Emergency Repairs

Ok, it happened.

Despite all your efforts, you broke a nail. What's a poor, bitter Goth to do?

The first thing to do is to secure the nail to prevent further damage until you can get home or to a nail salon. If the nail is torn or not completely broken off, try wrapping the fingertip with tape or Band-Aids; first up and over the tip and then around the nail. Make sure to keep a bit of slack inside so the nail is not being bent. I have seen Band-Aids especially designed for fingertips - they work best. (If you use tape, first protect the nail surface with a bit of tissue so the tape will not stick to the nail.)

An added benefit to covering the fingertip is that you will naturally avoid using that finger, thus minimizing further trauma.

Once home, use a small scissors to gently cut away the tape. Now you can assess the damage. Don't pick at the nail!!

If it is just a slight tear on the side, you may get by with just using extra coats of a nail strengthener that contains nylon fibers. It may also be a good idea to slightly shorten the nail so that it will not be as likely to bang into things, causing more damage.

If the nail is completely off, or torn more than one-quarter the width of the nail, then you need to take more serious measures. Always keep on hand an emergency nail repair kit that contains both powdered and liquid acrylic, as well as a good quality circular nail buff. (Buy this stuff now so you have it when you need it!!)

First clean the nail with soap and water and then rubbing alcohol. Rinse the nail with water and let dry.

Apply the acrylic according to directions, in a thick coat that covers the entire nail. Let this dry completely, and then very carefully buff the nail down to a smooth surface so that it forms a cap over the broken nail. I suggest keeping the nail itself as short as possible - the longer the nail, the more likely you will bang it.

Apply a second coat and buff it down again. Some kits come with a thin silk or nylon sheet that can be placed between the coats for added strength. Take your time so that you can create a "cap" over the nail that looks real. I've also had some luck applying a thin coat on the underside of the nail, but this may stick to your skin and feel weird.

Typically this material will dry somewhat "natural looking", especially once a layer of clear polish is applied. It will probably look more natural with a color coat, however.

Once dried, make sure to religiously apply a coat of hardener with nylon fibers daily. When the natural nail has grown long enough, remove the cap by soaking it in polish remover and very slowly and carefully prying it off. (Pry it a bit then soak, then repeat as often as need to get it off with the least damage.)

This is not a perfect method, but works well. Keep in mind that if you constantly remove the polish you will weaken the "cap" with the polish remover and probably need to start the process all over again.

Also, as the nail grows, the base may look a bit odd as the base of the cap is exposed. You may need to remove the polish and touch up the cap a bit on the edges.

For the most part, it is best to just leave it with the cap until it has grown enough to expose the natural nail.

I have even used this technique when the entire nail has broken off. You'll need a thicker coat, but if you are careful, you just may get by until the nail has grown somewhat.

I definitely do not recommend having a false nail bonded over the broken nail by a salon. Once you use a false nail, it will be difficult to revert back to growing natural nails.

Basically, if a nail breaks, you'll need to accept that it will never be "as good as new" until it grows back naturally.

Of course, the easier approach is just to accept the loss and trim down the others a bit (if they are very long) so that it does not look so awkward until it grows back.

I've had limited success dealing with broken nails and welcome more ideas.

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