Make the best of your nail shape: A lesson in proportions

I’ve gotten quite a few requests for a tutorial on my nail care. But, honestly, I really don't do anything special; my polish-changing routine goes like this: take off old polish - file nails if they're too long - base coat - new polish, that's it, nothing revolutionary.For nice hands/nails, I think proportions are much more important than nail care: Hands with slender and feminine fingers are prettier than those with short and stumpy fingers, no matter how flaky their cuticles or how brittle their nails are. Now, while we are all pretty much stuck with the actual shape of our hands and fingers, we can manipulate the “extensions” of our fingers, our nails, and create more flattering proportions. Believe me, your hands can look totally different depending on how how you shape your nails and how you apply nail polish. Like dressing for your body shape, it’s all about proportions. Fortunately, nail and finger shapes don't vary as much as body shapes, there are only really two variables involved: length and width. These two measures are proportional because changing one affects the appearance of the other (longer fingers look slimmer and vice versa). I created some before/after comparisons (sacrificing a few nails in the process :)) to show you four simple ways to use the power of proportions in your (hand's) favour:

# 1: Nails should always be longer than they are wide In order to make your fingers appear longer/slimmer you have to stretch them visually. Square or round nails (as or less long than wide), do the opposite and will make pretty much everyone’s fingers look a lot shorter. Short nails are fine, but your nails should be at least slightly longer than their widest point. Depending on the shape of your nail beds, this might be a given for you even with as-short-as-possible-nails (in my case only my thumbs's nails can be square). But if your nail beds are wide/short, consider growing your nails at least until they have a slight rectangular shape.

# 2: The shorter or thicker your fingers, the longer your nails should be This is essentially an extension of # 1: the longer your nails are, the thinner your fingers will look. Relatively slim fingers look fine as long as nails are a tiny bit longer than wide, but if you really want to elongate your fingers, try experimenting with longer nails. Obviously, there is an upper limit and super long nails are neither pretty, nor practical, but even a few additional millimeters make a big difference.

# 3: Avoid the inverted triangle shape Some nails, mine included, naturally grow into the shape of a triangle past a certain length, where the tip of the nail becomes wider than the rest of the nail. This means that the flattering rectangular shape is lost, fingers appear wider and it's just kind of a strange look in general. If your nails are like this, simply file down the edges, so each nail has the same width all-over.

# 4: Leave a gap on each side of the nail polish-free Don’t apply nail polish all the way up to the sidewalls of your nails, especially if your nail beds are relatively wide/short (see # 1), as this will make your nails seem wide in relation to the width of your finger. It's kind of hard to explain why but a thinner nail in relation to the width of your finger is a lot more flattering. My own nails are relatively narrow, so it doesn't make much of a difference on them, but look at the little pink model on the pics: Although both "fingers" are the same width and length, the right one with the thinner nail looks slimmer. To get thinner-looking nails, simply leave out a tiny strip on each side when applying your polish, no one will be able to tell. Also, if your nailbeds are not naturally rectangular, (e.g. get wider towards the end) you can correct their shape by regulating the gap.

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