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Broken Nail? Here’s How to Fix It—Plus Keep Your Nails Healthy for the Long Run

@glosshouse / Instagram

We’ve all been there—you snag on something or you hit your nail in just the right spot, and it breaks. Whether it’s your natural nail or your freshly manicured acrylic set, breaking a nail is frustrating and, even worse, can cause you some pain. But, not all hope is lost and breaking a nail isn’t necessarily a testament to your nail health. Accidents happen, and there are multiple ways to mend your broken nail with temporary DIY solutions or by visiting your nail tech for some magic.

We spoke to nail expert Christine Doan who gave us the rundown on all of the methods either you or your nail tech can use to fix your nails. Plus, she has nail repair tutorial videos on her Instagram if you’re curious to see these methods in action and how they differ from each other.

About the Expert:

Christine Doan is a LA-based manicurist and content creator. She’s better known as @glosshouse on Instagram, and you’ve definitely seen her dreamy nail looks and education throughout the internet.

How to Fix a Broken Nail

1. The Tea Bag Method

@glosshouse Replying to @mynamewasnevercarl i guess yall can ask your nail ladies to tea bag you now 💀🤝 #nailhacks #nailvideos #nailtutorial #diynails #gelnails #nailart #brokennails ♬ M.A.A.D City JSTJR Cumbia Mix - JSTJR

Yes, you read that right: There is actually a method to fix your broken nail with a tiny clipping of a teabag. Whether you can use this DIY method or not is dependent on the kind of nail break you have, since it generally fixes a split nail that is still mostly attached to your nail bed.

“If it’s [the nail] a DIY quick fix that’s anywhere from immediate to five days, you should use the tea bag method,” says Christine Doan, LA-based manicurist and content creator under the name @glosshouse. Translation: The tea bag method is for superficial breaks that can benefit from a quick mend when you’re in a pinch. Perhaps you have an event the next day where your nails need to look on point or you simply don’t have enough time to run to the salon.

To achieve it, cut a small piece of a tea bag or even a coffee filter to size for the broken part of your nail. Then, apply brush-on nail glue and lay down the piece of the tea bag. Apply a base layer over, and once dry, smooth down any rough edges. From there, you’re free to paint over your nail as normal. Just be sure to take good care of it while it grows out, as it’s only mended temporarily.

2. The Gel X Method

If you have a little bit more experience with nails, Doan recommends trying Gel X to repair the nail. She specifically called out the kit from APRÉS being the absolute best to help you out. “Gel X lasts longer and you get a better, more durable wear. It’s not something I would do all the time though—removal is very hard, especially if you’re not a professional yourself,” she adds.

The Gel X method is basically adding an extension or press-on nail to your nail bed. If there’s any remaining nail that needs to be cut, take care of it with your nail clippers and file any rough edges. Then you’ll add a bead of glue at the base of the Gel X extension and adhere to your nail. Apply to your nail at an angle to ensure a complete hold on the nail bed with the glue. Then UV cure and paint with the nail polish of your choice.

3. The Gel Build Out Method

For this method, you’ll need to go to the nail salon for a manicure. “If you want to fix your broken nail in the most natural way possible, you’ll want to ask for a hard gel build out with nail forms underneath. It’s a really old school method, but a very flawless application that’s seamless and looks incredibly natural,” says Doan. Basically, your nail tech will use a color builder gel to create a free edge and will match it to the color of your nail with the help of a nail form.

4. The Dual Form Method

A dual form basically blends two methods. The end result is a cross between a gel polish and acrylic nail. “You hold the poly gel onto your nail with a form and cure it. Then you remove the form, and file to size before painting,” says Doan. She notes this isn’t a long-lasting method, but it will help you achieve equal nail lengths across your manicure while it grows naturally.

Tips for Healthy Nails

1. Invest in Basic Nail Tools

You likely have nail polish remover and cotton balls at the ready, but what about other necessary tools? To keep your nails healthy and groomed in between manicures, we recommend having a pair of tweezers, a good nail file, nail clippers, cuticle cutter, and a buffing block. These will help your nail beds stay groomed and healthy.

2. Have a Nail Strengthener On Hand

Nail breakage is inevitable. But you can prevent the severity of the breaks by making sure you’re regularly treating your nails with a strengthener. “File down all the broken areas and then you can use BUTTER LONDON Nail Tinted Moisturizer. They make nudes for different skin tones and contain ingredients to help maintain the health of your nails while new growth comes in,” says Doan.

3. Reach for Cuticle Oil

Are your gel nails lifting? Use cuticle oil! The key is to keep that area hydrated and healthy, otherwise your manicures will separate from your nail bed.

4. If You Have Open Skin, Leave It Alone

Damaged nails can sometimes mean painful cuts or deep breaks. “Clean the nail if you’re bleeding and it’s a deep break. Hydrogen peroxide and antibiotic ointment will help. If you have any open skin on your nail, do not put any nail products on it. Instead, put a Band-Aid over it, and it will start to dry out after about a week. Avoid putting anything on your nail plate until it has grown out,” says Doan.

5. Protect Nails by Using a Base Coat

Just like a top coat to protect your manicure, a base coat is designed to protect your nails. Doan recommends using BUTTER LONDON Horse Power Base Coat to restore brittle and weak nails. You can keep applying it overtime on its own too! You don’t need to have a manicure on top.

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Article Last Updated May 4, 2023 12:00 AM