One top method even involves a bit of nail glue and a tea bag.

By Caroline Shannon-Karasik and Sheryl George
Updated Feb 19, 2020 @ 3:30 pm
Credit: GoodLifeStudio/Getty Images

Once upon a time, fear of breaking a nail may have just been a lame excuse to get out of high school gym class (just think of all the important dodge ball moves missed). But IRL a broken nail can seriously hamper your mani and rehabbing it can be tricky, which is why we asked a few experts for their tried-and-true tricks.

Ahead, you'll learn more about the best way to fix a broken nail, including a DIY method that involves a tea bag and nail glue. Plus, pro tips on building strong nails.

VIDEO: How to Remove Your Gel Manicure Without Going to the Salon

Pull out a nail file.

If it's a slight chip, you can gently buff the surface with an emery board or glass nail file, says Los Angeles-based celebrity manicurist Ashlie Johnson, who’s perfected the paint jobs on everyone from Jessica Alba to Kate Hudson. Make sure you also steer clear of large-grit nail files, which can be too abrasive, Johnson says. Remember: The goal isn’t to take off length, it’s to smooth out rough spots so they won’t split further.

Try a tea bag and nail glue.

If you want to try and rescue the length of your nail, then you might want to try the tea bag and nail glue method, says NYC-based nail artist Holly Falcone. She recommends the following steps:

  1. Remove any traces of polish.
  2. Very gently buff over the break to smooth the surface. "I like to leave the nail dust to reinforce the glue," Falcone says.
  3. Cut a small piece of a tea bag just a tiny bit bigger than the break. Using a tweezer, place a drop of nail glue onto the nail and pat the tea bag into place. Wait to dry and add another drop of glue.
  4. Buff the repaired area smooth once it is completely dry.
  5. Cover nails with a nail strengthener, like ORLY Nailtrition. Falcone added: "Regular use of a nail strengthener, alone or under color, will avoid future breaks."

A similar fix can be made with Krazy Glue and light-colored tissue paper, Johnson says. Place a drop of glue on top of the nail tear, then top it with a small piece tissue paper, again smoothing the surface with a nail buffer.

Try a kit made for nail breaks.

If you want to skip the homemade repair methods, then you might want to lean on a kit designed for nail breaks, says Los Angeles-based celebrity manicurist Brittney Boyce. Her favorite is ORLY Nail Rescue Kit, which comes with glue, powder, and a mini file, "so you have everything you need."

"Start by lightly buffing the crack, apply a small amount of glue over the broken area, dip finger into the powder making sure to cover the broken area and let dry," Boyce says, adding that the repair should last about a week. "If you feel like you need more reinforcement you can repeat the process."

Try layering with a base coat.

Wearing a bolder hue? Try brushing on several applications (think three to four) of a strengthening base coat to seal the snag. Johnson likes Chanel's version ($28). The base contains ceramides, which fortify the nail and safeguard against future breakage.

Know when to call it quits.

Yes, there, sadly, comes a point where a nail break just can't be rescued. When the break is longer than a quarter of your nail, Falcone recommends curring any pieces of the nail that are free-hanging, making sure you do not cut into the nail bed (the pink part of your nail). File the edges to prevent snags and wait patiently for the nail to regrow.

This may also be a time where you should also pay a visit to a nail professional, Boyce says, especially if you have nail extensions or gels that might require their attention.