A crack near the stress area of an acrylic nail can be repaired without removing all the product if the crack runs less than halfway across the nail, says Vicki Peters, NAILS Magazine Show manager and veteran nail technician. If the crack extends more than halfway across the nail, all the product should be removed and a new nail applied.

Encourage clients who crack a nail to call you immediately. If they pick at or pull on the crack they are likely to injure the nail plate or cause the artificial nail to lift. Discourage clients from repairing the crack themselves with nail glue. They may not be able to seal the artificial product to the natural nail, and water may seep into the separated area. What’s more, nail glue will not add enough strength to the cracked nail and the client will be more liable to break it again.

According to Peters, repairing a cracked nail shouldn’t take more than two minutes, so fitting a client into your busy schedule should be easy. 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 you would doing any other thing.

STEP 1. Use a thin, coarse-grit board to file a crevice where the crack is, extending the width and length of the crack slightly. File the crevice down to the natural nail, just until you get 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 they can jar the natural nail and cause the product to lift further.

A drill comes in handy when doing nail repairs. Peters says using one can cut your filing time in half. She recommends a carbide barrel bit for repairing cracks because carbide doesn’t get as hot as other bits. Lay the bit lengthwise on the crack and drill out a crevice. For more precision or to repair a small crack, Peters recommends a cone-shaped carbide bit.

No matter which bit you choose, work fast so the nail doesn’t get too hot.

STEP 2. If the natural nail is torn under the crack, gently lift the torn edge just enough to put a thin coat of glue in the tear. If you only put a coat of glue over the tear, it is more liable to pull apart. Warn the client before you lift the nail that she may experience some discomfort, but explain that if you don’t glue the tear it may break again and cause her even more pain.

STEP 3. Use a file to thin the acrylic surface of the entire nail. Remove the filing dust with manicure brush.

STEP 4. Apply primer very sparingly on the exposed natural nail.

STEP 5. 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 up a smaller, wetter ball of acrylic and brush it over the entire nail.

STEP 6. Finish the nail by filing and buffing the surface. Peters recommends shortening the length of the cracked nail to reduce stress on the weakened area. Repolish the nail if the client desires.

If you feel the crack is not repairable but your client refuses to let you cut her natural nail, Peters suggests filing the acrylic flush with the natural nail, applying a wrap over the crack for added strength, then putting a layer of acrylic over the top of the mesh.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, Click here.