Brittle Nails? Here's How to Keep Them From Breaking, According to a Manicurist
Nothing takes you from bad-case scenario to omigod-help-case scenario faster than a brittle nail that keeps on breaking. (Everyone knows that situation is only funny in meme form . . . or just about any other sequence of events that does not involve you, right now, in real life.) Not only is a split nail painful, but the fact that it then often snags on just about everything you come in contact with also makes it extremely cumbersome.
If the damage is already done, we're here to help. That's why we reached out to celebrity manicurist and KISS brand ambassador Gina Edwards to find out what TF to do when you break a nail — plus exactly how to keep your tips in top shape moving forward so you never have to suffer through another traumatic ordeal again. Until then, temporary relief is ahead. Sending our thoughts and prayers.
— Additional reporting by Sarah Siegel
First, Try to Seal It Back Together
If your nail is teetering on the edge of a break but hasn't gone through a full-blown split just yet, swipe on a clear top coat as a sealant so the situation doesn't get worse. Bonus points if the polish doubles as a treatment that's loaded with strengthening vitamins and antioxidants, like the JinSoon HyperRepair Nail Treatment ($22).
Use a Nail Wrap or Tea Bag to Fix Broken Nails
If (or, unfortunately in many cases, when) your brittle nail does break, don't freak out. Take a silk nail wrap like the Nail Bandage Instant Nail Repair by SuperNail ($5) and apply it over the break with nail glue. "This acts as a barrier to protect your nail as it grows out," said Edwards. Follow up the nail bandage with some color polish to hide the damage.
Don't have access to a nail wrap at your local drugstore? Here's a DIY hack: you can also use a small square of a tea bag to cover the area.
Stop Using Your Nails as Tools
One surefire way to keep your nails healthy is to stop using them to pick apart a package or peel off the label of a product: "Try not to use your nails as a basis for opening containers or lifting," Edwards said. This can cause already-weak nails to split or bend, which, in turn, can lead to a (not so) clean break.
Keep Nails Dry (When Possible)
In an ideal world, the best way to prevent further breakage would be to keep your hands as dry as possible because "excessive water softens the nails and the layers of your nails are susceptible to bend easier," Edwards explained. That said, hand-washing is more important than ever right now, so instead of skipping the suds, apply a lightweight oil all along the nail beds before and after you run them under water. Our favorite is the Tenoverten The Celery Oil ($26).
Eat a Balanced Diet
Think of your diet as the dumbbells to building strong, healthy nails. You'll want to introduce nutritious foods multiple times a week for maximum flex (and minimal breakage). "Eating foods that are loaded with calcium — such as broccoli or spinach — is the best course of action," Edwards said.
Cover Your Tips
If your nails have been tortured by gel or acrylic manicures, which can often damage the enamel, especially if not properly removed, consider giving them a break. If you prefer a well-polished look, try a press-on option like the Kiss Gel Fantasy False Nails Pink Beige ($8) for a similar effect.