From Retro to Runway: The Rise (and Return) of Square Nails

Everyone has their favorite nail shapes that make them feel beautiful. There are literally dozens to choose from, including almond, natural, and stiletto. There are many nail styles that have been popular for a long time.

Ice Spice, one of our favorite manicure muses is a fan of the flared-duck nail shape. The style was more popular in the ’00s. The shape was associated with the icons of that era, such as Snooki and her short reign on reality TV’s The Jersey Shore. Usually adorned with bright designs and charms it was quickly pushed out of the fashion cycle. It’s better than ever.

Square nails are also experiencing a resurgence. A square manicure, however, is more versatile than duck nails (and, therefore, impossible to avoid). We’ll tell you everything you need about the square nail trend. Also, learn how to do it yourself.

The Trend

It would be a complete lie to say that square nails were ever a fashion faux pas. Since the beginning of time, square nails have been in style. We haven’t seen a square-shaped nail trend this strong since the early 2000s when it was at its peak.

Square nails have been on the rise since 2022. Celebrities and their online popularity have reached a new high. Kim Kardashian, Megan Thee Stallion, and Rihanna have all been seen with short square nails in recent years.

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As the era of working from home ended, a more office-centric style began to dominate. We swapped long square nails for shorter ones in order to make them more functional. Rita Remark is a NY-based womanicurist and Essie Global lead educator. She told Byrdie 2022 that “Longer nails with dramatic lengths have been on trend for several years, so shorter, utilitarian, longer lengths feel edgier.” While I do not think long nails will be going out of style anytime soon–quite to the contrary I think that more length varieties are on their way.”

She was proved right almost two years later. Square-shaped tips have taken over salons and come in all lengths, designs, and styles.

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In 2024 you won’t be able to scroll through Instagram or watch the red carpet without seeing someone sporting a square-shaped nail. Since January, Megan Fox has worn the shape with a half-foot length. Ice Spice wore a longer version to the Grammys. Dua Lipa experimented with short square nails in chrome. Jennifer Lopez swapped her almond nails for medium-length nails at the Golden Globes. This is just in the last few months.

The trend has spawned countless interpretations–from all those aforementioned celeb looks to square nails in buzzy colors like dark red, mismatched shades, stone gray, and even the naked French design. Square nails are in vogue, regardless of their length, color, and shape.

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How to Get the Look

This trend is endless. Square nails can be customized with a wide range of designs, sizes and lengths. You may already be familiar with the style due to its simplicity. We’ve got you covered, with the steps to perfect it, below.


  • Julie Kandalec is a celebrity manicurist in NYC. She gave us the best tip to finish the filing process. She says, “Working from the center of the fingernail, gently file the edge as square as you desire.” Tip: By tilting the nail file down as you file the edge, it will become more rounded. Hold the file at 90 degrees while shaping.
  • You want to begin with clean nails, just as you would when creating any shape. Start by using remover to get rid of any nail polish that is still on your nails.
  • You can also apply tips or press-on at this time.
  • Then, file your nails into the desired square shape.
  • To achieve a square nail, file your nails across the tip. This is especially important on curved sections of your nails.
  • After buffing the nailbed, apply your favorite basecoat. Let it dry completely before adding any colors or designs.
  • After the paint has dried, you can add any color, create a French edge, or even add rhinestones. Seal it with a topcoat and you’re done.
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