While long nails in their various iterations — almond, coffin, and ballerina among others — will always be a staple of the beauty world, shorter nails might be a trend you resigned to your younger years. They were clean and simple, but perhaps not the most daring or exciting — forcing you to graduate to long nails by way of social media influencers and Kardashian-level celebrities. Recently, however, short nails have been having a moment in 2022, proving the look is back in a big way.
Although you might have lamented the change from extensions to natural nails, Charlotte Knight, founder of Ciaté London, credits the resurgence to stay-at-home orders and nail salon closures. “Short nails are in line with the current ‘clean girl’ aesthetic that’s trending at the moment due to the time spent with our nails,” the pro shares. “They’re chic, low maintenance, and more natural-looking than longer styles.” And Vanessa Sanchez McCullough, celebrity nail artist to Blake Lively and other a-listers agrees: “I think people are finally realizing the size of the canvas does not matter,” she says. “Short nails or long nails, you could still have beautiful trendy looks.”
To find out more about why short nails are at the top of the fashion set’s list, TZR spoke to six seasoned and celebrity manicurists for the 411. Ahead, they share their expert insight as well as tips for keeping the shorter look at its best.
Short Nails Win For Practicality
Long nails have more real estate to create elaborate designs but can be a lesson in trial and error in terms of functionality. Take Cardi B for example, who often posts TikToks opening a can, buttoning clothes, and changing a diaper as a tutorial for life with 4- to 5-inch nails. With shorter styles, of course, daily tasks are not of concern as they do not get caught on things or keep you from opening and closing things. “Short nails are easy to maintain,” says Emily Rudman, founder of nail brand Emilie Heathe. “They don’t get in the way like at the gym or when cooking,”
Short Nails = Healthy Nails
To get longer manis people often apply fake nails which can be tough on your natural ones (think: brittle, breakage, and tearing) if left on too long or removed wrong. A short regular or gel polish manicure makes for a more durable and stronger nail bed. Because short nails look best when they’re healthy, make sure you keep them moisturized with a nourishing cuticle oil. Hannah Lee, global ambassador for Sally Hansen recommends filing them down with a smooth file to prevent any sharp edges. Rudman also suggests pushing back and trimming cuticles frequently to keep your manicure looking neat.
Short Nails Are More Hygienic
The added length with fake nails (no matter the material) is the perfect environment for trapping bacteria and viruses. With short nails, you can see the dirt enter your nails — making you more prone to clean them versus on long nails. The less surface area there is, the easier it is to keep the hands hygienic.
Short Nails Can Still Sport Innovative Designs
“Bright and bold colors still look incredible on shorter nails,” Knight tells TZR. Just because the real estate is smaller, doesn’t mean you can’t experiment with your manicure. The expert has been seeing emerald green, neon yellow, and classic reds pop up all over social media for shorter lengths. As for the shape, she suggests oval or squoval as these looks are classic and elongate the fingers while still letting the colors and designs do the talking.