Anyone going for a manicure needs to read this incredibly helpful nail shapes guide

Essential knowledge because ‘I want them a bit neater’ just isn’t going to cut it anymore.

24 Aug 2018

Confused by the concept of coffin nails? Stumped when someone tells you they’ve opted for a stiletto - on their hands? We hear you; thanks to the proliferation of nail bars and nail art trends popping up, suddenly the humble ‘would you like the edges round or square?’ question seems ridiculously outdated.

To clear things up - and so that you can go to your next nail appointment, whether it's for gels or acrylics, confident in your choice of nail shape, we’ve come up with this ultimate guide to all the nail shapes you need to know about in 2018 - and asked experts about the benefits of each.


Rounded Nails

If you’re all about practicality, this is the one to go for - this semi-circle is the ultimate ‘low-maintenance, understated look that’s tidy and lovely with or without colour,’ according to Margaret Dabbs, Founder of global health and beauty brand, Margaret Dabbs London. If you type a lot or find long nails always break, this is the ideal shape for you.


You’ll need a bit more length for this - but if you have it, it’s a universally flattering option that elongates the hand for an elegant finish. Unsurprisingly, session manicurist Ama Quashie refers to it as her favourite and claims it works wonders if you have ‘short stubby fingers like me.’ Apparently, she’s not alone: at , it’s one of their most-requested nail shapes.


This one’s a statement look that, according to Dabbs, works enormously well when paired with bold nail art or vibrant colours - though she warns that natural nails are more prone to breakage if you go for this shape, so draft someone in carry the shopping/send your texts for you/do pretty much anything taxing in the hand department or check out our top tips for strengthening your nails.


Straight at the sides, and flat on the top, Ama calls this the ‘sportier look,’ and says it looks pretty damn great when juxtaposed with ultra-feminine pillarbox red. It’s a good choice if you’ve got narrow nail beds - Dabbs says it’ll give the impression of extra width.


Go for this if you’re confused - it’s a great middle ground between the square and oval and looks great on most hands. Also, Ama makes the very good point that with this nail, you get a sharper tip (aka the look of a longer finger), but ‘without the right-angled corners that often get caught and break more easily.’


Popular on the ‘gram because the filed off top looks very 2018 and the length of the nail leaves space for nail art or experimental patterns, you should only go for this one if you a) wear fake nails, b) are willing to outsource anything you usually do with your hands as per stiletto nails.

Now you've got your nail shape sorted, check out our pick of the best nail polishes, including the hot new breathable polishes.