Manicure Inspo That Won’t Give You Short Nail Shame

Courtesy of Alicia Torello
Raise your hand if you've apologized to your manicurist for your super-short nails? Now why do we do that? Long, bedazzled, Cardi B-inspired claws might get all the love on Instagram right now — and boy are they badass — but short nails are cute in their own right. Plus, they'll never annoy the heck out of you when you're clicking away on your keyboard, trying to remove your contact lenses, or opening a can of fizzy water.
According to the pros, the trick to making short nails feel more glamorous is to make them look purposeful by keeping them clean, smooth, and shaped. "The most important part of ensuring your nails look great at any length is taking good care of your hands," Megan Richardson and Gretchen Tiernan, owners of Sand Spa, explain. "Short nails look best when your cuticles are pushed back and you can see your half moons."
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Groomed, short nails might allow for a more practical morning, but that's not to say you can't fake the look of more length — manicurists can even paint them in ways that give the illusion of a longer nail bed. As famed nail artist Miss Pop told us: "Nail art is not big nail exclusive. If you’re a nail biter, just focus the attention not on the tip, but down to the cuticle."
Whether you're after the chic look, or just want to rest your nails between longer lengths, we've rounded up the coolest manis to copy now, no growth required, ahead.
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Soft pink peonies and gold wire accents would make even the most loyal acrylic-devotee consider going natural.
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Tiny and precise details make all the difference.
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A thin stripe of sparkly glitter running vertically from your cuticle to the end of your nail makes a statement without being overly embellished.
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You can make an evil eye mani a little more interesting by making the base color a shade lighter than your skin tone, placing the eye contour at the base of your cuticle, and adding some long lashes to the adjacent nail.
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Ombré glitter spillage also gives the illusion that your nails are longer than they actually are — and it's an easy DIY, too.
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Parallel purple lines are so simple, yet have an elongating effect when they're thin and placed towards the middle portion of the nail.
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Negative space makes everything cooler, even this tutti frutti mani.
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A vertical Gucci stripe is always a going to be chic, even if your nails are on the shorter side.
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A tiny gold stud cuticle decal is a delicate way to give a short nail some pizzazz.
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There's something about a teensy white dot that elevates any neutral manicure.
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Bright red polish looks good on any nail shape, no matter the length. But if yours are on the shorter side, try making red your accent color on top of something softer, like a baby blue.
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Pop says that if you want to make your short nail beds look extra long, you can shift the perspective with art. "I do little mini moons, because tinier details do tend to make nails look larger," Pop says. "I love doing them in gold."
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Triangles extending from the cuticle can also lengthen the look of nails. "Do a triangle but a really very, very long one that elongates the look of your fingers," Pop says.
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"Wearing a solid color or dark color might make [nails] look smaller," Pop says. So she loves the idea of playing with negative space and covering the entire nail in a pattern, like imperfect polka dots.
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Pop also loves painting what she calls "diagonal halfsies," which involves swiping one shade of polish diagonally across the nail, and leaving the rest of the nail naked. "That really elongates the nail, and it also helps mask the fact that your nails might not all be the same length," Pop says.
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