We’ve all seen Pinterest and Buzzfeed lists full of ingenious tips and ideas of how to improve, simplify and apply creativity to your nail routine. The pretty pictures make them look SO simple…but do they actually work? That’s what I’m here for.
When Aprill proposed the idea of testing out nail hacks, coincidentally, three of my nails cracked at the sides below the quick due to protein nail strengthener overuse. Normally I would just take the loss and file them down, but it gave me the perfect opportunity to try out the teabag repair trick!
Some of you may be wondering, why a teabag? An alternative for gel and acrylic nails are silk and fiberglass wraps, which are applied to the whole nail, brushed with liquid resin and sprayed with an accelerator to cure the resin. In today’s Shellac-crazed and last decade’s acrylic mania, wraps have all but disappeared due to lack of demand. However, we can replicated this process for a simple nail repair.
A teabag (I bought a box of Walgreens’s store brand tea)
Brush-on nail glue (can be found at Sally Beauty Supply)
180-grit nail file
Sensational Base & Top Coat
Sensationail LED lamp
Step one: Empty out a teabag and cut out a piece to cover the whole affected nail. You can also opt to use a smaller piece just to reinforce the break, but the results may not be flush with the entire nail.
Step two: Prep your nails by etching the surface of your nail, just enough to remove the shine with a 180-grit nail file. Don’t get too crazy or you may damage your nail. Apply either a nail primer (such as OPI’s Chip Skip) or a bit of acetone to dry out the nail.
Step three: Place a small drop of nail glue on your nail. Make sure it’s small enough so it won’t flood your cuticles. With tweezers, carefully lay the teabag wrap over your nail (or crack, if you opt for a smaller piece). Brush the nail glue over the whole nail, being very careful not to apply any glue to your skin. Let dry.
Step four: Brush on another coat of nail glue and let dry. For extra reinforcement, you may repeat this step again.
Step five: Gently file the surface with a 180-grit file to even out the surface. Follow up with a buffer.
Voila! Your nail is good to go! However, if you are extra rough on your nails (or swatch a lot, like I do), you’re going to need a little bit more protection.
- After step five, brush on a coat of Sensationail Base & Top Coat and cure under the LED lamp. Brush on another coat and cure again.
Why am I recommending Sensationail Base & Top Coat vs. Gelish or Shellac? When I first used Sensationail, I had a bear of a time with removal, so this will definitely survive at least a few rounds of removing polish with acetone.
For full disclosure, I did not use Sensationail for my breaks. I wanted to continue my current heavy swatching rotation which means I needed to bring in the cavalry, so I used OPI Axxium instead. I own an Axxium introductory set from my nail tech school days, which has been collecting dust since 2010. After the nail glue regimen, I added a coat of Axxium’s clear sculpture gel, let it cure under a UV lamp, then filed and contoured the nail for a natural look. I don’t recommend sculpture gels for beginners at all, due to the difficulty of application and lack of availability for non-professionals. I, myself, had minimal gel training in school, but know enough to either make-do or to be dangerous.
They make it look SO easy. I hate them.
While nail breaks are just a part of life, like the old sports adage, the best offense is the best defense.
Here are some tips to remember:
- Moisturize! I obsessively moisturize all the time. I keep a cuticle oil pen and balm with me at all times.
- Keep your nails polished. Even a simple clear coat will help protect your nails from the daily exposure to the elements.
- Use rubber gloves whenever you have any chores that require an extended amount of time with water. I love these purple Playtex gloves…they fold back so your shirt will stay dry, are very durable and come in a size to accommodate my diminutive child-sized hands. Overexposure to water dries out your nails and you are left with parched nails prone to peelies and cracks.
- Change your behavior hand habits. I know it sounds a bit preposterous, but I bet most nail breaks occur because of unconscious habits. Do you use your nails to pop open a can of soda or use them to pry things apart? Do you lead with your nails when grabbing door handles or knobs? Being more aware of these little things and taking steps to change your habits will save you a lot of grief. Instead of using your nails to pop open a soda can tab, use the side of your index finger closest to your thumb to give the tab leverage to pop open, or use a spoon. Whenever you grab a door handle or knob, remember to grab with the pads of your fingers and below. It does take a bit of effort and time; I still accidentally snag my nails when grabbing things in a hurry.