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The 7 Best Nail Shapes for Acrylics: How to Decide Which One is Right for You

 Ready for a new nail shape? There’s a lot to think about before committing to one. We’ve broken down the most popular shapes, which are best for long vs short nails, plus other considerations. Certain nail shapes are better for resisting breaks or cracked edges, while others are much more high-maintenance.

Whether you’re choosing your own acrylic nail shape or a pro nail tech trying to help your clients decide, here’s what to consider when choosing a nail shape, and our professional advice on how to create each one.

What to Consider When Choosing an Acrylic Nail Shape

Consider your lifestyle. Do your everyday activities and workload involve lots of hand movement? If you’re out there playing volleyball, a stiletto nail is going to be difficult to maintain. Consider a shorter style, like an active-length oval or a short square shape, and go with a fun nail color or design to show off your style.

If the almond, coffin, or stiletto nail shape is speaking to you, proceed with the mindfulness and caution that these nail shapes may be more delicate and may require more maintenance than a shorter classic shape. 

Your nail tech can help determine which nail shape will best complement the size of your nail bed and the length of your nails. Here is what each nail shape will look like and what to expect once you’ve committed to your desired style.

Natural Nails with Acrylic Overlay

The natural acrylic overlay is perfectly applied over the curvature of your own natural nails, making it very low maintenance. No additional length is added, so you can maintain your own nail shape as desired.  

If you prefer your nails filed short and clean, the natural nail overlay is for you. This shape is great if you live an active lifestyle, or do a lot of typing or manual labor—or if you’re simply looking to wear polish without the risk of chipping. 

Oval Acrylics

The oval nail shape is perfect for active length or longer enhancements. This shape requires regular maintenance and filing upkeep to keep every nail looking evenly oval. The oval nail shape complements short, medium-length, and long nails. 

Square Acrylics

The square nail shape is straight and sharp and has the power to resist chips while making hands look long and sleek. While the square nail shape can be done on short nails, all the edge and sharpness this shape evokes works best on medium-length and long nails.

Almond Acrylics

The almond nail shape has gained so much popularity in recent years thanks to the glazed donut and chrome nail trend. Thank you, Hailey Bieber! And when this shape is sculpted to a medium or long length, your nails will look sleek, with a soft, tapered point toward the tip of the nail. 

Squoval Acrylics

Looking for a soft square finish that looks natural yet pristine? The squoval nail shape lies in between the square and oval nail shapes, and is best for those who aren’t quite ready to commit to either oval or square nails.  This shape is also a great option for those who prefer a square shape but don’t like the straight corners.  Your nail artist will file the nails sleek and square on the sides of the nail, and round out the corners of the free edge if choosing this nail shape.

Coffin/Ballerina Acrylics

This is where the drama comes into play — and lots of length too. The traditional coffin nail shape is dramatically tapered with straight edges and a tight C-curve under the nail.  The length comes to a straight horizontal halt at the tip of the nails.  The ballerina is similar in shape and structure but is slightly rounded at the free edge corners.

Stiletto Acrylics

Stiletto nails are as pointy and statement-making as the family of nail shapes get. This nail shape is extremely long and delicate, looks infinitely daring, and is quite the accessory for those who express themselves best with hand gestures. If you’re up for the high-maintenance challenge and love everything about the confidence this nail shape conveys, stiletto nails are calling your name.