Hold on to your forks, y’all- I’m about to take your sausage links and turn them into skinny bacon.
What? Too much? Ok, let’s dial it back some.
I was not graced with the beautifully elongated nail beds that some of you chosen ones have. Getting a flattering shape has been HARD for me, and here’s a manicure that could make babies weep. One of my first few manicures, and that glitter was only covering up my free edge, and not even all of it, at that. Do you see how wide, chunky and short they look?
Fast forward about a year, and I learned some tricks that I’m going to impart on all you short and stout handed individuals. Because I care.
Nails need to be longer than they are wide. This is a pretty simple one, but never make your nails a perfect square, and don’t cut them so short that they’re rectangular in width. They should always be longer than they are wide, otherwise the following tricks won’t help until you let them grow out some.
Push back your cuticles, you heathen. There’s really no way to make short nail beds longer, but you can do a lot of magic tricks to give the gift of illusion. If you’re not already doing it, one of those things is to gently push back your cuticles after you’ve soaked them in a hot bath, or use a cuticle softener/remover. You should already be doing this on your nail to rid yourself of invisible cuticle, but take it one step further and push your growing cuticles gently to make your nail bed just a smidge longer for color. Every little bit helps! I love Diplomatiq Take it Off cuticle remover. Bonus: once you’ve done this enough times, your cuticles need less help. I’m not a fan of trimming or nipping any healthy cuticle though, that’s a recipe for infection.
Don’t accentuate the widest part of your nail. In the example above with the silver tips, I accentuated the widest part of my nail with what was almost a straight line. I thought this was great at the time because I mimicked the natural curve of my free edge, but that’s not ok! If you do a french manicure and have pretty straight lines between your nail bed and free edge, curve that line something fierce. Make that smile line look more like an almond than an unimpressed straight-lipped face and your nails will look nice and lean. Granted, the more you curve the longer your nails will need to be so keep that in consideration.
Pick a flattering shape. There are going to be people who say that you need to mimic the shape of your cuticle and while I don’t completely disagree, I won’t be rocking some weird half circle nails either. I love the coffin shape that gives a gradual tapering into a straight line. If you decide to do a square shape, consider tapering the sides some or making them a subtle coffin. Heck, you could go full ballerina, or you could even go almond but remember that the longer your nails are, the leaner they’ll look. The trick to finding a shape is making sure that the widest portion rests on your nail bed, and that the free edge doesn’t look bulky and wide to mirror that. If you use tips, the very widest that they should be is a straight line from your nail bed. Please, please please don’t fall into the shovel nails trend. Good golly Mrs. Molly, those do nothing for anyone, ever.
You can see here that the longer and more tapered the nail is, the leaner it looks altogether, even though the nail bed is the same length and width on all of these shapes.
Build an apex to fool the eye into seeing shadows where they weren’t before. This one is a little complicated, but bear with me. It’s easy to build a lot of bulk really quickly with dip, and if you do it wrong, your nails will look even wider and shorter than what you started with. This is because it’s incredibly easy to get fooled into thinking three full layers over your entire nail will work. IT WON’T!!! This will build bulk from one side of your nail to the other and this is exactly what you want to avoid. What you do want is to build up in the center of your nail a bit, then have just enough coverage over the perimeter to look even. Try these steps and let me know how they work for you.
- Your first layer should be a single small strip starting halfway down the nail going to the tip.
- This second layer should still be a thin strip, but start 3/4 of the way up the nail.
- Starting 3/4 of the way up the nail and extending almost all the way to the sides (leave about the same amount of space as you did at the cuticle), this layer makes it look like you have a little nail on top of your nail.
- If everything else looks fine, this layer should be over your entire nail.
- Repeat another coat over your entire nail, then activate, buff/file and top coat as usual.
I’m down to see all your before and afters! In fact, that would make me blissfully happy and also let me know I’m not alone in own fat-fingered bubble.
Products used: Diplomatiq Blush Cruller, Zooty It’s Science and Panda liquids