Stiletto Nail Shape: How To Get The Bold Look + Care Tips For Growth
Makeup is often seen as a form of self-expression, especially for those who like to experiment with different aesthetics. One underrated creative outlet: At-home manicures. With patience, practice, and the right tools, anything can be achieved DIY-style.
A good manicure always starts with a solid nail shape. If you're looking for something bold and edgy, you may consider trying out the stiletto shape. It may not be the easiest to achieve at home, but it's not impossible if you dedicate some time to this DIY project.
What are the different nail shapes?
Stiletto is just one of the seven most popular nail shapes out there. This edgy shape goes hand in hand with other long and lean shapes like almond, which is a less-pointed version of stiletto but with a similar length. Then, you have oval nails. This is similar to almond, but the tip is more round than pointed (think a curve compared to a soft point).
One funky shape that stands out among the rest is squoval. This is, as you may expect, a blend between square and oval. The sides are long with a square tip but rounded corners. You can imagine this shape to be like a coffin, but with softer edges.
For shorter nails, round and square tend to be the most popular. These shapes are the easiest to achieve on shorter nails because the sides don't require as much length as those mentioned previously.
What is the stiletto nail shape?
Time to get specific. Stiletto nails are, as nail expert and founder of clean nail company sundays Amy Ling explains, "A skinny pointed shape of nails. Think a stiletto heel." The stiletto shape has a different look than its sister shape of almond, which, again, is skinny but more rounded on the top.
The main attraction of the stiletto shape is the wow factor it provides. "This dramatic nail shape is quite the eye-catching statement look," Ling explains. Further, it accentuates the nail more than a round or square shape.
However, this look is not the most at-home-friendly, Ling says. This is because a true stiletto shape requires a fairly long nail, so false tips may be necessary. The filing process is quite extensive as well, so it takes some extra time and precision to achieve a symmetrical and polished look.
Ling warns that this shape can be easily broken due to the ultrathin tip. So if you're looking for something durable, especially if you work with your hands frequently, then almond may be a better choice if you desire the long and pointed look.
How to achieve stiletto nails:
Prep the nail.
Before you begin shaping your nail, be sure to clean off any residual polish. Even if you haven't recently polished your tips, it's a good idea to get a cotton pad and dab some remover over each nail to ensure it's ready for your mani.
Trim the sides.
Now, Ling explains, you'll want to go in with a nail clipper. "Find the center of the nail, clip out the sides, and leave the middle pointed." This may look a bit jagged at first, but it will smooth out with filing in the next step.
It's best to start out with minimal cutting, Ling warns, as filing should do the majority of the nail shaping. This initial cut simply helps to establish the pointed tip, making it easier to achieve a sharp look.
Because the tip of a stiletto shape is so thin, you'll want to be gentle with your file. "File the nail up from the side to the center on both sides," Ling says. This method from filing toward the tip rather than toward the cuticle will ensure the bulk of your work is done on the sides rather than the delicate point.
Continue filling, slowly but surely, until you are satisfied with the look. Because stiletto tips end in a sharp point, it's important to file the nail evenly on both sides. This may take a bit more time than other shapes you may be used to, so be patient with yourself.
Nail care tips:
Keep lotion by the sink.
Washing your hands again and again throughout the day can have a drying effect. Not only can the excessive washing rob your skin of hydration, but it will also suck out any moisture from your cuticles, which will affect the look and overall health of your nails.
To replenish hydration in the hands, keep hand cream on standby. Place a tube next to your sink to ensure it's always ready to go post-wash. Here's a list of our favorite hand lotions if you're on the hunt.
Dedicate time to your nail care routine.
Just as you would for your skin, setting aside time to tend to the nails is essential for maintaining healthy tips. This means keeping your cuticles hydrated (may we recommend a cuticle oil?), keeping a file on hand for any tears, and regularly exfoliating the nail.
Use an anti-bite polish (if you need it).
If you tend to bite or pick at your nails, you may want to consider coating them with an anti-bite polish. This way, when you subconsciously go to bite your nails, the rancid taste will deter you, thus helping to break the habit. Especially if you want to grow your nails long enough for a stiletto shape, this step is key.
Take your supplements.
Keeping up with a healthy nail care routine includes tending to your tips from within, and supplements may be able to fill some dietary gaps and provide additional benefits.* According to research, collagen supplements can support healthy nail growth.*
One study found that when patients took 2.5 grams of collagen peptides daily for 24 weeks, their nail health was better maintained1, including faster growth rates, reduced breakage, and improved appearance.*
Biotin, a form of vitamin B that is often used in hair growth supplements, is another winner for nail health.* Biotin has been shown to support the thickness and firmness of nails2.* As we said before, keeping the nails long and strong is essential for achieving the stiletto shape.
If you're looking to make a statement with your nail shape, stiletto is the way to go. This bold look isn't the easiest to do DIY-style but can most definitely be achieved with practice and patience. This shape does require a decent amount of length on the tip, so be sure to keep up with a nail care routine, both inside and out, if you want to nail the look. Now, if you love the look of stiletto nails but need something a bit more practical for every day, you may consider trying out an almond shape instead—here's the how-to.
Hannah Frye is the Assistant Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.S. in journalism and a minor in women’s, gender, and queer studies from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Hannah has written across lifestyle sections including health, wellness, sustainability, personal development, and more. She previously interned for Almost 30, a top-rated health and wellness podcast. In her current role, Hannah reports on the latest beauty trends, holistic skincare approaches, must-have makeup products, and inclusivity in the beauty industry. She currently lives in New York City.