24 Nail Designs for Short Nails That Are Both Chic and Practical

Short nails designs

Sure, long nails are nice, but a couple of weeks in and they can start to feel more high-maintenance than they're worth. (We've had the random jagged tips and scratched eyelids to prove it). What's more is that short nails, even if they seem to be having less of a moment as of late, can still be super chic.

In fact, certain nail designs almost seem to lend themselves better to a shorter length than long. Don't believe us? We scoured the Internet for 24 of the most eye-catching nail designs for short nails we've quite possibly ever seen—and succeeded.

Keep reading for the must-see looks we'll be trimming our nails for ASAP.

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Pastel Checkers

nail design for short nails periwinkle checkerboard


Shake up a classic checkerboard look by swapping out black for pastel blue. These from Chillhouse are press-ons, so you don't even have to worry about carefully painting the design.

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Multi-Color Abstract Strokes

abstract nail design for short nails


Light and feathery strokes featuring bold colors add a pop of intrigue, whether striped against a stark white base or clustered together on their own.

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Mid-Size Burgundy Stars

pink nail design for short nails


The combination of light pink and deep burgundy, plus a dusting of eye-catching stars, looks stunning on short nails.

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Shimmer Stripes

negative space and gold foil nail design for short nails


For a sleek and simple (but still stunning) nail design for short nails, simply start with a neutral or bare base, paint a subtle color as an abstract tip, and finish with a single shimmering stripe down each nail. It's super easy to maintain, but chic enough to wear to a formal event.

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Tiny Tartan

plaid design for short nails


We can't handle the chicness of this delicate plaid pattern in the perfect neutral color scheme.

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Palm Fronds

minimalist palm nail design for short nails


If you can't actually be lying beneath the palms, having them on your tips might just be the next best thing, right?

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Scenic Winter Mountains

mountain nail design for short nails


Slightly Frozen–esque in inspiration, we're head over heels (or should we say fingers?) for this icy and edgy nail design.

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One Subtle Addition

heart design for short nails minimalist


Truth: A broken heart adorning our nails is the only broken heart we want in our lives. The small design adds a pop of bright orange to an otherwise neutral mani.

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Rainbow in Negative Space

rainbow nail design on short nails with negative space


Not only do whimsical rainbows add a dose of graphic appeal to short nails, but they simultaneously channel the negative space trend.

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Red Eyes

eye design for short nails with red nail polish


Between the eye-catching graphic and candy-apple base, this nail design couldn't be better for short nails.

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Camo Print

blue camouflage nail design on short nails


Another unexpected option? A glossy iteration of camo in moody shades of blue and striking pops of black and white.

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Art Deco Squiggles

squiggle nail design for short nails


Unconventional color pairings like cobalt blue, bubblegum pink, silver, and white keep short nails anything but boring.

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Standout Hearts

heart nail design for short nails


"Heart print" is the new "polka dot print," as far as we're concerned.

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Metallic Green and Delicate Leaves

matte and shiny green nail design for short nails


A metallic green base adds an air of festive cheer, while leaf stencils stand out on contrast nails for a whimsical finish. While these leaves look hand-painted, you can always opt for a sticker like the What's Up Nails Leaves Vinyl Stencils ($5) for an easy go-to.

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Cranberry Toned Stripes

cranberry design for short nails


If you're not yet a nail design expert, try a halfway style like these bold two-tone stripes. They're easy enough to recreate—just apply crafty tape and get to work. Plus, you can use this stylish and simple look with any color combo your heart desires.

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Vacation Inspired

vacation ice cream nail design for short nails


These vacation-inspired nails are decked out in sweet treat stickers that have us seriously longing for a cabana and some sun.

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Neutral Plaid

neutral plaid nail design for short nails


A beige base makes for a neutral-toned look, but an added plaid-style design amps up the impact for a subtle yet interesting finish. Make it easy on yourself by grabbing a set of the Winstonia Super Fine Nail Art Brush Set ($8) to get the crisp lines needed to complete the look.

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Pastel French Mani

multicolor french tips for short nails


Keeping shorter nails doesn't mean you skimp on fun. These pastel French tips are so lovely and cheerful.

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Half and Half

two tone nail design for short nails


Can't decide on one color? It's okay—choose both (in this case, a neon green and a shiny sliver) and paint in vertical (or diagonal!) half-and-half sections.

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Sharp Lines

line nail design for short nails


Create dimension across your nails with some perfectly placed lines for a fashionable and minimalistic design.

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Red Negative Space

red negative space nail design for short nails


Red nail polish adds an extra bright pop of color when painted in this chic negative space design.

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Taste the Rainbow

rainbow french tips for short nails


Decorate each nail with a burst of cheerful color. This simple manicure adds the perfect dose of joy with its array of colorful tips.

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Glitzy Negative Space

negative space with glitter design for short nails


Keep it party-ready with this sparkly negative space design. Use tape to keep the lines clean and add as much glitter as your heart desires.

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Burgundy and Gold Foil

gold foil and burgundy nail design for short nails


A simple burgundy mani gets a serious upgrade with gold foil accents. Get creative with the design and give each nail a unique splash of gold.

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