Beautiful nail designs are not just reserved for long nails. And although many women enjoy lengthier styles, shorter nails are making a comeback. Some black women shy away from having long nails altogether. It may be due to work reasons or lifestyle choices. Fortunately, there is no need to sacrifice style, as there are countless designs that work great on shorter nails.
So let’s take a look at some of the popular designs below.
What are the best designs for short nails?
Whether it’s minimal and simple or eye-catching and glamorous, there is something to fit everyone’s taste when it comes to short nails.
So if you’re looking for cute nail designs to complement your style, like a color to pop and highlight your melanin. Or perhaps you want geometric designs, hand-painted artwork, colorful french tips, and the use of rhinestones, then look no further.
Do short nails look beautiful?
Short nails look stunning, especially on black women. And in 2023, short nail enthusiasts are making the most of their manicures. Many of these shorter nail styles allow women to embrace their natural nail shape or length and promote healthier nail care practices.
And even with short artificial nails used to add some length and structure, attention to detail is put in as much as it would be on longer nails to look just as beautiful.
Can I get short acrylic nails?
Acrylic nails are one of the most popular choices for black ladies, whether short or long. You can apply these to your fingers and toenails to have a strong and sharp finish.
Your nail tech will start by prepping the nails, gluing on a nail tip then applying the acrylic powder onto the nail. Once filed down, you can choose your color polish, which is either a regular polish, gel, or shellac. You can also ask for artwork or a 3D detail, then top coat and be ready.
What short nail shape should you choose?
Black women have a lot of options when it comes to choosing their perfect nail shape. If you decide to go with acrylic nails, you’ll have more choices, including almond, oval, square, and coffin shapes. And if you’re blessed to have naturally long nails, you can choose a shape that’s easy to file down, like round, square, or oval.
Should I choose natural or artificial nails?
Many debates that artificial nails damage black skin and the health of your nails. But with the correct prep and removal of these extensions, your nail beds should remain healthy and ready for your next set.
One of the reasons more black women choose shorter nails is they’re less likely to get caught on something and less likely to break. And if you’re someone who wants to add to their natural nails, then an extension, like acrylic gel or press on is right for you.
These pictures are all sourced online. To be credited for your personal picture, please contact me with the exact picture, and I’ll be sure to credit you. This post also contains affiliate links which means that I earn a small commission if you make a purchase with my link, at no additional cost to you.
1. Hand-painted nail art and french tips
If you’re a fan of french tips and want to get creative with your design, then try some hand-painted art like this Halloween-inspired look. Bring a twist to a classic white or black french tip.
2. Chrome french tips on oval nails
Short nails look great on natural or artificial nails, especially when shaped like an oval. So enhance your short nail design with a french tip. This chrome color is sure to pop against melanated skin.
3. Colorful abstract art design on nails
Take your short square nails to the next level by mixing and matching the color and artwork for each one. Colored brush strokes and patterns are definitely worth trying.
4. Bright pink or black and white designs on dark skin
Why not have some variety in your nail colors by choosing shades of pink, some with beaded details? And contrast that with black and white patterns to complement a darker skin tone, as shown above.
5. Colorful french tip on a stiletto and square nails
Choose a different design on each nail to make your melanin-rich skin pop. You can go for more than one nail shape on each hand and have random intricate artwork on each, like above.
6. Short square and stiletto french tip nails
Get creative by choosing more than one shape for your next manicure. Here we see a colorful micro french tip and hand-painted ring finger for a striking combination.
7. Glossy brown nails with abstract art
A solid brown color is perfect for any manicure on brown skin. It complements a darker skin tone seamlessly. And paired with abstract art like swirls and squares on alternating nails will surely make them stand out.
8. Colorful matte tribal-inspired almond nails
Looking for a short nail design that will be perfect for spring and summer? Then try these detailed tribal-inspired styles in cool tone shades.
9. Matte-printed abstract patterns on brown skin
Next time you’re in the nail salon, ask for an intricate freehand pattern with a matte finish to enhance the beauty of your brown skin.
10. Glossy bright geometric designs
Geometric lines and colored shapes add detail to a simple manicure with a pop of color, as we see here in vibrant pink, yellow, and blue.
11. Cartoon 2D nails trend on dark skin
Try out these bright pink and purple nails with an added twist. The black outline creates the illusion of cartoon 2D nails to stand out.
12. Bright-colored artwork twist to matte nude nails
Get creative with a range of hand-painted looks on each nail. Primary colors like red, yellow, and blue like we see here are perfect at catching your attention and look flawless with a matte finish.
13. Turquoise, fuchsia, and orange-painted nails
Bright colors like turquoise, bright blue, fuschia, and orange are perfect and make your melanin skin look rich in comparison. So try out these colors on your next short nail manicure.
14. Glossy 3D rose gold french tips
15. Short square pink french tips with rhinestones and gems
Add more detail to your manicure with gems, like these colored crosses. You can also make one nail stand out by covering it completely in rhinestones to sparkle against your brown skin.
16. Nudish-brown nails with mosaic prints
Nude nails on brown skin look effortless with a glossy finish. So why not upgrade a simple color manicure with mosaic patterns on a couple of nails as we see above?
17. Range of purple nail art
If you’re stuck on what design to do, why not get more than one design on each nail? Here we see a range of purple styles, from a simple color to a french tip, a marble print, and a nail covered in rhinestones.
18. Royal blue square nails
Deep colors like royal blue complement melanated skin tones so well. So experiment with french tips, gems, or plain painted nails to achieve a beautiful, as we see above.
19. Peach and turquoise nails with gold glitter
The contrast of peach and turquoise already works so well together. So adding an element of texture with the glitter is perfect to match the glowy skin of black women.
20. Blue spot designs and french tip nails
Cool tones like blue look great against the warmth of brown skin. So try out a blue color for your next manicure and make it different with dots for more fun.
21. Blue and gold square nail designs
Take a simple color manicure and make it your own with hand-painted designs in contrasting gold. You can add shimmer or glitter for a more sparkly touch too.
22. Easter egg-inspired bright oval nails
If you’re excited about spring and Easter, get in the mood with these Easter egg-style nails. Brighter colors always look beautiful on melanated skin, so make the most of this design.
23. Rhinestone french tips on dark skin
French tips are a classic on short nails. So for added sparkle, ask your nail tech to add rhinestones on each nail tip to reflect the light and make your skin glow.
24. Ombre nails with a twist
Ombre-colored nails are a popular choice, even for a small design. So take this to the next level, as we see above, with a range of lines and wiggles.
25. Matte sky-blue nails with zig-zag patterns
Light colors like sky blue can enhance the richness of your melanin. And added geometric shapes, zig-zag lines, and other colorful patterns that complement blue, like purple and green, can turn this into a work of art on your short nails.
26. Milky white nails with french tips on melanin
White nails are a popular choice for black women, as they make your hands stand out and look fresh. So trying a milky white can have the same effect. And with colored tips and rhinestones, it’s perfect for summer.
27. Bright hand-painted faces and patterns
If you like more fun artwork, why not try a range of hand-painted faces and facial features to accompany your colorful polish choice? Here we see lips, eyes, and a face on different nails, which looks great up close.
28. Purple chrome short nail designs
Chrome nails are a favorite for short nail enthusiasts. You can choose a different style and even shape to add more detail to the chrome color, as it pops against black skin. Here we see 3D art, french tips, and solid color.
29. Sparkly 3D gems on french tip nails
Short french tip nails don’t have to be basic. That’s why 3D gems and diamante additions are great to add some dimension to your short nail manicure as we see here with these pink frenchies.
30. Ombre nails with glitter encapsulation
Ombre nails were one of the most popular styles a few years ago, and they’re making a comeback for black women who want short nail designs. Why not add some rhinestones and encapsulated glitter for a more shimmery effect?
31. Shades of pink frenchies on dark skin
Why not try pink french tips and instead of using a nude base, go for a transparent pink? This is a stunning combination of baby pink tips and 3d gems to take your manicure to new heights on your next nail appointment.
32. Pink gem mix on short square nails
Rhinestone-filled nails will also be popular choices for short nail enthusiasts. With a mix of pink designs, your nails will stand out and look sleek against your brown skin.
33. Kaws-inspired cartoon nail designs for black women
Cartoon nail art is a popular trend, like these Kaws-inspired designs paired with a bear gem on a french manicure. Pink is one of those colors that looks great on all darker skin tones and stands out with the addition of white.
34. Rainbow swirl nails
Why not try a range of colors in a swirl pattern to brighten up your day? These colors work well with melanated complexions so they’re guaranteed to look good, whatever skin tone you have.
35. Blue and mint green nail designs
What better pop of color than cool tones to contrast the warm complexion of your black skin? These colors and designs are perfect for spring and summer too.
36. Two-Toned Tiger Print Nails
Tiger print nails always look cool and unique no matter how you make them, but this combo of blue and yellow looks truly incredible.
Short nail designs are made to look flawless on black women no matter if you choose to have a neutral color, or if you want something more intricate like a hand-painted design with 3D gems. You can do these designs on your natural nails, and if you wish to have a stronger base, opt for artificial extensions that will last up to a few weeks and keep your designs fresher for longer. We hope you’ve found some inspiration in these nail designs and get to choose one for your next nail appointment.