Friday, October 14, 2011

Manicuring 101 - The Different Nail Shapes and How to Achieve Them

Hey guys!

Today I have another instalment of my Manicuring 101 Series for you! I keep receiving comments/emails about how you're all really enjoying this series so far and that you're excited to learn more and I'm really glad to hear that.

For any of my newer followers who haven't seen any of the Manicuring 101 Series yet, check out the Tutorials tab at the top of the page and you'll find links to all of the other instalments from this series.

Today's post will be a discussion of the different types of nail shapes that you can have and how you should go about achieving them. Today's post will tie in with the next post in the series which will be a discussion of the many different types of nails files available and how to use them properly.

Keep reading for a info on nail shape!

There three most common nail shapes are: square, squoval and oval. Let's take a look at each of these shapes and how you can achieve them.


The square nail shape is one of the strongest nail shapes you can have because the full width of the nail remains at the free edge. However, this shape isn't usually flattering on shorter nails as it can make hands look blunt and heavy; the square shape is best used to draw attention to longer nails.

To create this shape: hold your nail file at a 90° angle perpendicular to the finger and file straight across in one direction.

FYI, I usually sport the square shaped nails.


The squoval nail shape is the generally the most popular nail shape, as well as the most universally flattering shape. The nail is still able to maintain most of its natural strength but the corners are slightly rounded for a softer, more feminine appearance.

To create this shape: first start by following the directions for creating the square shape. Once you're satisfied, you'll want to hold your file at a 65° angle and carefully round the corners. As you move your file from the corner to the middle of your nail, work your file from the 65° angle to a 90° angle.


This is a more traditional nail shape but it's still very popular. The tip is rounded instead of squared but the sides of the free edge are able to grow straight, which maintains the strength and structure of the nail.

To create this shape: allow the sides of your nails to grow straight but hold your file at approximately a 40° angle and round only the tip of the free edge.

If you're not sure which shape is right for you or which will be the most flattering, here's a tip: take a look at the shape of your cuticles. If they're rounded, a round nail shape will be flattering for you. And vice versa, if your cuticles are more squared, then the square or squoval shape will be flattering for you. Of course, you can choose to have whichever nail shape you prefer; this tip will just help you make a decision if you're not sure which shape to opt for!

That ends our discussion of three of the most common nail shapes you can have and how you can achieve them. There are a couple of other nail shapes that you can have, but most opt for one of the above shapes.

I hope this post was helpful!

(The nail shape images came from the Sally Hansen UK website.)


  1. I love the squoval nail shape but I never manage to file my nails this way! Do you use glass nail files? I would love to see a video tut about to get my nails look like that!

  2. I think I would consider mine to be squoval, I don't do well with square. I can't pick anything up. Mine tend to be anywhere from 1/4" to 1/2" in length at the free edge. Unless of course a I break a nail, then they get cut back to try and keep the length the same. I leave a good amount to file after cutting to get the shape I want.


  4. I'm trying to achieve a squoval shape, but not doing very well. I have longish nailbeds and my nails are quite straight but some of them (ring and middle) flare a little. I used to always have short nails but wear them a little longer now, about 2-3 mm of free edge (~1/10"), and I'm trying to figure out the shape. I don't quite understand how to do the squoval shape on the flared nails without them having a kind of "duck foot" shape... :/ Plus it can be hard to know what to use as a horizontal reference when you have kinda asymmetrical nailbeds and crooked fingers. But I'm working on it.

  5. This may help you

  6. I have 2 problems.

    I have no idea what exactly shape I have

    My thumb cuticle is squre, but my fingers are round.

  7. I love squoval.

    I think one should be careful with the squares - it can look great, but it can turn for the vulgar if one is not careful.

  8. If you work with your hands a lot square nails aren't the best idea. It's really easy to break off the corners.

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