Nail Shapes 101

I don’t know about you but I love a good personality test.  Meyers Briggs, AEM Cube, Strengths Finder … you name it – put me in a box and pigeon hole me!  I know most people crave uniqueness and individuality, but personally, I love being reminded that there are other people out there like me.

This got me thinking about nail shapes – does someone’s file style reflect their personality?

There’s no such thing as the perfect nail shape – ultimately it’s all down to taste.  So, what are the options?


Oval – this shape is achieved by filing the nail into an egg-shape.  It’s necessary to take off quite a bit of the sides of the nails, which can weaken them in the long run.  It is also dependent on the nail being long enough to attain the desired shape.  It is good for people who have quite wide nails as it makes them appear more feminine.

Bubble sea nails

Square – this shape is formed by allowing the nail to grow out and then filing across the tip of the nail, perpendicular to the nail length, while maintaining straight edges at the sides.  It looks good on long nails but can accentuate the bluntness of short nails.

Demilune Ruffian Nails

Squoval – this shape is a combination of the square and the oval and is achieved by filing a straight tip and then softening off the corners.  It gives a feminine look and is great for both long and short nails.  It is also hard-wearing and good if you are trying to grow your nails out because the sides aren’t thinned and weakened.  For advice on helping your nails grow strong and long, read this.

Flamingo nails

Round – this shape is created by filing the tip into a circle shape that runs parallel to the shape of the white moon at the base of the nail (otherwise called the lunula, in case you were interested!).  It is perfect if you like to keep your nails short.

Yellow crowned nails

Stiletto – this shape, sometimes called mountain peak or pointed, is not advised for natural nails as it would weaken the nail completely.  The sides are filed away so that the nail forms a long point at the centre.  Think Lady Gaga!  I only paint my natural nails so have never tried these but to get an idea – see here.

Almond – this is a less drastic version of the stiletto shape made by filing the sides of the nail to form a soft, shallow point at the centre.  It can be achieved on natural nails but ultimately weakens the nail and prevents them from growing very long.


Straight-edged circle – this shape is similar to the square shape in that the edges are straight, but rather than the tip being a straight line, it forms a semicircle.  It provides strength and support for the nail, much like the squoval shape, and is good for growing out nails.

Illusion stripe nails

Edge – this shape has straight edges like the square shape, but the tip forms a point at the centre.  It is good for adding drama and can work on long or short nails.  If the tip is broken, it can easily be filed into a squoval or round shape.  This is another style I am yet to try but you can see an example here.

Oblique – this shape is achieved by having straight edges but filing the tip at a slant so that it creates a point that is off centre.  It is not very practical and wouldn’t be advised for a long-term shape but if you were transitioning from long to short, it could be an option to trial before filing your nails down.  Again, I’ve never opted for this style but here’s some evidence it can be done.

So which nail shape are you sporting and does it reflect your personality?


I currently have a squoval look … hmmm … I’ll leave you to decide whether my personality matches up!

Tweed and Border Nails


Beautiful Cuticles

Healthy looking nails can seem hard to come by, especially in the winter when hands are typically dry and easily chapped.   However with these four tips you should have beautiful cuticles and desirable digits in no time at all.


1. Go for the kid-glove treatment

Gloves are not merely a fashion accessory or to prevent you feeling the chill.  They work as the perfect shield against the elements.  It may feel sad to cover up your beautiful nails but they will thank you for it in the long run when they manage to maintain their beauty throughout the winter.

2. Dream of hand cream

This is the time of year to purchase some good, reliable hand moisturiser and apply it regularly.  I use Dove Intensive Nourishment Hand Cream which makes my hands feel instantly replenished.

3. Dang those hangnails

Fingers are especially prone to hangnails at this time of year – those little snags in the skin close to your nails.  It can be tempting to bite or tear them but this will only make them worse and more painful.  Instead clip them carefully with nail clippers so you get a clean, close cut that you will be less likely to pick at.  This will then allow them to heal faster.  This is the only type of clipping of skin you should be doing.  Please do not cut your cuticles.  If you are in a nail salon where they are about to cut your cuticles, then I advise you walk out.

4. Oil of gladness

The way to improve the appearance of cuticles is to use cuticle oil.  Hand moisturiser alone is not enough to see you through the winter, what you need is a natural oil that you can rub into your cuticles to replace any loss of moisture.  Then with your cuticles suitably soft you can begin to push back the cuticles to increase the size of the nail canvas and make your nails seem longer and more even.  I use The Body Shop’s Almond Nail and Cuticle Oil which quite literally works wonders.  It comes with a built-in rubber cuticle pusher for added convenience.  After just one use you will notice a huge difference.

Now for the moment of truth…here are my naked nails!


For more advice on enhancing the look and feel of your natural nails see Strong Nails – the Long and the Short of it.

Strong Nails – the Long and the Short of it

When someone tells me they’re a dentist, I immediately cover my teeth.
Blue Scaled Gradient Nails
When I cook for a chef I become a nervous wreck.  When friends talk to me about nailart they hide their nails as though ashamed by how weak or chipped they are.  I may be a perfectionist about my own nails, but that certainly doesn’t mean I expect the same from everyone else.

Having said that, if you’ve got weak nails and you’d like to know how I keep my nails strong then I’ve got 7 tips for you.   However, if you happen to be hypersensitive, stop reading now.  What I’m about to write might offend those who are unwilling to change old habits.

People often assume that having my nails constantly painted would weaken or ruin them.  The truth is I haven’t had my nails naked for longer than 20 minutes in over a year and just yesterday someone remarked that they were as strong as metal.  So, how is it done?  How can you show your nails the love they deserve?

Valentine's Day Love Nails

1. Steer clear of nail biting experiences

I’ll never forget this one moment when I was little – I was about 5 years old and I was dressed up in my leotard and ballet skirt ready to do a ballet recital.  The nerves must have been getting to me because I was biting my nails down to the quick.  At that point my mother said ‘don’t bite your nails or you’ll have ugly hands when you’re older.’  Vanity must have gotten the better of me even then because I stopped biting that instant and have never done it since.  If you’re a nail biter – stop.

2. Short and sweet

If your nails are very weak, cut or clip them regularly – not so that they are super short, but don’t let them get too long until they’ve built up their strength.  This will take time, so be patient.  I would avoid filing your nails if they are very weak as this will only make them more prone to split. For advice on what shapes to opt for read Nail Shapes 101.

3. Milk them for all they’re worth

The calcium in milk does wonders for your nails.  You’ll need to have more than merely a dash in your coffee or tea, but a bowl of cereal or a yoghurt in the morning or a hot chocolate or latte every other day will help.  If you can’t have dairy then make sure you’re getting your calcium elsewhere – it’s not just your nails that need it.  Your teeth, bones and metabolism will all reap the benefits.

4. Stay back from shellac

They may look great, but beware of the harm that gel manicures can have to your nail tissue.  To remove shellac, Jenna Hipp, a Los Angeles-based celebrity nail stylist writes, ‘Many manicurists have their clients soak nails and hands in acetone, which absorbs into the body and into the bloodstream.  Others file down with a drill, often leaving the natural nail paper thin and in desperate need of a nine-month-to-a-year healing process.’  I would strongly advise that you steer clear of shellac (sorry…don’t hate me!).  You may be wondering how you can achieve that professional, long lasting manicure without it, well, look no further – read How to Make a Manicure Last a Week and 4 Tips to Make Your Manicure Look Professional.

5. Lay it on thick

When painting your nails, by the time you’ve put on your base coat, two coats of colour, whatever design you’re going for and the top coat, it’s no wonder that your nails are stronger.  It’s like they’re covered tip to cuticle in body armour.  For an extra tough finish, I use Seche Vite top coat which blobs on in a thick gloop so it doesn’t smudge my design and the best thing about it is that it dries super fast.

6. Softly, softly, catchy monkey

If you’re feeling weak and vulnerable, there’s nothing like a bit of pampering to make you feel better again.  Your nails are the same.  Use a hand moisturiser every day to help replenish your nails.  It will also keep your hands looking young and beautiful, so what’s stopping you?

7. Strength from within

The points above will help your nails regain their strength, but if you want to see even quicker results I recommend taking a nail supplement.  Supermarkets and pharmacies do their own brand versions but I use Perfectil as my daily vitamin which is for skin, hair and nails and I am certain that it’s for this reason that my nails never split or break.

If you’ve made it this far then you’re clearly strong enough to take on my advice and I’m sure your nails will follow suit in no time.

4 Tips to Make Your Manicure Look Professional

Do you ever spot someone’s manicure and think ‘wow, they look so shiny, she’s definitely been for a professional manicure!’? It used to frustrate me that I couldn’t achieve the same level of excellence. Now I see people’s manicures and think ‘she definitely did that herself’ and I get frustrated that people don’t use these simple steps to make their manicures look professional.

1. Base coat

This prevents weak nails breaking and helps give a smooth surface and easier application for the coats of colour.

2. Two coats of colour

The first provides a guideline and can be quite thin. The second provides fuller coverage and gives a more vibrant overall colour and needs to be fairly thick.

3. Neat lines

Aim to start with the brush in the middle of the nail near the base and don’t hit the edges or the cuticle. The moment you do, it looks unprofessional so wipe away any varnish that touches the sides immediately.

4. Top coat

This makes your nails shine like shellac and hardens them to last longer.

For advice on what products to use, click here and for directions on application watch this.

Dry Marble Nails

Related articles: How to Make a Manicure Last a Week

How to Make a Manicure Last a Week


All too often I’ve had friends complain that when they paint their nails their efforts only seem to last a matter of days. Over the last couple of years I’ve been learning and refining some easy techniques to make manicures more durable. Here are my top tips:

When you paint your nails it is vital to apply the correct amount of varnish with each coat in order to ensure a longer lasting finish and mastering your brush technique can help do this.

Hold the varnish with two hands – one on the lid and one on the bottle. Then as you lift the brush out of the bottle tap it on the far rim and drag it towards you along the nearside rim. The tap removes excess polish and the drag makes the brush flat and wide which means you can apply the varnish to each nail in just three strokes without the need to re-load the brush with extra paint mid nail. The shorter the tap, the less varnish will be removed from the brush and therefore the thicker the coat will be. The coats should be as follows:

1. Base coat

It seems obvious to say it but so many of my friends miss this stage out. Their nails chip or break because they aren’t protected by a base coat. When applying the base it should take three swipes – one to the left, one to the right and one to the centre. Before moving on to the next nail apply a little stroke of the brush to the front ridge of the nail. The nail tip is the area that will most likely be chipped first and so applying varnish here holds off any premature damage.

2. Thin first coat of colour

This is more of a guideline and helps you to work out which areas on the canvas could get missed. For example, it’s easy to leave too much of the far side of your nails naked because you can’t see them as easily. With fairly transparent varnishes the first coat may come out slightly streaky or uneven but the thick second coat will solve this. Don’t forget to swipe the tip before moving on to the next nail.

3. Thicker second coat of colour

This evens out the coverage and ensures no areas are missed. It should still take only three strokes of the brush if you’ve mastered the amount of varnish, plus a swipe to the tip of the nail.

4. Nailart design


5. Top coat

This adds shine and hardens the colour and is the final key stage to making sure your manicure will last a week. Again, remember to swipe the tip of the nail with the brush. If you have opted for nailart rather than just block colour you will need to wait longer before applying the top coat and you will need a much thicker coat to avoid streaking or smudging your design. If your pattern is very intricate, you may like to dab the top coat on gently in thick applications rather than stroking it on to avoid ruining it.

Yellow crowned nails

There you have it! Enjoy your week-long manicure and come back soon for more tips.

Related articles: 4 Tips to Make Your Manicure Look Professional