I Tried It: Coffin Nails

Inspired by Kylie Jenner, Caitlin Agnew heads to the nail salon to try out the top mani trend of 2016

coffin nails

Caitlin Agnew gives Pinterest’s top nail trend of 2016 a try

It never occurred to me that you could just buy yourself new fingernails. I assumed Kylie Jenner, with her long coffin-shaped talons, must just be genetically #blessed in the keratin department, unlike me. As a quasi-reformed nail biter, my sad, brittle tips rarely grow beyond the edges of my fingers. Thus, I’ve got zero hope of rocking long, squared-off tips like Kylie’s, which Pinterest declared the top beauty trend of 2016.

But recently, I committed to back-to-back-to-back Shellacs, and with the sturdiness of the long-lasting gel, managed to coax my tips to a respectable length. Then, one of them broke. I booked it to Tips Nail Bar in Toronto to deal with this horror, where manicurist Nargis Khan offered to extend it to match the others, rather than filing everything down to square one. Wait, what? Yes, Khan explained, she could even do this to all ten of my fingers and yes, they could definitely be coffin shaped, long and narrowing into a square tip, like an old-timey, Dracula-style casket.

coffin nails

New nails in progress…

Materials: As opposed to plastic fakes that are glued on top of your natural nails, these acrylics are custom sculpted using pro-only liquid and powder. They’re basically magical extensions of what you’ve already got, but sturdier.

Process: Khan removed my Shellac, tended to my cuticles and then prepped my nails with a disinfectant followed by a dehydrating nail primer. She then stuck paper forms to each of my fingers, wrapped beneath my nails’ free edges to provide a surface for the extensions. To create each nail, she dipped a paintbrush into the liquid and then the powder, which bonded into a thick gel that she hand painted onto and beyond my existing nails (using the paper forms as a base) before it hardened, a process that took about three minutes per finger. After removing the forms, she filed each nail into my desired coffin shape about twice the length of my nail bed, the max before the breakage risk gets too high. Then she painted them in CND’s heather grey Cityscape while explaining that I’d need to come in for a grow-out touch-up every two or three weeks.

Start to finish, getting my fantasy nails took nearly three hours. And I’m obsessed with them. After a lifetime of mediocre-to-bad nails, these additions instantly made me feel like a fancy new person. While I’m not convinced I have a RiRi-level lifestyle to keep up this extreme length, mark my words: I am never going short again.

coffina nails

The finished product.


1. The list of things I literally can’t even became even more ridiculous and real. Changing earrings, fishing coins out of my wallet and anything to do with buttons was sweat-inducingly stressful and slow. Kylie Jenner has like, 11 sisters to help her out with that stuff. I live alone, and I’m not about to ask my building’s concierge to unbutton my blouse for me.

2. Girls are way more into them than guys. No brainer? Everywhere I went, women passed on the compliments but when I surveyed dudes for opinions, they were indifferent, confused or straight-up grossed out. Like I care. That said, nice guys will help you out when you literally can’t even open a creamer for your coffee at brunch.

3. Cuticle oil is your lifeline. Apply it minimum twice daily to keep nails from getting brittle (when they’re dry, they run the risk of snapping off) , and just consider those greasy fingerprints you leave all over a reminder that you’re doing a good job of protecting your investment.


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