Picking polish isn’t the only decision to be made when getting a manicure. Whether short or long, oval or square or anything in between, nails can be filed into the exact shape that makes hands look their best. “Different nail shapes create a different overall effect on how the nails and hands look,” says Shel Pink, founder of SpaRitual. Read on to find out which nail shape is best for your hands.
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Straighter on the sides and blunt across the top, square nails are best on smaller nail beds; when worn on a wide nail bed, the hands can look stocky or stubby.
Oval nails convey a feminine, classic look. “For someone with short, small hands, oval nails can create the illusion of longer fingers,” says Pink.
For subdued, natural-looking nails, choose a round shape. “It looks nice on shorter nails and makes a wider nail bed look more elegant,” says Essie Weingarten, founder and creative director of Essie cosmetics.
In-home celebrity manicurist Gina Alcedo agrees and says a rounded shape is a favorite with her mature celebrity clients because the shape, which is typically done on a shorter nail, “thins out the nail elongating fingers.” Plus, because the rounded shape is typically worn on short nails clients can pull off the widest variety of nail polish shades without looking too “garish or intense,” she explains.
“Nail shape should follow cuticle shape. That’s why most hands look best with a ‘squoval’ shape—a bit square, a bit oval with soft edges,” says Weingarten.
More of a trend than a staple shape, pointy nails (which can be difficult to function with) tend to make the hands appear thin.
“For longer nails, the ballerina shape, also called the coffin shape, is trending,” says celebrity manicurist Mar Y Sol. “It looks like a point shoe for ballerinas and is a longer oval nail with the top completely tapered off to create that point shoe shape.
“Another trend I like to combine with the ballerina shape is to add Swarovski crystals. They’re chic, easy to apply, and come in all sizes which can be applied in such a way to complement your nail shape and add that je ne sais quoi to your nail look.”