16 Short Nail Designs That Prove You Don’t Need Acrylics To Enjoy Nail Art

There’s no question that nail art is one of the hottest beauty trends right now — so much so that the term “nailfie,” a play on “selfie,” has emerged on social media. Across Instagram, TikTok, and other platforms, nail art enthusiasts are using the hashtag alongside snaps of their latest mani masterpieces, causing the already-expansive online nail art community to surge.

Whether acrylics, dip powder, or completely natural, more often than not, these “nailfies” feature ultra-long nails. And while it makes total sense that longer nails would be the preferred canvas for intricate nail designs, that doesn’t mean short nails can’t get in on the fun, too. Shorter nails can look equally chic with the latest nail art trends, and in some cases, certain designs look better on clipped tips. Take cuticle art, for example.

So, if you’re looking for design ideas that complement shorter lengths, you’ve come to right the place. Here, we’ve rounded up some shots of cute short nails that prove nail art isn’t just for acrylics.

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File under “Cute Short Nails” inspiration:

Rainbow Cuticles

No matter how short your nails are, you can always add a swipe of polish along the cuticle. This particular design includes a gorgeous gradient effect, adding even more dimension to the nails.

Green Swirls

Swirl designs continue to be hugely popular, probably because there are endless ways to experiment with the trend. These green swirls are the perfect way to add a pop of color to your look.

Multicolored Checkered Nails

This checkered mani is reminiscent of a picnic blanket pattern, but with the right colors, it can match any season.

Classic French Manicure

Who says you have to have long nails to wear a French manicure? These thinly painted French tips are undeniably chic and oh-so-subtle.

Fruity Prints

These delicate cherries can be painted onto any nail length — simply adjust the design based on how much nail you’re working with.

Clean Lines

It doesn’t get much chicer than this. Draw a straight line, vertically or horizontally, over a clear base coat for a subtle manicure that still makes a statement.

Subtle Speckles

From afar this might just look like a simple green mani, but the sublte speckles give it a surprising twist.

Detailed Florals

Floral designs are a classic look all year round and make for extremely cute short nails.

Animal Prints

Nails adorned with animal prints like leopard and giraffe are having a major moment, but we particularly love the way cow prints lend themselves to shorter lengths.

Colorful Flames

Swap in the colors of your choice to make this fiery mani your own.

Retro Flowers

These colorful flowers are giving off major 70s vibes — another super popular trend at the moment.

Color Gradients

This gradient is the perfect way to play up cute short nails.

Minimalist Dots

If you love black nails but don’t want to committ entirely, these simple black dots with a black accent nail is the perfect look.

Polka Dot Accent Nails

You can never go wrong with an accent nail. It’s simple yet eye-catching, and most importantly, it requires way less effort than a full manicure’s worth of nail art.

Negative Space

Play with negative space and experiment with abstract designs with a this fun black, white, and gold mani.

Cuticle Art

Recreate the look with nail jewels, tiny chains or a simple metallic polish.

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