Out of the many things my natural clumsiness ruins in my life, nothing pisses me off more than breaking a nail. I swear every time my nails look long and perfect—like, could-make-it-on-the-'gram perfect—I end up with a massive chip or snag. But since going back to the salon every time I have a crack is unrealistic (and waaaay out of my budget), I've perfected the next best thing: fixing my broken nail at home.
Ahead, I rounded up everything I've learned about fixing and smoothing cracked, jagged nails in the comfort of your home, including all the tips and tools from an ~actual~ expert: Pattie Yankee, celebrity nail artist who works with Priyanka Chopra, Allison Williams, and Hailee Steinfeld. Keep reading for some ridiculously good nails.
How to Fix a Broken Nail With Glue
If your nail is just split, rather than completely broken off, try Yankee's favorite quick-fix method: glue. Keep in mind this definitely isn't a permanent fix—you'll still have to book an appointment with your manicurist—but it should hold you over until you can make it to the salon. Here's what you'll do:
- Step 1: Lightly buff the surface of the nail—the key here is to be suuuper gentle, since too much pressure can actually cause more damage.
- Step 2: Apply two coats of a fast-drying nail glue (like Nail Bliss Brush-On Glue) to temporarily fuse the crack together until your next professional nail appointment. This will also prevent it from catching and snagging.
- Step 3: When the glue is 100 percent dry, cover the area with a thin coat of clear nail polish to help hold the crack in place (Deborah Lippmann’s Hard Rock Nail Strengthening Top and Base Coat is always a good option, since it also helps strengthen your nails).
How to Fix a Broken Nail With a Fake Nail
Sadly, sometimes when your broken nail is beyond repair, your only solve is to fake it. “One of my favorite tricks for a broken nail is to apply a quick set of press-on or glue-on nails to hold you over until your broken nail grows out,” explains Yankee. She’s a fan of the Dashing Diva Magic Press-Ons, since they "have a pre-adhesive backing that holds up to seven days," but you can use any of your favorite fake nail sets.
How to Fix a Broken Nail With Gel and a Silk Wrap
If your nail is fully cracked and hanging off your nail bed, you may need to take more intense measures, says Yankee—like with the gel and silk method. Here's what you'll do:
- Step 1: After wiping the crack clean with nail polish remover, gently buff the nail with a file. Your goal here is to make the nail as smooth and clean as possible (no excess oil, polish, or snags).
- Step 2: Very gently, use nail glue to mend the crack. Once it's totally dry, paint a layer of clear gel polish over the nail.
- Step 3: While your polish is still wet, smooth a piece of silk (it should be pre-cut in the shape of your nail) over the area and wait for the gel to cure. The silk will kinda act like a bandaid and give your nail an extra layer once it dries down.
- Step 4: Carefully buff your nail once everything is dry and follow with a second coat of gel polish.
How to Fix a Broken Nail With Gel Strips
Looking for something less complicated? Fair. Try a gel nail strip (like Dashing Diva’s Gloss Ultra Shine Gel Nail Strips) as an alternative to the silk-wrap method. The results will be pretty similar, says Yankee, but they're a lot easier to apply. Clean off any excess oil and polish from the broken nail, mend the crack with nail glue, and then stick the gel strip on top as a tape-like alternative.
How to Fix a Broken Nail With a Tea Bag
This method is definitely the most popular broken-nail hack on the internet. The only catch? According to Yankee, this method requires a bit of maintenance “every few days by applying another coat or two of glue over the tea bag to keep it strong.” But still, you can't beat an ultra-cheap DIY method. Here's what you'll do:
- Step 1: Cut the top off of a tea bag and make a square roughly the size of the crack.
- Step 2: Smooth a layer of nail glue over the crack (a brush-on formula is easiest here), and while it's still wet, place the tea bag square on top.
- Step 3: Once it's dry, paint one more layer of nail glue and you're good to go.
How to Fix a Broken Nail With a Powder Fill
This hack is one of the more “durable” at-home fixes on the list—and it's also got Yankee's seal of approval. Here's what you'll do:
- Step 1: After painting a layer of nail glue over the crack, sprinkle a little nail powder on top while it's still wet.
- Step 2: Continue this process a few times (waiting for each coat to dry in between) until you've created two or three layers on top of the crack.
- Step 3: Set everything in place by spritzing a glue-drying spray on top of the glue and powder, then buff it smooth with a buffing block.
How to Fix a Broken Nail By Trimming It
Alright, you may not want to hear this, but there isn't a truly permanent fix for a broken nail. “No matter how good the repair, a difficult and deep crack or break will always seem to sneak its way back through the repair,” says Yankee. “If the break is in a convenient spot to allow it to be cut down, it might be easiest to just cut it and trim the rest of your nails to match."
And of course, to avoid broken nails in the future, Yankees advises all her clients to moisturize daily with cuticle oil and keep their hands protected from the elements. “Fingernails are constantly exposed to harsh hand soaps, chemicals and water,” she says. “Keeping them moisturized and polished is the best solution to avoiding breakage.”
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