Seconds after you sit down in the nail salon, you’ve historically been forced to make a binary decision: square or round? But it’s not that simple anymore. These days, nail shapes are more varied than ever, thanks to influencers and celebrities alike sporting a variety of far-from-traditional silhouettes. It’s not just about picking the perfect nail color or showing off a funky design anymore — nail shapes are the new it-factor when it comes to nailing a manicure (no pun intended).
“Trying out different nail shapes definitely keeps things fun, and it’s a great way to express ourselves,” Lilly Rojas, founder of Brooklyn’s Lili and Cata nail salon, explains. “Just like experimenting with colors you normally wouldn’t wear feels brave, finding your perfect nail shape can provide a sense of self confidence and empowerment.”
With that being said, you also want to find the shape that works best for you. According to Anastasia Totty, a LeChat nail educator and owner of Artistique Salon in Jacksonville, Florida, there are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a nail shape: your personal style, your personal preference, and your occupation. “It has to enhance your look, make you feel beautiful, and fit your idea of what looks good. Trends come and go, but finding your unique style is extremely important,” she says.
If you want a quick tip to discovering your most natural-looking nail shape, manicurist Deborah Lippmann says it’s all about following the cuticles. “The best way to find the best shape for you is do a proper cuticle pushing, and then mirror the shape of the tip of your nails to the shape of your cuticles,” she explains. “That gives you the most natural elongated nail and is how you find your best personal nail shape.”
We’re at the point now where the world has more nail shape varieties than we have fingers, so it can be tough to keep track of all the options, let alone choose one. That’s why we’ve broken down 11 of the most popular options so you can make an informed, thoughtful decision next time you sit down at the salon.
Plus, it could be fun to play around with some different options. “I would suggest trying out a new nail shape every few months because you never know, it might become your new favorite shape,” Rojas says.
Meet the experts: