How to Fix Your Broken Nail at Home

Well now you’ve done it. You broke a fingernail. You don’t want to cut it off because then you’ll have one stumpy nail and it’ll look and feel weird.  Let me show you how to fix that broken nail.

A woman's fingernail being lifted up with a nailfile at the point that it's broken.

Here’s the scenario:  You’re about to embark on a weekend filled with glamorous activities including going to the theatre, attending an art gallery opening, shopping for a new Mercedes, getting custom fit for a wig made out of hair sheared from a cross between a Himalayan Yak and Goldilocks, followed by drinks with a one eyed Count, and shopping for solid gold polo ponies.

Then you break a nail.

Now what?  Your manicurist is having her elbows liposuctioned and her assistant is doing a week long “cleanse” that’s left her incapacitated and confined to one specific room in her house. Also – pandemic.

Well lady, you’re gonna have to repair your own nail.  Buck up.  You’ll be throwing your head back in fake laughter at any one of your upcoming events in no time.

So long as you follow these steps to fix that crack or break.

If you want your nail polish to last FOREVER, use an LED light. They actually do work and the work well. Read this post I did a while ago on where to buy and how to use one.  I use an LED light with either shellac, or gel nailpolish.


How to Fix a Broken Nail

(if you’re bendy enough you can use this same technique to fix a cracked toenail.)

  1. Gather this stuff. Scissors, superglue, a teabag, tweezers and a nail file. (also a buffer if you have one)

Everything you need to fix a broken nail laid out on a wood table including scissors, glue and a teabag.

 

2. Cut your tea bag to the size of the nail bed that’s broken.  In my case it’s the teeny, tiny pinkie nail.

A small circle of teabag set in the palm of a hand.

 

3. Apply a small drop of Super Glue to your nail.

The tip of a small superglue bottle on a woman's pinkie fingernail.

 

Like so.

One drop of superglue on a woman's small fingernail in preparation for a nail repair.

 

4. Swish it around your nail so it covers the whole thing.

The tip of a small bottle of superglue being used to disperse a thin layer of glue on nail.

 

5. Using your tweezers, place the tea bag on your nail bed.

A small piece of teabag is held by tweezers over a fingernail.

 

It’s a bit messy but that’s O.K.  It’s all getting covered up.  Also, if your break is a bit further up on the nail than mine, you can cut your tea bag slightly larger so you can wrap the tea bag onto the underside of the nail as well, creating a stronger mend.  My break was right down to the quick so this technique couldn’t be used.

 

A teabag glued on top of a fingernail to repair it, looking a bit messy.

 

6. Grab your Super Glue again and put another drop of glue on.  Spread it around.

Tip of a superglue bottle apply a drop to a fingernail with a teabag on it for repair.

 

Now your broken nail is technically mended.  Kind of like fibreglassing a boat.

A pinkie nail mid repair after a teabag and 2 coats of glue have been applied.

 

7. Using a buffing stone if you have one, buff the nail smooth once your glue is dry.  Do this gently, you don’t want to tear through the tea bag.

The rough, smoothing side of a nail buffer.

 

8. Follow up with the polishing side to make your nail bed as smooth as you can get it.

The shining side of a nail buffer.

 

9. Apply a coat of clear nailpolish to only the mended nail.  While you’re at it, do your best to avert your eyes from the horror of your cuticles. 

Applying a base coat of clear nail polish to a repaired fingernail.

 

10. Once it’s dry, apply another coat to the mended nail, plus the rest of your nails.  You’ll therefore end up with 2 coats of base on the mended nail.  This will help make it smoother for your nail polish application.

Two coats of clear polish on a nail repaired with a teabag.

 

11. Apply whatever nail polish you think will be The Count’s favourite.  If he is the much sought after one-eyed Count, you can probably get away with only putting nail polish on one hand.   Resume your super glamorous activities as planned.  Phew.  Disaster and embarrassment averted.

A woman's hand with white nail polish resting on a wood surface.

How long does a broken nail take to heal?

First of all nails don’t heal. As much as we’d like them to a broken nail can’t magically heal itself like skin can. 

Nails take a month to grow 3-4 mm.  If you took 2 sticks of dry spaghetti and stacked them they would be around 4mm wide.

If your nail has fallen off completely it’ll take 6 months for it to fully grow back.

How do you fix a broken nail without glue?

If you don’t happen to have crazy glue or nail glue around there are 2 other ways you can fix the nail.

  1. Instead of sticking the tea bag with glue, use regular clear nailpolish. It won’t be as strong as the glue, but it will do a good job of making the tea bag stick.

Just apply a base coat of clear polish to your nail where the crack is, place the tea bag on top, and coat with clear polish again.  

TIP

This above technique with nail polish will work even better if you use gel polish and cure it under a UV light.

2. If you’re just looking to make your nail last a few days you can also stick a fake nail on top of it.

How to Fix a Broken Nail.

How to Fix a Broken Nail.

Fix a broken nail with a teabag and glue. This fix will last 1-2 weeks while your nail grows out.

Materials

  • Scissors
  • superglue
  • a teabag
  • tweezers
  • nail file
  • nail buffer

Instructions

  1. Gather this stuff. Scissors, superglue, a teabag, tweezers and a nail file. (also a buffer if you have one)
  2. Cut your tea bag to the size of the nail bed that’s broken.  In my case it’s the teeny, tiny pinkie nail.
  3. Apply a small drop of Super Glue to your nail.
  4. Swish it around your nail so it covers the whole thing.
  5. Using your tweezers, place the tea bag on your nail bed.
  6. Grab your Super Glue again and put another drop of glue on.  Spread it around.
  7. Using a buffing stone if you have one, buff the nail smooth once your glue is dry.  Do this gently, you don’t want to tear through the tea bag.
  8. Follow up with the polishing side to make your nail bed as smooth as you can get it.
  9. Apply 2 coats of clear nail polish to the mended nail.
  10. Apply colour polish.

Notes

It’s a bit messy but that’s O.K.  It’s all getting covered up.  Also, if your break is a bit further up on the nail than mine, you can cut your tea bag slightly larger so you can wrap the tea bag onto the underside of the nail as well, creating a stronger mend.  My break was right down to the quick so this technique couldn’t be used.

Your mended nail will last and look good for weeks!  Unless you’re a peasant and partake in things like cleaning up chicken coops.

A woman's hand using an old rusted pan to scoop up shavings in a chicken coop.

 

If, in addition to chicken coop cleaning, you also partake in gardening, building, mixed martial arts, dish washing, and general real life stuff, your nails will probably look a little more like this after the weekend.

Fingers displaying an absolutely mangled, chipped, mess of a manicure after a few days.

(unless of course you’re using the magical LED light in which case your nails don’t even chip for weeks)

Notice however, how the mended pinkie nail is still in (relatively) perfect condition.   In my opinion, by and large, these hands are still perfectly acceptable for a night out with royalty.  Provided the royals are drunk.

And blind.

And don’t have any sort of intuitive cognitive abilities.
 

→Follow me on Instagram where I often make a fool of myself←

 

How to Fix Your Broken Nail at Home

130 Comments

  1. Katy says:

    OH ME OH MY! FINALLY! I’m so glad you shared this! Thank you Karen. I just broke a nail this morning and I’ve been attempting to fix it since — now it’s fixed! Thank you Thank you Thank you!

  2. Sebrah says:

    My nail broke this morning and I’m sooo glad I read this article a few weeks back. Fixed all up with a tea bag and this baby is going no where! Thanks Karen!!

  3. Chau says:

    Karen, you’re hilarious. Giggle, giggle. Thank you

  4. AC Vargis says:

    If I’m in the mood to do my nails I do the whole shebang hours apart: base coat, coat of colour 2 hrs later, another coat next day, top coat when I get home, edge colour before blobbing out on the couch.

    But it’s pretty much clear polish all the way!! Perfect for those that do everything half-assed :)

    Karen, I wear matte white polish also – looks amazeballs on toes. A milky white would look better on fingers I think? Less twink-like :)
    Have you tried OPI’s Pirates of the Carribean Skull & Glossbones? Awesome shade of grey.

  5. Liz says:

    So does this work with peeling, splitting nails? Every year at certain times either due to weather or constant handwashing at work my nails go through a period of peeling or splitting way down the side where it’s too close to cut. As long as it would work without the nail polish because I really can’t be bothered with that!

    • Karen says:

      Liz – My worry with doing this with a peeling nail is that once you finally scrape the teabag/glue off, the peeling portion of your nail would come with it! Also, it doesn’t look great w/out nail polish. You can see the tea bag. You can use silk which is more invisible, but you have to be quite an expert to apply it so that it’s invisible. Ironically … if you were to wear nailpolish all the time (even just clear) your nails wouldn’t split and peel as much! Maybe give that preventative measure a shot! ~ karen

    • BettyD says:

      for weak, splintering nails I’ve had incredible success with Nailtiques Formula 2. Goes on like nail polish. I’ve used it for a couple of years and never have my nails been so strong or healthy. I get it at Walgreens or CVS. The last time I had a manicure, she told me my nails were almost too hard. HA. Never thought I’d hear that.

  6. Alicia says:

    I heart you. Plain & Simple.

  7. Amy in StL says:

    OMG, I could have used this tip several weeks back. I was helping a friend whose house was demolished by weather. I cut open my nail almost from tip to root when picking up debris. I cut it back as far as I could on the smaller side and then as it died back, I cut it back further. Finally this week, it’s grown out a bit so that nail doesn’t look as freaky. Oh, and I had at least three people tell me I should have used superglue to glue it down so it didn’t keep peeling up and catching. The idea of supergluing such a sensitive open area freaked me out; but with a teabag it would have been genius!

  8. Shauna says:

    p.s., I’m amazed at the number of ‘Shaunas’ you have commenting on your posts. When I was little, it seemed just short of a miracle when I meant someone with my name and now, here I am on your site and see 2 other Shaunas who have commented. And, what’s more amazing, is we all spell our name the same.

  9. Shauna says:

    This is awesome, I thought I was the only one who did this kind of fix. I’ve even done it with toilet paper in a pinch, but teabags are much stronger material.

  10. Tandy says:

    I don’t break my nails, I chew them. Still, I read this post. Just as I read every other post of yours even though a good lot of them contain information totally irrelevant to my life. I read them because they’re entertaining, and because…well, you never know when your neighbors might stop being unreasonable and say ok to having chickens in thenbackyard. I do not understand why your site isn’t a wild success and raking in tens of dollars. I like it, so shouldnteveryone else?

    • Karen says:

      Tandy – Thanks! Seems to me people who find the site do like it. It isn’t a matter of them not liking it, it’s a matter of getting the word out that it’s here! That’s my main goal right now. To have people Twitter and Stumble and Facebook the site so more people are aware it exists! :) Tens of dollars are within my grasp. ~ karen

  11. Patti says:

    Okay, okay – this will not do! Those chipped nails, Karen! You can make a manicure last much longer than that! I was doing dishes and gardening all weekend, not to mention a wedding, last weekend, and there is not a chip to be seen! Want to know my secret?

    Step One – When you paint your nails, feel free to throw on a clearcoat, or whatever. Then do your nails the colour that you like, and let it dry very thoroughly. THEN. Here’s the trick, and you could even do a blog about it because it’s that good of a trick.

    Step Two – Obtain Sally Hansen Ultimate Sheild Top Coat. I’m sure others work well, also, but I find that this ones dries faster and harder than other. And it’s cheap (watch the sales at Pharma, SH goes on like, every other week)

    Step Three – dip your brush into the top coat and clear most of the coating off your brush, using the edge of the bottle.

    Step Four – carefully (although, in reality you don’t have to be that careful) paint the edge of your nail. You’re basically going to be sealing that badboy in. So you’re painting the part that would be hitting the table if you were drumming your nails in the annoying way that us long fingernail people do.

    Step five – after painting the edge of a nail, dip your brush and put an even coat on the top of you nail.

    Let it dry. Like, really, really, let it dry. Don’t take a nap – you’ll get a fabric design in your nails. This is the time to make your significant other serve on you hand and foot. I’ve got it down pat.

    And that’s your trick. Seriously. It’s amazing how long a manicure will last – the polish will grow off your nails before it chips. For serial. And now, combining my trick and Karen’s trick, you’ll always have beautiful nails.

    Also – super glad you showed your white polish bottle, Karen – I have been trying to find good white polish for YEARS, and always find it’s too gummy to work for all-over colour! YA! ohmygodilovenailpolish

    • Karen says:

      Patti – LOL. I”ll give it a shot. But I’m not sure you understand exactly what I do all weekend. Um. I’m not what you’d call normal in my extracurricular activities. I’m not “average” hard on nails. But … like I said … I’ll give it a shot. If it works out, I’ll post all about the miracle manicure! ~ karen

      • Patti says:

        Okay, okay, I know – I’m not extremely hard on my nails, and intentionally am careful when performing certain tasks to ensure that they aren’t going to chip – like, I have a sticker picker, which is a little tool made specifically to peel stickers… but I really do think you should try it – you’ll probably be amazed!

      • Karen says:

        Patti – OH my lord. LOL. You have a sticker picker! O.K. We’re definitely not even close to being in the same class when it comes to nail abuse, LOL. I’m still gonna try it though. ~ karen

  12. ellen says:

    When I was younger and vainer I used “cigarette” rolling papers for the repair – if you tear instead of cut the edges are more tapered and you can’t see where the repair is.

  13. kristen says:

    Karen do you know about UV nail gels (OPI Axxium)? I refused to paint my nails or get manicures because it always chipped in one day or less. Then my friends discovered the gels. They aren’t fake nails. It just looks like regular polish but it lasts for 2 weeks. It will change your life b/c I know you like your nails to look nice but aren’t good at keeping them that way :o)
    I wouldn’t get them all the time but for special occasions, a.k.a the count, so worth it.

    • Maggie says:

      I Love nail gels.
      I wash my hands on average about 3 to 4 bazillion times a shift… so naturally my paint jobs do not last. I went out for a ‘spa day’ bachelorette party a few months ago and discovered the UV gel nails. The salon I went to called it shellac. Same thing. Its UV cured nail polish. Not only does the color last, but it strengthens the nail enough that even mine don’t break all that much anymore. What I like about it is that it doesn’t make your nails all thick like acrylics- which are strong, but horrible back scratchers.
      It was $35 with tip, which is WAY too much for me to be spending every 2 weeks, so I bought my own. Sally Beauty Supply (or any other beauty supply store, I imagine) carries everything you need to do it at home. It cost me $106 to get it all. I’ve since used it 3 times, so its paid for itself!
      I recommend getting a neutral color to start- you can always paint regular polish over it if you get tired of the color before 2 weeks is up.
      I have even started trimming my nails, because they are getting too long! I’m gonna be rolling in golden polo ponies!

  14. Kate S. says:

    This post came about two days after I ripped my nail and elected to just cut it off really really short…. Its a good thing I have all the golden polo ponies a girl could want, otherwise I might be really upset.

    I will reblog this because I think it is just that useful!

    ~Kate

  15. Fantastic! Who knew? I just walked around with a really short nail, but I will certainly be getting my tea bag out for this new trick.

  16. Annika says:

    I bet the lady who is all over the BBC News website today for going to A&E with a broken fingernail wishes she had read this post!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-kent-13528444

  17. Wow Karen, this is always happening to me. I don’t really do fancy dress up balls, but hate the tears caused by having a broken nail catch, rip then bleed. I usually end up wearing a Band-Aid® around the tip of my finger for a week or so, till the nail grows long enough to cut. With the work I do after a day the Band-Aid® get dirty and icky and leaves a sticky grimy mess on my finger. When I was living a “fancier” night life, I’d cut a plastic Band-Aid® for just the nail part and put nail polish on it. That would work for a few days. It usually took about a week for long enough for nail to grow to acceptable length. So obviously your “fiberbag fix” is far superior and now I have a use for all those neglected tea bags in the cupboard.

  18. This is exactly why I never mess with making my fingernails look fabulous. I got a free manicure a few weeks ago and it lasted all of about 2 days.

    Plus, I play the piano and long nails are a total no-no.

    I comfort myself by painting my toenails.

  19. Shauna says:

    Good tip! It is very similar to fiberglass nails, except for that we use silk. I say that because I’m a nail tech. You can cut a square to just the size of the nick, and just cover that instead of covering the whole nail, if that helps. However, considering the jobs you partake in, the whole nail is probably the safest bet.

    • Karen says:

      Shauna – The reason I recommend the whole nail is because it’s a little more invisible. If I just cut a square you can see the square under the nailpolish. Maybe with a little more practice I could make it invisible. O.K. … a lot more practice. :) ~ karen

      • Shauna says:

        Practice makes perfect! However, I wouldn’t recommend purposely snagging nails.
        I drew a mental blank earlier – we call them silk wraps here in oz.

  20. liz says:

    Oooh, brilliant tip. One i can even do at work (where the majority of my nail casualties occur).

    • Karen says:

      Liz – If you’re out and about in the real world and you “eep”, break a fingernail, keep a bandaid in your purse/pocket/shoe. That way you can stick a bandaid on the nail to stop it from breaking further until you get to a spot with glue, teabags and nail files. ~ karen

  21. shauna says:

    You my friend are a genius!! If you ever come out West, let’s meet at the dollarama, then lock ourselves in a room with a glue gun and glitter!! Lmao so will it not last till it grows out? Or will the tea bag and glue eventually lift off?

  22. SK Farm Girl says:

    Must be something about tea! A good chinwag over a cuppa tea gets old friends caught up. A cry session over a cuppa tea help mends a broken heart. Heck, even a good ol’ fashioned b*tch session over a cuppa tea can solve all the world’s problems! Really it’s little wonder a tea bag can fix such a huge travesty such as a broken finger nail! So love your blog Ms Karen; you really must come to “god’s country”, Saskatchewan, for a visit – better yet, a cuppa tea :) (and of course for some of that good ol’ barnboard) – you know you want to!!!

  23. Lynne says:

    You. Are. Brilliant!!

  24. Bev says:

    I remember doing something similar with a tiny bit of micropore medical tape (think it goes by the same name in Canada) when I broke a nail moving furniture for the wedding I was about to be a guest at… I had been growing my perfect nails for weeks! NOTHING was going to ruin my day. Mircopore is not as sticky as super glue, hence it only lasted the night, but that was all I needed! :o) Yay us for being so goddam inventive!

    • Karen says:

      Bev – Good thinkin’ for a quick fix! I’m on day 5 of my nail fix and it’s still goin’ strong. It really will last a couple of weeks. ~ karen

  25. LOL.Awesome! If I had nails on any merit I’d be all over this! : )

    • Anita says:

      Awesome, I always just try to put a bandaid on it to keep it from breaking off down in the quick! I’m
      definitely going to try this!

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