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Keeping your nails long, strong, and healthy is no small feat. After all, nails can be finicky, and sometimes, seemingly out of nowhere, one of those long, luscious nails that you'd been growing out unexpectedly breaks. If you've put effort into growing out your natural nails, the splitting, breaking, or chipping of that hard work is pretty disappointing. Thankfully, though, it doesn't have to totally ruin your previously perfect manicure.
After you break a nail, you're left with a few choices: Do you file it down and clip the rest of your nails to match? Do you try and fix it by gluing the nail back together? The method you choose to fix a broken nail is ultimately up to you, but the good news is that it can be fixed, so all hope is not lost after one pesky break. To learn more about the best broken nail remedies, we tapped pro manicurists, who gave us their top tips.
How to fix a broken nail:
1. Grab some nail glue.
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"At the first sight of a broken nail, you should immediately apply some glue to the nail and hold it down for at least three to five minutes," advises Marcela Correa, nail expert, licensed medical pedicurist, and founder of Medi Pedi NYC. To fix a broken nail using glue, she advises following these easy steps:
Gently buff the surface of the nail.
Apply a layer of nail glue to the break and hold the broken piece in place for three to five minutes, allowing it to fuse with the natural nail. Do not stop holding together until the glue is dry.
Buff the top of the nail until it is smooth and even, removing any excess glue.
File down any uneven surfaces or sides that might cause the nail to break even further.
Follow up with a sturdy layer of strengthening polish and a shiny topcoat.
2. Try a nail repair kit.
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According to Brittney Boyce, a pro manicurist and founder of Nails Of LA press-on nail extensions, one of the most effective ways to repair a broken nail is to invest in a kit that contains all the products and tools you need to re-strengthen that nail. She recommends this Orly kit, as it comes with glue, powder, and a mini file so you have everything you need in one purchase.
Start by lightly buffing the crack or break.
Apply a small amount of glue over the broken area.
Dip your finger into the powder, making sure to cover the broken area fully, then tap off any excess product.
Allow the powder and glue to dry completely.
Follow up with nail polish and a topcoat.
*If you feel like you need more reinforcement, repeat the process before applying polish.
According to Boyce, this solution should last about a week.
3. Use a fake nail.
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Sometimes, when you're faced with a really bad break that isn't salvageable, your best bet for maintaining the look of your mani is to fake it with an artificial nail.
File down the break or buff out the crack so your nail is smooth and even.
Apply a dab of nail glue to your natural nail and to the back of the artificial nail.
Place the artificial nail over the natural one and press down with even pressure for at least 60 seconds.
Shape and file the artificial nail to match the rest of your manicure.
Paint with desired polish color.
4. Strengthen it with a silk wrap.
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Silk wraps are a godsend for weak, brittle, or broken nails, and the good news is that our pros say you can easily do them at home. They're exactly what they sound like: small pieces of silk wrapped around your nail that are then secured with nail glue before being filed and painted. Think of them kind of like a Band-Aid for the broken nail that will keep it intact until it grows out.
Make sure the nail is clean and dry from any oil or debris.
Buff and trim it down so that the surface is smooth.
Apply a thin layer of nail glue or resin to the broken area.
Trim a silk wrap so that it fits over the nail break. Then, lay it onto the nail plate using tweezers. (If you don't have a silk wrap on hand, you can also make a DIY one out of an empty tea bag.)
Dab a bit of resin over the wrap until it blends seamlessly with the rest of the nail.
When dry, buff, shape, and file the nail.
Paint with polish to match the rest of your manicure.
5. File it down.
"If you're okay with just filing down the nails, that's probably the easiest way to deal with broken nails," says Boyce, who explains that the shape of your nail also matters. According to her, "square nails tend to be prone to breakage. I usually recommend almond and oval shapes—they're less prone to breakage, and they just look chicer." We know that sometimes this is the last thing you want to do when one nail breaks, but it does the trick.
Clip off the broken piece.
File your nail from one outer corner to the middle, using even strokes in the same direction. Then, do the same thing from the opposite corner to complete your desired shape.
Buff out the top of the nail's surface and any remaining rough spots.
Follow with polish or nail strengthener.
Remember: Be gentle with your nails. If you frequently get gel manicures, try giving your nails a break every few weeks and applying a nail strengthener. This will help prevent frustrating breaks in the future and keep your nails looking their best.