The Most Important Part of a Manicure Has Nothing to Do With Polish

The Most Important Part of a Manicure Has Nothing to Do With Polish
Photo: ImaxTree.

Experts and editors will tell you a mani-pedi sesh is supposed to be a stress-reducing, self-care type of experience. I am in the minority that feels the opposite. Let’s really think about this for a second: there are crucial decisions to be made. Should I stick with normal polish or pay extra for gel? How am I going to get tip money out of my purse without messing up the paint job I just got? Don’t even get me started on the panic that ensues when I have to choose just one color from a wall of polishes. And before the technician asks, I’m almost always Googling the best nail shape for my hand.

Though 2019 trends seems to be a revolving door of bold color and celebrity-inspired textures, we’d like to think that the way our nails are filed actually matters too. Because while colors deliver a sort-of instant pick-me-up vibe, it isn’t as impactful if your nail beds are looking stubby, uneven or like claws that are nowhere near the stiletto shapes sported by Cardi B. and other celebs. With that being said, if flawless mani-grams are on your to-do list, here’s what an A-list manicurist wants you to know about making sure your nail shape is on point…or rounded, depending on your style.

The Shapes

According to celeb manicurist Gina Alcedo–whose clientele includes The Carters (yes, those Carters), there are six common nail shapes: square, “squoval,” oval, rounded, almond and stilletto. There are also more modern versions of these standard classics, like the “squareletto coffin,” but more often than not, her famous clients aren’t terribly adventurous.

Square nails are filed straight across, forming a square nail tip. Alcedo says this can be done on any nail length, but looks best on very short ones.

Squoval is very similar to square, but after the nail is filed straight, the corners of the nail are rounded to soften the look. Like square, this looks best on shorter nail beds.

Oval closely resembles a natural finger shape, where the tip is rounded out. This shape looks best on a modest nail of about 3mm.

Alcedo says rounded is filed more round than oval to thin out the nail a bit and looks best on short nails.

Almond shapes taper toward a rounded tip and requires long nails to work. And if the name doesn’t give it away, they mimic the shape of actual almonds.

What separates almond from stiletto is the tapered tip: it’s super pointy. It should literally resemble the point on a stiletto shoe. And like almond, longer nail beds suit this look best. The A-List Faves

When it comes to her most famous appointments, Alcedo says square, rounded and almond are the most requested shapes. Square is particularly popular because it has the most natural feel and as it grows, the corners start to round beautifully.

“Many celebs also love rounded because the shape is naturally thinning and very feminine. The shape is pretty neutral and can pull off a number of shades,” she also says. “Almond is great for my younger and trendier clients. The shape is feminine and flattering, as it elongates the fingers, but can be less practical.”

Take Your Pick

So for all of us non-celeb folks who don’t travel everywhere with a glam squad, which one will fare best? Alcedo suggests starting with an assessment of your lifestyle. For instance, if you use your hands a lot for cooking, working on a computer or being hands-on in general, square or squoval works best.

For those with larger hands, rounded may suffice because it gives the hand a more slender appearance. It lengthens the fingers and makes them appear more delicate. “If a client is young, on-trend, and can manage a longer nail without it impacting their day-to-day, then I suggest almond. The shape is flattering, offers a great palate for nail art, and is very on trend,” she says.

Go Clear

And once you’ve mastered your nail shape, chances are you won’t always want to cover it with color polish. In that case, you’ll need a light, sheer color. Alcedo’s go-to is usually a blush pink.

“I absolutely recommend Nailvana LA’s Ms. Huffington Pink (named after my client Arianna Huffington; it’s part of my new collection), Chanel’s Ballerina, Essie’s Unbiased Cut, and Cote No. 7,” says Alcedo. “For a completely clear topcoat, it really depends on body chemistry, but my go-to is Dazzle Dry Base Coat and Top Coat.”