The 16 Best Nail Colours If You Just Can't Deal With Long Nails This Summer

I almost always have long nails (almond-shaped, please!), so when I trimmed them all the way down last weekend, I felt like an alien inhabited my body. Okay, that's dramatic, but I was sick of them catching on my hair, slowing my typing speed (no good when you're an editor!), catching more food than my mouth, and being all-around annoying. For a second, I was traumatised. Having shorter nails completely changed the look of my hands, and the shock reminded me of receiving a shorter-than-intended haircut.

Now, obviously you can wear whatever nail color you want regardless of how long or short your nails are, but as I'm learning, some colours—like neon pink, gold, and even cream-swirled shades of mocha—look especially cool on my shorter nails… at least, in my humble opinion! With summer officially here (and tons of new summer nail colour collections sitting both on my desk and in my inbox), I decided to sift through the colour options to pull together a list of the best nail colours to wear with short nails.

If you love dark nail colours…

Found: the best true shade of burgundy that's en vogue year-round, day or night, courtesy of & Other Stories. Obviously it will look fabulous regardless of nail length, but it looks even chicer when paired with crisp short nails. 

If a vino-inspired shade of purple is your typical polish go-to, brighten it up a tad with this delphinium-inspired hue.

Love navy? This shade of teal is dark enough to satisfy a moody nail craving this summer, looks super polished atop short nails, and (thanks to OPI's gel-inspired long-wear formula) will stay chip-free all summer long… or at least for a couple of weeks.

Nothing beats a classic coat of black polish to complement short nails—even in the heat of the summer. That said, if you're going to take the plunge, we recommend Orly's new rendition. It's part of the brand's Breathable collection, and it's infused with argan oil, provitamin B5, and vitamin C. Plus, the finish and wear are so good you don't even need a base coat or topcoat. Summer minimalism at its finest. 

If you like neutral nail colours…

Best Nail Colours for Short Nails: Neutral Nails



For short nails, we're particularly keen on this peachy-neutral shade called Au Naturel, which has pink undertones to keep it feeling bright and fresh on your nails.

Trade in your go-to autumn/winter shade of cocoa for a milkier (and slightly more shimmery) mocha order instead. This light, fresh shade is perfect for short tips.

J.Hannah is known for its minimalist and artistic colour palettes, and we've kept this pretty shade of oyster at the top of our polish pile ever since its initial debut. There's a soft, golden sheen, so it looks extra pretty when the summer sun hits it. If you prefer the look of short, virtually bare nails, look no further.

The best summer twist on a classic baby pink? A swirl of metallic. This pretty shade looks demure and subtle painted on short nails, and is a brand-new shade from the brand just in time for summer. 

If you like bright colours…

After I clipped my nails to their now-super-short length, I painted them with this electric-pink nail polish from China Glaze. It's part of the brand's new Sesame Street–inspired collection (adorable) and is by far the best hot pink I've ever worn. 

Sure, we love a great statement-making red, but we turn in our shades of scarlet and crimson for a peppier orange come summer. Plus, how can you resist this fiery shade? It's like a summer sunset in a bottle. 

Barry M makes the best nail colors when it comes to bold, whimsical shades. Yellow nail polish is all the rage right now, so obviously we're all over Banana Split. 

Even if you're not a fan of wearing neons (especially shades as bold as green) on your body, trying them out for size via a manicure can be a great alternative. Plus, worn on short nails, it's even less dramatic—more creative, less crazy. 

If you like sparkly nail colors…

Do we even need to caption this? A psychedelic combination of magenta and pink, this limited-edition shade from Essie couldn't look better paired with short nails this summer. We recommend grabbing before it sells out!

We love that we can use this disco-appropriate topper on its own or layered on top of all of our other favourite shades. According to the brand, it has a clear base with silver glitter and shines brighter than a chandelier.

If your polish preferences veer periwinkle or purple, we suggest taking your manicure up a notch with this aptly named, bedazzled lacquer of blues, purples, pinks, and even some flecks of red and green.

Here's the thing: A glittering, gold manicure could read as gimmicky or even tacky, but this brilliant polish from Smith & Cult is so eye-catching that we'd easily dispute any of the above arguments. There's a variety of pretty polishes perfect for short nails, but we've been into this gold shade the most. 

Next up, the 10 summer nail colours celebrities are requesting this season.

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