Weekend Beauty Hack: How to Fix a Broken Nail With a Tea Bag

Alle Connell
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tea bag nail repair

We live for the weekends, and what better time than Sunday to relax, rejuvenate and get your beauty game on point? These are the best easy beauty hacks to help you look—and feel—your best in the week to come.

How many times has this happened to you: you spend weeks nurturing your nails until they’re long, strong and looking totally amazing. Then one day you have a fight with a cabinet door, and BAM, one of your nails cracks. It’s disheartening, isn’t it? You reluctantly file them all down to match the ruined one and feel really sad about your life.

But wait! What if we told you that there’s a way to avoid filing your magnificent talons down to nubs every time you break a nail? Because there is. Here’s how to repair a broken nail using a tea bag. Yes, we’re serious.

It’s so simple, and yet it works so well: tea bags are made of thin, fibrous paper. When this paper is stuck to nails, it covers up and strengthens cracks and breaks without adding bulk. Like it’s salon-only cousin, the silk wrap, tea bag wraps are a temporary but durable way to repair even the weakest or badly broken nails.

Here’s what you will need for this brilliant nail-repair hack…

– A paper (not fabric) tea bag. For some reason, we find that Tazo tea bags work the best for nail repair.
– A really good base coat. We love NailKale Superfood Base Coat ($15, Sephora).
– Scissors.
– A fine-grit nail file. We love Deborah Lippmann’s four-way Smooth Operator file ($12, Sephora).
– Your nail color of choice.
– A really amazing top coat. Sally Hansen Insta-Dri ($4.39, drugstore.com) is the best for this, as it melds all your layers of polish into a single super-shiny, super-hard varnish.

Begin by taking all the polish off your broken nail and ensuring that all cuticle oil or hand lotion is removed. Cut the top off the tea bag and empty out the leaves, then cut a rectangle out of the tea bag that’s about the length and width of your fingernail. Some people tell you to cover the entire nail; that’s a hassle you don’t need. You’re only going to want it to be big enough to cover your nail about halfway down from the tip.

Apply your base coat and wait for it to dry to a tacky finish. Then lie the tea bag rectangle over the top, ensuring that the break is fully covered, and smooth it down (either with your fingers or using an orange stick) so that there are no bubbles in the tea bag paper. Just to repeat: it needs to cover about half of your nail, not the whole thing. This is to make sure the damaged area is left extra strong.

tea bag nail repair

Apply the tea bag to the face of the nail, making sure the crack is completely covered, and smooth it down so that it adheres to the base coat.

Once the polish is dry, apply another layer of base coat and watch the tea bag turn translucent. Once that is totally dry, use your nail file to file away any tea bag that’s hanging over your nail. File in one direction only, and watch the paper come right away.

tea bag nail repair

File away the overhanging tea bag from your nail.

Using the finest side of your nail file, file the face of your nail; you’re now smoothing and blending the tea bag into the nail, so that you can’t see any lines where the paper stops. Buff it to finish and make sure that everything is totally smooth, then apply another layer of base coat.

Here is what it looks like when you’re finished repairing the nail with the tea bag.

tea bag nail repair

The middle fingernail has been repaired with the tea bag—but you can hardly tell.

If you’re looking at this and going “Hmm, this already looks pretty good,” you’re right, it does look pretty natural. But we’re about to make it look even better by painting over it!

Take your polish of choice and paint your nails exactly the way you normally would. We’re using Zoya Nail Lacquer in Alegra ($9, zoya.com), a bright fuchsia with gold microglitter that is perfect for summer. When you’re done and the polish is dry, apply your top coat and voila! Your nail is repaired and stronger than ever, and you absolutely cannot tell the difference between your regular nails and the one you fixed. This is why tea bag wraps are the actual greatest thing.

tea bag nail repair

Ta-dah! Can you spot the repaired nail? (It’s the third from the left.)

Another reason they’re the greatest: the tea bag comes off with nail polish remover. There’s no glue residue that needs scraping off or chemicals that require hardcore soaking. Just rub the tea bag wrapped nail with a cotton pad dipped in ordinary remover, and it comes away beautifully.

You can also use these to repair basically any nail issue. If your nails’ tips are weak and need extra strengthening, these are perfect. If you have a serious crack, they’ll help keep you in check until it grows out. And we can even confirm that if the tip of your nail breaks clean off, you can use this exact technique to reattach it. The power of tea bag wraps are that strong.

And now go forth with your wonderful nails and run this new week!

All photos by Tiffany Hagler-Geard.

MORE: Your Guide to Step-By-Step Total Body Exfoliation.

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