Who knew there were so many different nail shapes? Well, Alice Claire is back with another nail tale on that very subject.
Where some people spent lockdown profitably, learning Greek, or playing the mandolin, I chose to use this valuable time to focus on the essential stuff in life. My nail shape, of course.
While others were baking enough banana bread to feed the 5000, or writing the next Booker prize-winning novel, I obsessed about changing the shape of my nails. Constantly scrolling Instagram and saving inspirational photos of the perfect almonds and coffins (coffin nail shape that is, not actual wooden boxes).
I tried in vain to involve my nuggle friends in the decision making process by setting up zoom video calls with them, but inexplicably for people that weren’t meant to be going out, they were always out…? Weird… Well, I eventually had to resort to consulting my brother who was trapped in the house with me in quarantine and thus had no chance of escape.
Unfortunately, Andy is the nuggliest of all nuggles. He’s such a nuggle that when I asked him his fave nail shape, he looked rather blankly at me: “Eh? …I don’t know. Aren’t all nails shaped the same?” Well, thank you Andy. That was… most insightful… No! Nails are not all shaped the same! Good grief, don’t you know they can be square, oval, almond, stiletto, round, coffin, ballet, squoval…
“Squoval?! Is that even a word?”
Of course it’s a word. Ugh you’ll be telling me you haven’t heard of the word, blurple next…
“Ok, so what shape are mine then? Am I a squoval?” he asked.
Nope. Yours are commonly known as ‘nibbled’. Serrated if you want to sound super fancy..
So, Andy what do you think of me going back to almonds?
“I don’t like almonds. They’re slimy. Do nails come in other flavours of nut? Cashew maybe?”
No, I don’t think my nail file is quite up to the task of carving my nails into the shape of cashews.
“Walnuts then? They’d look like brains which would be so cool!”
Stilettos as an option were out too, alas. There was that time I decided I was going to be so cool and edgy and get some stilettos nails professionally done. Off I tripped to an expensive nail bar in London and spent half a day. A vast amount of money having them attached and buffed and filed and painted and LED’d to my fingers only to get home and remember I was currently wearing contact lenses and now had no idea how I was going to remove them. Thus followed a long night of furious filing down before I could safely let my fingers near my eyes.
So, after much deliberation, and very little help from my brother, I decided against a nut shaped nail or an excessively pointy one, and plumped instead for ovals. Ovals would surely make my fingers look long and slender. They would make me appear more artistic, more graceful than my usual squares. I was now sure that a lack of oval nails was the one thing keeping me from becoming my best elegant self.
I am possibly the most inelegant person on the planet. I am that girl whose high heel shoe got stuck in an escalator at the train station resulting in me turning up to a hot first date somewhat lopsided. I managed to punch myself in the face during a boxercise class, and as I left the gym, I almost knocked myself out by attempting to go the wrong way through a revolving door. These oval nails had their work cut out, making an elegant girl out of me.
I imagine when most people try to reshape their nails they have a natural instinct for shaping. I mean, us nail artists are creative people right? Apparently not in my case… My natural instinct needed the aid of a pencil and a ruler. And even then I apparently couldn’t draw a straight line and kept filing wonky. Ovals finally achieved, sort of….I was never very good in geometry class so I may have invented a completely new shape… I then panicked when I couldn’t find an eraser and thought I’d have to live the rest of my days with pencil marks, arrows and a few swear words on my nails. Luckily nail polish hides a multitude of sins. And pencilled swear words…
And then I looked down at my new elegant ovals with smooth rounded edges and no corners and oh how I missed those corners. My little right angles that made me feel neat and organised and efficient were gone! And I grabbed my crystal nail file and swiftly lopped the top off them into neat little squares again. Sigh. That’s better! Oh yes. Much more me. Well, that was a lockdown adventure well spent… right back where I started…
Nails can be an expression of our creativity so have fun and experiment! Watch YouTube videos that give advice on filing, and go slowly to achieve the shape you want. After all that, if your new shape isn’t for you, they will grow again, and if your experiment goes really badly, well. I guess you can always wear gloves. For six months… Ultimately though, it is best to go for the shape and length that feels most comfortable to you and fits in best with your lifestyle. A shape you can maintain easily.
Stilettos, coffin and almonds generally require a longer length to achieve, and the more extreme the shape and the longer the length, the more likely you’ll need to add a gel or acrylic overlay to give them added strength to maintain them. If you have small children, or wear contact lenses, or sense you are the type of person that might get their long nails caught in the slot of a cash machine… yes, that would be me again… you may want to avoid anything too long or with super sharp points like stilettos as it’s going to be more challenging to live with them without causing yourself and others harm.
Shorter nails with soft rounded edges are just as beautiful as longer length almonds. What is most important is to take care of them and file them gently with a glass nail file. I prefer glass nail files to metal or emery boards as they’re much gentler on the nail; you can use a seesaw filing motion on the nail without any damage and they help seal the edge of the nails, thus avoiding peeling and splitting. Use lots of cuticle oil to keep them flexible rather than brittle, and keep the cuticles pushed back, moisturised and healthy.
And it goes without saying that whatever shape you’re currently rocking, keep those babies painted! Nail polish, as well as making your nails look and feel great, will help prevent water absorption which weakens the nails. Honestly, polish can almost be considered medicine for the nails. That’s what I tell myself, anyway, as the third nail mail of the week arrives…
A little more about your Picture Polish Writer…
Alice lives on the beautiful southwest coast of England, on a constant but currently fruitless search for Ross Poldark. She is also an aspiring writer and supermodel. She suspects she is more likely to succeed in becoming a writer. While awaiting the global stardom that will surely come, she has made it her selfless mission to acquire all the Picture Polishes ever made. She may soon have to buy another house in which to store them.