How to find the best nail shape for your hands in 2023
05 April 2023 – 6 min read
Whether you’re peeping your friends’ nails, scrolling through curated Pinterest feeds or glancing through a glossy mag, you’re bound to be coveting any number of Instagram-worthy styles. But perhaps the answer you seek sits a little closer to home; at your own fingertips. When you play to the shape of your hands, you find the best tricks to accentuating the good bits and minimising the not-so-good bits. So, what works for which hand types and how can you get the look at home? Well, we’ll tell you (hint: it involves our All Rounder Nail Tools Set). But first, let’s familiarise ourselves with the wonderful world of shapes to choose from.
How to find the best nail shape for your fingers: a visual guide to nail shapes
While there are more nail shape types out there than you can count on both hands, here are a few of our favourites for your perusal. From left to right, top to bottom:
Whether they’re straight, flared or slightly uneven-shaped, natural nails will grow as they please; as nature intended.
The oval is a medium to long shape with straight-filed sides that end in a soft semicircle. While you don’t always need long nails to pull this off, a few millimetres of free edge extending over the fingertip will go a long way.
Another low-maintenance style for both long and short nails, characterised by straight-filed sides and a straight-filed free edge. The square nail shape is known to add visible width to the appearance of your nails, so please wield them wisely.
A.k.a our all-time favourite shape because it looks great on everyone. The almond shape is achieved by keeping a wide base and filing the sides into a tapered peak at the free edge.
The square round nail or soft square is just that; a square shaped nail with softened corners. This is a great low-maintenance shape for growing your nails and can be achieved by straight-filing the sides and straight-filing the top of your nail before gently softening the corners.
Imagine a rectangle with soft corners. Nice. Meet the squoval, a shape that captures the elegance of the oval with a flatter tip. Start by filing straight across your free edge, then around the corners in one smooth stroke.
Also known as the ballerina, the coffin shape is the perfect blend of edgy and feminine. This look can be achieved by filing the nail into a tapered point with a flattened tip. Warning: You will need long and sturdy nails to pull the coffin shape off. (Learn how to grow stronger, longer nails.)
The striking stiletto shape involves filing your nails into a dramatic pointed tip. While this is usually done with acrylics, you can achieve this look with strong natural nails. Grow your way to greatness with help from our Miracle Treatment Base Coat; a proven nail strengthening treatment.
How to find the best nail shape for your fingers: what’s your hand type?
- Hi-five hands: long palm, short fingers
- Grounded hands: wide palm, short fingers
- Piano hands: wide palm, long fingers
- Generous hands: long palm, long fingers
You don’t need to be a palm-reader to see that all hands are unique. The proportion of your palm and the length of your fingers all come into play when finding the best nail shape for your hands. Now, let’s take a closer look to see what (great) hands you have:
Hi-Five hands: long palm, short fingers
Best nail shape: Oval. This shape will help make your fingers appear longer and more slender to balance out the length of your palm.
How to: Use the glass nail file in our All Rounder Nail Tools Set to file the sides of your nails straight and gently taper the free edge into a semicircle.
Best for: Dramatic texts and even more dramatic selfies.
Not so great for: A casual round of volleyball.
Wear with: Kester Black Nail Polish in Fairy Floss; the “perfect balance between feminine pink and lilac,” according to customer Rhianna K.
Grounded hands: wide palm, short fingers
Best nail shape: Almond and Oval. Tapered shapes like almond elongate shorter or wider fingers. We recommend that you opt for rounded shapes in general, especially if you have a wide nail bed.
How to: Use the glass nail file in our All Rounder Nail Tools Set to file the sides of your nails so they gently taper to the tip, then round out the tip into a gentle curve.
Best for: Practical, low-maintenance wear.
Not so great for: Playing guitar or the piano.
Wear with: Kester Black Nail Polish in Petal. Fans like Sophie P. say it’s “exactly what I was looking for!” Not too shabby for this best-selling hazy beige.
Piano hands: wide palm, long fingers
Best nail shape: Coffin (or Ballerina). The edgy coffin shape is enhanced by long fingers and balanced by a square palm. They do require some sturdy nails and regular TLC to avoid breakages.
How to: Use the glass nail file in our All Rounder Nail Tools Set to file the sides of your nails so they gently taper to the tip, then file the tip down parallel to the nail bed.
Best for: Gathering attention.
Not so great for: Weak nails or short nail beds.
Wear with: Kester Black Miracle Treatment Base Coat; the strengthening solution for longer, stronger nails in the long term. In fact, long term nail professionals like Cheryl A. are singing its praises. “The fact it's a treatment as well just adds to its appeal and benefits. I've been in the nail industry for over 40 years and have seen a lot of nail polishes in my days touting claims of greatness, this one is truly amazing because of all the nasties THEY DON'T USE. This gets a huge tick from me.”
Generous hands: long palm, long fingers
Best nail shape: Square, lucky you. You can get away with wearing this blunt look at any length. And they are one of the more practical, low-maintenance shapes to wear to work.
How to: Use the nail clippers in our All Rounder Nail Tools Set to flatten the tip of the nail down to parallel to the nail bed, smooth out with the glass nail file and slightly round the corners on each side.
Best for: Nail art. These little squares create the perfect canvas for your creativity. Have you tried our Bright Delight Nail Stickers?
Not so great for: Getting that last bit of product out of the tub. Sorry.
Wear with: Kester Black Nail Polish in Narcissist. With reviews like “deep, rich and dramatic” (thanks, Julia), just try resisting this decadent dark red.
Wait, but what if you have short nails?
That’s cool. Harry Styles happily struts his stuff with perfectly polished shorties. There’s even a hashtag dedicated to celebrating short nails (Look up #tortiesforshorties). But if your nails are short because they’re weak, brittle or damaged then it’s time to get your grow-on. Read our blog on how to repair damaged, brittle or weak nails and restore them back to their former glory with our Ultimate Nail Rescue set.
Before you go choosing nail shapes willy-nilly, we highly recommend you:
- Find out what type of hand you have, by looking at your palm proportion and finger length.
- Enhance and elongate the appearance of your nails by matching your hand type to a suitable shape.
- If you have short palms and short fingers, it's best to opt for rounded oval and almond shapes.
- For longer palms and fingers, consider dramatic stiletto or coffin (or ballerina) shaped styles.
- Almond shaped nails tend to suit everyone.
- Incorporate natural nail care into your beauty routine for stronger nails.
You’ve figured out the best nail shape(s) for your hands (congratulations!), now it’s time to put it all into practice with 5 steps for the perfect at-home manicure.
Still not sure?
If you're still feeling stuck, we've compiled a neat little quiz to help you find your perfect nail shape.