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How to Fix a Broken Nail in Just 4 Easy Steps

Cutting the nail isn’t your only option!
March 10, 2023

Sporting a fresh new manicure can boost your mood, but on the flip side, a broken nail can make your good mood go sour very quickly. You can certainly book an appointment with your nail tech for a fix, but sometimes you can’t make it to the salon, and you need your nails to look fresh, stat. While learning how to fix a broken nail may seem complicated, it’s actually pretty simple and it’s a skill that you’ll have for life.  

To get the job done, all you need is the right technique and a few key tools. Whether your nails are cracked, split, or broken, there’s a solution you can DIY. Keep reading to learn how to fix a broken nail at home so you can flaunt your favorite nail trends with no worries.

Will a Broken Nail Heal Itself?

A broken nail won’t heal itself or magically fuse back together but it will grow back. This means your split or broken nail will grow and with a little time, it will be good as new once again. That said, waiting for your nail to grow back may be an uncomfortable, lengthy process. For instance, if you work with your hands or type a lot, a broken nail could make that harder. 

How to Fix a Broken Nail

While a broken nail may seem like the end of your manicure, you can turn things around with a few helpful tips. Follow this step-by-step guide for fixing a broken nail at home.

Step. 1. File Your Nails

When you crack or break a nail, chances are it’s going to be sharp and jagged so fixing that with a nail file should be your first step. Split nails mainly occur at the tip of your nail, which means they’re thankfully pretty easy to fix. If it’s a small split, a quick nail filing sesh will make your nails look as good as new. If your nail has a longer split, you may have to trim it down. Clip your nail to just below where the split is, then follow up with a nail file to even out your nail shape and you’re all set.

It is up to you to decide if you want to just file the nail you broke and leave the rest of your nails long or file all of them to match.

Step 2. Break Out the Nail Glue

If you would much rather keep your length than cut down your nail, nail glue can save the day. It’s also a great way to preserve your nail until you can get an appointment with your nail tech for a more long-lasting fix. To get started, simply apply a small amount of nail glue to the area where your nail is broken. Press the broken nail piece into place with a nail file and hold for 10 seconds. Gently remove excess glue with a small cotton swab. If you’re gluing back your natural nail and you don’t have any polish on, buff and file your nails. If you have nail polish, don’t buff or file your nails. Once complete, apply a clear coat of nail polish to seal your work.

Step 3. Use a Tea Bag to Fill the Crack 

While this method may seem a little out there, it can fix a broken nail without leaving any signs that it actually broke. Start by cutting the corner of a tea bag so you have a piece that's the right size to cover the broken part of the nail. (A silk wrap for your nails also works.) Next, place a thin layer of glue on the broken area, then lay the tea bag flat on the glue with the help of tweezers to connect the broken edges of your nail back together. Apply an additional layer of glue over the tea bag and let the nail dry. Once dry, buff the nail for a natural finish.

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Step 4. Apply a Few Coats Of Nail Polish

There is a reason why gel manicures are a mainstay in the nail world. Not only do gel manicures give your nails a natural-looking finish, but the formula comes in handy to strengthen your nails and repair small breaks and cracks. If you have a UV nail lamp for curing gel polish, you can even give yourself a nail-repairing gel manicure at home.

After you’ve filed the broken part of your nail or repurposed your tea bag to fix the break, apply a layer of gel polish. Using gel top coat or builder gel (because it provides extra strength), paint a layer of polish over the broken nail and let it cure. Apply another coat and your nail should be nice and strong once again.

If you don’t have gel nail polish at home, clear dip powder can also have the same effect and it’s great for strengthening your nails. Plus, there’s no need for a UV nail light when you do dip powder nails, the solution that bonds the powder to your nail is quick to dry and a regular top coat is layered on top. 

Editor’s tip: If you’ve already broken your nail and the shape is uneven or shorter than the rest of your nails, press-on nails are a great way to hide the skewed shape as it grows out. If you’re looking for longevity with your press-on nails, swap the adhesive strips for nail glue to keep your press-on nails intact for much longer.

How Do I Keep My Nails From Breaking?

Now that we’ve covered how to fix cracked and split nails, it’s time to explore ways you can prevent broken nails altogether. Sure, accidents happen, but there are ways you can keep your manicure out of harm’s way. Here are six suggestions, below.

1. Keep Your Nails Short

While it may not be your style, shorter nails are less prone to p breaks. Simply put, long nails can easily get caught on various objects, which can lead to cracking and splitting. Give your long nails a break — in a good way — and switch things up with a short manicure. Who knows, it may become your new favorite style. Short stiletto nails are on the Pinterest Predicts report for 2023 so embrace the trend and give that edgy, short shape a try. 

2. Make Cuticle Oil Your New BFF

Regularly moisturizing your nails improves their overall health, which helps to limit the risk of a less-than-perfect manicure. So, while you may think that cuticle oil is only necessary when you’re getting your nails done, feel free to reach for it a few times a week to keep your nails moisturized. If your cuticles are really dry, try nail slugging with petroleum jelly.

3. Avoid Excessive Exposure to Water

Aside from necessary times during your skin care routine and showers, plus whenever you need to wash your hands, keeping your nails out of water can go a long way in preventing broken nails. Water naturally softens your nails, and whether you’re working with a gel manicure or your natural nails, it can cause your nails to break, split or even crack. Use gloves while washing the dishes and handling other wet chores to keep your nails in good shape.

4. Add a Nail Hardener Into the Mix

You may need to switch things up and introduce a nail hardener to your nail polish routine. As the name suggests, nail hardener is a nail polish treatment that works wonders to strengthen thin and brittle nails. Brush on a coat as the first step in painting your nails, and over time you should notice an improvement.

Editor’s tip: If you’re trying to grow out your nails, adding a layer of builder gel or clear dip powder to your manicure is a great way to give your nails some extra strength. Since both are clear, you can leave your nail as is and they’ll look like your natural nails, or you can layer nail polish on top.

5. Give Dip Powder Nails a Try

We’ve mentioned dip powder nails a few times and if you’re on the hunt for a long-lasting nail polish option, it’s definitely worth your consideration. The process is simpler than you might think: A special base coat is brushed on, dip powder is added on top of the nail, then it's filed down before adding a top coat. Because the dip is made of powder granules that fuse together when the top coat is applied, it creates a rigid shell on the nail that can help to prevent broken nails. It’s also a sound way to mask a broken nail and give your nails time to grow back. 

6. Wear Press-On Nails

Press-on nails win for their easy application, affordable price and countless trendy nail art options. Available in many shapes and sizes, press-on nails are great for providing your natural nails with a protective barrier that will help to keep cracks and splits away. They can also prevent a split nail from catching on everything. 

Next: How to Safely Remove Acrylic Nails at Home

Photo Credit: iStock

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