If you’re not well-endowed in the nail bed department, you’ll be pleased to hear about the Italian manicure: A favorite among nail artists right now, it makes short nails—and fingers in general—look longer.
The Italian manicure is all about cleverly painting polish onto the nails in a way that gives the illusion of length. “It is used predominantly with classic full color manicures or painted tips,” explains Alex Teleki, also known as The Hot Blend on Instagram. “You want to get as close as possible to the cuticles without touching the skin, then paint a vertical line up the nail, leaving a small gap between the edge of the nail wall and the gel.”
If you’re not opting for a single shade, the Italian touch can also be applied to your tips. Unlike the classic French manicure, where the tip starts closer to the sides of the nail in a crescent shape, the Italian style “starts around halfway up the nail on both the left and right sides to form more of a ‘U’ shape,” explains Teleki—another way to make nails look more elongated.
Teleki has been performing the technique on her clients for a while, but it is gaining popularity in nail circles as a brilliant smoke-and-mirrors way to add length to nails without having to go down the acrylics route. “I combine it with other methods, such as pushing up the cuticles and removing excess skin, to elongate the nails,” she says. “Plus the shape of the nail is key to make wide, short nail beds look longer.”
Working best on those with shorter, square or “squoval” nails, Teleki points out that the Italian way makes already elongated nails—long, almond or coffin-shaped, for example—look narrower. Subsequently, gels will appear more obvious, so it’s best left to those with shorter nails.
Originally published on Vogue.com