22 Short Summer Nail Looks to Wear Through August

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We love a long set of nails as much as the next person, but when it comes to long days spent having fun in the summer sun, short nails often make more sense. After all, clasping anklets, buckling sandals, spiking volleyballs, and doing pretty much anything hands-on outside is a whole lot easier with less length at your tips.

Of course, some mistake short nails for being boring since there’s not nearly as much space for nail art. In reality, short nails can be bright, fun, and stylish. To prove it, we chatted with a couple of nail artists to determine the best short summer nail ideas to copy in the months ahead. Check them out below.

Pastel Skittle Mismatch Nails

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Jelly nail art is always a good idea for summer. If you prefer more subdued shades, try recreating this pastel look by Nailing Hollywood nail artist Hang Nguyen. “Hang is an innovator when it comes to making DIY nail art simple, so many of her looks can be recreated with tools you have at home,” says manicurist and Nailing Hollywood CEO Mazz Hanna. “The eyes for the smiley face can be recreated using a toothpick.”

Pastel Jelly Squiggle Short Summer Nails

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Love the idea of a jelly mani for summer but want to lean into the vibrant shades of the season? Recreate this look by Nguyen. She created it with a coat of colorful jelly polish on each nail, with a white squiggle from cuticle to tip.

Coral Ombré Short Summer Nails

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Coral (or peach) is one of the most popular colors of summer 2024. Put it front and center on your nails with an ombré application. “Use a makeup sponge to create the ombré fade and add gold stars for a hint of sparkle,” says Nailing Hollywood artist Laura Malarkey, who created this look.

Rhinestone Tips

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Rhinestones are an easy way to elevate any manicure, whether it’s clear or a solid color. According to Hanna, Nguyen created this look using “broken pieces of colorful shells and pieces of holographic foil paper.” You could create a similar look using the Belleboost Crystal Nail Art Rhinestones Kit ($10). “The tool she is using to pick up the nail art pieces is a Rhinestone Picker ($9), they are super helpful for looks that use 3D embellishments,” Hanna adds.

Tie-Dye Nails

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Tie-dye is one of summer’s most creative pastimes, making it a solid inspiration for your short summer mani. “Paint three lines directly next to each other, and while the polish is still wet, drag a nail art brush or toothpick dipped in polish remover straight through all three lines in alternating directions,” Malarkey instructs.

Pastel Color Block French Tips

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Can’t decide on one or two colors? Use all your faves in a color-block French mani. “Swipe down both sides of your French in one straight stroke, using a different color every time,” Malarkey instructs.

Pink Swirl Floral Nails

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Hot pink is one of the hottest colors of summer, so this short pink floral mani is a must in our book. “Hang created this look using only the brush from the bottle and a Q-tip,” Hanna reveals. “First, paint on the wavy swirls randomly using the brush from your polish bottle, and then, using a Q-tip, create flowers on each nail in a different shade of pink.”

Shades of Blue Heart Nails

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For a monochrome short summer nail look, opt for shades of blue, as Nguyen did here. “Cool-toned manicures, like pastel blue, royal blue, and navy, are perfect for summer because they bring a sense of calmness and refreshment and have a visually cooling effect which is ideal during the hot summer months,” Hanna says. As for the heart nail art? It’s easy to DIY with a dotting tool.

Pastel Neon Abstract Short Summer Nails

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“Get creative with the shapes and make each nail a little different; the result is unique and abstract (and super easy),” Malarkey says.

Negative Space Blue Check Wave Mani

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Speaking of blue, how stunning is this negative space blue check wave mani? Given the detail, it’s best recreated at a salon.

Pink and Orange Daisy Nails

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Here we have a super simple short summer mani. Start with a clear glitter base, then use a dotting tool to create white daisies with pink and orange centers. “Florals are the perfect nail trend for the transition from late spring to early summer,” Hanna says. “It’s popular every year for a good reason.”

Nude Smiley Face Nails

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An easy way to spruce up a neutral short mani is with smiley face nail art. “Use a dotting tool or a toothpick to create the circles, eyes, and smile lines,” Malarkey instructs.

Blue and White Short Floral Nails

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Sticking to the floral trend, check out this blue daisy mani. The easiest way to recreate the outlined flowers is to etch a daisy with a large dotting tool dipped in white polish, then go over it with a smaller dotting tool dipped in blue. Our suggestion? Use the Lights Lacquer Dotting Tool Kit ($13).

Metallic Rainbow Triangle Nails

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Disco nails have been all the rage in 2024, often being applied in silver or solid-color shards. This take, though, employs every color of the rainbow. “This one takes a little longer but the result is really cool,” Malarkey says. “Place individual glitter shapes into wet polish using a placement tool or a toothpick, in neat rows (or a circular pattern). Make sure to apply a couple coats of top coat on top to even it out and seal it in.”

Navy Daisy Nails

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An easy short summer mani? A solid navy base topped off with crisp white daisies.

Cherry Apple Red Swirl Nails

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Red nail polish is a classic all year round but especially for summer. “Choose the brightest red you have and get ready for that red nail theory madness,” Malarkey says.

Blue Tide Nails

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If you’re a fan of literal seasonal nail art, consider copying this beachy Malarkey creation. “Paint about half the nail with an oceany blue polish, then while that is still wet, gently lay thin wavy lines of white polish going in one diagonal direction down the nail and at the border of the blue, to create the crest foam of the wave,” she instructs.

Blue and Pink Snake Skin Short Summer Nails

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Snakeskin nails continue to flood our feeds, so it's no surprise that this version in summery shades of pink and blue stopped us in our tracks. Bring this picture to your next nail appointment to perfectly recreate the look.

Negative Space Nature Nails

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Excited for all the adventures in nature that await this summer? Pay homage to that notion on your nails. Leaf and ladybug nail art will do the trick.

Shimmery Pink and Orange Gradient Nails

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We love how spicy this shimmery pink and orange ombré looks. To recreate it, start with a creamy pink and orange gradient base and top it off with chrome powder and a top coat.

Pink and Orange Mismatch Nails

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Speaking of pink and orange, here's an adorable mismatch mani we'd happily wear all summer long. Checkers, flowers, swirls—what more could you want?

Pretty in Pink Skittle Mani

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Last but not least, we have this pink Skittle mani. If you have a single favorite color, apply a different shade of it to each nail for a fun gradient effect.

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