An Essential Guide to Nail Shapes 2022
An Essential Guide to Nail Shapes 2022

An Essential Guide to Nail Shapes 2023

Your ultimate guide to acrylic nail shapes is here.

Getting your nails done can be a bit confusing, especially as there are a tonne of things you can ask for that normally aren’t explained anywhere in the salon. Whether you’re a nail newbie or a regular in the salon, there are always new nail trends that are cropping up everywhere so you can switch things up when you get your routine manicure.

Not to mention, it’s not just shape you need to consider. Acrylic is often the go-to when getting nail extensions, but you may be tempted by hard gel/polygel nails or soft gel nails, or you may be a firm gel/shellac nail type of person or tempted by builder gel.

Once you’ve decided on what type of nails you want to go for, all that’s left to decide on is the shape, which can be a pretty key decision in how the nails end up looking overall.

Here’s everything you need to know about acrylic nail shapes and what you need to ask for when you get to the salon.

Round shaped nails

Round nails are a really flattering classic shape for shorter nails or natural nails without extensions. If you opt for a round nail, your nails will be filed with a circular edge at the tip for an elongated look to your fingers and a simple and classic approach to nail shapes.

Square, coffin and stiletto are often quite eye-catching shapes that look great with nail art or complex designs, but if you prefer something a bit more simple a plain colour and a round nail shape will look great.

Square shaped nails

Square-shaped nails are a classic shape and the square nail has been a nail shop favourite for years. The shape is pretty self-explanatory from the name, square nails are filed straight across the top with 90-degree side angles. The square shape is often associated with french manicures, but also looks great with all types of nail art styles and designs.

Square nails are not only a classy and classic shape, they’re easily adaptable and look great in all nail lengths from short-medium nails to super long. There may be a tonne of trendy nail shapes around right now, but the square nail is a classic that isn’t going anywhere.

Squoval shaped nails

Squoval nails are a cross between square and oval. If you opt for a squoval shape, you’ll have the classic square shape with rounded-out edges, rather than the flat tip. Squoval nails can be really flattering if you have shorter fingers, as they can give the illusion of longer nails.

Squoval is also great if you love the look of both square and oval nails and can’t decide, because you can have both!

Oval shaped nails

Oval nails are another natural-looking nail shape, with a slight curve at the tip, but filed slightly along the sides. If you prefer natural nails without extensions, or short extensions this is probably the shape for you. Oval nails look great with plain and bright colours and are the perfect option if you prefer more subtle nails, rather than the bold look of stiletto or coffin nails.

Almond shaped nails

Almond shaped nails are a softer shape than the super pointy stilleto. If you prefer a thinner nail as opposed to a square or coffin shape but don’t want the pointiness of a stiletto, almond nails are for you. Almond nails are slim with a rounded edge and a slightly pointy tapered tip.

Regarded as super flattering, almond nails are more classic than the daring stiletto and look great in a whole range of nail lengths. Almond nails are often regarded as flattering for shorter-medium length nails as well as longer styles, so whatever length you prefer and almond shape will look good on you.

Whether you’re going for a classic french manicure or exploring some nail art, an almond shape will complement the design flawlessly.

Coffin/Ballerina shaped nails

Coffin (or ballerina) nails are an acrylic nail shape that went viral a few years ago. While this shape has always existed, it was catapulted into the mainstream and is now a firm favourite in the nail salon. A coffin shape is perfect for longer nails, as they’re typically long with a tapered and flat end. Most nail techs would advise against shorter coffin nails as it doesn’t work as well, so if you’re a fan of shorter nails this may not be the right nail shape for you.

However, for a lot of people coffin nails are very flattering as they can elongate your fingers and they’re not as pointy (and as hard to do everyday tasks with) as a stiletto nail.

For people that aren’t a huge fan of how square nails look, coffin nails are the perfect alternative. Coffin nails are also great for nail art, as they offer a lot of space to experiment with various designs.

Stiletto shaped nails

Stilleto nails are the pointiest nails you can get. These are a long, dramatic and skinny nail with a pointy end and you’ve guessed it, the name comes from stiletto heels which also have a pointy end. Stilleto nails don’t always have to be super long, shorter nails look nice with a stilleto shape too but most nail techs would prefer to do the stiletto nail shop on long to medium nails, rather than super short.

Stilleto nails look great with nail art, french manicures or a block colour and they’re having a bit of a moment right now.

How to take off acrylic nails without acetone

If you need to take off your acrylic nails at home and can’t make it to a salon, be warned as it’s not as easy as the nail techs make it look! Acetone is definitely the easiest way to remove your acrylics, but let’s say you’re in a rush and need your nails off asap and you don’t have any to hand.

First, start by cutting down your acrylic nails to be in line with your natural length. Next soak your nails in warm water with a few drops of liquid soap for about half an hour, to loosen them and soften them up. Once the time is up you can try to carefully pry off the nails. You can also use dental floss to try and speed up the process, as you can slide this under your nails to gently try and loosen them from your real nails. Cuticle oil also works miracles in speeding up the process and helping to lift the nails off.

Chances are, you may still find chunks of acrylic on your nails, so you can file and buff these off yourself once you’ve managed to get the majority of your nails off.

If you want to attempt doing your nails at home without a trip to the salon, you can get a student discount at Mylee for at-home gel kits and lamps or check out Superdrug and LOOKFANTASTIC for fun new nail colours, files and tools to perfect your manicure.