"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." Prevention is the best cure for broken nails, so slather on something like Deborah Lippmann Cuticle Oil ($20), which has jojoba and coconut oils plus vitamin E to keep nails hydrated and strong.
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. But alas, if a nail breaks anyways, keep these tips on hand for how to mend it.
How to fix a broken nail
1. Mend with glue
According to Yankee, the best quick fix is to use a nail glue. "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 ($5), to hold your nail together until you can get to a salon," she says. Coat your nail with polish on top of the glue once it's dried to help keep the crack in place.
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. "I love Dashing Diva Magic Press ($9) as they're easy on, easy off, and have a pre-adhesive backing that holds up to seven days," says Yankee, noting that 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, says Lim, which will add length.
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," she says. Using the Orly Nail Rescue Kit ($17) 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 this glue and powder application to create two or three layers depending on how bad the nail crack is. "When finished, I like to apply a bit of glue dry spray ($12) to set the glue and powder before lightly buffing with a fine-grit buffing block," she says.
4. 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.
5. File or cut down
The easiest way to fix a broken nail? Cut down the nail in question to even things out. "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 the OPI Nail Envy ($18) and you're good to go.
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