Ballerina Nail Shapes Guide: How to Shape, Coffin vs Ballerina & More

Updated on February 9, 2024
Garreth Aspeling By Garreth Aspeling
Garreth Aspeling

Writer, Exercise Addict, and Men's Health & Wellness Enthusiast

Table Of Contents

    Ballerina nailsPIN

    Ballerina Nail Shapes Guide: How to Shape, Coffin vs Ballerina & More

    Ballerina nails are a popular style, and in this article, we’ll talk about how to shape them, wear them, and answer some important questions. For instance, are ballerina and coffin nails the same? And if so, what’s the difference between ballerina and coffin nails? Let’s find out.

    Ballerina Shaped Nails

    You might have seen them around, beloved by celebrities and many others all over the internet. People seem to be head over heels for ballerinas – nails, that is! Shaped like a curvy ballet slipper, ballerina nails look elegant and graceful. Because of the rounded structure, ballerina nails are stronger than they appear. For ballerina nail shapes to look exquisite, a long nail is best, its length is partly what sets ballerina nails apart. However, short ballerina nails are possible too.

    Ballerina Nail Shape

    With a design that resembles a ballet slipper, a ballerina nail shape can elongate the fingers and refine any outfit. Let’s break down the anatomy of a ballerina nail shape.

    Ballerina Nail Shape Characteristics Description
    Tip The tip is flat, and the corners are slightly smoothed.
    Edge The edges have a slight curve and minimal tapering towards the tip. The free edge is also slightly curved, so when you view the nail from the side, there’s a slight upward slope.
    Length and Width Ballerina nails are usually long and narrow.
    Basic Shape The basic shape is best described as a narrow rectangle. While the shape tapers somewhat towards the tip of the nail.

    Short Ballerina Nails

    When done well, short ballerina nails offer the elegance of longer ballerina nails but allow them to be functional as well. And because ballerina style nails tend to be worn long, they’re not ideal for wearing gloves, typing, or regularly working with your hands. But, short ballerina nails let you go about your life without getting in the way. What’s better is that short ballerina nails still have all of the same design options, like

    While short ballerina nails are not as common, they’re not impossible to do. The most apparent feature of short ballerina nails is the flattened tip that creates a more prominent point overall. On short ballerina nails, if the tip isn’t defined enough, the end result may resemble a square shape. Ballerina nail shapes require some length to look their best. But if shaped with some precision, you can pull it off.

    Long Ballerina Nails

    Long ballerina nails are beautiful, as well. You can sculpt long ballerina nails using hard gel extensions or acrylics if your natural nails are short. You can even opt for press-on ballerina shaped nails if you want something more temporary. Try Kiss’ Bare but Better glossy press-on acrylic nails. They’re safe on natural nails and come in a pack of 24. Best of all, using them doesn’t require any extra glue because everything is included. The color is a lovely opaque peach, and the nails can last for up to 7 days. They’re a perfect way to try on long ballerina nails!

    Ballerina Vs Coffin Nails

    Decisions are hard. Should you stick to what works or opt for something different? You want to know how other styles compare to the style you already love before you switch it up, right? Here’s a quick look at coffin nails vs ballerina nails, a comparison based on five factors you might consider before heading to the nail salon.

    Ballerina Shaped Nails vs Coffin Shaped Nails
    Durability The straight edge of a coffin shaped nail makes it more vulnerable to breakage.
    Cost Emergency trips to the salon and frequently fixing broken spots could cost you more in the long run.
    Easy Maintenance Coffin nails may require a bit more upkeep and extra careful wear.

    The ballerina vs coffin nails race is a close one. However, compared to ballerina shaped nails, it’s possible that coffin shapes have a few disadvantages that are worth considering, including

    • More upkeep
    • Sharp edges that catch
    • Least durable

    One of the most common issues with coffin nails is breakage. But why do coffin nails break more often than ballerina shaped nails and most other nail shapes?

    Because they have a particularly straight edge, coffin nails tend to break more frequently. The stick-straight edge of a coffin nail shape doesn’t allow for much flexibility. On the other hand, a nail shape with a slight curve could withstand some of the pressure preventing breakage. You could overextend a nail while opening up a can of whip cream, for instance.

    An easy way to remember the key difference in durability between ballerina and coffin nails is to think of it like this. Ballerina shaped nails and other nail shapes with a slight curve can bend just enough if needed, rather than snapping in half and breaking from a sudden force.

    The ballerina vs coffin nails cost comparison is pretty even, except when maintaining coffin nails becomes another expense to deal with. Nail shapes may cost more or less depending on what salon you visit more so than which shape you choose. Both ballerina nail shapes and coffin nails are equally versatile, both have styles to choose from to the max. They work well with many designs and nail art elements, finishes, and manicure options. Both coffins and ballerina cut nails can be done using

    • Acrylics
    • Hard gel extensions
    • Gel or acrylic press-on nails
    • Shellac

    A coffin nail shape has sharp corners and occasional jagged splits due to breakage. Therefore coffin nails are more temperamental than ballerina shaped nails, requiring more effort to maintain. It’s true, coffins are known to snag the fabric of your sweater or t-shirt, too. The ballerina vs coffin nails popularity score is hard to measure, but clearly, both are trendy styles you can spot all over the internet and both shapes are commonly requested at salons. Essentially, ballerina style nails and coffins are popular nail shapes, both are shaping current nail trends.

    If you’ve stuck to ballerina shaped nails for a while now, but you feel like it’s time for a change, you’re bound to wonder how a different nail shape will suit you. Keep on to the next section to find out more about the differences between ballerina nail shapes and coffin nails shapes.

    Are Coffin And Ballerina Nails The Same?

    Coffin and ballerina nails are frequently confused, the differences typically unnoticed. They are assumed to be the same shape. While their differences aren’t major, they do exist. Therefore, contrary to popular belief, coffin and ballerina nail shapes are not the same. They have unique shapes.

    What’s the Difference Between Ballerina And Coffin Nails?

    Even though they’re different in subtle ways, it might be enough to sway a preference towards one over the other. There are at least five key differences between ballerina nail shapes and coffin nail shapes.

    1. Form

    The basic form of ballerina nails is a flat tip, and the corners are softly filed. They are slightly rectangular in form. Coffin nails also have a flat tip but the corners are sharp, and the nail is a bit wider, resembling the shape of a coffin.

    2. Curvature

    The most unique feature is the rounded walls and the curvature of the free edge. The edges have a slight curve when viewed from the top and a soft upward curve when viewed from the side. Coffin nails don’t have curvature, the edge is very straight.

    3. Width

    Ballerina nails are slightly tapered towards the flat tip but remain relatively even throughout. Coffin nails are usually wider and have a prominent flat tip.

    4. Length

    While coffin nails may be short, medium, and long, ballerina nails are normally best suited for long nails. You might have seen short ballerina nail shapes before. However, sometimes the ballerina signature style becomes lost on shorter nails. Some may end up looking less curvy and more triangular like a coffin shape, rather than a slender ballerina shape.

    Ballerina nail shapes feature a delicate curve along the free edge, becoming less noticeable on short ballerina nails.

    5. Filing Method

    To file ballerina nails it’s important to remember to do a soft filing of the corners and to create subtle slopes on the edges. For coffin nails, you’ll want to ensure you don’t file the corners to keep the edgy, pointy look of the coffin shape. File in one direction to avoid creating jagged areas on the edge, which should remain smooth and straight with a slight taper.

    How To Shape Ballerina Nails

    For the best ballerina nail shape on natural nails, ensure your nails are healthy, long enough, and strong enough to file and shape. You might be wondering how to shape ballerina nails without too much difficulty. There is a way. And it involves just a few steps and some proper filing equipment.

    1. Straight-edge nail clippers
    2. Nail file

    If you’re interested in getting nail files that vary in grit (coarseness), to file and shape your natural nails as well as fake nails, consider getting a full set that includes them all. Try Eleanore’s Diary 16 piece nail files and buffers set from Amazon. It includes 150, 180, 240, 1000, and 4000 grit nail files and blocks.

    There are two parts to shaping ballerina nails.

    1. Shape nails into square-shaped nails
    2. Turn square-shaped nails into ballerina shaped nails

    Here’s how to shape ballerina nails in 5 steps.

    Steps  Description 
    Step 1 Use a straight-edge nail clipper to clip across the end of each nail. Clip the nails, making sure the tip is as straight across as you can make it.
    Step 2 Use a 180 to 240 grit nail file for natural nails. If you have sensitive nails that break easily, try using a finer grit nail file.

    Shape a square tip by moving the nail file in one direction longways (the way you’d hold a nail file naturally). But make sure, as you’re filing, that you don’t move the file slightly under or over the very tip of the nail, or you’ll end up with odd curves.

    Step 3 Try not to touch the corners of the nail as you file to avoid rounding them out. That way, you end up with a nicely defined square nail shape.
    Step 4 With your square acrylic nails ready to go, shape the sides of each nail, starting along the nail edge and then going underneath it only slightly in a curving motion, creating a soft ballerina nail curve with each stroke.
    Step 5 Softly file the corners to create softer points like a ballerina slipper and taper them in from the edge just a little bit. Finish off with your favorite polish!

    Zohna Tip

    If you're new to shaping ballerina nails, why not give yourself a practice round or two to get it just right? Try shaping and filing a few press-on nails prior to doing your own. After a bit of trial and error, you'll be ready to nail it!

    What’s important to keep in mind when shaping ballerina nails?

    1. Use a nail file for shaping and best for your specific nail type.
    2. Periodically check to make sure you are shaping nails evenly by comparing the underside of your nails rather than the top.
    3. When filing, move in one direction rather than back and forth to prevent damage.

    Acrylic ballerina nails are shaped in a similar fashion. But there is one notable difference in the shaping process. When preparing to use acrylic powder for a ballerina manicure, file the nails into the usual narrow, ballerina shape and then file it a little bit narrower than you typically would.

    The idea is to make the nail more narrow than you typically would because the acrylic application will thicken the nails once it’s applied. Otherwise, you might end up with ballerina nails that are too thick and too wide.


    • What is the Most Popular Nail Shape for 2022?

      In 2022, it’s long nails all the way! All the way down the red carpet, in fact. Hollywood stars at the Met Gala put long ballerina nails into the spotlight this year. Celebrities like Emma Chamberlain, Lizzo, and Gwen Stefani show off long, sculpted manicures. A-listers had long coffin nails or ballerina nail shapes featuring various nail designs like blue marble, French metallic, and 3D nail accessories.

    • What is the Best Acrylic Nail Shape to Get?

      Long square nails and Ballerina nail shapes work especially well with acrylics. Ballerina nails are made to look outstanding on long nail styles, and acrylics can give you that extra desired length.

    • What Type of Nail Shape Makes Fingers Look Skinnier?

      Oval nail shapes tend to slenderize fingers and create the illusion of longer fingers. Because ballerina nails tend to be rectangular and more narrow than other nail shapes, they can exaggerate wider fingers. If your goal is to make your fingers look skinnier, try using wider nail shapes with a smooth or tapered tip, such as coffins, to offset the width of your fingers.


    So are you ready to give ballerina nails a go? Or, perhaps coffin nails are more your style. Both styles rock. And now that you know there is a real difference between ballerina and coffin shaped nails, you can request the shape confidently or shape and style them at home!