iGel Academy

The Ultimate Guide to Avoiding Broken Nails

Having broken nails is one of the biggest heartbreaks nail techs and nail art designs enthusiasts can ever experience. Nobody wants to go through that heartache since it can be as painful as seeing your highly coveted eye makeup palette fall to the ground or your newly purchased e-file not working.

The last thing you would want to happen is your beautifully designed nails crumble right before your eyes. We're here to answer your why's and how's on broken nails and how to successfully avoid them.

A quick overview of nails:

Here's the scenario: After a week or so of having a manicure or spring nails, your nails crack and break. But why? It has something to do with the structure of the nails; Durability is mainly about the foundation, not form.


Why do nails break?

To simply put, your nails continue to grow. A tiny smile-shaped gap will appear between your cuticle and acrylic (or dip manicure) after a week or two. During this growing phase, the product will move towards the free edge of your nails, creating pressure on the tip, much like an uneven seesaw.

Around two weeks, cracks will form at the stress points. These cracks will increase in size as your nails grow. Eventually, the stress becomes so huge that your nail snaps off.

However, if the whole acrylic comes off, it is primarily due to a lack of adhesion. If the acrylic has not adhered correctly at the time of application, the nail might come off completely. You can read our acrylic nails blog or the common acrylic nails mishaps guide here.


Why is structure important for nails?

The structure of your nail is the most important thing. The nails will break if the nail technician has not made the right or accurate structure. It's hard to master, but we'll get there!

First things first, the product needs to be thick in certain spots. But, if the whole nail has a thick layer of acrylic, it doesn't guarantee durability. 

The structure holds the key to durability, and it will also determine how long your nails will last. Your nails should be thickest in the center (slightly near the cuticle) and thin towards the tip, and they should not be thick at the free edge.


How To Fix Broken Nail Tips?

First, assess the situation. What kind of crack is it? Grab your hand buffer and gently file over it if it's a simple crack. Filing removes the rough edges, so the broken piece of your nail won't attach after filing. You can fix your broken nail quickly by following these steps:

Step 1:

Get a nail tip glue and apply it to the tip of your broken nail. Be sure to use a small amount of product. If you use a lot of the product, the nails won't stick.


Step 2:

Attach the broken piece of the nail and press it for a few seconds.


Step 3:

You can add glue (or acrylic if you have time) if there is a missing chunk of acrylic. Remove the excess glue and let it dry.


Step 4:

File the surface of acrylic to remove bumps. Remember to file gently.


Step 5:

Buff the edges and surface of your nails and dust them.


Step 6:

Apply the nail polish, and voila! You're ready to go out.

Note: If your nail bed is broken and bleeding, it is best to clean the wound and apply skin disinfectant prescribed by your doctor (such as Betadine or Cutasept).


How to avoid broken nails?

1. Get regular fill-ins

Regular fill-ins are necessary to avoid broken nails. They help to maintain the balance of your nails as they grow. Why? Constant wear and tear could cause cracks, especially with growing nails. Imagine a seesaw, one side bare and the other heavy. 

Get regular fill-ins every two weeks. Your professional nail technician will fix the cracks, and your manicure will last longer. Having a broken nail can be stressful to nail techs and nail clients alike, so it would be best to get fill-ins as much as possible.


2. Don’t pick off your nail polish

Products made to last weeks are hard and sturdy. So picking them off would damage your nails. It will not be even when you peel or scrape  gel, acrylic, or dip powder nails from your nails.

Even if you manage to take most of it off, it will take some of your natural nail bed off. Afterward, your nails will eventually weaken, causing a fragile infrastructure for your next nail art and possible wounding.


3. Wear hand gloves

Wear gloves every time you do household chores or whenever it's winter. The chemicals in the cleaning products can damage your nails, and, in turn, your nails will break off.

Even if you're washing the dishes, wear gloves to protect your hands and nails. You can read our blog about taking care of your nails during the winter season here.


4. Don’t use your nails as tools

Don't use your nails to scrape, open, or peel anything. If you do so it will damage your natural nails. A lot of nail enthusiasts have learned this the hard way. Always use proper tools to scrape and open things. Be sure to avoid putting any pressure on your nails.


5. Keep your nails short as much as you can

Keep your natural nails short. Your nails, hair, skin, and nails are all of the same components; they all need biotin (B7).The benefits of keeping them short, the fewer the vitamins they will need, which will prevent damage and broken nails.

Of course, we can't blame you if you love wearing long nails and being adventurous by sporting popular nail shapes, but it all boils down to how you wear them.


6. Give your nails a break

Give your nails a break to prevent being broken. Let your nails breathe since wearing acrylics or nail polish for a prolonged period can damage your nails and make them brittle. No, wearing nail products is not bad, but constantly changing your nails is terrible.

Take a break from manicures every two months. Moisturize your nails for a week, or moisturize them regularly in between manicures. After that, you can get your nails done again. You can read our blog about practicing nail care here.


Tips on how to strengthen your nails:

  • Apply cuticle oil and cuticle serum to your cuticles and nails to keep them hydrated.
  • Get your manicure removed by the nail technician.
  • Moisturize your hands and nails using a hand cream or moisturizer.
  • Avoid clipping your cuticles. Instead, gently push your cuticles back.
  •  Take Biotin and Collagen supplements.
  • Eat healthy foods for strong nails.  You can read our blog about the best foods to eat to achieve healthy and strong nails.
  • Apply Builder Gel and Base Coat before every manicure. Here’s our Builder Gel guide.
  • Avoid nail biting as much as you can. If you find it hard to do so, seek a professional help.

Of course, broken nails are inevitable but you now know preventive measures that you can take to stop them from ruining your masterpiece of nail art designs.

If you want to learn more about nail art and get nail art ideas for your next nail set. Join our iGel Beauty Facebook Community. You’ll meet talented iGel Beauties and see lots of product demos and announcements. See you there!