An hour at the nail salon is a cheap and easy way to pamper yourself. Like your hair or your clothes, nails are a way to express your personal style. They're also a fun way to experiment with fashion without a huge commitment.
Trends in nails are largely dictated by what we see on the runways and what popular celebrities are doing. Some of today's trends are a fresh, new look while some pay homage to classic styles of the mid-20th century. Whether your nails are an extension of your outfit, or simply a handy means to extracting a splinter, here are five different nail shapes to consider for your next manicure.
Like a stiletto heel, the stiletto nail shape is long and pointy. It helps elongate the fingers and it's synonymous with sexy. Celebrities like Fergie and Rihanna rock a more feminine version that's slightly rounder at the corners and painted in pastels. Gaga has them too, but wears a fiercer version with a sharp tip and painted in bright orange or red. Whatever version of this nail you choose, people are sure to notice.
The almond shape is a take on the stiletto, but has a longer, softer tip that's a little more rounded than pointy. It's a classic shape that's sleek and sophisticated and was most popular on starlets in the 1950s. To achieve the retro almond shape, the nail is left long but filed away at the sides and shaped into a long oval, leaving it prone to breakage on weaker nails. It looks great when you're out on the town, but it's not ideal for typing or if you work with your hands a lot.
Square nails with sharp corners are another trendy nail shape right now. This is a powerful shape that draws attention to your hands, because it leaves the full width of the nail intact and makes a big statement. While it's the shape that's typically chosen for a French manicure, the large surface area also leaves plenty of room for painted patterns and nail jewelry. The downside is that the sharp corners tend to get caught on fabrics, so it works best on strong nails that aren't prone to tearing and breakage. This style seems to look best on long nails, as a shorter version can make hands look heavy and chunky.
The square oval, also known as the squoval, is a softer take on the square nail and it has remained popular because it looks good on most fingers. It's less prone to catching on clothing and seems to weather wear and tear a little better than severely squared nails. This feminine style works great on long and short nails, but is most flattering on longer fingers with narrow nails. It's also a great palette for nail art and jewelry.
Nails that are short and rounded are the go-to for low muss, low fuss, on-the-go women and it's never gone out of style. They look just as good with all of the trendy polish colors as longer nails do and they look good without polish, as long as the cuticles are kept in check and the ends stay buffed. This style is ideal for active ladies who want a low-maintenance manicure.
Today it's second nature to paint your fingernails and toenails. But it's been a long road to here. HowStuffWorks breaks down the colorful history.
- "Behind the Scenes: Styling the Stiletto." Nailsmag.com. Aug. 5, 2012. http://www.nailsmag.com/demoarticle/295/behind-the-scenes-styling-the-stiletto
- "Choosing the nail shape for you." Nailsbyjulia.com. Aug. 5, 2012. http://www.nailsbyjulia.com/page14.html
- "In love with the new stiletto nail shape." Chantellvermont.com. Aug. 5, 2012. http://chantellevermont.com/in-love-with-the-new-stiletto-nail-shape/
- "Nail Shapes - Almond." Sallyhansen.com. Aug. 5, 2012. http://www.sallyhansen.co.uk/nail-shapes-almond
- "Nail Shapes - Square with Rounded Corners." Sallyhansen.com. Aug. 5, 2012. http://www.sallyhansen.co.uk/nail-shapes-square-rounded-corners
- Stanell, Victoria. "How To Choose The Best Nail Shape For You." Beautylish.com. Aug. 5, 2012.http://www.beautylish.com/a/vmjxv/best-nail-shape