A Guide to Nail Styles

Having your nails done is an excellent way to pamper yourself. Making an appointment with the nail technician and perhaps even bringing one or two friends is the perfect excuse to treat yourself and add a little flair to your fingertips. Maybe you have never had a full manicure before, or perhaps you always choose the same style every time. This guide will show you just how much variety and choice there is when getting your nails done.

Nail Lengths

The length of your nails is a personal preference that can vary depending on your mood, the occasion, and what you feel like wearing. Long nails tend to be considered more feminine, whereas shorter styles are seen as more practical for hands-on tasks. Of course, there are plenty ways to subvert this through creativity and clever design. Short nails can be extremely elaborate, as long nails look subtle and understated.

Nail Shapes

Nail shape depends on the strength and length of the nail. It’s easier for nail techs to create different shapes when the nail isn’t too brittle or soft. Here are a few examples of popular nail shapes:

  • Square, where the nail is trimmed flat to a ninety-degree angle;
  • Oval, trimmed to be rounded and symmetrical;
  • Almond nails are elongated ovals with a more acute curve;
  • Natural nails are cut parallel to the growth line;
  • Coffin nails are long with gentle angles leading to a square tip;
  • Stiletto, where the nail comes to a long, curved point.

Using Appropriate Tools and Techniques

Different textures and illusions can be achieved using the right methods. Professional grade tools and supplies are usually best for more demanding styles since they have been designed according to what nail technicians and their customers want rather than the average consumer. Companies like iGel Beauty specialize in products for professionals and amateurs alike. Almost any nail style can be achieved with the right polishes, coats, and tools. Of course, it also requires a large amount of technical skill.

Shellac, Gel, Dip Powder

There are different types of coating that have varying effects on nail style. Shellac is dried with a UV light and is harder-wearing than gel. Dip powder uses pigments to add color and is reportedly more comfortable on the finger.


If your natural nails aren’t right for shaping or length, you can try acrylics. Acrylic nails are professionally crafted for each nail and act as an extension for the nail tech to create their designs on.

Which Is Right for You?

The variety of nail styles and how they are achieved means that everyone has their own perspective on which is best. Some people love long, elaborate nails crafted from acrylic extensions, while others prefer a simple gel polish to protect their nails during everyday use. It’s up to you to decide which nail style suits you best and is most practical for your lifestyle. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind and experiment with new styles whenever you feel like it. Your budget and any special occasions will influence the style of the nail that makes sense for you, as well as how much time you’re willing to spend getting them done.