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Nail Shapes: A Detailed Guide with Photos


The look of your manicure and hands depends on the shape of your nails among other things. A carefully picked shape of the nails visually improves the proportions of your fingers, making them more elegant. It also influences the choice of nail art: one and the same design looks differently on different nail shapes. Let’s talk about nail shapes and learn some tips from manicurists.

Basic Nail Shapes

Nail artists distinguish eight most common nail shapes, one of which is possible only on fake nails.


The nails are cut in a prominent semicircle. This is a perfect option for everyday wear that you can easily do yourself. The nails don’t break easily and are low-maintenance.


The oval nail shape differs from the round one in slightly narrower tips that make it resemble an egg. This shape is as practical as the round one on short nails.


Almond-shaped nails are basically oval nails with pointy tips resembling almonds. It’s a less practical, yet more elegant option.


The tips of the nails are cut in a straight line with prominent edges and quite sharp angles. In the past, square nails were a go-to option for a French manicure, but now they are considered fitting for any nail art.


The squoval shape is a rounded version of the square. It’s less sharp and more convenient.


Stiletto nails are narrow, pointed and look rather eccentric. Sharp stiletto nails are eye-catching, yet fragile. A manicure with stiletto nails lasts longer on gel or fake nails.


The ballerina shape resembles pointe shoes, hence the name. It is a variation of stiletto nails without pointy tips. It works well with long nails and is high-maintenance.


The pipe shape on nails is sculpted by nail technicians on artificial nails with the help of special tools that help to create long and well-pronounced arcs.

Nail Shapes on Different Fingers

When it comes to choosing your nail shape, take into account the proportions of your fingers, your profession, style, and age.

For short fingers

Round nails are perfect for short fingers. They fit in with the proportions and look beautiful on short nails. If you want to elongate the fingers visually, go for middle-length almond or ballerina nails.

For middle-length fingers

In this case, you can choose everything you like, up to eccentric stiletto or pipe nails. Choose what suits your style the best and what will be more convenient for everyday wear.

For long fingers

Almond, square, or oval shapes will adorn your nails beautifully. Round nails can distort the proportions. Narrow stiletto or pipe nails should be approached with care as they can make your hands look like tentacles.

Nail Shapes on Different Nails

To get a beautiful manicure, it’s not enough to know what nail shapes exist. You should also take into account the shape of your nail bed, for example, square, trapezoidal, or wide.

For wide nails

If you like your natural nail shape, you can adjust it a bit with the help of the oval or squoval shape. If you want an elongated shape, resort to fake nails, as sculpting artificial materials will help to make the nails narrower at the tips.

For short nails

The most favorable options for naturally small nails are round, short squoval, or medium-length oval shapes. If you have thin fingers, you can achieve any shape by modeling fake nails to get a desired look.

For long nails

Those of us who have elongated nail plates are luckier than others — we can experiment to our heart’s content. Almond-shaped, short oval or square nails look especially great.

Nails Shapes and Nail Design

There’s no strict correlation between nail shape and design, however, there are some tips that will make your manicure even more attractive.

  • Round nails look great with nude and pastel colors or with vivid rich colors (burgundy, deep blue, green, etc.).
  • Square nails work beautifully with dark coatings, especially with a matte finish.
  • Oval nails are a perfect canvas for pictures against a light background, especially lace, geometric, and floral patterns. 
  • Elegant almond-shaped nails call for gentle pastel nail designs, intricate pictures, and metallic elements.
  • For ballerina nails, a good choice will be light coatings with crisp geometric patterns.
  • Daring stiletto nails will look especially predatory with a dark glossy coating. If you want to make them more feminine, go for a subdued single-color coating, glitter, and some rhinestones.

Tips from Nail Technicians

Now that we have learned about possible nail shapes, let’s see what nail technicians have to say. Their tips will be especially useful for those who are just starting to get into the art of manicure.

  • If you haven’t decided on your desired shape yet, follow a basic rule and let the free edge of your nails mirror the outline of the lunulas. This will definitely make for a neat manicure.
  • When you’re shaping your nails at home, file them only in one direction to avoid damage. Hold a file with two fingers, not in a fist, to control the strength and angle easily.
  • Long rounded nails are more prone to breakage than square ones. Keep this in mind if you work with your hands or exercise.
  • When it comes to choosing a design, keep in mind that light hues make the nails visually larger and wider, while dark ones make them appear longer and narrower. The smaller and shorter your nails, the more modest a design should be.

Now you know almost everything  there is to know about nail shapes: what they are and how you can choose the right one for you. It’s time to choose a magnificent nail design. Visit our photo gallery and get inspired!

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