From Jennifer Lopez’s squoval manicure to Kylie Jenner’s trendy coffin-trimmed tips, the shape of your nails may seem like a tiny detail, but it’s actually one of the most important steps to achieving a great mani. In the words of celebrity manicurist, Julie Kandalec, “Shape is everything! A nail in a beautiful color but that is the wrong shape for the hand sends the message that every detail was not taken into account.”
The most requested shapes according to the N.Y.C.-based pro include soft square and almond, but with so many artistic designs trending amongst celebs, deciding which silhouette to tell your technician to go with can be tricky. But Kandalec’s advice makes the process a no-brainer. “Look at the shape of the nail bed or ‘smile line’ (where the pink nail bed and white free edge meet). If the smile line is very deep (round), I’ll generally do a more rounded nail to keep the balance. If it’s not very deep, I’ve found that a soft square looks more natural.”
Kandalec, who has manicured the famous nails of Hailee Steinfeld, Olivia Palermo, and Viola Davis, also suggests paying close attention to the size of your fingers. “If the client has very thin or delicate fingers, she can carry a more oval nail easier. If they’re wide or on the plumper side, doing a very oval, narrow nail looks forced.”
Kandalec also revealed that there’s one nail shape that can drastically age your hands. “A very sharp square shape is very dated and will time-stamp your whole look 10-plus years.” Besides, those pointed corners aren’t ideal if you want to grow long healthy nails. “Nails with a rounded corner are less likely to catch on things, snag, or break—therefore being better for the preserving of the length,” Kandalec said.
If you’re looking to try one of those trendy nail shapes, it won’t turn out so great with your natural nails. “A pointy or ‘stiletto’ nail, thanks to physics, is only able to be created with hard gel or acrylic.” Next time you’re hitting the nail salon, be sure to have the pointers above handy. Plus, scroll down to see our guide of the need-to-know shapes.