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15 Pretty Manicure Ideas That Will Look Good On Short Nails

Be prepared to screenshot all of these.
Round Shaped Short Nail Manicure Ideas

Hot take: Round, short nails are the best nail shape of them all. Yep, I said it! Come for me! I don't care! As cool as longer, pointier nails look, they're naturally going to be a bit more high-maintenance and fragile (umm, kinda like the popular kids in school). But round nail shapes? Your ol' faithful; your BFF. They're classic and reliable, and they don't require expensive acrylic manicures or press-on nails to copy the look. See why I love them so much?

How to make nails round

With round nails, the idea is to mimic the arc of your cuticles when shaping them. So you'll want to gently move a nail file "side to side to create the gentle arc," nail artist Miss Pop has told Cosmo. Once you've got the edges filed to perfection, you can then focus on the nail art, the monotone colors, whatever.

Why you should try round nails

“Round nails make for a very soft, natural look that’s easy to maintain," says Miss Pop. "Even if you break a nail, you can sacrifice a little length and still keep the shape." And if you thought that short nails had to be plain and boring, I'm about to simultaneously change and blow your mind, because I've gathered all the round nail art inspo you'll need, below. Keep scrolling and get ready to screenshot.

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  1. Round Marble Mani

    Show this to anyone who says short, round nails aren't fun. Instead of choosing one or two colors, use every single nail polish you own to create whatever color combos your little heart desires. Working with one nail at a time so the polish stays wet, drop a few small dots of two different shades, and use a nail-art brush to swirl the colors together.

  2. Butterfly Nail Art

    Let's be real—butterflies, be it butterfly tattoos, makeup, or nails, can go one of two ways. To keep your nail art looking cool and not childish, try this off-centered look with intricate detailing (you're gonna need one of these super-fine brushes).

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  3. Glitter Tips on Round Nails

    Highlight the shape of your round nails (I mean that both ways) with a chunky, super-reflective glitter polish along the free edge of the nail and a thick line of black polish along the base.

  4. Negative Space Nails

    The combination of bright summer nail polish shades and attention-grabbing wavy lines with negative space will distract anyone from noticing the length of your nails, no matter how stubby they might be. Use a small, flat nail brush dipped in nail polish remover to keep the edges of your lines sharp and not wavy in a bad way.

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  5. Iridescent Nail Polish

    The cool thing about iridescent nail polish is you really don't need to add a whole bunch to it to make it nail art. The thin white lines and tiny dots look like shine marks on this cotton candy-colored polish.

  6. Asymmetrical French Manicure

    This nail art design just wouldn't look the same on longer nails with more of a free edge. The thin white lines around the corners of the cuticles and the opposite corners of the nail tips perfectly enhance the short, round nail shape. 

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  7. Iridescent Lines on Round Nails

    Can't grow your nails out? Create the ~illusion~ of longer nails with a subtle neutral nail polish and a simple sliver of iridescent nail tape down the middle of your nail beds.

  8. Rounded Lines

    Don't have nail tape? Just use nail polish instead. Start with a coat or two of matte nail polish, and once it's dry, use a different polish in a complementary color to paint a line down the center. To add a little more interest, stop the line just before the tips and round it off, just like your nail shape.

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  9. Sky Blue Nail Polish

    How ~dreamy~ are these little clouds? Start with a light blue nail polish to create your sky, then use white nail polish to create your clouds and stars or make it even easier on yourself and buy these nail stickers instead.

  10. Gold Nail Foil and Floral Design

    Instead of coating your nails in polish and adding a few pieces of gold transfer foil on top, here's an idea: do the opposite of that. For this look, cover your nails completely in foil, then use polish and a super-thin striping brush to paint little flowers or whatever you feel like on top.

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  11. Smeared Sheer Polish

    Now's the time to pull out all those tinted sheer polishes that catfished you into thinking they were opaque because for this look, the more translucent, the better. The key is to work with the polishes while they're still wet to get a perfectly blended look like this. Start with a line of one or two colored nail polishes, then use a clear top coat to smear the shades together.

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  12. Half-Moon and Round French Manicure

    You can still do a French manicure even if you don't have a ton of free edge to work with. Since round nails perfectly mimic the shape of a half-moon, lean into that and make it a half-moon mani, too, while you're at it.

  13. Tie-Dye Round Nails

    Tie-dyeing a T-shirt? Not as easy as it looks. Tie-dyeing your nails with nail polish? Wayyy easier than you'd think. Start with a solid coat of your base color, and while the polish is still wet, add stripes, dots, or curved lines with two or three more shades. Before any of the polishes dry, use a fine-tip nail art brush to drag the different shades of polish into each other and create whatever design you want. See? Easy.

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  14. Geode-Inspired Nails

    I bet you've never seen a negative-space mani like this one before! Geodes (round rocks with crystal-lined cavities inside) naturally make the best nail art inspiration for round nails. All you need to recreate this look is a few shades of blue or purple nail polish and silver transfer foil.

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  15. Rose Quartz Round Nails

    While we're on the topic of crystals, try this rose quartz look the next time you need a simple, neutral mani, like this light pink polish mixed with a little bit of white, but also want to have a little fun with it


This article originally appeared on Minor edits have been made by the editors.