Nail shape
Photo: Monica Park

While manicures are meant to be a relaxing half hour or so, they can be fraught with decisions that are just too overwhelming to make in a massage arm chair. Now that we’ve mastered the art of finding the right nude tones and nail magic tricks, the next salon challenge you’ll face is picking a shape.

To help us nail which one is right for you (get it?), we consulted manicure expert Elissa Schell from Paintbox in Soho for a primer on each shape—from how to distinguish between styles to how to select the right angles for your nails—so you can get back to enjoying that hand massage.


nail shape
Photo: Monica Park

Basically, this is a perfect square with no soft edges. Sure, with a square shape you *do* run the risk of your hands looking stubby, but it’s great for those with short nails who aren’t into a round shape.

Squoval/Soft Square:

Photo: Monica Park

This shape is just like the square, but the edges are a lot softer. It’s a good compromise between square and oval (obviously), and it’s easy to maintain on shorter nails.

Related Article: 5 Nail Trends You’re Going To See Everywhere This Summer


Photo: Monica Park