Repair a Broken Nail with a Tea Bag | Chickettes: Soak-Off Gel Polish Swatches, Nail Art and Tutorials
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Repair a Broken Nail with a Tea Bag

I was putting on a sock the other day and somehow the nail on my middle finger got caught and ripped really far down. I immediately ran for the nail glue and did a quickie patch job until I had time to do a full repair with the tea bag method. I’m sure many of you have heard of and/or used this method before, but I thought I’d show how it’s done just in case you haven’t. Below is a really good video that I found on YouTube that demonstrates exactly how this is done. I like this method because you cover the full nail with the tea bag so that there aren’t any ridges.

I even took this a couple steps further by adding strength with Gelish products. After repairing the nail with the teabag and nail glue, I applied a layer of Gelish Foundation to all of my nails, followed by a layer of Gelish Structure Gel, and finally a Gelish top coat(View my directions for how to apply Structure Gel here). Doing this helps build strength and it also evens out any little bumps or grooves that might be caused by the tea bag. The great thing about this is that I can now add regular nail lacquer right on top of this foundation, and if I remove it with a non-acetone remover the base will stay in place. I will still be able to change polish daily or as often as I like until I soak off the Gelish base with acetone.


I didn’t document every step with pictures because the video above does a great job of explaining. The first step was to cut a piece of a tea bag to fit my nail. I applied a layer of nail glue directly to the nail, laid the tea bag on top and smoothed it out, and then added another layer of glue on top.  Below is a picture of what my nail looked like after I applied the tea bag.

Fix a broken nail with a tea bag and nail glue

I forgot to get a pic of the rip before applying the tea bag, but here is a little closeup where you can kind of see the tear.

Fix a broken nail with a tea bag and nail glue

I cut off the excess tea bag and filed the edges down with a buffer.  Then I began my application of Gelish products.  I applied 1 coat of foundation, one coat of Structure Gel, and one coat of Top It Off.  And the final result…

Fix a broken nail with a tea bag and nail glue

Update: 10/22 – A big “DUH!” to me.  I applied a glitter polish on top of this gel base and of course had to SOAK it off, which also damaged my gel base.  When using the gel base, just apply a couple coats of regular lacquer and wipe it off with non-acetone remover – don’t soak unless you’re ready to re-do all of the steps above!


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17 Responses

  1. geekgirl says:

    Just tried this, soooo easy and worked perfectly, seriously impressed!

  2. Tashia says:

    Does the nail sustain it’s regular strength or is it a good idea to try to be a little more delicate with the break? I love this blog. You’ve definitely gotten me to consider the Gelish product line for my clients.

    • Andrea says:

      This technique makes the nail pretty strong, but I always air on the side of caution and act delicately with the repaired nail to prevent further damage.

  3. Amanda says:

    This is such great info! I’m forever breaking a nail or snagging it on something but I always trim it off and have to start the growth process all over again. I’ll try this next time!

  4. Jackie says:

    Thank you so much Andrea for this technique, I’m hoping that it is the answer to my prayers. I’m tired of my thumb nail always breaking when they get to a certain length. I’m not sure why it even broke this time because I started using structure gel with my gelish so I can have a little bit more toughness to my nails and it seemed like it was working until today at work. Anyway thank you again!

  5. Dana says:

    Would this work similar to a silk wrap to put on all of your nails in order to strengthen them?

  6. Tracy says:

    Yes, Dana, this is very similar to silk wraps. I was a nail tech for years and my specialty was wrapped nails (even earned several trophies at Hair & Nail shows). Traditionally, one would use a resin and a hardener rather than gel polish, but the idea is basically the same. Tea bags were actually used long before wrapped nails found their way into salons and though they aren’t nearly as strong as silk or fiberglass, I think if you use tea bags you could get away without nail polish much easier than when you use silk or fiberglass. It just looks better.

  7. Hannah says:

    I’ve done This and it does work. However do I have to leave the tea bag on my nail forever now or will the nail fix itself back together again??? Thank you

  8. Torrie Hoskins says:

    Thank u for sharing :) I bumped my thumbnail on the frame of the door coming into the house yesterday and immediately new it was cracked :( at first I thought just the gel polish cracked but unfortunately it went all the way to the natural nail :(
    I applied ibd intense seal as my topcoat over tge ibd gel polish since it doesn’t require cleansing afterwards ( I’d spent 1.5hrs doing my nails that day ( soak off included ) and was getting tired so it ounces like a better option to me ) but ever since that decision was made I’ve noticed several of my nails are cracked :( I hope the rest of my cracked nails don’t meet the same fate as the thumb :(
    I need to try the t bag method to save this nail :)

    Thanks for sharing


  9. Deb says:

    Do you have any suggestions as to why a thumb nail would cracked at the base of the nail vertically? It started to crack and seems to be growing out that way? It’s about 1/4 ” long growing out from the cuticle. Not sure how or even why it did this. Any suggestions as to how I can help to make it healthy again? Hands are extremely dry. Is it possible that dryness caused this?

  10. chicken says:

    Acetone? Anything else to take this off? Parts are lifting and I’m scared there may be water damage to my real nail!

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