The Coolest Nail Art Ideas for Short Nails


photo of hands with nail art for short nails
(Photo: Naked Beauty Bar)

Thanks to social media, finding inspiration for nail art is no prob. (*Ahem* We may have multiple Instagram folders with saved designs…) However, the majority of said nail art is typically showcased on long, Cardi B-esque claws. And honestly, we don’t blame nail artists for posting their work on lengthy talons—after all, the more nail real estate, the more possibilities for art. But for those of us who are stuck with shorter nails—whether our work requires us to keep them trimmed, we can’t seem to grow them at all or we simply prefer short nails—it can feel like we’re missing out on all the fun.

“Just like many things portrayed in our society, there is a social construct of what is ‘ideal’ and it impacts our perspective on our reality,” says says Julia Bautista, co-founder of Naked Beauty Bar in Toronto. “Many people to think they should wait until their nails are longer to get a manicure, let alone some nail art.”

But that’s just not the case, she says. “Nail length is only part of a mani. The beauty of nail art is that it’s not necessarily one-size-fits all, so there is something for everyone… it’s all about finding what works with your nail length, shape and your own personal style. Think of it like a pair of shoes, no matter your shoe size there are different styles and colours that you can choose from to coordinate with your outfit, mood and personal style.”

And while the options for nail art are truly endless, there are a few things to keep in mind, say the pros.

“I discourage people with short nails to get half moon designs, French with fat tips or any half nail designs that divide the nail width-wise,” says Ka Yee Or, an independent nail artist based in Toronto. “All those just make the nails look shorter.” Instead, Or suggests going for thin, vertical stripes, delicate prints like tiny dots, leopard spots or flowers, or simple bold designs, like an eye or lips.

Bautista recommends negative space designs, particularly a clear base layered with a geometric design, linear accents (to elongate the nail) and the micro French, a popular special at Naked that is essentially a French manicure with a paper thin line at the free-edge. Bautista also suggests chrome tips, mismatched hands and colourway manis, where each nail is painted a different tone in the same family.

Still not convinced? Below, the coolest nail art ideas that will make you happy to have short nails.

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