Ladyguide: Fix a Nail Polish Chip

Has this happened to you? Your manicure is glorious for a day, and then, boom, you do something silly like cleaning without gloves. Suddenly, you have a single chip on one nail.

There’s no need to start over or live with the chip. Here’s how to fix a nail polish chip.

First, gather your materials: Nail file, nail polish remover, Q-Tip, nail polish in the color you’re correcting, and your favorite top coat.

A picture of nail polish remover, polish, and a file.
Gather the necessary materials

Next, gently file over the chipped area. The goal is to help make the chip less of a divot and more of a gentle slope to the bare part of the nail. If you’ve ever tried to just paint over a chip, you’ll know that the chip will still be obvious because there’s a visible difference between the level of the nail polish and the nail.

A close up of a nail polish chip.
See how the chip creates a small depression on the nail? Your goal is to smooth this out.

Third, dip the Q-Tip in nail polish remover. Ever so gently, glide the Q-Tip over the edge of the chip. As with the filing, the goal is to help get the chipped area to more naturally meet the bare nail, not to remove a lot of polish (though some will come off).

Fourth, put a thick glob of polish on the chipped area. Allow the polish to dry slightly so that it is on its way to dry but still pliable, about 30 seconds.

Fifth, slap on a coat of polish as you would do during a regular manicure. You’ll see that the glob will smooth out and the chip will be almost invisible.

Sixth, put on a top coat and let the whole thing dry. Tidy up the edges with the Q-Tip and polish remover.

Your chip is now fixed. Now, this isn’t perfect. If you look hard, you’ll still see a slight difference in polish color where the chip used to be, but you have to look really hard.

Picture of a nail with nail polish
The chip is gone!


If you have lots of chips along the edges of your nails (as happens over a few days of wear) but aren’t quite ready to move on to a new manicure, follow steps 1-3. Then, create a contrasting color tip for a fun variation on a French manicure.¬†¬†Boom, fancy new manicure!

By [E] Sally Lawton

My food groups are cheese, bacon, and hot tea. I like studying cities and playing with my cat, Buffy.

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