. The bottom line: Save lipstick nails for the next time you're attending a wedding.