Most clients lean toward one of five basic nail shapes: square, round, oval, squoval, or pointed. Though other blended combinations of these shapes exist, these five are the most common. Use this guide to help you decide on the proper shape for each client and to learn some techniques for filing it just right.
The oval shape is an attractive nail shape for most women’s hands and can work on long nail beds and short ones as well. Ovals can be longer to accentuate a long nail bed, or they can be shorter to complement a shorter nail bed. The oval can add length to a nail while retaining the softer curves of the round shape.
The square nail is the classic acrylic shape — straight side walls, two sharp points on the tips, and a balanced C-curve. It is the staple shape for the traditional French manicure and is used frequently for detailed nail art designs. Avoid this shape for natural nail beds that are shorter and wider, as it will make the nail appear shorter and stubbier. For longer nail beds, the square can complement the nail and add length to the finger.
The squoval nail is essentially a conservative square with the length of a square nail but the softer edges of an oval. Squoval nails add versatility, enabling short, wide nail beds to carry length without appearing oversized.
The round shape is more conservative is frequently used to create a softer, more conservative look, and it’s also a common choice for male clients because the shape mirrors the natural contours of the nail. If a client has wide nail beds and large hands, then the rounded shape can make the hands look a bit thinner.
A pointed shape can create length and have a slenderizing effect on the hand. Smaller hands with smaller nail beds can use a pointed nail to create a subtle appearance of length, while long, slender nail beds take pointed nails to a more noticeable and extreme level.