My nail broke, but I didn’t do anything.

Nail techs hear this all the time “I broke a nail, but I didn’t do anything”.

Well, you MUST have done SOMETHING because you are sitting in the chair across from me. So how did you get there without doing anything? I’m pretty sure you had a shower this morning.  You probably got dressed, made coffee, made your bed, tossed a load of laundry into the dryer, walked the dog, got into your car, drove here, etc etc etc.

We KNOW that you did something.  Nails don’t break by themselves by sitting and doing nothing. There have been many times that I have been sitting doing nothing (reading a book, watching a movie) and never once in over 25yrs of wearing nail enhancements did any of my nails spontaneously fall off or break.

Every day, people do things. Every moment of the day, people do things. Let’s examine a routine task that everyone does at one time or another. Kitchen duties.

  • Washing dishes- did you wear gloves?
  • Did you lose your grip on a slippery pot, and nearly drop it but catch at the last moment with the very tips of your nails?
  • Did you use your nails to scrape burnt remnants off the bottom of a pot? Or off the stove-top?
  • Did you wash a counter-top and hit the back-splash with the edge of your nails?
  • Were you putting away left-overs and struggling with a tupperware lid, and so used your fingertips to pry it off?
  • While putting away the cutlery that you washed, did you catch a nail in the drawer handle as you pulled your hand away?

and the list goes on.


I have known people to break nails doing the following.

  • Making the bed.
  • Pulling up their tight jeans
  • Getting wash out of the machine
  • Washing the tub
  • Opening the car door
  • Pushing a button on an infant car seat.
  • Putting shoes on.

Very simple, mundane things that everyone does.

Sometimes, we do ‘something’ and feel it, and panic. We look down, “pheeew”, the nail is still intact. Not realizing that there might be miniature cracks that we can’t see, and something as simple as snapping a finger is the last straw to break the camel’s back.

I explain all the time “it’s not WHAT you did, but HOW you did it”. Just like my 6’4″ and 220lb husband can sneak up on me, but my 70lb daughter sounds like a herd of elephants. It’s not what, it’s how.

I have had housewives who have housekeepers to do their housekeeping, come to me with broken nails. Then I have had women who work in metal machine shops, grinding and cutting and what all else to metal who NEVER break a nail.  Not what, but HOW.

So please…. spare us both and don’t say “I didn’t do anything”. We BOTH know that you did. It’s ok. Accidents happen. Honestly, sometimes we are naughty and do things with our nails that we know we shouldn’t. We’ve all been there, including myself.

I broke a nail this week. I rarely do so.  I was picking up a ginormous rubbermaid bin. HUGE.  Going out the front door with it. I didn’t push on the metal door enough, and that sucker came back and smacked my hand holding the bin. (yes, I did indeed turn the air blue and taught my dogs a few curse words). So in effect, I was both doing something and doing nothing.  I was carrying the rubbermaid bin- that’s doing something.  The door hit me- I didn’t do that. LOL  Accidents happen.

You CAN tell us what you did.  It’s ok.  We might ‘tsk tsk’ in jest, and laugh with you at your naughtiness OR commiserate at your unfortunate accident.

But I can pretty much GUARANTEE that every nail tech out there that hears the words “I didn’t do anything” is rolling their eyes (even if only the ones on the backs of their heads that you can’t see).



  1. You have obviously never come across a client with psoriasis. My nails dry out and pi ng – without doing anything! Amusing post but annoying as I am one who has done nothing then lost an acrylic. .


      1. Moisturising when you have psoriasis causes one or a few of several things to happen:

        -greasy psoriasis
        -irritated psoriasis
        -psoriasis which sloughs off more easily due to the emollient effect of the moisturizer

        I have a nail coming off right now due to psoriasis on my nail bed. Having clients with this specific autoimmune disease doesn’t mean you understand it. And yeah… it’s an autoimmune disease. There’s not a whole lot you can do to stop your immune system attacking you, and you might just wake up to a popped-off nail because that little sucker finally decided to give up and YOU DIDN’T DO ANYTHING.


      2. Moisturizers come in many forms, and several of those forms are barrier creams/lotions that include such ingredients as mineral oil, silicones, petroleum etc. Ingredients that are well known to exacerbate lifting issues and causing nails to pop off since they are not absorbed by the skin, but sit on top of it as their molecules are too large for absorption.
        Psoriasis of the nail bed won’t be an issue since artificial nails aren’t on the nail bed, but in fact, on the nail plate. Two different things altogether.
        Yes, I do indeed understand that it’s an autoimmune issue. You might be surprised to know that my knowledge is not limited to nails only 😉 While I’m certainly not a doctor, I’m not ignorant of the contraindications that psoriasis causes with nail enhancements AND that the treatments of such a condition causes.
        I have two solutions for it that have worked with great success for my clients.
        1- Application of balms 6x daily that are 100% natural ingredients without additives, silicones, petroleums etc. This soothes the skin and addresses the issues, often avoiding a flareup which necessitates the needs for barrier creams that contain steroids that are contraindicative to a good bond of the enhancements. (more about my balm can be learned here but similar balms and/or use of coconut oil several times daily will help as well). This is the case of an ounce of prevention being better than 1lb of cure. EFFECTIVE moisturizing is key. Even for ‘greasy’ psoriasis. Not all oils are equal.
        2-IBX Treatments. If several IBX treatments are done prior to application of a full set, the nail is then able to support enhancements AND it also acts as an internal repellent against moisture so that the nails don’t absorb too much.
        These two things mean success for my clients.

        As to not doing anything… the bond was weakened somehow, for one to ‘wake up to a popped-off nail because that little sucker finally decided to give up’ to happen.
        A- it wasn’t well bonded in the first place (due to improper prep OR due to contraindicative emolient/barrier creams)
        B-Nail plate wasn’t strong enough (if upper layers are missing due to over filing etc then only the lower layers of weaker cells are available and not strong enough for a bond) This can be corrected with use of IBX.
        C- Nail is retaining too much moisture making it a hostile foundation that will repel the chemical bond of the products. (this also can be solved by use of IBX)
        D-Failure to wear gloves when housekeeping and/or doing dishes can also weaken the bond.

        There are always reasons and causes. We ALL are guilty of doing something or ‘not’ doing what we SHOULD be doing to maintain our nails. I’m just as guilty as the next and occasionally don’t wear my gloves or don’t moisturize as often as I should. I can always see the telltale results when I fail to do or don’t do (as the case may be).
        At the end of it all, something CAUSED the nail to break and/or ‘pop off’. It certainly isn’t a Kamakaze pilot jumping off the nail to answer to suicidal tendencies.

        Keeping in mind, this article is aimed at the ‘average’ person and there are always those that stand outside the majority for one thing or another.


      1. Hi Rita! Moisture and oils can be friend or foe, depending on what kind they are 😉 Overexposure to water or solvents can strip nails of natural oils that they need to remain flexible and healthy which leads to breakage and peeling and splitting and weakness. Weak nails are a poor foundation for enhancements. Mineral oil is terrible for nail enhancements.
        However, natural carrier oils are an absolute MUST for natural nails and nail enhancements. This is why “Cuticle Oils” are made from Carrier oils, to nourish natural nails and maintain the flexibility of enhancements to prevent them from becoming brittle as they age 😉


    1. Hi Witchity, I can’t believe I never saw this and I’m sorry for this late reply. I actually have several clients with Psoriasis and they keep their nails on with absolutely no problems whatsoever. Nails don’t ping off for no reason, as I’ve already stated. So if you’re nails are ‘dried out’, odds are they aren’t being moisturized frequently enough. My clients are advised to moisturize with natural ingredient-based products minimum 6x daily. This serves to replenish the natural oils lost through hand washing and other related tasks throughout the day. Wear gloves when hand washing, and treat “nails like jewels, not tools”.


  2. I have extremely long stilettos 1.5 inches I am a working makeup, FX artist ,do hair, sew, dishes, garden and dont wear gloves nails are too pointy. I do go to a Nail Tech that only uses the best product available, I have them refilled regularly, and have found switching to pointy I can do so many things normally, than I could with Square.


  3. Do the women who this writer knows that wear nails only stay at home and do house work???? Geez, most of us leave the house to do nothing to break our nails!!!


    1. Hi and yes, many women in fact wear long nails and leave their home. That would include myself. I have done home renovations, handled large dogs, and all variety of tasks with my hands while wearing long nails without breaking any. I have a client who is a horse trainer and that works in stables who doesn’t break nails. In fact, they are her natural nails. I have clients who work in vet clinics & dog kennels without breaking nails. Another client works in a daycare with 20 odd children or more, attending to their needs and cleaning all day and she does not break nails. A colleague of mine who works with horses and is trained in attending to their hooves doesn’t break nails and she in fact wears exagerated stilletoes that are longer than 1″ past the edge of her finger.
      As I pointed out in my article, it’s not the ‘what’ but the HOW.
      Some people have a high tolerance for pain and don’t feel it when they whack their nails. I have also noticed that such people are more prone to breakage than those with low pain tolerance.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s