Long nails are the Marcia Brady of manicures; they attract all the attention and are always flaunting elaborate designs on the internet. But let’s be honest: short nail designs have been long overdue for their day in the sun. We’re talking about something considerably longer than the library book you forgot to return to the school librarian in fourth grade or the one-word text you were supposed to send to the Tinder match you’ve been chatting with. Short fingernails are like Jan Brady, the middle sister who is sometimes forgotten yet deserves the spotlight just as much as her older sister.
If you’re someone who will never succumb to the allure of acrylic nails, if you’re a nail-biter, if you’re not a fan of long nails, or if you’re afflicted with weak nails that refuse to grow regardless of how many supplements you take, don’t worry. You may continue to flaunt your cute, short nails.
Miss Pop, a nail artist located in New York City, states, “As a former nail-biter, I can attest that nail art enhances the beauty of any length.” “If you have very short nails, consider emphasising the design near the cuticle with a half-moon or negative space pattern.” In reality, these manicures look fantastic on nails of various lengths, particularly on short ones. Moreover, each of these sets is available in a number of colours and patterns that are sure to please nearly everyone’s aesthetic preferences. Not a pastel fan? We have some concepts that are rather neutral. Prefer pink to neutrals? We also have those. Consider how much of your nail art must be covered.
Scroll down to discover 32 short nail designs that you will definitely want to imitate, add to your nail art mood board, or present to your manicure technician at your next salon session.
1. Bedazzled Gemstones
Manicurist Miki Higuchi adds, “When I want to go all out, I fill my nails with jewels.” Here, she balanced large, multicoloured stones with smaller gems atop Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear in 625 Silver Storm. “Use Kiss Nail Glue and glue dryer spray,” she advises. “The diamonds will not move.”
2. Marbleized Metallic
Marbleized metallic nails are unique and fashionable. To create this look, Higuchi used a cosmetic sponge to randomly apply pink, silver, and gold metallic nail polish, followed by a small paintbrush to blur the edges. “Apply the darkest metallic first to prevent colours from blending,” she advises.
3. Rainbow Ombré Tips
“Ombré is traditional, but an iridescent base coat with a rainbow of glittering colours at the tips makes it less bridal,” explains Higuchi.
After the neutral base has dried, apply a metallic colour to the top half of each nail using a makeup sponge, and then apply a second coat of the same colour over the dry tips to create a gradation effect. Include a vibrant metallic among the rich bronzes and golds (Essie has a great range, including the glimmering magenta Space Out).
4. Two-Toned Tips
This straightforward split-colour manicure is classy yet playful. In addition, according to nail artist and founder of Sundays Studio Amy Lin, it can make your nails appear longer without the use of acrylics.
“This is simply accomplished with a paintbrush,” she explains, adding that tape is an excellent alternative for novices. “Try utilising an angular pattern that will also make your nails appear longer.”
5. Sweet Strawberries
How could this manicure by nail artist Amber Green not improve your disposition in the slightest? The bright pink polish and scattered strawberries on some of the nails undoubtedly allude to much brighter, sunnier days — that is, spring and summer. We recommend trying Ella+Mila’s Brave nail polish for a similarly brilliant pink that will make everyone smile.
6. The Far-From-Typical French
This edgy black-and-neon design by New York City-based nail artist Mei Kawajiri demonstrates that the French manicure can be anything but simple, and experts concur.
“The new French manicure is less about the precise half-moon shape and more about creating a line, even if it’s thin and bright,” adds Lin. It is not about obtaining the exact shape, but about expressing oneself through colour.
For a look like this, feel free to utilise whatever high-voltage colours you already possess.
7. Bowie Lightning Bolts
These beautifully painted lightning bolts honour the musical legacy of singer David Bowie. Hannah Missen, the nail artist behind this design, suggests marking each point of the red-and-blue lightning bolt with four small dots, then using a super-thin detail brush to combine the lines and thicken them where necessary. Try OPI’s Alpine Snow for a comparable soft white nail colour.
8. Geometric Half Moons
This festive red manicure is appropriate for more than just the holiday season. At any time of year, this geometric half-moon cutout is certain to garner praise.
As to why it works for short nails, Lin explains, “A negative space design like this may be durable and stays on even as your nails grow out.” In terms of execution, she recommends utilising tape, as it offers the best chance of achieving ultra-clean and accurate lines.
9. Floral Ombré
This purple manicure with flower details is quite simple to replicate at home. Simply use your favourite purple nail polishes as a base, and then use a little paintbrush to add white flowers wherever you choose. The gorgeous ombré technique, which you can learn to do by watching this instructional video, has a way of making the nails appear organically longer.
A suggestion from Lin? Make the flowers smaller than half the size of your nail for a fun, delicate aesthetic that won’t overwhelm short nails. “I would also only do these flower designs on a few nails to make them the centrepiece,” she explains.
10. Soft Smiles
This charming smiley-face manicure can be accomplished with just three colours and a dotting tool: beige, yellow, and black. If you don’t have a nail file, Los Angeles-based manicurist Mazz believes there are certain household objects that can suffice.
“When creating nail art at home, never underestimate the power of a bobby pin and a toothpick,” she advises. “You can also use an old eyeliner brush to make thin lines for this appearance. If the brush is overly dense, simply remove a few bristles with scissors.”
On the other hand, if you don’t want to do the legwork, purchase a pair of entertaining press-on. In reality, you may purchase nail stickers and simply apply smileys to your nails. We adore Inked By Dani’s Color Nail Art Tattoos, which are available in a range of designs, including, to mention a few, smiley faces, flowers, and stars. Also, do not worry about getting it too flawless. It will be adorable no matter what.