You've been taking care of your nails. You've been moisturizing your cuticles. You've been using a glass nail file. You've stopped over-buffing. You've been using treatment basecoats and keeping your nails polished. You've stopped using your nails as tools. Despite it all, you look down one day and see a split spreading across one of your nails. What do you do? Cry? No, you fight back! For me, when it's a split on one of my fingers, I use Orly's Nail Rescue kit (it includes nail glue and powder; you brush the glue over the nail and stick it in the powder to create a hard, protective shield to hold the nail together), but when it's the thumb (which takes more abuse than other nails), I use a silk wrap. Below I will show you, step by step, how to use a few simple tools to keep the length of the nail and keep on truckin'!
Here it is, my sad, split thumb nail. You can see it better in the larger version, but there it is, the awful split along the right side of the nail. The horror!
Your tools: To perform this magic, you will need a set of Swiss Silk Wraps, available for about $5 at Sally's. One box contains 40 sticky-backed wraps in a variety of sizes. You will need gel resin, which is sort of like glue. I use ibd Brush-On Gel Resin, also available at Sally's for about $3. To trim the wraps, you'll want some small cuticle scissors. To finish the wrap and prepare for polish, you'll need a coarse grit (black) and fine grit (yellow) buffer block, both available at Sally's for less than a dollar.
Step 1: Select a wrap in the size closest to your broken nail. It probably won't be perfect, so trim the bottom and edges so it is just a tad smaller than the width of your nail. If it goes all the way to the edge and goes over the border of the nail on the sides, not only will the gel make it feel awkward, it will also carry the risk of lifting off the nail, which would rather defeat the purpose! Don't worry about cutting off any length, though. I actually have an easier time if I leave it long and worry about the excess later.
Step 2: Peel off the paper backing and stick the wrap on your nail. If you screw up, don't stress. You can take it off and replace it until it's positioned correctly.
Step 3: Trim the free edge as much as possible, but if a little is still left hanging off the edge, don't worry. You will clean it up later.
Step 4: Brush a thin layer of gel resin over the wrap, just enough to see that the fibers have been saturated by the liquid.
Step 5: Wait until the gel resin is dry (this can often take about ten minutes - do not be tempted by fast dry sprays that are sold near gel resin and nail glue; they dry the liquid too quickly which creates a brittle surface that can crack and lift off the nail. You have to be patient with this stuff.) Using the coarse buffing block, buff the edge of your nail to remove the excess from the tip and create a clean edge so that the wrap and your nail are flush. Also, buff over the surface of the nail a few times to smooth out the bumpiness and texture of the wrap that invariably occurs. Normally, you would not use this coarse of a buffer over a natural nail, but between the gel resin and the silk, you're not going to touch the actual nail.
You can usually stop here, but if you're really committed, like I am, apply another layer of gel resin, let it dry, and buff again. If you're going to be following this up with a creme finish polish, as I am, you may want to finish the buffing with a finer grit buffer so that you can't see the texture of the wrap through your polish.
And here it is with polish over it! Like the horrible split never happened! These hold up very well and I can usually keep the same one on through three or four nail polish changes even though I use pure acetone to remove my nail polish. When you are ready to take it off, the gel resin can be dissolved with acetone nail polish remover on felt so you can peel the silk off.
So there you go! Never fear the split nail again! We can rebuild you! We can make you stronger, faster! We can keep the nail length and stop the evil split from spreading! These wraps are so strong, that even if your nail breaks completely off, if you can rescue the piece that broke off, you can use a silk wrap to reattach it. Seriously!
I expect today may be a double post day after I finish the nail art I am plotting. I hope this tutorial helps you! Polish to the People!