There is nothing that makes me go UGH like a nail I’ve been growing out suddenly breaking. I always thought this meant going back to square one and cutting all of my nails short. Now, after speaking to nail experts, I’ve learned not all hope is lost and several solutions exist not only for fixing your nails in the immediate but also preventing future splits and breaks. Read on for pro advice from Jan Arnold, co-founder of CND, and Shari Lipner, MD, a dermatologist at Weill Cornell in New York.
This in-salon solution is here to save the day:
I recently tried out CND’s new Plexigel brush-in-a-bottle nail enhancement service, and I have to tell you, it is a game changer. As someone who has tried gel extensions and acrylics before, Plexigel is the most durable and natural-looking nail extension I’ve used. It is also totally unique in its application.
If you have a broken nail, or just shorter nails and you’re looking to add some length, your manicurist can create an entirely new shape (almond, square, etc.) and length on top of either just the one nail you want to fix or your whole hand. There are no powders or plastic attachments required–just four bottles (a bonder, shaper, builder, and top coat). The process feels not much different from getting a gel manicure–using a UV light to cure and all–and lasts up to three weeks.
One important note: Because Plexigel is so strongly bonded to your natural nail, you have to think of it as more of a semi-permanent solution. If you’re ready to commit, it’s best to get your Plexigel “rebalanced” (aka filled) and keep them on instead of opting for removal. “If you were to compare it to hair service, it’s more like hair color. You would commit to the color and the touch-up appointments,” Arnold says.
Removal for me was definitely a process including an acetone soak and electric file so, again, if I could go back I would’ve just kept on the extensions and had them refilled. I now think about Plexigel the same way I think about lash extensions–you have to go back every couple of weeks to refill them! But it’s worth it (just see my mani at the top of this post yourself).
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But if you’re trying to mend the nail at home…
“I recommend a five minute warm water soak to soften the nail, pat dry, gently file, and then apply a small amount of super glue,” Dr. Lipner says. If you have had some sort of allergic reaction to glue in the past, however, “it is best to cover with a bandage until the nails grow out.”
To cut or not to cut?
“It really depends on the location of the nail split,” Dr. Lipner says. “If the split is past the tip of the digit, it is best to clip the nail below the area of the split. If the split is near the underlying nail bed, it is best to mend it.”
Make cuticle care a daily habit.
Arnold suggests regularly using cuticle oil daily, especially before bed. “It goes deep into the layers of the nail and actually will have a cumulative effect over time,” she says. Dr. Lipner agrees that a nightly moisturizer to the cuticles is essential. Also:”Refrain from cutting or pushing back your cuticles. They are necessary to protect your nails from microorganisms,” Dr. Lipner adds.
Don’t rely on taking nail-targeted supplements.
While you may be tempted to eat some gummies or other vitamins that promise to grow your nails, “Supplementing with biotin will not improve brittle nails in people that are not biotin deficient,” Dr. Lipner says. “Do not take Biotin for your nails unless you have been diagnosed with biotin deficiency and it is specifically recommended by your physician.”
Getting your blood flowing can also help your nails strengthen up.
“Another recommendation that sounds crazy but is really true is keeping your circulation strong,” Arnold suggests. “You have to work a little harder to get the nutrients and moisture to the end of the digit.”
This is actually the premise behind a new nail wellness tool called Stimunail–it has five pockets to insert your nails and uses three minutes of heat, vibration, and red LED light to increase blood flow to the nail bed. It’s wireless and self-timed to stop when the three minutes is up. Definitely add this to your nail routine if you’re serious about getting nails that no longer break.
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