What are Coffin Nails?

There’s nothing remotely fun about coffins unless you are using the term to describe the fun shape of your nails! 

We are big proponents of the coffin nail shape, and bringing this awesome style to the masses is one of our main goals as arbiters of style.

Today, we’re dedicating our time to talking all about coffin nails. Prepare to learn about the shape, the styles, how to care for them, and some other fun facts as well.

What is the Coffin Shape Exactly?

They’re mysterious, they’re edgy, and they’re totally in style right now. Coffin nails are long like stiletto nails, but instead of a pointy tip at the end, they flatten out to resemble a coffin.

We know it’s not the most joyful description, but it’s the best one we’ve got!

Some people alternatively call them ballerina nails because they resemble the square-ish toe tips of a ballet slipper, but that isn’t quite on point.

The coffin shape is a better descriptor because there is a more angular and defined shape to the nails, and when done right, has very little rounding whatsoever.

Ideally, a coffin manicure will have the same dimensions as a stiletto shape, but you or the nail tech at the salon will flatten the ends with a tiny bit of residual rounding.

For many of us, our nails lack the length and the strength to pull off coffin nails naturally. It’s just one of those frustrating realities we have to deal with. We envy anyone who can shape their real nails into a stiletto or coffin shape and have no problems whatsoever!

Thankfully, there are plenty of options for the rest of us to attain fabulous coffin nails without pushing your natural nail beds to uncomfortable limits.

First of all, you’ve got gel products that fortify and build up your nails beyond their typical capabilities. If you’ve ever received a gel treatment at the nail salon, you know that it is a fascinating procedure to watch!

The most talented nail techs will coerce and craft that gel globule into a coffin-shaped masterpiece before your eyes, and then let you pick the exact designs you want.

Yes, gel can be a bit pricey, and holding your hands under the UV lamps is not the most pleasant experience of all time, but there is something to be said for the wizardry of turning gel into an amazing, resilient coffin-shaped nail that lasts for a long time.

The main drawback of gel coating is that you can’t push your nails that far beyond what you can achieve naturally. You typically want to use gel for just an extra few millimeters of length, which will not grant you those super-long and elegant coffins.

This is where acrylic nails really (and often literally) shine - extending your nails to new lengths and making them stronger than ever before.

Acrylic nails are not totally unlike the gel we just covered, but they provide a bit more strength and structure, allowing you to rock some very long and bold styles that would otherwise be out of reach.

We’re talking about coffin nails that extend several centimeters beyond their natural limits, and with the durability that can last up to weeks at a time.

Anyone who is a fan of acrylic nails knows that coffins are tough to pull off from a technical standpoint, so we applaud those brave nail techs to take on these tricky projects.

We should mention that obtaining gel or acrylic coffin nails is not a quick fix, however. Even the most experienced and efficient salons will take more than an hour to craft them properly.

Plus, there’s the ever-present reality of cost, and getting those coffins done right ain’t cheap. Expect to spend at least $40 if you want above-average work done.

However you choose to achieve your coffin nails, that’s up to you. For now, get familiar with the shapes and styles of these cool nails because they aren’t going anywhere! 

Classic Coffin Nail Colors

There’s no definitive rulebook on how to style coffin nails once they’re shaped up, but we have some insights on what colors and designs work best for these shapes.

First of all, we believe that more neutral colors tend to fit the vibe of the coffin nails a bit better than bright pastels and crazy vibrant patterns.

Why is this the case? Maybe it’s because the shape itself is so bold and in-your-face, there is less of a need to showcase extra design features. 

In other words, coffin nails speak for themselves, and you don’t need to dress them up too much to make a powerful statement that you are not to be messed with!

For this reason, we are huge fans of the following styles to complement the coffin shape:

  • Matte and metal are great ways to put unique and original textures on full display. There’s nothing more subtly smooth than a neutral matte look, and a metallic sheen is one of the coolest ways to show off at a party, rave, or festival.
  • White, black, and nude color schemes serve to emphasize the sleek and straightforward coffin shape. You don’t have to bring any extra attention to your nails when they have that long and elegant structure, so keep it cool with neutrality.
  • Red and pink coffin nails are arguably your best bet for a formal night out or an event where you want to make a dashing first impression. Be prepared to intimidate the competition because you’ll be looking like a queen with dark reds and flush pinks!
  • Tips and accents are pretty much all you need to add flavor to coffin nails because you generally don’t want to go overboard with busy designs. Just a little bit of flourish on the end of your nails or a subtle stripe is all it takes to drive home the point - you’re in style!

  • There is no shortage of coffin nail styles to choose from, and don’t let us stop you from experimenting with different designs that may not fit the classic playbook.

    The whole point of nail art is that you’re free to express your creativity, and you should take advantage of these big coffin nail canvases if that’s what your heart desires.

    How to Properly Care for Coffin Nails

    We would be negligent to not go over some basic coffin nail care tips because you want to make them last as long as possible.

    If you’ve crafted your natural nails into a coffin shape, you want them to be super strong and able to withstand any obstacles that come your way.

    Our first tip is to use some basic, inexpensive products to your advantage to boost your nail health and make them as strong as you can, naturally.

    That means caring for cuticles, applying a bit of nourishing moisturizer, and avoiding harsh substances like acetone if you can manage.

    If you need a bit of extra strength in the nail department, definitely look into some specialized nail hardeners, as these will help to fortify the enamel of the nail bed and minimize chipping.

    Even if you use gel or acrylic treatments to add length and body to your nails, good maintenance habits still apply! You want your investment to last, and it’s always smart to think long-term about your nail health in general.

    You should also rethink how you go about your normal routine when you have coffins.

    While coffins are less likely to poke you in the eye than stilettos, they can still snap or chip if you aren’t careful opening cans, car doors, and cardboard boxes!

    If you are brand new to coffin nails or long nails in general, make sure you move a bit slower on the first few days afterward. It takes some time to get used to the length and it’s okay to learn new ways to complete daily tasks.

    This article from Best Nail File offers a few pro tips on how to navigate daily tasks like typing, cooking, and working out, while keeping your long nails in tip-top shape.

    Stunning Press-On Coffin Nails

    In a perfect world, we’d be in the nail salon every week reshaping our coffin nails and dressing them up whatever bold new styles come to mind.

    But since time, energy and money are limited, we need to find other ways to make our long nail fantasies a reality. This is where press-on coffin nails can be a massive game-changer.

    If you’ve never tried press-on nails before, the coffin shape is a great introduction. They showcase the simplicity, strength, and sturdiness of these products, and they are super affordable as well.

    What better time than Halloween to rock some spooky and sexy coffin nail styles?


    Few nail styles convey confidence quite like coffin nails, and they will always be dear to our hearts.

    Whether you grow them yourself, get them done at the salon, or use press-on products at home, we fully endorse anyone who chooses to unleash the cool coffin look!


    We Heart Nails


    Good Housekeeping

    Marie Claire

    Leave a comment

    All comments are moderated before being published