Friday, March 8, 2013

DIY Nail Repair - How to Fix A Broken Nail

Oh noeessss, a broken nail!  

Don't worry, I have a fix for you today. 

 I have gotten pretty good at saving my nails that break. This isn't always just vanity, my nails can break so low down on the side, to cut the entire broken area off would result in injury to the nail bed.

OUCH! Here is how I patch the nail until it grows out enough that I can trim off the break.

1This is the type of break that is a good candidate for repair.   A bad candidate would be a completely broken off nail, or one that has resulted in injury to the nail bed, or the nail is not going into place again smoothly. 

 My nail caught on a loose drawer pull and cracked on the side, it is like this right now. Thanks alot loose drawer pull! 
(Note to self: fix stupid drawer pull already!)

If you are looking at this because you broke a nail,  I am sorry, may I suggest that you have a cup of your favorite tea?

You will also want to collect some DIY supplies you will need :

Loctite Super Glue GEL  I think I found this at Home Depot If you can't get this one, a nail glue will work. The gel is much easier to work with.

Nail Brush
Tea bag
Nail Polish Remover
Base Coat

 3 Scrubby Scrub gently in warm water and mild soap.  This step is very important, your nail must be super clean. Dry nails on a clean towel and allow your hands to air dry for a few  moments. This is the perfect time to prepare your tea.

Cut a small piece of teabag. If I cut it like this I can still enjoy this tea.

5 This is the "bandage" to fix your nail crack. I am enjoying my favorite green chai tea here, what do you like, I wonder? Do you even like tea?  Curious...

6 I suggest using pure acetone or a non oily polish remover at this point to again clean the nail.  Let it dry completely. The idea is to remove oils, and dehydrate the surface of the nail now as well as clean it. I use ONYX brand pure acetone from Walmart.

7 Gently pry open the crack and do your best to ensure the glue is contacting both sides of the break. Here is where it gets sticky. Press your nail back into place gently with another nail or an orangewood stick. Be careful, take your time and do your best not to glue your fingers together.

 8 I then apply the bandage to the nail. TIP: tearing the edges of the teabag makes it easier to blend your repair smoothly into the natural nail. 
9 Now I smooth the patch and press it into the glue, then 
10 apply more glue to the patch to saturate the teabag and form the patch.

Hey Loctite, feel free to pay me for this free ad!

Sip your tea for approximately ten minutes while the patch dries. Be very careful, if you touch this patch to anything when it is wet you may be wearing that thing on your nail.

11 Carefully file the patch down to blend with your natural nail, this is where the art of this process comes in. You are sculpting your nail patch here, you will want to carefully avoid filing into the natural nail around the patch!  I would use a typical emery board grit or slightly coarser. This is a step where extreme caution is advised, it is easy to see where the patch ends, so align the file with that and file in a direction away from the natural nail, especially the part toward your cuticle.  The part near the tip is not as critical, as you will be cutting that off sooner.

12 Next buff using successively smoother buffers. I found this little hexagon buffer for $1 at Dollar Tree and I find it extremely handy.

Apply basecoat and polish as usual! A ridge filling basecoat might be useful for you to smooth things over even further.

Now the best part, nail polish!

13 Here is a shade which is the closest I have to mannequin hands, LE Maybelline Natural Beauty from two summers ago I believe.

14   Today is a good day for a quick drying polish!

15  Not bad, and if the patch is slightly visible, it is probably only you that will notice, and it is nothing some glitter or texture can't fix!

The good news and the bad news is that this patch is easily removed with acetone. It used to be necessary to re do the patch each time I polish my nails, but I have learned to avoid it sometimes, though eventually the patch wears down and fails.

Here is how I avoid re-doing it each time. I do not use acetone on the patched area. I switch to a non acetone polish remover, I use ONYX brand No Odor for natural nails.  This is much slower acting so I have time to swipe off the polish before the acetone dissolves, then quickly wash my hands and voila, patch intact. Sometimes a quick buffing to re-smooth the area is needed and voila!  This has been a great time saver, because fixing the patch on the nail takes me about 20 minutes start to finish.

I hope that someone out there may find this helpful. I would love to hear if you have any tips or suggestions to improve my techniques and help us all stay perfectly polished.

Happy Patchin!



  1. I have a break just like this one on my pinkie nail. I just need someone to go buy me some super glue so I can follow your steps. Thanks so much I was worried about what to do without harming my nail bed. BTW surgery went well yesterday, now home with my leg up <3

    1. I am so glad your surgery went well Jasmine! I send you wishes for your speedy healing! I am glad this may help you mend your poor pinkie nail! A band aid is your best friend until you can get someone to pick up some glue for you! Thank you for your comment Jasmine!

  2. Okay this was extremely helpful because I'd heard about fixing nails a tea bag but I didn't know what that meant... On the other hand my nails don't really break that way, still a useful tip for when it happens

    1. I am glad you found it informative Morgana! That is all I wanted was to help one person and I succeded! Thank you for the feedback! I appreciate it so much! : D I am glad you don't suffer breaks like this, they are not fun : (

  3. Replies
    1. Oh it is amazing! I used to buy special paper to fix my nail, now I drink a cuppa! :D

  4. Great tutorial!
    It's really helpful ;)

    1. Thank you for this great feedback, I am glad you liked it : D This was a project that I was really wanting to get done, and I am so glad I did, your response is great!

  5. I actually have temporarily mended my car key using the teabag method! Have never used it on my nails though as i didn't know which glue to use. Alas it came too late for my thumbnail which ripped off :-(

    This is a wonderful, informative, and entertaining post though, and I love it! Am going to get some of that glue, as I have another casualty limping along.

    My favourite tea is Tetley ;-)

    1. Hi Wendy, you fixed a car key? That is so resourceful! Sorry about that thumbnail, ouchie! Oh Tetley, classic! : D Thanks for the feedback Wendy, I am glad to help in any small way because I love being a people helper : D

  6. your blog name is so cute :)
    i saw a video on this tea bag nail bandage method once, but you've done a great picture tutorial!

    Reminder: the I ♥ Makeup giveaway is still on!

    1. Hi there Xlovehappyx! THanks, and I love your name! : D Ohh, I need to check out said giveaway stat! Thanks!

  7. Wow, this is a great tutorial. My nails are always breaking like this, and I end up with nubbins :(

    1. Hi Jenna Froggy! I am so happy you found this helpful. It really works great! : D

  8. I use this method when I break a nail, but I'm far too lazy to write a tutorial, lol. This is brilliantly well explained.

    The one thing I've found best to avoid when nursing tea-bag repairs is glitterbomb manis that need foil method removal - do yours survive?

    1. I replied to your blog so I could be sure you get the answer asap, and in case anyone else is wondering, here is my solution. I do not use pure acetone on the patch, because you are correct, it will dissolve the patch. I switch to a weaker remover with an oily feel, this does not dissolve the patch as quickly, so I can get the polish off and preserve the patch, usually. Best of luck on patching!

    2. Thank you for the extra info!

      Actually, would you mind if I put a link to this great post in my nail care reference page on my blog - I don't have anything on patching in there yet and I'd love to share this :D

  9. I've tried that before and the best way that works for me, I use super glue and baking soda! I find it's a harder nail than how they do your nails in the salon. Plus, it helps with splits and cracks way better (imo), it's stronger and lasts a lot longer! ♥ dig

  10. Thank you for sharing this tip with me! You really did dig up a good one there! Thank you DIG! I can Dig it!


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