I've had nail extensions for years, but these 14 looks have convinced me to go short again

Yes, short and chic is officially back *in*

Short Nail Manicures
(Image credit: Rebecca Fearn)

When it comes to nail trends, I've always loved having long nails—there's something about it that makes me feel chic and ultra-put together. However, ahead of some travelling, I recently decided it was time to make the switch back to shorter nails. These felt far more practical for activities that I had planned, and I wouldn't have to worry as much about finding a place that does extensions the way I like while on the road. 

In addition to the practicality of removing my extensions, I've definitely noticed a shift back to short nails as of late, meaning I'm bang on trend. In fact, all the cool girls of Insta seem to be embracing their natural nails, with cute, stylish soft square shapes and neutral, sheer hues everywhere on my feed. And with the introduction of BIAB to most salons, we can finally apply a long-lasting polish that helps with the health of your natural nail, and aids in their growth without the need for extensions. 

Hayley McColm, Mii Cosmetics’ Pro Nail Ambassador, agrees that short nail manicures are not only practical, but pretty too. "Short nails give a trendy clean and minimalist look, and they’re also easier to maintain and more practical for day-to-day routines," she begins. 

"My favourite looks on shorter nails include neutral base shades with minimal nail art (for example, adding tiny florals or strawberries for a fun summer nail), and I'm also a big fan of short bright red nails." 

The options really are limitless though. Lynn Mason, Nail expert at Mavala comments: "Shorter nails lend themselves to darker colours as they look more chic and less vampy. You could also try earthy tones like dark greens, browns or blues for a cool finish. Alternatively, light pastel shades can also look really eye-catching and sophisticated on short nails."

If you want to visualise what these would look like on, check out the below Instagram pictures for the ultimate inspiration. 

Short nail manicure inspiration

1. Sheer & clear 

Sheer and ultra glossy + short soft square nails = a match made in heaven. Invest in a dotting tool to add a little minimalistic nail art. 

2. Fine-line tips

While French tips look gorgeous on longer extensions, shorter nails better suit super-fine lines to elongate nails and fingers. 

3. Burgundy 

You simply can't beat a rich, wine-stained red-purple on nails without much length. It's so incredibly chic. 

4. Classic red

Red looks just as stunning on short nails as it does long; you just need to find your favourite one. 

5. Subtle sparkle

My most recent BIAB manicure was this subtly sparkly number. I absolutely love it and think on shorter nails it doesn't look *too* girly. 

6. Glossy navy 

A hi-shine deep blue hue is a gorgeous autumn/winter shade to try out. 

7. Metallics 

Metallics and chromes are excellent additions to any short nail manicure, be it golds or silvers. 

8. Skittles nails

I first tried this soft pastel skittle nail trend after seeing the manicure in Promising Young Woman, and it's still one of my faves for shorter nails. 

9. Matte finishes

While we all love an ultra-glossy vibe, short manicures also stand out with a sophisticated matte finish. 

10. Tortoiseshell

I actually prefer a tort nail on a shorter manicure. Plus, it takes less time when there's less nail to paint it onto, right?! 

11. Ring finger nail art 

If you want to add a touch of nail art, why not opt for a ring finger design. It's minimalistic and will save you money, too! 

12. Pastel French

For rounded manicures, a little pastel French tip looks beautiful. 

12. Bright florals

If you prefer bright, blocky colours, this modern floral design is a must. 

14. Sage green

Sage green looks incredibly cool and stylish on shorter nails, and is a great option to try. 

Rebecca Fearn

Rebecca is a freelance beauty journalist and contributor to Marie Claire. She has written for titles including Refinery29, The Independent, Grazia, Coveteur, Dazed, Stylist, and Glamour. She is also a brand consultant and has worked with the likes of The Inkey List on campaign messaging and branded copy. She’s obsessed with skincare, nail art and fragrance, and outside of beauty, Rebecca likes to travel, watch true crime docs, pet sausage dogs and drink coffee. Rebecca is also passionate about American politics and mental health awareness.