How to Fix a Broken Nail That's Driving You Nuts

Find out how to repair a broken nail using powder, a tea bag, or wraps.

closeup of manicured nails
Photo: Chiara Chiodi/EyeEm/Getty Images

We've all heard that tired joke about someone skipping something for fear of breaking a nail. While breaking a nail isn't actually distressing on that level, it's always annoying, especially if you just got a mani or if you've been attempting to grow out your nails.

The good news is it's easy enough to fix a broken nail and prevent it from getting worse (and snagging on everything in your vicinity). It just takes a few takes minutes to patch things up with some tools you likely already have on hand. Here's how to repair a broken nail, plus the best ways to avoid breaks in the first place. (

How Do I Fix a Broken Nail?

Before you do anything, assess the damage. If you have a minor break, you can use one of the methods below to seal the crack while your nail continues to grow out. However, if it's a larger break and you've punctured your skin, it's best to (literally) cut your losses.

"If the nail breaks down to the flesh, do not try to patch it," says Darlene Sritapan, OPI North America Education and Capability Manager. "Instead, trim the nail and keep the finger clean until the wound heals. You will have to let the nail grow out again." For less gnarly breaks, you've got three options.

How to Fix a Broken Nail with Powder

Can you glue a nail split and call it a day? Pretty much. Using a nail glue and nail powder (a fine acrylic powder usually used for dip manicures) is the best way to address a broken nail, says celebrity nail artist Pattie Yankee. Preferably you'll use a glue that's on the thinner side, which is typically sold in a cylindrical tube rather than a flat or squared bottle at the drugstore, she says. Kiss Precision Nail Glue (Buy It, $4, is one option, made especially for fine nail tears.

  1. Apply a thin coat of glue.
  2. While the glue is still wet, sprinkle some nail powder (e.g. Red Carpet Manicure Color Dip Neutral Nail Powder), on top. Let dry.
  3. Apply another coat of glue over powder. Let dry.
  4. Buff nail with a buffing block.
  5. Repeat steps 3–4.

How to Fix a Broken Nail with a Tea Bag

It takes more skill, but if you don't want to buy nail powder, you can follow the same steps using a tea bag. First, cut a tea bag to create a small piece that can act as a patch over the crack in your nail. (To clarify, you'll use the bag itself, not the tea.) Then, you'll essentially follow the same steps as above, using the bag instead of powder.

  1. Apply a thin coat of glue.
  2. Place a piece of a tea bag over the glue it while it's still wet. Let dry.
  3. Apply another coat of glue. Let dry.
  4. Buff nail with a buffing block.
  5. Repeat steps 3–4.

How to Fix a Broken Nail with Gel Wraps

Those nail stickers that adhere to your nails for easy nail art? They're actually perfect for patching up a nail break, says Yankee. You'll cut a piece out of the sticker—Yankee likes Dashing Diva Gloss Gel Palette (Buy It, $7,—to cover the break like a bandaid. The advantage of this method is that it creates a very thin layer that's less noticeable under nail polish (compared to the small bump you might create with either glue method). "The strips seal the crack, and if you don't like the color of them, you can use a polish overtop to match the rest of your nails," Yankee says. (

  1. Cut a small piece of a gel strip and adhere it to the nail over the crack.
  2. Apply a thin coat of glue on top of and around the gel strip. Let dry.
  3. Buff the surface of the nail with a buffing block.
  4. Repeat steps 2–3.

How Can I Prevent Nail Breaks from Happening?

Some people are more prone to nail breaks by default, but anyone can take steps to avoid getting them in the first place. The most effective option will be to get regular powder manicures, says Sritapan. "Dip manicures are all the rage right now, and because they are acrylic based, they provide maximum reinforcement to prevent breakage," she says. The next best option is getting a gel manicure, followed by having your nails covered with regular polish. "Nail polish adds an armor," says Yankee. "If you keep at least two coats of polish on top of them, that's very effective in helping prevent a break."

Even if you don't like wearing nail color, you can still fight breakage. "Apply two coats of a nail-strengthening treatment like OPI Nail Envy (Buy It, $17,, then reapply every other day for a week," says Sritapan. "At the end of the seventh day, remove it and restart the process for up to six weeks." (

Also consider adding a cuticle oil to the rotation to keep your nails and cuticles moisturized, suggests Yankee. L'Occcitane Wonderful Rose Nourishing Nail and Cuticle Oil (Buy It, $20, contains ingredients like sweet almond oil, shea butter, apricot oil, and vitamin E.

Now that you're versed in how to prevent and fix breaks, you'll be able to keep your nails looking their best through anything—no joke.

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