Choosing the right nail shape to suit your client

Nails come in a variety of shapes and sizes and everyone has fingers and nails of different lengths and shapes. Some have long, slim fingers while others have short fingers with short nail beds and every combination in between. A good nail tech knows how to complement a client’s natural features and the foundation of this is choosing a nail shape that makes the most of, and enhances, the client’s natural nail and finger.

Most clients lean toward one of the five basic shapes: square, squoval, tapered square/ballerina, almond or rounded. Essentially, all these shapes are from the basis of a square or rounded shape with just slight adjustments to alter them.

So, how do you know which shape to choose for which client?


Square is typically seen as the classic L&P shape — straight side walls, two sharp points on the tips, and a deep C-curve. However, a true square shape is difficult to pull off when the natural nail or fingers aren’t slim and straight and instead, tend to be short and wide. A sharp square nail can actually make the nail appear shorter and stubbier and can be difficult for many to pull off, especially if the client is wanting just a short extension.


The squoval nail is essentially a traditional square shape but with the softer edges of an oval — hence the name squoval and can be more flattering than a traditional square shape.

Oval, Round, Almond

An oval, round or almond shape is an attractive shape for most hands as it can work on both long and short nail beds whilst giving the illusion of an elongated nail and finger as the eye is drawn to the point. Most clients can pull this shape off but the point should be tailored to suit that individual client’s lifestyle.


This shape is for those used to nail extensions but more typically seen in competition work. A true stiletto has a minimum length which usually exceeds a standard form. The side walls come straight out to a pointed free edge and from the apex the product comes straight down to the free edge. The side walls are not rounded like an almond shape, this just makes a long almond.

Tapered Square/Ballerina

A popular look for those who like something modern or a square nail but need the elongation of the tapered sides. The name comes from the look of a ballerina shoe ‘on point’.


Many clients request this shape when in fact they actually mean a tapered square or ballerina shape. A true coffin shape has a very defined shape at the free edge which isn’t a very balanced shape.

Your client may have their mind set on a particular shape that may not always suit them but as a nail tech we can make sure we guide them and advise them to the most flattering shape for them.

Love Katie B x

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