How to Fix A Broken Nail at Home

Well now you’ve done it. You broke a nail. You don’t want to cut it off because then you’ll have one stumpy nail .  Let me show you a quick way to fix a 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, 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.

Well lady, you’re gonna have to repair your own nail.  

If you want this trick to last even longer use it in combination with an LED light & gel nail polish.


How to Fix a Broken Nail

Fixing a broken natural nail (this isn’t for acrylic nails) can be done in a few minutes if you have the supplies on hand. The technique is a like a silk wrap, but done with the woven fabric of a tea bag which is remarkably strong.

The fix will last about 2 weeks, giving the broken part strength and allowing your nail time to grow out.

Materials Needed

  • Scissors
  • super glue (brush on super glue is the easiest to use)
  • a teabag
  • tweezers
  • nail file
  • nail buffer

Instructions

(if you’re bendy enough you can use this same technique to fix a cracked toenail.I recommend using super glue for a broken nail instead of “nail glue” because there’s no need to buy something special.

Super glue works perfectly well and contains the same main ingredient as nail glue.

STEP 1

Gather your supplies: scissors, superglue, a teabag, tweezers and a nail file. (also a buffer if you have one)

STEP 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.

STEP 3

Apply a small drop of Super Glue to your nail. You probably only have regular squeeze out super glue at home. Order a bottle of brush on super glue for future breaks. It’s easier and more precise to apply.

Like so.

STEP 4

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

STEP 5

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

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.

STEP 6

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

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.

STEP 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.

STEP 8

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

STEP 9

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

STEP 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.

STEP 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.

Will a nail just heal itself?

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 to 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.
  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 prevent nails from breaking

Condition your nails and cuticles with oil to keep them hydrated. Wearing nail polish also protects from breaks and cracks.

Super glue vs Nail glue

They’re not exactly, but basically the same thing so don’t worry if you only have super glue. Nail glue is better for acrylic nails but not necessary for natural nails.

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

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.

(if this look offends you you really should look into a home kit UV lamp and gel polish.)

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. 

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

How to Fix A Broken Nail at Home

135 Comments

  1. kelliblue says:

    Girl, I’ve been doing this type of fix for…well, near decades, really. I got tired of paying big bucks for nail fixes, as it seems my nails are obviously made of PAPER (thanks Dad) 🙄 so having a good fix is a good thing. Another thing you can use instead of tea bags is just plain white TP or tissue, separate the layers, but use 2 layers for more firmness, then use glue, file/buff, etc.

    Or you could just throw in the towel, and keep your nails super short like I do now. The upkeep was just too much!

  2. Pam Sweet says:

    How do you get the tea bag off after nail is repaired? Or does it just grow off?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Pam. It grows out. And once the nail has grown out enough that you can cut and shape it you can scrape the tea bag off without much trouble. ~ karen!

  3. Randy P says:

    Thanks for the tea bag tip – I’d have never thunk it. And extra points for mentioning fiberglassing a boat – lol – hey, we manly men break nails too…. and chop down trees, eat our lunch and go to the lavatory.

  4. Alexis says:

    I stupidly was using a mandolin and sliced my pinky nail in half straight across the center; very painful half their half not, a bit flappy. I found your advice and I have done a double thick layer of teabags, and I’m happy to say my nail now appears to be whole. The glue and teabag has created a nice stable barrier I can paint it, if I feel that ambitious. Much better then the bandaids and will hopefully stay there until it grows out! Absolutely brilliant concept.

  5. Gary Boutin says:

    Hi Karen,
    I never sit still, either I am cooking in the kitchen for the next Vegan recipe, or working in the yard working on my next project. I’m always behind in my head schedule. So this post was great to me, my nails are very thin and I always break them, now I may not use white polish on my next nail but the clear was a great. Thanks for this post I enjoyed it very much. Gary

  6. Jill Southworth says:

    Brilliant. Used dryer sheets work fabulously too.

  7. Teresa says:

    Great idea, but was wondering if a coffee filter would work as well or be too thick? I know for coffee drinkers that would be a sacrilege, but my husband bought a permanent filter for his coffee and I don’t drink coffee so I have lots of filters not being used at the moment.

  8. Melissa says:

    Superglue also works great on your face when the shovel you were using to pry up a root springs back and smacks you in the mouth. Not even a scar!🥴

  9. Mary W says:

    I garden. My hands are in dirt and gloves just don’t cut it for me. I’ve found washing my hair gets the grime from my fingernails without even thinking but the big question is WHAT ABOUT MY TOES? I’m not bendy enough for them to reach my head to help wash my hair. Dirt goes right through socks and into shoes easily. So of course my toe nails are disgusting. Soak in bleach? Go to nail salon? HELP? I don’t paint my toe nails since I’m the only one that ever sees them but it is still gross. I keep them cut but still the corners are, well, growing seedlings. Surely, as a fellow-ess gardner, you experience the same grossness?

    • Karen says:

      I just scrub em with a nail brush! And use whatever else I can to maintain them, but I’m admittedly bendy. When my hands or feet are really bad I soak them in really hot water with a bit of Oxiclean in it. Just for a minute or so. That’s all you need. ~ karen!

  10. Josie says:

    Hi Karen, first of all let me say I LOVE your blog and look forward to reading it. When I saw the photo of your nails they look just like mine, ridges and weak. I did purchase the LED nail light you recommended as well as the gel polish and top coat. I was very pleased with the outcome. I like this tip for fixing a torn nail. I have a nail that has a ridge and reddish line down the center. As well as unsightly, it’s painful when something gets caught on it and the one half of the nail lifts. I’m going to try this tip. Thank you!

    • Diane Kipnis says:

      Get that nail looked at, the one with the red line down the center, if you still have it. In some cases it could portend a medical condition.

  11. Tommi says:

    I love your writing style! Thank you for your tips, and your wit. 💖

  12. Cassandra says:

    Karen, your personality is everything!
    I loved the advice, and your fun attitude.
    I had forgotten about the tea bag, and when my nails (two of them!) broke below the quick I just glued them. This weekend my husband is surprising me with a trip to Atlantic City, that’s not the surprise, but the hotel and concert are, and I want to look amazing for him, plus he loves his back scratched!
    Loving you from afar!
    Cassandra

  13. Your biggest fan says:

    Your wit is hilarious. I am sitting in a hotel currently where people buy solid gold polo ponies (on credit) and I busted out laughing. Very uncouth of me. I actually tore by big toenail so the tips will be used, but I will read your other blogs just for the humor value – THANK YOU!! :-)

  14. salit2 says:

    cant wait to try this.. How did you know exactly what was happening with all included?

  15. Carlyn says:

    Is there another way of mending your nails without using super glue? Can regular glue work?

  16. Lolita Davis says:

    Karen, the fix is great but your writing is fabulous. You are hilarious! I am reading this first thing in the morning for a quick nail fix and your article started my day out on a funny note. Thanks!

    • Karen says:

      Hey Lolita. Thanks! That’s what I’m here for. To make you laugh and fix the odd problem. Not that having a broken nail is odd, but … you know what I mean. ~ karen!

  17. BARBARA CRANE says:

    I love your site. This is a good idea….. but seriously Karen you need to tend to your cuticles ASAP!! I keep a couple of shot glasses of organic virgin coconut oil around the house (bed, kitchen, bath). My Mom, who was a long time manicurist, used to remind me all the time “a healthy nail comes from a healthy cuticle”. I can hear her now…

  18. Kali says:

    Thank you for this post! My nail ripped down the center. And it keeps snagging. It gives me that “finger nails on the chalkboard” feeling.

  19. Raven says:

    I love your nail fix soo much!! I live in northern Indiana…the winter weather has been so harsh
    this year so far and last year at this time. Sub-degree weather REALLLLLY wreaks havoc on
    everyone’s nails that I know of. Talk about *Eeep!* For sure!
    Unfortunately, I too am quite ferocious on my nails. Breaks galore!

    ~Raven

  20. laurel says:

    ta for the superglue confirmation.
    its what I used to use some 30yrs ago:-) with tissue or cig papers
    musta been a smart kid back then.
    meeting a special bloke for n yrs after 4 yrs emails:-0
    and yup ripped halfway across a long thumbnail this arvo
    Ive added to your method by sprinkling some acrylic powder over the bonded area and also making sure the underside was glued too
    its a nasty rip but just far enough up, to be able to slide teabag under n wrap.
    its less smooth but I figure a gentle buffing wil sort that out enough for polish to hide it:-)
    hassle is I was and will be picking mulberries
    and reckon I will be forced to wear purple polish for weeks:-)
    the nail was stained and getting the area cleaned without ripping more wasn’t possible:-(

    what is it with nails?
    I can do carpentry garden and all sorts of work that should destroy em
    and yet managed to rip this on a poly sack while chipping rock salt!
    rrgh

    thanks for the site and your humour:-) merry xmas and a Happy new year 2015

    • Karen says:

      Eep. That’s a bad break. The fix doesn’t always look perfect (at all) but it always works well enough to hold it until it grows out a fair bit. Hope you had a good Christmas too! ~ karen

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