Rihanna’s Nail Artist Spills the Secrets to Finding the Perfect Nail Shape for Your Next Mani

You take your hair and nail supplements. You keep up with the latest nail trends. You have a Pinterest board dedicated solely to nail inspiration. And you probably have a standing appointment with your favorite nail tech. But are you wearing the right nail shapes for your hands?

Featured image from our interview with Cyndi Ramirez by Belathée Photography.

Mary Ralph minimalist manicure

The Ultimate Guide to Different Nail Shapes

Don’t underestimate the power of switching up your nail shape. Even the most minimalist mani can become a showstopper with the right shaping. Of course, nail shapes change with the trends. The incredibly intricate, claw-like long acrylics might not be a natural, but they’re enviably cool. And, with trends like quiet luxury and the clean girl aesthetic still sitting pretty in the zeitgeist, short nails have been all the rage. But just because a shape is trending, doesn’t mean it’s the best nail shape for you.

For more on finding your perfect nail shape, I spoke with celebrity manicurist Kimmie Kyees, (Rihanna’s nail artist!). Ahead, discover the best nail shapes to choose for summer and beyond.

nail shapes

Kimmie Kyees

Kimmie Kyees is a Los Angeles-based manicurist. Her client list includes Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Issa Rae, Mary J Blige, Chrissy Teigen, Katy Perry, Dua Lipa, the Kardashians, and more.

Woman holding mug in kitchen.

How to Choose the Most Flattering Nail Shape

Kyees recommends using your cuticles to determine your ideal nail shape. For that, you need to properly push your cuticles and then reflect that shape in your nails. By doing this, no matter the shape you decide on, your nails will be naturally elongated.

Of course, personal preference is the ultimate deciding factor. However, because your hands are a key element of your day-to-day life, it’s important to take into consideration your profession and regular activities as well. Do you type on a computer all day? Are you moving equipment or materials? Perhaps you come into contact with small children. Reflecting on all of these factors will not only help you find a nail shape you love, but one that fits best with your lifestyle.

But—Kyees is quick to note that if you’re going for a textbook feminine look for your nails, almond should be your go-to. “It elongates the finger and is a very lady-like nail shape.” Bonus? It’s Adele’s favorite.

Good news for everyone adopting the short, naked nails look. “Square is always in style,” says Kyees. She encourages opting for a tapered, narrow sidewall with soft corners. “It’s a shape that will stand the test of time.” Case in point: Rihanna.

Kyees loves this look for summer, as it’s a great pairing with brighter shades. “I always love seeing soft round nails in popsicle and candy colors.”

Pregnant woman wearing purple dress.

Different Nail Shapes, Explained

To recap: the best nail shapes match your cuticles and/or make you feel the most confident. Like a haircut that frames your face or clothes tailored to your body, choosing the right nail shape can make you feel more like yourself.

If you’ve only tried one or two nail shapes, experimenting with new styles can get you out of a nail rut. And maybe even help you discover a whole new go-to manicure. Here are the most popular nail shapes for every style and every occasion.

Almond Nails

Fun, flirty, and femme, an almond nail is a glamorous take on the classic oval nail. Like its namesake, the nail wall tapers and then ends in a rounded peak.

Why we love it: The glamor of this look will never go out of style.

What to consider: Most natural nails would crumble under this shape, so you’ll probably get them reinforced with gel or acrylic.

Square Nails

Usually short and simple, these low-maintenance nails are high impact. You can jazz them up with bright colors or lean into your classy, clean girl aesthetic and pair them with a neutral shade for your skin tone.

Why we love it: They’re easy to take care of (and keep) but super stylish.

What to consider: You might be in danger of a chipped nail since the square edges aren’t the most durable.

Oval Nails

Similar to almond, but less tapered. Usually long and used to lengthen the appearance of your fingers.

Why we love it: These are some of the most versatile nails in the game. Flattering, functional, and femme. They’re also ideal for nail art.

What to consider: Oval nails require a little more maintenance and are harder on your natural nails than shorter styles.

Squoval Nails

Somewhere between a square and an oval. A true crowd favorite thanks to its durability and elegance. It keeps the flat edge of a square with the roundness of an oval nail.

Why we love it: More durable than a classic square and looks good on everyone.

What to consider: Because they’re so flattering, everyone has them. So if you’re looking for something daring to help you stand out, keep looking.

Round Nails

Like the oval, but most often used by people who prefer short nails. They soften at the edges and follow your natural nail shape.

Why we love it: Great for short nails. These are eye-catching while pairing perfectly with just about any color.

What to consider: There’s not much holding you back from this nail shape. It’s great for beginners who are just dipping their toes into the endless world of nail art options. Approachable and easy to love.

Ballerina Nails

Like an almond nail with a square tip, these come in different lengths but are most popular in a longer length.

Why we love it: Great for nail art and surprisingly durable. I recently loved it paired with the milky, glazed nail trend.

What to consider: They were everywhere for a while, so they might seem a bit passé. But don’t let that stop you!

Stiletto Nails

Like their heel namesake, stiletto nails are long, thin, and sexy. They taper to a point at the top.

Why we love it: They bring the drama and are ideal if your goal is to go bold with your look.

What to consider: Stiletto nails offer barely any structural integrity. They can also make it hard to type or use your hands in athletics or when working out.

Arrowhead Nails

Arrowhead nails can come in a range of lengths, but they all boast a signature flat tip. You’ll often see them in a longer length similar to stiletto nails, minus the pointy tip.

Why we love it: One word: striking.

What to consider: Best for long or medium-length natural nails.

Lipstick Nails

This style is defined by a sharp diagonal point at the top of the nail. They look like a tube of lipstick which, as a beauty editor, I can’t resist.

Why we love it: A perfect blend of elegant and exciting. The asymmetrical top adds interest—perfect for a bold color or design.

What to consider: Choose a geometric pattern to emphasize the funky shape.


Another mashup, these are similar to the almond mixed with the thinness of a stiletto. They are often used with a new take on the French mani.

Why we love it: Classy and cute—with a little excitement mixed in.

What to consider: You can get them as gel tips, which is currently the most popular order.

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