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 they are badass — but short nails are cute in their own right. Plus, they'll never annoy the hell out of you when you're clicking away on your keyboard, trying to remove your contact lenses, or opening a can of La Croix.
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 long-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 gel extensions, we've rounded up the coolest manis to copy now, no long-term growth plan required, ahead.
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Teensy gold stars add a little sparkle to short nails, while keeping the overall look sophisticated.
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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 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 tiny 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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"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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