Are stress cracks stressing yon out because of all the extra work they require? According to the technicians we spoke to, broken acrylic nails can be fixed. You don’t always have to soak off the nail and start over, they say. This will save you time and may also save your clients natural nail, as well. To evaluate whether a crack can be repaired or requires a new nail, examine the damage. “I first check the nail and examine the crack,” explains Brenda Baker, a nail technician at Fingertips & Finery in Calabasas, Calif. “Has it gone into the nail bed? If the crack is very low and the natural nail is cracked, too, I gently peel off the acrylic, clean the crack with disinfectant, and cover it with a very thin layer of acrylic. Then I shorten the length and let the crack grow out.

“If it’s just the acrylic that’s cracked, I take off the acrylic near the crack, file down the rest of the nail, and prep the exposed nail. Then I just fill in the area, cut the nail up to the break, put a form under it, and extend it again.”

“You can’t just put a ball of acrylic over a crack,” agrees Shari Finger of Fingers Nail Studios, Inc. in Dundee, Ill. “The acrylic is loose there, anyway — that’s why the acrylic is cracked.”

Whatever you do, discourage clients from gluing a crack themselves. Explains Debi Duemig, owner of Debi Duemig’s Nails at Last in Brandon, Fla., “If you glue it you are sealing in air and moisture. Either soak the nail off or file down around the crack to get to the bare nail plate, then fill it in with acrylic.”

If the crack is below the free edge, involves the natural nail, or extends more than halfway across the nail, all the product should be removed and a new nail applied. If the natural nail bleeds or oozes fluid, wait until the nail grows out to apply fresh product.

Encourage clients who crack a nail to call you immediately. Besides the risk of trapping moisture, nail glue does not reinforce the cracked nail and it’s liable to crack again. According to Duemig, a cracked nail shouldn’t take more than five minute’s to repair. If you plan for these occasional emergencies and are able to help your client when she really needs you, you’ll do more to garner client loyalty than anything else you could do.

Conquering Those Cracks

To repair cracks, first use a thin, coarse file to create a crevice over the crack, slightly extending the width and length of the; crack. File the crevice down to the natural nail; if the acrylic around the crack has lifted, file the lifted product away as well. Do not use nippers to chip away the lifted product because then can jar the natural nail and cause the product to lift further.

Duemig uses a drill with a coarse barrel bit to file down the acrylic around the crack, saying it makes the work faster and more precise. Lay the bit lengthwise on the crack and drill out a crevice. Work quickly so that the nail doesn’t get too hot.

Next, thin the acrylic with a file over the entire nail; remove the filing dust with a manicure brush. Then apply primer sparingly on the expensed natural nail.

Place a medium-dry ball of acrylic in the crevice. Use your brush to work it from side to side, patting firmly to fill the crevice. Draw your brush over the entire nail surface to blend the filled area with the rest of the nail. Pick tip a smaller, wetter ball of acrylic and brush it over the entire nail.

Finish the nail by filing and buffing the surface. Baker recommends shortening the length of the cracked nail to reduce stress on the weakened area. Repolish the nail if the client desires.

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