(The Nail File)

Got Short Nails? Try These Non-Traditional French Manicures

Tres chic.

Short French Tropical Nails

Think French tips are reserved for those with long nails only? Not true! Short nails have been having a moment, with a list of celebrities that includes Kim Kardashian and Olivia Rodrigo among the supporters. With this rise in popularity comes more and more design inspo for you to choose from — and yes, that includes plenty of short French nail ideas.

Recently Serena Williams and Zendaya both decorated their shorter nails with a classic version of the design: a nude-pink base with a solid white tip that’s placed where your nail naturally extends from the nail bed. But if you’re in the mood for something more out-of-the-box, you might want to start taking notes, because the options are endless. Of course there’s the trendy micro French manicure, signified by an ultra-thin tip — and there are so many variations on that look alone! Add color, charms, and other special effects to take it to the next level.

You can also combine the French mani with a few other nail trends, like cat eye polish (which provides a super reflective finish), floral or food motifs, oyster nails, and neon hues. But there’s creativity in more minimalist designs, too. Playing around with line placement is unexpectedly cool and so simple to create.

But enough discussion, let’s get to the examples. Ahead, find all the inspiration you need to make your next short French mani trés chic.

Colorful Micro Tips

The micro French mani but with a colorful and minimalist twist! In addition to alternating polish shades on each thinly-painted tip, follow this nail artist’s lead and add a delicate white line mid-nail.

Frosted Lemon

Dare we call this manicure by UK-based nail artist Emily Davies-O'dell “glazed lemon donut”? To create a perfectly pale butter yellow hue, she mixed The GelBottle shades Queen Bee and Daisy over a nude base and finished it off with a shiny, slightly iridescent topper.

Cat Eye Tips

Proof that short nails can take on multiple trends at once — without looking too busy — this mani combines green cat eye tips and silver starburst charms. Nail artist Bethan Claire used SISSI’s Shamrock and molten silver gel polish to achieve the complete design.

Neon Tips

Fans of Hailey Bieber’s beauty looks will want to try this take on neon nails. Whereas Bieber opted for a solid neon green, this version sticks to just a sliver of color on the tips.

Peachy & Petite

These barely-there peachy-pink French tips bring new meaning to the phrase “micro French manicure.” This one one was created with Manucurist’s Nail Art Liner using the brand’s Hortencia Green Polish as a base and Pink Paradise for the ultra finely lined tips.

Silver Swirls

Chrome French tips are cool, but this manicure takes it to the next level with swirling silver designs that differ on each nail. Combine that with an aura-like glow on the base for a chic, mysterious effect.

Pearly Whites

If French tips and glazed donut nails had a baby, it would be this pearlescent manicure by Warsaw-based nail artist Paulina Juśkiewicz. By switching between solid coats and just-the-tips, she adds a little extra interest.

Tortoise Shell Tips

Another subtle way to try the neon nail trend is this tortoise shell French manicure. To create it, the nail artist combined The Gel Bottle polishes in shades Amber, Glass Yellow, Chocolate, Jet Black, and Miami over a light nude base.

Olive Mini Mani

Food-inspired nails are everywhere, and this OPI manicure offers a short nail-friendly option with an olive theme. To try it, start with the brand’s Baby, Take a Vow as your base, then mix Suzi — The First Lady of Nails and Alpine Snow to achieve the perfect olive hue. Finally add a dot of Big Apple Red for your pimento and voila!

Shining Sage

For an even paler green French mani, try this design by Bronx-based artist Lauren O. She used The Gel Bottle’s V102 gel polish for the creamy sage tips, then finished off the look with diamond-shaped gems.

A Taste of the Tropics

Part floral, part French, this manicure by nail artist Elizabeth M. was made using all Lights Lacquer polishes. The super thin white tips are so well suited to short nail lengths, and the tropical flowers make the design so playful and seasonal — perfect for a summer vacation.

“Lines Within” Mani

In lieu of a typical French tip, this JINsoon manicure features a thin white line placed only where the base of your nail meets the natural bottom of the tip. The elegant and minimal design was made using the brand’s Charm and Absolute White polishes.