Nail Shapes 101

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Nail Shapes 101

If you're a beginner manicurist, it's vital that you familiarize yourself with the 7 essential nail shapes that are popular in nail salons. Discover these must-have styles and build a solid foundation in nail shaping techniques. Look no further - we've got you covered.

Come on, let’s start!


Although there are countless nail shape options available, we've curated a list of our top 6 favorite styles to help you navigate the world of nail art. From elegant and classic to bold and daring, there's something for everyone to enjoy. So take a look and find the perfect shape to suit your style and personality.


The almond nail shape is widely regarded as a classic favorite, thanks to its ability to flatter a variety of hand sizes and shapes. This coveted look is achieved by maintaining a broad base and then filing the sides to create a gently tapered peak at the tip of the nail. The result is a graceful and feminine silhouette that exudes elegance and sophistication.

Oval Shapes

The oval nail shape is characterized by straight sides that are filed to form a soft semicircle, making it a medium to long shape. It's worth noting that one doesn't necessarily need long nails to rock this shape, as even a few millimeters of free edge extending over the fingertip can make a significant difference.

Squoval Shaped Nails

The squoval nail shape is a combination of the square and oval shapes. It features a square-shaped nail with slightly rounded edges, giving the nail a softer appearance. This shape is very popular as it combines the strength of the square shape with the elegance of the oval shape.

Square Round

If you're looking for a versatile and low-maintenance nail shape to grow out your nails, consider the square round or soft square. As the name suggests, this shape features a square base, but with softened corners to achieve a more rounded appearance. Achieving this shape is relatively simple - start by straight-filing the sides and top of your nails before gently rounding off the corners for a softened finish. The result is a stylish and practical nail shape that's perfect for everyday wear.


For those seeking a low-maintenance yet striking nail shape that works well with both long and short nails, the square shape may be the perfect choice. This style is characterized by straight-filed sides and a straight-filed free edge, creating a neat and streamlined look. It's worth noting, however, that this shape has a tendency to make nails appear wider than they actually are, so it's best to use this shape judiciously. When executed properly, the square nail shape can be a chic and polished option that's suitable for a range of occasions.


For those who desire a bold and daring nail shape, the stiletto shape is a surefire way to make a statement. This eye-catching shape involves filing your nails to a sharp and dramatic point, and while it's often achieved with acrylics, it's possible to create this look with strong, natural nails as well. Growing your nails out to this length can be challenging, but with the aid of a proven nail strengthening treatment such as our Rubber Base Gel Coat, it's entirely achievable. So if you're ready to take your nail game to the next level and unleash your inner glam, consider the striking stiletto shape.

Coffin (A.K.A Ballerina Nail Shape)

The coffin shape, also known as the ballerina shape, is a trendy and sophisticated style that strikes the perfect balance between edgy and feminine. To achieve this shape, the nail is filed into a tapered point with a flattened tip, creating a chic and streamlined look. It's important to note, however, that this shape requires long and sturdy nails to execute properly. So if you're up for the challenge and ready to rock this stylish shape, make sure your nails are up to the task. With the right length and strength, the coffin shape can be a stunning and daring option that's sure to turn heads.

Nail Shapes to Recommend Based on Hand Types

Are you a beginner nail manicurist unsure about which nail shape to recommend to your clients? Don't worry, we've got you covered. Before you start filing away, take a closer look at your client's hand type to determine the best nail shape to enhance and elongate the appearance of their nails. Here are a few hand types and their recommended nail shapes:

Oval-Shaped Nails for Hi-Five Hands

If your client has hi-five hands, characterized by a long palm and short fingers, recommend oval-shaped nails. This shape will help make their fingers appear longer and more slender to balance out the length of their palm.

Almond or Oval-Shaped Nails for Grounded Hands

Grounded hands, with wide palms and short fingers, would look great with almond or oval-shaped nails. Tapered shapes like almonds elongate shorter or wider fingers, and rounded shapes are a good option, especially if they have a wide nail bed.

Coffin or Ballerina-Shaped Nails for Piano Hands

For piano hands, with wide palms and long fingers, recommend coffin or ballerina-shaped nails. This edgy shape is enhanced by long fingers and balanced by a square palm. However, make sure your client has sturdy nails and is willing to invest in regular TLC to avoid breakages.

Square-Shaped Nails for Generous Hands

If your client has generous hands, with long palms and long fingers, square-shaped nails are the way to go. They can wear this blunt look at any length and are one of the more practical, low-maintenance shapes to wear to work.

Short Nails

And don't forget about short nails! Short nails can be just as stylish as long nails. If your client has short nails, recommend they embrace it like Harry Styles and consider trying out the hashtag #tortiesforshorties. But if their nails are short because they're weak or damaged, recommend they try our nail care range to help repair and strengthen them.


Remember, before you start filing away, make sure to review all the shapes and recommend the best one for your client's hand type. Almond-shaped nails tend to suit everyone, and incorporating nail nourishment into their beauty routine will help keep their nails strong and healthy.

How to Maintain Them?

Working on Acrylic Nail Shapes

After a visit to the salon for a beautiful manicure, the real challenge begins: maintaining the perfect shape of the nails for as long as possible. This largely depends on the shape of your nails: oval, round, square, and almond-shaped nails are usually easier to maintain. However, if you're the kind of girl who is brave to wear stiletto or coffin nails, you may have to put in a little more effort.

But don't worry, it's not an impossible task. You don't need to take extreme measures like hiring a manicurist 24 hours a day or wrapping your hands to keep them from touching any surface. Just pay attention to detail and be careful and diligent.

Maintain the Shape of Your Nails

Maintain the nails

Maintaining the shape of acrylic nails is not a particularly complicated task, however, it does require certain skills that you will improve with practice and time.

Another detail you should take into consideration is that each technique will differ according to the nail shape. This means you can’t apply the same treatment to an almond, oval, or round nail as to a square or stiletto and coffin nail.

In other words, you will follow some particular advice, depending on how the manicurist or technician gave it at the beginning:

  • Round. This is probably the easiest way to maintain. If you want some low maintenance but still want your nails to look good, this is probably the way for you. All you have to do is make sure that they follow the natural curving of the fingertips and take care of any imperfections.
  • Oval. They are also considered one of the oldest traditional shapes and, to preserve them the longest, you must make sure that it remains similar to the shape of an egg so that your fingers look longer.
  • Square. This is probably one of the most popular acrylic nail shapes and the good news is that the risk of breakage is much lower compared to other shapes; you should focus on following the natural width of the nails and clean the edges if any roughness.
  • Almond. This is very similar to the oval shape, except that it is a little more pointy at the top. Therefore, to maintain the shape, the basic thing is the width at the base and the thinness along the sides. Always check the central point at the tip of the nail and have both sides make a peak at the central point.
  • Stiletto. While they’re not very common, outside of celebrities, someday you may use these nails and when that happens, all you have to do to maintain the shape is check that the central point is preserved and the edges maintain that rounded shape. Be careful as these nail shapes break easily.
  • Coffin. This is a more subtle version of the stiletto shape and follows the same shaping technique, therefore, for its maintenance, you must follow a similar procedure, and make sure that the central point and edges have no imperfection that makes them look irregular. Also, remember that the tips must be straight to resemble a dancer’s shoe.

Tips and Tools

tips and tools

As a professional nail technician or manicurist, you know that it takes more than just technique to keep acrylic nails looking their best. To maintain their shape, you need the right tools, such as a high-quality Nail File, and a polishing block, also known as a Buffer for your emergency kit.

But simply having these tools is not enough. It's important to seek additional advice from experienced professionals to ensure that your clients' nails stay perfect for longer. When placing the nails, you must also be careful to guarantee a quality job.

To create long-lasting, realistic-looking acrylic nails, finding an experienced nail specialist is crucial. Make sure the manicurist can create a strong base and take the time necessary to assemble the nails correctly, thus minimizing future damage and breakage. Additionally, you must remind your clients to carefully consider the shape they want to give their nails before getting them done. Depending on their lifestyle, work-related activities, diligence, and other factors, they may require nails that need more or less maintenance. As a skilled nail technician or manicurist, you know that providing expert advice and guidance can help your clients achieve the best possible results.

List of Tools Needed for Different Nail Shapes:

  • Oval: Nail file, buffer, cuticle pusher
  • Square: Nail file, buffer, cuticle pusher
  • Almond: Nail file, buffer, cuticle pusher, pointy brush
  • Stiletto: Nail file, buffer, cuticle pusher, pointy brush
  • Coffin: Nail file, buffer, cuticle pusher, pointy brush
  • Round: Nail file, buffer, cuticle pusher
  • Squoval: Nail file, buffer, cuticle pusher.

General tips for acrylic nails

All information is essential. We must have all the necessary knowledge at hand to maintain the different shapes of our nails.

As our main objective is to prevent them from breaking, deforming, peeling or lifting, ruining the nail polish, or any other inconvenience, it’s a useful decision to keep in mind some important details:

  • Clean them regularly yet do not overuse them. Always use antibacterial soap to wash your acrylic nails. This will reduce the risk of infection. You can also clean under your nails using a Q-tip dipped in alcohol to prevent bacteria.
  • Use vitamin E once a week. Vitamin E is amazing for your nails and should be applied to your fingers at least once a week. It provides a good base for your acrylic nails and keeps them naturally healthy.
  • Don’t mend your acrylics yourself if the problem is major. I know you’re up to many things, but sometimes it’s better to rely on specialists; if it’s a serious injury it’s best to call your manicurist for an emergency appointment.
  • Keep the skin surrounding the nails healthy. The skin around your nails must be always healthy. Look for redness or dryness around the acrylics, as this may indicate an infection and you will need to remove them to address the situation as soon as possible.
  • Avoid behaviors such as nail biting. While it is very difficult to stop these behaviors and stop playing with acrylics, please understand that this can lead to unnecessary damage and lifts or impact the shape. If you have dry cuticles, apply cuticle oil daily to reduce the desire to touch the skin. If you don’t know which is safe, ask your nail technician for a recommendation.

Although a few lines ago I told you that it’s better safe than sorry and that if you have suffered serious damage to your nails, it’s better to go to the manicurist, it’s also worthwhile suggesting that if it’s a minor situation, such as they’re inconsistent or something has affected their shape, you can do something about it.

As a general rule, what is recommended to preserve the shape of your acrylic nails and to make them remain beautiful for a long time, is to follow the instructions of basic care, make use of files or blocks when necessary, follow the visits every two weeks to the salon with a qualified technician. In other words, appropriate care practices and love can help a lot


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