Selecting a nail shape is the foundation to creating a flawless finish to your fingers, but as the nail-spo game on Instagram gets stronger, it’s hard to keep up with the latest nail jargon and even harder to know which nail shape suits you. As a general rule, you want to select a shape that’s complimentary to your nail bed and acts as a continuation of your finger – the key to elongating your hands. Shorter nails will want to steer clear of square-styles and wider nail beds will want to create the appearance of length. Feeling overwhelmed? Swot up with our handy (get it?) beauty dictionary definitions to find your signature nail style. Time to tailor your talons; let’s go
The OG. ‘Round’ is a classic nail shape that mirrors the contour of the nail, finished off with a rounded, circular tip. Create the illusion of slim, elongated hands regardless of nail length – nail nibblers, this style even works for you. It’s a subtle and easy to maintain style for those of us that need to get things done.
Best for: short nails with wide nail beds
Style it out with… natural, naked nails
If you want to lengthen your nails and hands, then opt for an almond nail. It’s slender on the side and comes to a natural-looking peak – kind of like the nut it’s named after – creating an illusion of extra length. An absolute favourite with Royals and A-listers; it’s fuss-free but still fancy.
Best for: slim fingers with narrow nail beds
Style it out with… nudes. Ballerina-slipper blushes, not-your-bae neutrals and coffee-coloured browns.
There’s no denying nineties nostalgia is everywhere right now – from the Sporty Spice branded tracksuits and corset tops to satin slip dresses and Friends re-runs. And the resurgence of square nails is no exception. Precise, square-edges usually suit narrow fingers and thinner nail beds best.
Best for: long fingers with slim nail beds
Style it out with… blindingly-bright neons and grungey shades that wouldn’t look out of place in an All Saints video.
At some point, most of us will have stuttered ‘square-round’ in a last minute panic when asked by our manicurist ‘what nail style would you like?’ Thankfully, this is the most universal of all nail shapes. It’s a hybrid (yup, you guessed it) of square and round nails. Simply take a square nail shape and round off the edges creating a softer, curvier look that’ll flatter anyone. It’s like Spanx but for nails.
Best for: absolutely everyone
Style it out with… take your pick from boss babe reds to icy blues and screaming-out-for-the-sun corals.
With a more rounded tip than the almond nail, oval nails are a feminine, girly and no-maintenance option. Nail biters, sadly, this one isn’t for you, as this style requires a longer nail length. Can’t seem to shake the habit? Add a lil length with a gel overlay to achieve this sleek and polished style.
Best for: short hands with longer-length nails
Style it out with… ice-cream parlour pastels like mint-chocolate-chip greens, bubble-gum blues and candyfloss pinks.
A favourite for nail queen Kylie Jenner, this off-the-moment manicure shape is tapered on the side and finished with a sleek, ruler-straight edge at the tip. Even the strongest of natural nails would struggle not to snap, so ramp up the glam and add a set of nail extensions.
Best for: on-trend talons
Style it out with… daring, bold colours and geometric nail art. Now’s your time to get creative.
Dramatic, dangerous and as spikey as a pair of Louboutins and just as unpractical – applying false eyelashes, zipping up jeans and opening a Diet Coke should be classed as an extreme sport when wearing this shape – stiletto nails are filed to a sharp, extreme Mount Everest-esque point. Natural nails aren’t strong enough, so you’ll need a gel or acrylic nail extension to pull off this show-stopping style.
Best for: Natural nails have no place here; you’ll need a full set of fierce gel or acrylic nails.
Style it out with … Cardi B-inspired bling, intricate nail art and mirror-finish chromes.