Your Guide to 10 Nail Shapes, From Almond to Square

November 15, 2023
Marisa Petrarca
By: Marisa Petrarca | by L'Oréal
illustration of fingers with painted nails in various nail shapes, on a pink and orange graphic background

From creative nail art to vibrant colors, there are tons of ways to express yourself through your manicure. One way to shake up your nail aesthetic is to try out a new nail shape. Perhaps you have a hard time distinguishing the difference between different popular nail shapes, or maybe you didn’t even know that there were different nail shapes to begin with. Either way, we’re here to help. We tapped celebrity manicurist Skyy Hadley and Mazz Hanna, CEO of Nailing Hollywood and celebrity nail stylist, to share everything you need to know about nail shapes, including which one will work best for your natural nails and lifestyle.

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10 Nail Shapes to Try


Round nails are very popular and chances are they are what you picture when you think of fingernails — they most closely resemble the shape of a natural nail. “Round nails have a soft, curved edge where the sides of the nails are completely rounded and follow the natural curve of the fingertip,” Hanna explains. Round nails work well at short or medium lengths, and can even give your fingers an elongated appearance. This shape is the perfect base for trying out new shades and designs, or if you just want a timeless, classic look.

Illustration of a finger with a green round nail on a green background


Square nails are pretty self-explanatory. “Square nails have straight sides and sharp, square-shaped tips,” says Hanna. This nail shape tends to make nails look shorter, so the key is to make sure they’re not filed down all the way. “Square nails are versatile and suit all lengths, but I personally love square nails on a medium length,” she says. “It’s also worth noting that square nails tend to break more easily if you have naturally weak nails, due to the sharp edges getting caught on things.” Pro tip: If your nails are prone to breaking, try a nail strengthening treatment like the Essie Hard to Resist Advanced Nail Strengthener

Illustration of a finger with a square shaped nail painted yellow, on a yellow graphic background


Square oval, or squoval, nails “combine the characteristics of square and round shapes,” says Hanna. “They have a straighter edge similar to square nails, but have slightly rounded corners that create a softer, more natural look.” If you’re into the flat edge of a square nail but aren’t as fond of the sharp corners, this is the shape for you. The squoval is great for a simple and elegant look. It’s also ideal for “those who have weaker nails that break when they wear a square shape with sharp corners,” says Hanna. 

Illustration of a finger with a squoval shaped nail painted purple on a purple graphic background


“Almond nails are tapered with a slightly pointed tip that resembles the shape of an almond,” says Hanna. “They are more slender and pointed than oval nails.” Give this nail shape a try if you naturally have a wider nail bed, as it draws the eye to the narrowing tip. It’s particularly suitable for medium to long nail lengths. “If you have a hard time growing out your nails, try using an at-home system like Dazzle Dry to keep your nails healthy and polished,” Hanna recommends. “It’s amazing for a quick, at-home manicure because it fully dries in 5 minutes and it lasts much longer than regular polish.”

Illustration of an almond-shaped nail painted pink on a pink and purple graphic background


Oval nails are very similar to the shape of almond nails, but the tip is softer and more rounded out. According to Hanna, “oval nails are an elongated, rounded nail shape. The tip of oval nails tends to be slightly more narrow towards the end than round nails.” Both oval and almond shapes work best with longer nails.

Illustration of a finger with an oval shaped nail painted red with a pink graphic background


Stiletto nails are all about the drama. “Stiletto nails are similar to almond nails, but with a much sharper, more dramatic pointed tip,” Hanna explains. “Stiletto nails look best on longer lengths since a lot of length is needed to create a well-structured pointed tip.”

Illustration of a finger with a stiletto nail painted light blue, on a blue graphic background

Tapered Square

According to Hanna, “tapered square nails are square-shaped but the edges are slightly tapered in to create a softer appearance.” The nails become narrower towards the tip, similar to a coffin shape (but not quite as narrow). Try this shape if you have medium to long nails. 

Photo of a finger with a tapered square nail painted blue, collaged on a blue background

Duck Nails

If you were a teen or adult during the early 2000s, you probably remember some of your favorite celebrities sporting duck nails. “Duck nails have a square tip with flared out sides that resemble a duck’s foot,” Hanna explains. “These were popular in the 2000s and since we are seeing a resurgence in popularity of 2000s style, they are making a comeback.” To try this throwback look, you’ll need plenty of length on your nails.

Illustration of a finger with an orange duck nail on an orange and yellow graphic background


Despite the contrast in aesthetics suggested by the names, ballerina nails often get mixed up with coffin nails because they are a very similar shape. “Ballerina nails tend to be slightly more rounded than coffin nails on the sides,” says Hanna. In other words, the corners and edges won’t be as sharply defined. This shape is ideal for those with longer nails. 

Illustration of a ballerina nail painted pink on a pink background
Additional Reporting By: Jordan Julian Design: Juliana Campisi

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