Welcome to Beauty In A Tik, where each week we put TikTok's viral beauty hacks and innovative trends to the test.
Whatever kind of beauty gripe you might encounter in your routine, TikTok has an expert solution. Wonky winged eyeliner? Try the 10-second tape tutorial. Oily skin? This DIY facial toner should do the trick. This month, one video in particular is racking up millions of pairs of eyes, with TikTokers hailing it as genius and game-changing: how to fix a broken nail at home.
The story goes something like this: you spend weeks nurturing those promising white tips, enlisting hand cream, cuticle oil and other treatments to make sure your nails grow long and strong, only for your progress to be dashed by a tiny chip. If it happens at the tip of your nail, filing it down is your best bet. But when a nail breaks entirely, the only option is to cut it down and start from scratch. According to the app, though, there might be a better way.
What is TikTok's broken nail hack and why has it gone viral?
On TikTok, nail pro Ash (aka @parabellbeauty1) recently went viral for mending a broken nail using nail glue, topcoat and a teabag (yes, really). Cutting a tiny section from a teabag, Ash places this over the split in the nail, applies a light layer of nail glue and sticks the material down. Ash follows with a slick of top coat and, like magic, the gap is mended. Since being posted, the video has amassed over 30k views and 10k shares.
Broken nails happen to all of us. This method can help repair nails. #brokennail #nailhacks #nailcare #nailrepair #PerfectAsWeAre♬ favorite crime - Olivia Rodrigo
Does TikTok's broken nail hack actually work to mend chips?
My nails are flimsy. No matter how well I take care of them, they're always splitting, chipping and flaking so breaks are inevitable. Even the lightest tasks like folding laundry and washing my hair can cause splits (like Ash's nails, mine tend to break at the side) — and I had a huge one to fix. I decided to switch the steps and swiped some nail glue on to my nail first to adhere the tiny teabag section. It makes sense to use something light and gauzy like this but I guess you could use tissue if you're not a tea drinker. I applied a layer of CND Vinylux Weekly Top Coat Nail Varnish, £11.99, and after waiting for it to dry, I took a crystal nail file (Leighton Denny's Small Crystal Nail File, £12.50) to smooth the edges.
I thought I'd notice a bump or some kind of texture but when I painted over my nail it was seamless, as you can see in the TikTok video below. Immediately I tested the strength of my mended nail and there was no lift whatsoever. The only downside to this hack is that it's a quick fix. After five or so hours the break was noticeable again, so it's not a long-term solution for chipped talons.
What does an expert think, anyway? I asked Metta Francis, award-winning nail artist and technician and founder of Nails By Mets, for her thoughts. "This is a DIY solution to a professional silk wrap repair, which can last a few weeks. If you're stuck with a broken nail, using a teabag can be a short-term solution but it's unlikely to hold the break for too long with just nail adhesive and top coat," she said. "If the break is quite far down or goes across more than a quarter of the nail, I'd recommend getting it repaired professionally ASAP to prevent it from catching and breaking," added Metta. "There's no harm in temporarily patching the break with a clean, new teabag but avoid using superglue or craft-style adhesive, which aren't suitable for nails. The more layers of top coat you apply, the more protection you have."
How do you prevent weak, brittle, broken nails?
Beyond having it looked at by a pro, the only real way to get rid of a broken nail is to file or cut it down. Do it quickly and you're less likely to damage the rest of your nail; leaving it too long could cause tugging, especially if you get the nail caught (ouch). Invest in a nail strengthener like OPI's Nail Envy, £17, which acts like scaffolding for bendy nails thanks to wheat protein and calcium.
When your nails are bare, you might want to rub in some cuticle oil like Essie's Nail Care Cuticle Oil Apricot Treatment, £8.99, to moisturise nails and the surrounding skin. Lastly, if you're filing, it pays to invest in a glass or crystal nail file rather than a harsh, scratchy version. This kind of material will file nails flawlessly without damaging them. Try the Margaret Dabbs London Crystal Nail File, £15, which is a favourite among nail technicians.
Refinery29's selection is purely editorial and independently chosen – we only feature items we love! As part of our business model we do work with affiliates; if you directly purchase something from a link on this article, we may earn a small amount of commission. Transparency is important to us at Refinery29, if you have any questions please reach out to us.