10 Gel Manicure Ideas That Look Cool on Short Nails

You don't need long tips to wear fall's best nail trends.

Raise your hand if you apologize for your short nails every time you get a manicure (same). But let's get one thing out of the way: Nails come in all shapes, sizes, and lengths, so there's no reason to be embarrassed that you don't have long tips. And sure, an astrological design or coffin shape works best on long nails, but there's myriad of amazing manicure options for short lengths, too.

Take the gel manicure for example. Whether you opt for a solid polish or minimalist nail art, it will look amazing on every single nail length. The versatility of long-wear gel polish is exactly why gel manicures for short nails are trending.

"Gel manicures on short nails have become so popular because it's one of the fastest manicures to get, and the easiest to maintain," says Sarah Tuttle, founder and CEO of Olive & June. She notes that a classic round shape is a solid option because of its practicality.

When it comes to polish shades, the choice is yours — just like with any other length. Tuttle says that color can be fun to experiment with because "sometimes a long nail and bold color can feel like a major statement." Of course, classic shades like nude and red always look chic.

As for nail art, Tuttle suggests a French manicure, another one of this year's big nail trends. "If you want to try a French manicure on a short nail, definitely do a skinny line at the tip instead of the wider, more traditional French widths," she says. "This way, the tip is an accent and doesn't take over your nail."

VIDEO: How to Remove Your Gel Manicure Without Going to the Salon

And if you do decide to grow out your nails, you can turn your old gel manicure into an intentional look. "Get a negative space half moon manicure," Tuttle recommends. "You can let it grow out as long as the gels last and it will look good the whole time."

Ready to book that manicure appointment? Here, we've rounded up our five favorite gel manicure ideas for short nails.

Gel Manicure Ideas for Short Nails
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01 of 10

Gradient Nails

Paint each nail a different shade in the same color family to create a cool gradient effect.

02 of 10

Classic Red

When in doubt, red gel polish is always a good idea.

03 of 10

Sparkle Party

Nude polish with a glitter accent nail? Nail art doesn't get easier than that.

04 of 10

French Manicure

The French manicure is back — whether you like it or not. This modern black and gold version has thin lines painted right below the tip of the nail to keep the look proportional.

05 of 10

Negative Space Half Moons

This simple nail design looks great even when your gel manicure has grown out.

06 of 10

Colorblock Swirls

Similar to half moons, retro swirls can be adapted to fit the length of your nails. Here, the shapes were added to opposite inner and outer corners of the nail in a darker shade of yellow for a fun contrast.

07 of 10

Bedazzled Daisies

The early 2000s is one of the biggest inspiration for this year's nail art trends. Why channel three of the decade's most popular looks with this bedazzled daisy French manicure?

08 of 10


The checkerboard pattern continues to have a chokehold on both interior design and nail art trends. Given that the simple pattern takes time and effort to nail, extend the life of your manicure by doing your nails with gel polish.

09 of 10

Leopard Edges

You've probably heard it before and we'll say it again: leopard print is a neutral because the pattern looks amazing with any color. Create a border around a bare nail bed or paint it any solid it color for a bolder look.

10 of 10

Skittle Nails

Not only are Skittle nails incredibly easy to do, the manicure works across all nail shapes and lengths.

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