17 Nail Ideas for Short Nails

17 Nail Ideas for Short Nails

Sometimes it seems like all the best nail designs are for long or medium-length nails, but don’t worry; if you work with your hands every day or you just don’t want the hassle of managing longer nails or more involved nail designs, there are still plenty of unique and gorgeous nail ideas available to you to try out with ease. 

Here at Nailboo, we believe in the personal touch. That’s why we’re dedicated to providing you with the tools you need to get gorgeous new nail looks at home, and it’s why we’re sharing all of our favorite nail styles and ideas for any nail length, shape, and design. It’s easy to begin trying out your next manicure and Nailboo is here to help you every step of the way.

Nail Ideas for Short Nails 

Who said that short nails can’t be bold, beautiful, and exciting? Here are some of our favorite short nail styles and ideas that will fit any season or big event. The only question is—which one will you try out first? 

1. Fun Colors

When you have short nails, there is less canvas to design or decorate, but it also means that that look will stand out more, especially when you pick fun and bright colors. 

Short nails look great in bright neons, shades of pastels, or your favorite jewel tones. This is a fun and classy way to adorn your short nails, so you feel confident in your new look every day. 

2. Stripes and Polka Dots 

Stripes and polka dots are some of the simplest patterns that you can try out, which is what makes them such a great option for shorter nails. You don’t need a large canvas to get a unique and festive striped nail look or a bold polka dot style. 

You can mix and match the two, use polka dots or stripes for an accent nail, or try them out on the whole set in your favorite shades, but these gorgeous patterns are classics for a reason.

3. Accent Nail 

One of the best parts of the accent nail is that the opportunities are endless. The accent nail is perfect for beginner nail artists, holiday themes, and whatever other creative ideas you might come up with. 

You can paint an accent nail in a single color or add a little something special with decals, stencils, or stamps. It’s a great way to get your personal style front and center even if you don’t have a lot of room. 

4. Ombre Shades 

An ombre or rainbow nail set is a great way to take your classic colors to a whole new level. It’s easy to achieve at home and can be applied in all of your favorite colors, so you can match it to the season or event with ease. Ombre is always very chic and elegant, but you can add an air of playfulness about it if that’s more your personal style. 

5. Dripping Glitter 

Glitter looks extra dramatic on smaller nails, and that’s a look we love. There are many different ways to style your favorite glitter manicure, but one of the unique options is a drip-style up from the base of the nail to the tip. Use a neutral or sheer base or mix your glitter with your favorite bright shades and create a manicure in motion look that everyone will love. 

6. Dotted Tips 

Want to take your polka-dotted style to the next level? These gorgeous polka dotted tips are the way to go. They’re a mix between the geometric and French tip classic looks and can be achieved in any combination of colors and styles. 

We love a neutral base with bright color tips, but consider matching them to the season or create ombre dotted tips that are chic and elegant. 

7. Triangles 

You can’t go wrong with a gorgeous geometric shape, and that certainly goes for shorter nails, as well as longer ones. Triangles and geometric shapes are a great option for shorter nails because it helps to give them length, and with so many different approaches, you’re sure to find a triangle look you love. 

Try out triangles at the tips or coming up from the base of your nail for a sense of movement, or stack your triangles to complete a classic chevron design that brings to mind summer camp friendship bracelets. 

8. A Touch of Metallic

If you want to achieve the chic and elegant nature of longer nails without the fuss, then metallics are always a good way to go. 

You can add metallic details for a little bit of mystery, like tips, accent nails, or at the nail base, or you can go for a full metallic set in one or more of your favorite shiny styles. Metallics are always elevating and beautiful, but they can also give a little touch of fun to any manicure. 

9. Stars and Moons 

If you’re looking to add decals or illustrations to your shorter nails, it’s a good idea to keep the styles simple, only because you don’t have as much canvas to work with as you do when the nails are longer. Stars and moons are a great option, and you can adjust them to fit your personal style with ease.

Try out fun and funky cartoon stars in bright colors, or reach for that more elegant look with line art decals and designs. Don’t forget to pick a base color that you really love.  

10. Retro Vibes 

Think about all of your middle school doodles for inspiration. We love a classic cartoon look and with 1990s trends coming back in full force, we’re adapting our favorite manicure to fit the theme. 

Doodles and cartoons are easy to achieve on smaller nails and you have a lot of different options to pick from, so throw in your favorite rainbows, shooting stars, flower doodles, and more. Bright, funky colors are the way to go when it comes to these retro vibes. 



11. Base Decal 

When your nails are shorter, the base of the nail is one of the best places to show off your favorite styles and designs. That’s why we’re all about nail base decals and gems. You can try out some classic line art up from the base or go for something a little splashier like gem decals. 

12. Splash and Splatter

It’s hard not to fall in love with a good splash and splatter pattern for your nail art, especially if you’re a beginner who’s looking for a great place to start. Splatter art is really easy to achieve, and it looks different every time, so you always know that you’re getting a can’t miss style. Plus, you don’t have to worry about cleaning up lines or getting the perfect shape with nail tape. 

One of the reasons we love a splatter paint look so much is that it’s perfect for shorter nails. You know you’re still showcasing unique and bold patterns, but you don’t need a ton of space to do so. 

Consider splattering in neon colors against a white background, or try out something new with your ombre look and mix and match your favorite shades of a single color. The splatter look is always going to be unique and interesting and it’s sure to get people talking. 

13. Tiny Smiles 

Sometimes, it’s all about what you don’t say. Drawing a tiny smiley face on your favorite color manicure is a great way to add a little fun and humor to your next minimalist design. 

It’s a throwback to your classic retro looks, but you don’t need a lot of skills with a paintbrush to achieve it. Plus, you’re sure to find yourself smiling every time you look down at your nails. 

14. Minimalism 

Of course, if you’re looking for a more elegant approach to a minimalist manicure, there are some great options available to you, as well. Minimalism looks great with line work, which can be achieved with a couple of nail kit tools, or you can draw checkers, feathers, or any of your other favorite minimalist designs. 

The way you approach minimalism is personal to you and your style, but this is a great option for shorter nails because you don’t have a lot of canvas to work with. Try out a minimalist look in your favorite colors to get started. 

15. Twin Nails 

If you want to go in the opposite direction and add a large and exciting design to your next manicure, then consider spreading it out across two nails—or more! We love the twin nail look, where half of a design is painted on each of the nails and they’re held up next to each for the full image. Not only is it unique and creative, but it helps to give the manicure a sense of motion and grace. 

One of our favorite twin nail designs is the two wings of a butterfly, but you can draw animals, plants, or places across your entire nail set to create art outside the gallery. 

16. Laurel Crown 

We love a good floral nail, but painting flowers on shorter nails may feel like a challenge. If you’re looking to achieve delicate nail floral looks on short nails, consider painting or adorning a laurel crown, instead. 

They look lovely across the tips of your nails, or you can spread them across the center for a showcase vibe. Add a touch of gold for a little bit of that classic Greek heroine vibe from the legends. 

17. Abstract Nails 

Sometimes you don’t need to have a template. If you’re more interested in going with your heart than creating a recognizable design, then an abstract manicure may be the best way to go. 

The abstract art style is very personal and unique to the artist, but you can achieve it on your short nails with line art, blob painting, and by mixing and matching some of your favorite colors. It will come out differently every time and it’s sure to start conversations at every party. 


You can get a unique, creative, and outstanding new manicure design, even if you have shorter nails. In fact, short nails can be a great canvas for exciting opportunities and ideas that don’t stand out as much on bigger styles. Mix and match some of your favorite colors, use delicate decals and designs, or consider embracing the tip or the base of the nail for a look all your own. 

Nailboo is here to help you find that perfect style no matter what shape or nail size you love best. We’re all about the nail dip manicure when it comes to achieving that healthy, strong, and long-lasting manicure style that doesn’t need to be applied at the salon. No matter what kind of style you gravitate toward, you’ll find a unique design or idea available here in our library.

Pick up your own nail dip kit and explore our growing catalog of new tutorials, ideas, and designs to create a short nail manicure that represents who you are. Match the season or your personal style, or create a totally new design for your short nails. 



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