E83870ff2bc7c0c0bde4 brokennail

Ask any girl: Breaking a nail is no joke. Not only does it usually hurt (a lot), it causes your nail to constantly snag on things, such as your hair and your clothes, and basically messes up your entire manicure. And while you may be tempted to simply cut the rest of your nails, there is a right way to treat a broken nail—and possibly save your other nails in the process. Read on to discover how to cope with a broken nail.

Step 1: Assess the situation

Not all broken nails are created equal, which means there isn’t necessarily a “one-size-fits-all” approach to every break. Take a look at the break itself: Did the nail break at the free edge, or is the break along the side of the nail? Understanding which part of the nail is most fragile will make it easier to treat.

Step 2: Trim and/or file if desired

If the break happened along the free edge, and you’re ok with taking down a little length on all of your nails, go ahead and trim them or file them down. Keep in mind that whatever you do to the broken nail, you should do to the rest of your nails. If you’re not ready to cut all of your nails, proceed to Step 3. 

Step 3: Cover up

If you aren’t ready to sacrifice your length quite yet, try the tea bag trick: Apply a small amount of nail glue to the broken area, then cut a small piece of a tea bag and apply it to the split. Use tweezers to gently push the tea bag into place, then allow the nail to dry for about 30 minutes. Once the nail has dried, use a file and a buffer to smooth down the edges of the tea bag.

Step 4: Apply a fake nail

While you can apply polish over the tea bag, it is a good idea to apply a fake nail over the broken one if you are looking to salvage your manicure for a couple more days. Apply nail glue to the entire nail, then apply a fake nail over your real one, making sure to apply pressure for 30-60 seconds. Once the nail has dried, use a file to shape the nail.

Step 5: Apply polish

At this point, all of your nails should look the same—no breaks or splits in sight! When you do remove the fake nail, apply a strengthening base coat to help your real nail grow out.