7 Nail Shapes That'll Upgrade Your Manicure Stat

All you need is a good nail file.

These seven nail shapes can be done from home.
Anastasia Gorlanova / EyeEm/EyeEm/Getty Images

When you think about manicures, a rainbow of nail polish colors probably flood your mind. Besides picking a hue and maybe a nail art design to try, there's another element to consider for your finished look: Picking from one of the different nail shapes for your tips, which can add more flair to your mani.

To get the lowdown on the most popular shapes to choose from, Bustle spoke with top experts like Orosa founder Carolyn Chen, nail care brand Sundays' founder Amy Ling Lin, and Pear Nova founder Rachel James (to name just a few) for all the intel. These pros explained everything from how to achieve the looks at home to what the world's top trending nail shapes are. Because, sure, that butterfly nail art is great, but you can customize it even further by shaping your tips a certain way. And there's more to your nail's silhouette than just round or square — some seriously impressive shapes are worth attempting, like coffin or stiletto.

Working with different shapes applies to both natural nails and press-ons. All you need? A nail file. Keep reading for the seven different nail shapes experts recommend trying in order to level up your manicure.



Sally Hansen ambassador Hannah Lee says oval-shaped nails are a great choice for easy wear. The slightly rounded tips work on all different lengths, so you don't need extra-long nails for the look.

To get the oval shape, Lee recommends clipping the tip of the nail at a slight angle from one side and then the other to create a point. Then use your file, starting from one side and moving just past the front of your nail. Do this a few times before switching to the other side to file in the same direction. Continue until you have the shape you'd like. Pro tip: Lee recommends filing in a single direction as it's easier on the nail, and that shaping works best with a high-quality file (the O.P.I. Crystal Nail File is great).



James is also a fan of oval shapes, but with a twist: a squoval, which has a bit more of a rounded square structure. The perk about this shape is that it's easy to maintain, especially when you're doing your mani upkeep at home.

To get the look, she says to first trim your nails if they're long or in a pointed shape in order to create a foundation for the new structure. Then, file the top edge of your nail straight across before softly rounding out the corners. To do so, she recommends holding the nail file at a 45-degree angle on one side of the nail and use a smooth motion to shape. Also key? Stop in between filing to check the length and shape as you go, since it's a subtle curve to the square.



For an edgier look, Chen says to try the coffin nail shape. It gets its name from, well, looking like a coffin: The tip of the nail is filed to a more narrow, straight point around the edges.

You actually don't need extension-length nails to get the shape. Chen says to begin by clipping to whatever length you'd like. "The clean cut will give you the top shape of the coffin style," she tells Bustle, noting that it's best to leave your nails a bit longer than you think you'd like since you can always file them down. Then, clip the sides of your nail on a slight diagonal to get a tapered effect. Begin filing down the sides as you taper up towards the tip with a coarse nail file. Finish by perfecting the edges with the finer side of the file.



For those who want to give the illusion of longer fingers and nails, Chen says a stiletto shape is a good option — which is one of the more dramatic styles you can choose from. This particular structure is similar to the coffin style, but rather than a blunt edge, it comes to a point.

To get the look, Chen says to start similarly to the coffin by clipping your nails down to your desired length. Then, carefully begin to clip the sides to form a point before using a file to even out the sides moving toward the tip. Finally, use the finer side of the file to perfect any rough edges.



A more minimalist nail shape is the square, which Chen says is a low maintenance style. "This shape is best for short nails as the sides are rounded so it doesn’t snag," adds ORLY ambassador and Nails of LA founder Brittany Boyce.

According to Ling Lin, the look is one of the easiest to get. For a square, she recommends filing the nail down from the center. Once you achieve your desired length, file the sides to match, pulling in motions away from yourself.



Lin says that the round nail is a "classic." While an oval comes to more of a point, this shape is rounded along the entire tip, and it works well on all nail lengths.

To get the shape, Lin says to start at the sides of your nail and file toward the center, switching back and forth between sides and moving in the same direction. A pro tip: Watch each side carefully to see when one is getting more round than the other so you can make them even, says Lin.



According to Boyce, an almond nail is great for those looking to elongate their fingers. "Almond looks good with a little more length," she tells Bustle. One thing to note: "It’s not as strong as oval, so if you use your fingers a lot and they tend to break, skip it," she says.

Lin recommends to clip the sides of your nail first before using the file to shape. When you file, run it toward the center tip and round at the top. Use a gentle motion and keep the file in the same direction to protect the nail.