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Short Dip Nails: Our Best Practices for Dip Manis on Short Natural Nails

10 min read

Shorty dippers, unite! Yes, we love the look of elegant, long acrylic nails, but what's not to love about short dip nails, too? They are low-maintenance, highly practical, and look just as stylish and sophisticated.

If you're a newbie dipper, this is the confirmation you need that long nails are not required for dipping. If you have nails that are barely longer than your fingertips, it's actually recommended for you to apply dip powder on short natural nails and NOT use fake nail tips while you grow them out. This will protect your short nails, prevent them from breaking, and help them gain strength.

In my opinion, if a dipper has short nails, they are better off to grow them out naturally with minimal damage. If they are not experienced enough when they try to add length, they do more damage to the natural nail bed than they need.

- Sine, Licensed Cosmetologist and Dipwell's Community Educator

Tutorial: How to Do Marble Nail Art; Image by Keira Colstrom-Skenandore

There's more to love about short dip nails:

  • It's easier to type on your keyboard with them. Ever sent an email or text message with super long nails? Not as comfortable as doing them with short nails, is it?
  • They're the more convenient nails to have for crafty projects or household chores. They don't get in the way or get caught on things, say, when you're sewing, quilting, or spring gardening.
  • For the dippers with a musical flair, short nails won’t interfere with your playing the piano or violin or strumming the guitar, harp, and any other stringed instruments.
  • Best of all... Are you a nervous nail-biter? Keeping your nails on the short side and dipping them in acrylic powder might just help you break your nail-biting habit. The dip powder on short bitten nails acts as a barrier that you can't bite through easily, staving off your constant desire to nibble your nails down to nubs when you're stressed or anxious.

Whether you have a chronic nail-biting habit or you simply need to keep your nails short due to strict, work-related reasons — looking at you, shorty dipper in the medical field — or maaaybe you just prefer (or want to try) the look of cute short nails, here are some suggested tips, tricks, and short nail designs for you to chew on.

1. Don't use too much base dip nail liquid

Take note that dip powder will adhere to wherever the base liquid is applied.

It’s important to not use too much base. Since the nails are short, any excess base near the tip will stick to the skin at the tip, and it becomes a hassle to get rid of.

- Maria, Dipwell’s Social Media Coordinator

Dipwell's Step 2. Base Dip Nail Liquid

To avoid getting the base dip nail liquid on the fleshy part of your fingertips — which could also result in the dip powder caking up under your short nails — keep these reminders in mind:

  • When you pull out the brush and see a drip of base on it, that's too much base. Make sure you don't have too much base liquid on your brush by wiping off the excess liquid inside the bottle before you bring it over to your nail.
  • Be zen! Focus more, mess up less when working with the base liquid. If you really have to be extra cautious, you may use a protective nail guard to prevent both the dip liquid and dip powder from getting onto the skin surrounding your fingertips.
  • Apply the base liquid in thin, even strokes. However, no matter how thinly you try to brush it on, if you have too much base on your brush, it's still gonna end up too thick. And that brings us back to tip # 1 being hugely important.

When the base dip nail liquid is NOT applied correctly, short dip nails may also be prone to lifting just as much as long nails. Here we give you The Down Low on Lifting, and How to Stop it From Ruining Your Dip Mani. No more dip powder nails popping off within days of application. Yay!

Lastly, be careful when using an orange wood stick to clean under your nails as you might accidentally damage the skin that attaches to the nail plate.

2. Try a different method instead of dipping your short nails in the jar

For a smoother application of dip powder on short natural nails, these are the favorite techniques of Dipwell's Dipper Club members. Try one or try 'em both.

a. Pour over the dip powder onto your short nails

Dip powders in picture: CL9 (Ultra Deep Red) and CL2 (Leafy Green)

b. Use a special dip tray or any shallow container (like a jar lid), then lay your short nails flat against the dip powder

Dip powders in picture: French White and CL64 (True Black)

Easy peasy!

Then take your fluffy brush and dust off any excess powder on the nail surface, and don't forget to clean up behind each nail, too.

3. Choose a flattering nail shape — like a squoval

It's a universally flattering nail shape for both long or short nails, so you can't go wrong with the squoval.

I personally prefer short nails to be squared/squoval. The rounder the shorter nails are, I've noticed they tend to appear thicker. If they decide to try the apex method on short nails, it's really helpful so that the nails don't look flat. But the shorter the nails, the less apex layers they should do.

- Dasia, Dipwell's Community Educator

Dip powders in picture: Milk Bath Nails featuring MK01 (Creamy White), MK03 (Bashful Blue), MK05 (Pastel Purple), and MK07 (Strawberry Pink) from the Milky Dip Powder Collection

You can also keep it super short and simple by working around the natural shape of your nails or fingers.

Dip powder in picture: PA04 (Light Coral Pink) on too cute short dip nails by Glenda Besler

Dip powder in picture: GL42 (Glittery Blue) on round-shaped short dip nails by Emily Contrary

Since our nails and fingers are all different in shape or length, it may also be helpful to learn about how to make the best of your digits with this lesson in nail proportions.

4. Avoid using faux nail tips as much as possible and let your short nails grow out naturally

This begs to be repeated, so we're gonna say it again: If it can be avoided, stay away from faux nail tips when growing out your nails.

Although nail growth depends on many factors — age, hormones, overall health — your short nails will increase in length faster than you think. You'd normally see a noticeable difference within a week or two or so. Practice patience, and you'll be amazed how good your short dip nails will look in just under a month.

Now, if you just can't wait to have long nails again, these are the two options that could help you with your long nail withdrawal: coffee filters or faux nail tips.

Tutorial: How to Use a Coffee Filter to Lengthen Dip Nails

Tutorial: How to Apply Dip Powder Nails with Faux Nail Tips

A tip to remember:

Shaping the nail tips is much easier prior to dipping. Once dip has been applied, it's harder to get a good angle and shape.

- Dasia, Dipwell's Community Educator

5. Get as creative as you want to be when it comes to short nail designs

The best dip powder color to match this low-maintenance nail length is a natural shade. And did you know that nude and blush tones have a lengthening and slimming effect on nails?

Dip powders in picture: NA19 (Rosey Peach), PA20 (Pastel Peach), and NA26 (Warm Beige); Images by Stef, Betsaida Cerezo, and Irisanny T.

If you're feeling more adventurous, just add glitter to your short dip nails.

Image by Alicia Y. Madison Jones

You can even make them sparkle in ombre.

Dip powders in picture: GL44 (White & Silver Glitter) and GL40 (Purple with Turquoise Glitter); Image by Brianna Coppernoll

Or mix and match dip powders from the same color family.

Dip powder in picture: NA29 (Ultra Light Taupe), CL28 (Hot Chocolate Brown); Image by Katie Liera Ernst

When in doubt, reach for your go-to, red-colored dip powder that'll look good in any nail length.

Dip powder in picture: NE09 (True Red); Image by Randi Colby

But you absolutely don't have to limit yourself to solid nail colors.

Here are other nail designs we've used in our tutorials on long nails that are also suitable for short dip nails. Find the one that'll make you feel gorgeous with short nails.

a. Vertical color-blocking or vertical ombre: They are perfect for short nails because of their elongating effect.

Tutorial: Pink & Blue Color Block Nail Art with Dip Powder

Tutorial: Negative Space Nails

Tutorial: How To Apply A Vertical Ombre Mani

b. Minimalist nail art: Go for a minimalist nail design that won't take too much space on short nails.

Tutorial: Red Heart Nails: Sweet and Simple Dip Powder Mani

c. Abstract nail art: It may be too challenging to do intricate nail art if you're working with a small space, so try a nail design with irregular shapes and patterns instead.

Tutorial: How to Create a Terrazzo Nail Art Dip Mani

d. Neon French tips: If you have a few millimeters of free edge, you can do a French manicure and make it neon for that extra oomph on a simple nail design.

Tutorial: French Tips, Neon Style! Update your French Mani with Neon Dip Powder

e. Glow in the dark: Here's the ultimate short nail design hack. Choose any dip powder from our Glow In The Dark Collection. With or without additional nail art, simply use them as solid colors, and your short dip nails would still look super-duper cool.

Tutorial: Neon Glow in the Dark Halloween Alien Nails

For all the male shorty dippers, we've also compiled a list of Male Manicures - Celebrity “Menicure” Inspo for 2021 for you. Check it out for more short nail ideas that stand out.

Nice (and neat-looking) short dip nails start here

Dip powder mani looks great no matter the length, but it's always refreshing to let your nails breathe and shorten them once in a while. So give them a little break by going short-and-sweet for a couple of weeks until they grow out again. And here are some extra tips on how to make sure your short dip nails grow out long and strong.

  1. Follow a nutrient-rich diet. Eat your greens. Just like your mama told you. Don't forget to include a variety of fruits, nuts, and seeds. All these contribute to strong, shiny nails.
  2. Take dietary supplements. Please check with your physician to avoid any issues. In general, the following vitamins and minerals are said to aid in growing your nails more quickly and less prone to breakage: Vitamin A (boosts keratin levels), Vitamin B7 (aka biotin), Vitamin B9 (aka folic acid), Vitamin C (produces collagen), as well as iron, magnesium, and zinc.
  3. Hydrate your nails and cuticles. A single drop of nail oil goes a long way in keeping your fingernails well-moisturized and healthy. Try Dipwell's Cuticle Drops. It contains natural oils and anti-aging ingredients!
  4. Do the dip. We're saying it one more time for the people in the back: Having dip powder on short natural nails will keep them sturdy. It's super helpful to have that added strength while growing out your nails because then they won't be prone to breakage.
  5. Do not peel off your dip mani. Ouch! Thin layers of your nails ripping off sounds harsh, doesn't it? Instead, try nail-friendly dip mani removal methods, such as the Super Safe Foil-wrap Soak-off Method or the Hot Rice Method.

Could your Best Dip Ever be on short nails?

On your next dip manicure session, go for the shorties, apply these best practices, and show us how it turns out!

Short dip nails courtesy of our Dipper Club members: Missy Scavetta, Karla James Rouse, Sabrina Rose; On Sabrina Rose: CL19 (Medium Gray) and Marble Accent Nail (CL19, French White, and CL64 True Black)

Join us on Facebook (Dipwell’s Dipper Club) or tag us on Instagram (@dipwellnails) and use our official hashtag (#DoYouDipWell).