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Coffin Nail Shape: Exactly How To Achieve This Edgy Design + Nail Care Tips

Andrea Jordan
April 26, 2022
Andrea Jordan
Contributing writer
By Andrea Jordan
Contributing writer
Andrea Jordan is a beauty and lifestyle freelance writer covering topics from hair and skincare to family and home. She received her bachelor's in Magazine Journalism from Temple University and you can find her work at top publications like InStyle, PopSugar, StyleCaster, Business Insider, PureWow and OprahMag.
April 26, 2022
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Nail shapes are one of those beauty choices you can switch up without much time or commitment. That's what makes playing with nail designs so much fun! When it comes to choosing the best nail shape for you, you may want to consider a few factors, like your lifestyle, finger shape, and personal preference. But if you're bold enough to try something brand-new, let us introduce you to this supercool shape. Enter, coffin nails. 

The term "coffin nails" even sounds edgy, and once you see them in action, you'll know exactly why: They're long, slim, and chic—and it is possible to create them at home. Here, we tapped nail experts to get the scoop on the coffin nail shape, how to achieve it, and a few extra tips to keep your nails healthy and strong.

What are the nail shapes? 

nail shapes graphic
Image by mbg Creative

Before we dive into coffin nails, let's briefly discuss the variety of common nail shapes. There are seven popular designs, ranging from natural to wow-look-at-me-now tips. On the natural end of the spectrum, we have round and oval nails. Rounded nails are where the edge of the nails are, well, round. "There's no sharp edges and no point with round nails," says Los Angeles–based celebrity manicurist Diem Truong. "And oval nails are a slight variation from the round but with a slightly more narrow edge." The main difference between these two shapes is that oval nails tend to look slimmer.

Next, we have square and squoval. Square nails are pretty straightforward: Think a flat top with 90-degree angles at the corners. Squoval, on the other hand, is a softer version of the square; it has a flat top with more rounded edges. Then there's almond—not completely natural-looking but not too daring. "Almond nails are like the oval shape but with a more tapered end to the nails," Truong says. This creates a softer point. 

And for those who prefer a more eye-catching shape, you have stiletto and coffin. Think of stiletto nails as the almond nails' more daring cousin. The shape is similar, but the edges are filed to more of a sharp point. Finally, coffin nails are a "mix between square and stiletto," Truong says. These are bold, edgy, and a little bit flashy, but there's so much to love about the coffin nail shape.

What is a coffin nail shape? 

coffin nails
Image by mindbodygreen

As stated above, coffin nails are a bold statement. "The file is more tapered, creating a narrow nail shape, but instead of pointy at the ends like the stiletto, the edges are flat," Truong says. This nail shape, also called "ballerina nails," is sort of shaped like a pointe shoe. They're long, round, and slim with a narrow but rounded top. "The coffin nail shape is for those who prefer a more square shape but don't want the nail to be boxy and wide," Truong says. It's basically a happy medium between the square and almond nail. 

"Anyone can wear a coffin nail shape," Truong says. "It's edgy and fun, and I've seen all types of people rock this shape, from teenagers to CEOs." And the good thing is there aren't many rules when it comes to styling this nail shape, either. You can sport a bold or neutral solid lacquer, or you can sport tips full of graphics and nail art. The choice is yours. 

How to achieve it.

If you're going to a professional manicurist, you can simply ask for a coffin nail shape to get you the look you want; although, it never hurts to bring a picture for inspiration, too. But if you want to create this look on your own, here are a few simple steps to perfect the coffin nail shape at home: 


Prep your cuticles & tips.

Before you pull out your nail file, begin with grooming your nails. "Prep your cuticles by pushing them back or trimming them," Truong suggests. This is always a good time to remove any previous polish and wash your hands thoroughly before beginning. 


Create a square shape first.

"It's best to start off with square nails," Truong says. So file the top of your nail completely flat and make 90-degree angles on the edges. This is more of a pre-step that makes creating the coffin shape easier. 


Make the point.

Once your square shape is complete on all 10 nails, it's time to create the tapered edge. "File the sides of the nails to an angle, almost as if you were creating a point for both of the sides of the nails to meet in the middle," Truong says. If you're new to this type of nail filing, go slow and start with one nail at a time. Once you've accomplished the look you desire, go to the next nail and try to mimic the shape. 


Perfect your edges.

"The final step is to file the edge of the nails straight across," Truong says. "Some people prefer the corners of the free edge to be more shaped; others prefer it softer and a bit more rounded." Traditionally, the edges are pretty sharp, but hey, if you like them rounded, go right ahead! It's your artistry. 

Nail care tips.

Having a showstopping nail shape is bold enough, but the key to beautiful and strong nails starts with a healthy grooming routine. Here are a few tips and tricks to keep your nails in tiptop shape, no salon necessary: 


Don't forget cuticle oil.

"Cuticle oil is always a great product to have at home or in your purse," Truong says. Not only can cuticle oil freshen up a manicure, but it helps to strengthen the nail bed and keeps the cuticles hydrated, too. Chief educator of Paintbox Evelyn Lim once told us you can use cuticle oil up to three times a day if your tips are feeling especially dehydrated. "Apply cuticle oil at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Why not?" 

Or for an overnight soak, apply cuticle oil before you snooze and wake up to healthy, hydrated nail beds that look like you just stepped out of a salon. 


Get a small nail or paint brush.

When tackling an at-home mani, errors are inevitable (unless you're a nail art pro). "I love having a small brush to help me with cleaning up any polish painted outside the cuticle line or on the skin," Truong says. Simply dip the brush into nail polish remover and gently apply it to the mistake. This tip will save you a whole lot of time when it comes to painting your nails at home. 


Don't forget to moisturize. 

And as always, don't forget to moisturize your hands. You likely know this, but proper skin care isn't limited to our faces. Healthy and hydrated hands can help your nails look and feel even better. After all, cracks and frays can take away from an elevated finish. Find a formula you love and will carry with you at all times (find our favorite hand creams here). Especially as we continue to wash our hands diligently, moisturizing your hands throughout the day is pretty essential. 

The takeaway.

Coffin nails are chic and bold, but it's still easy enough to accomplish at home. Remember, the shape can be sported by anyone, and the key is mimicking the shape of a ballerina slipper or coffin. And don't forget your basic nail care. Proper nail grooming and a killer nail shape mean you'll be getting compliments on your tips nonstop. We'll just say, you're welcome. 

Andrea Jordan author page.
Andrea Jordan
Contributing writer

Andrea Jordan is a beauty and lifestyle freelance writer covering topics from hair and skincare to family and home. She received her bachelor's in Magazine Journalism from Temple University and you can find her work at top publications like InStyle, PopSugar, StyleCaster, Business Insider, PureWow and OprahMag. When she's not writing, you can find Andrea tackling new recipes in the kitchen or babysitting one of her many nieces and nephews. She currently resides in New Jersey with her husband and cat, Silas.