Contrary to popular belief, the nail polish in which you choose is not the only important decision that goes into a good manicure. While proper polish choice is essential, we find nail shape to be equally as important. And since we consistently tell the nail technician to shape our nails “square, round” (what does that even mean?), we reached out to a few nail experts for the lowdown on up-and-coming nail shapes—because it’s about time we mix it up.
From almond to oval and stiletto, today’s trending nail shapes are all about elongating the hand, says Alexandra Falba, the lead nail technician for OPI. And while Falba recommends each and every one of the above shapes, she says the shape you choose is dependent on the length of your nails. To help you figure out the best trending nail shape for your specific nails, we asked nail experts to break down of-the-moment nail shapes by length.
For the trending nail shape that best suits your nails, keep reading.
Super Short: Soft Square
The shape: Busy summer days call for a look that is both elegant and wearable, says Mary Lennon and Leah Yari, co-founders of Côte. Which is why they recommend wearing a short, easy nail shape like a soft square come summer. In Lennon and Yari’s words, “A soft-edged square shape on a shorter nail still rules. It’s chic, sassy, fun, and practical.”
How to get the look: Since not much nail length is needed, this shape is one of the easier ones to achieve. To get the look, Lennon and Yari say to, “gently file straight across the top of the nail, keeping strokes in one direction (not sawing back and forth). Next, round out the edges of the nail just slightly. And don’t forget to finish off with a nail buffer to soften any sharp edges.”
The shape: Have short nails, but still want a fun style? Falba recommends a soft oval shape, as she says it will add length to the fingers and hands, even if your nails are short.
How to get the look: Use a clean, sharp clipper like Sally Hansen Toenail Clip with Catcher ($3) to take off the excess length. Falba says, “hold the clipper at an angle, looking at your nail from the top, and cut the sides of the free edge first, then the center.” Once you have trimmed your nails, Falba says to take a soft file like ClassyLady Crystal Glass Nail File ($10), and gently shape the nail starting in the center of the free edge and progressing to the sides. Make sure to file each side alternatively, constantly checking the symmetry for a soft oval-like shape.
The shape: For medium to long nail lengths, Falba recommends shaping your nails similar to that of an almond. A bit more pointy than an oval, this elegant shape gives the appearance of longer fingers.
How to get the look: To create this shape, Falba recommends taking a soft file like OPI Crystal File ($10) and shaping the nail, starting in the center of the free edge before progressing to the sides. She says not to file one side completely, as this can give you a crooked almond shape. Instead, alternate from side to side, constantly checking the symmetry of the nail, says Falba. Once happy with the shape, she says to lightly buff underneath the free edge to get rid of any grit.
The shape: Thanks in part to the Kardashians, the stiletto nail shape is rather popular at the moment. And, while Falba loves this shape for summer, she says it is strictly meant for long nails, as the pointed shape can have a claw-like effect on short nails.
How to get the look: When clipping your nails to create a pointed stiletto shape, Falba says to look at your nail from the top, and cut the sides of the free edge before moving to the center. When finished clipping your nails, Falba says to take a soft nail file and shape the nail, starting in the center of the free edge, moving to the sides. While filing, Falba recommends alternating from side to side to make sure the point of the stiletto is symmetrical. She also suggests checking the sides of the nails for symmetry, as this will make the stiletto look more natural and less claw-like. When you have achieved a symmetrical point, Falba says to use a buffer like Deborah Lippmann Buffer Nail File ($12) to file underneath the nail and remove any grit.