5 Easy Ways to Fix a Broken Nail at Home, According to Manicurists

Photo: Getty Images / Maryna Terletska
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You know the feeling: You're growing out your nails, and they get to an almost perfect length, right before one splits. The horror! The drama! The tragedy! On the scale of world problems, breaking a nail isn't exactly a 10, but it can still be frustrating. Your only option, however, isn't to trim all 10 and start again. As proof, I asked manicurists how to fix a broken nail, so that your manicure can still look pulled together. Below, the pros chime in with a handful (get it?) of methods you can try to repair split nails.

Experts In This Article

How do you prevent a broken fingernail?

Like most skin-care problems, when it comes to split or cracked fingernails it should come as no surprise that prevention is key. "It can be very easy to break a nail, since we use our hands for everything," says Evelyn Lim, chief educator at Paintbox nail salon. "If nails are dry and brittle, they're more prone to break, so using a cuticle oil can keep your nail bed hydrated and healthy."

Another preventative measure to help with breakage? Choosing the right shape for your tips and always having a base coat covering them. "As a guideline, you should shape your nail to match the natural shape of the cuticle and base of the nail," says Lim. "For length, the free edge should not exceed half of the nail bed." And, since your fingernails are constantly exposed to water and hand soap, it helps to have at least a clear base polish on, says celebrity nail artist Pattie Yankee. "Keeping your nails polished can help to maintain their health and flexibility," she says.

We'll share some prevention products at the end of this list, but if your nail is already broken you'll want to tackle the problem with one of these five mending methods.

5 tips for how to fix a broken nail

1. Mend with glue

According to Yankee, the best quick fix is to use a nail glue (don't just reach for super glue!). Coat your nail with polish on top of the glue once it's dried to help keep the crack in place.

A bottle of Nail Bliss Clear Brush-On Nail Glue, how to fix a broken nail
Nail Bliss by Dashing Diva, Clear Brush-On Nail Glue — $4.00

“Lightly buff the surface of the nail and apply a coat or two of a fast-drying, thin viscosity glue, like Nail Bliss by Dashing Diva Brush-on Glue, to hold your nail together until you can get to a salon,” Yankee says. It comes with a small brush for easy application, and dries quickly so you can coat the nail with protective polish and extend the repair job even further.


  • A little goes a long way
  • Repair lasts up to two weeks


  • May require a little added effort (top coat of polish) to look nice

2. Use an artificial nail

Another way to deal with breakage is to apply press-on nails to hold your mani over until the broken nail grows out. According to Yankee, this will make your broken nail look like a professional-looking manicure in an instant. Or you could visit a nail salon to get a tip or an extension for a similar effect, adds Lim, which will add length.

A pack of Dashing Diva Magic Press nails, how to repair a broken nail
Dashing Diva, Magic Press — $9.00

“I love Dashing Diva Magic Press nails as they’re easy on, easy off, and have a pre-adhesive backing that holds up to seven days,” says Yankee. Plus, they’re available in a handful of different lengths, colors, and fun designs. Each pack includes 30 press-on nails in 12 sizes, one prep pad, one nail file, and a wooden manicure stick for easy application.


  • Includes plenty of size options
  • Many color, shape, and design options to choose from


  • Applying press-on nails to all fingers may be a little more time consuming (versus repairing one nail)

3. Powder fix

It's helpful to have a powder on hand for nail break emergencies, says Yankee. "Using a fill powder with a thicker viscosity glue is one of the most durable at-home fixes. When finished, I like to apply a bit of glue dry spray to set the glue and powder before lightly buffing with a fine-grit buffing block," she says.

The Orly Nail Rescue Kit, how to fix a broken nail
Orly, Nail Rescue Kit — $17.00

Using the Orly Nail Rescue Kit is a great fix. Use the included glue to seal the break and then dip your nail into the powder to adhere it to the glue. Repeat the glue and powder application to create two or three layers depending on how bad the nail crack is.


  • Kit includes buffer, powder, and glue
  • Customers say it holds up well


  • Even with buffing, the repaired nail’s texture may be grittier than your other nails
  • Requires a little more effort
A spray bottle of hurry up nail glue dryer, how to fix a broken nail
Hurry Up, Nail Glue Dryer — $12.00

If you want to take the above kit to the next level, this glue-drying spray will help speed things up. Spray it on your newly glued nail and watch as it hardens the repair job within seconds.


  • Speeds up repair dry time
  • Easy to use


  • Many customers dislike the smell

4. File or cut down 

The easiest way to fix a broken nail? Cut down the nail in question to even things out (just don't go too short)." I consider this the easiest and most permanent fix," says Yankee. "No matter how good the repair, a difficult and deep crack or break will always seem to sneak its way back through the repair." If the break is in a convenient spot that can be cut down, trim the rest of your nails to match once you adjust the cracked one. Once you're done, Yankee recommends applying a nourishing and protecting coat of polish to the top, like OPI Nail Envy (below).

A bottle of OPI Nail Envy, how to fix a broken nail
OPI, Nail Envy Nail Strengthener — $20.00

This formula from OPI helps shield your damaged nails from further breakage. It includes vitamins A, C, and E, as well as biotin and calcium. Plus, the formula is vegan and 9-free (meaning it doesn’t include nasty ingredients like sulfates or formaldehyde). Just note: OPI does recommend re-applying one coat of Nail Envy for six days, so it does require a little added maintenance.


  • 9-free formula includes calcium, biotin, and A, C, and E vitamins
  • Can be used as a base coat under polish on a regular basis for added nourishment


  • Requires re-application every day for six days

5. Teabag method

Bet you've never heard of this one before: You can use a teabag to fill in nail breakage. "Cut out a small piece of a teabag and use a thin brush-on glue to secure it to the nail and repair the crack or break for a few days," says Yankee. That said, she points out that it will require maintenance every few days by applying another coat of glue over the tea bag to make sure it stays strong and durable. "You could also apply nail color over this repair to improve the durability," she says.

Products for preventing a broken nail

A bottle of purple Deborah Lippmann Cuticle Oil for fixing broken nails
Deborah Lippmann, Cuticle Oil — $22.00

If you’re searching for a cuticle oil, Lim recommends slathering on Deborah Lippmann Cuticle Oil, which has jojoba and coconut oils, plus vitamin E to keep nails hydrated and strong. Best of all, it smells like coconut and doesn’t leave hands feeling greasy.


  • Packed with moisturizing ingredients
  • Smells like coconut
  • No greasy residue on hands


  • Pricier pick for cuticle oil
A tub of vaseline, how to fix a broken nail
Vaseline, Pure Petroleum Jelly — $4.00

Can Vaseline fix a broken nail? According to the nail pros (and countless Tik-Tok videos), the answer is yes! Nail slugging, which involves massaging your nails and cuticles with Vaseline, is one easy and affordable way to keep your nails hydrated. And, even if you already have a cracked nail, slathering the breakage with Vaseline provides a moisture barrier for your nails and cuticles and helps encourage healing.


  • Affordable and probably already in your medicine cabinet
  • Multi-purpose beauty tool (try it on dry noses!)


  • Buys your nail repair time, but doesn’t fill in gaps or fully cover the crack

How to choose the right repair tools for your broken nail

Consider your routine

You'll want your nail repair job to hold up as you go throughout your week, so it's important to consider how you use your hands every day. If you work a job where they're regularly exposed to water or heat, you may need to opt for a powder dip or glue repair. If you type at a computer all day, you'll likely be able to get away with press-on nails or a nourishing top coat and a little special attention.

Mind your aesthetic

Glues and powder repair jobs are effective, but it can also be tricky to make them look polished. If natural nails aren't your go-to, you may want to seek the help of a pro who can help with an extension, or at least a manicure to go over your glue repair.

Prep for the future

Are broken nails something you encounter often? (Perhaps they've been through one too many gel manicures?) Keeping a small bottle of nail glue or a pack of artificial nails in your bag will ensure that you'll always be ready for a quick fix. And don't forget to give those digits the TLC they need with regular cuticle care and moisture!

Frequently asked questions

How do you fix a broken natural nail without glue?

If glue isn't the repair method for you, Yankee recommends covering the break with a press-on nail. The artificial nail will help act as a shield and buy your natural nail some time to grow out to a length that's safe to cut or file.

Can you use super glue as nail glue?

While you technically could use super glue to repair a broken nail, it isn't intended for use on porous surfaces (like our skin and nails) and often contains chemicals that are harsh on human skin. Nail glues are formulated to be safe and effective for, well, your nails! While it might seem like a convenient hack to use super glue, you'll be better off having a nail glue on hand that's designed specifically for the job.

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