My nails and I used to have a rollercoaster ride of a relationship, filled with emotional ups and downs in which we would make up, and break up, only to make up again. I dreamt of long, perfectly square nails, manicured with an elegant French tip, or some insta-worthy nail art if I was feeling particularly trendy. The trouble is that I was also a stress-biter, and the slightest amount of stress (read: anything and everything) would bring my hands to my mouth as I subconsciously squashed any dreams I had of a beautiful manicure. I was caught in a perpetual cycle in which I painstakingly grew my nails out for months, finally paid $40 for a gel manicure, only to promptly peel it off and bite my nails right back to their original, stubby state. I consequently felt heartbroken and started all over again.
Then, as I graduated high school and finally had four, long, stress-free months before college in which I worried about nothing but whether my tan was even, I was able to break my nail-biting habit. Without the constant stress of school, I focused on implementing effective techniques that helped me kick the habit to the curb. By the time I returned to school in September, I had stopped biting my nails and was no longer affected by stress. Now, I get bi-weekly manicures and receive compliments from my nail esthetician, which is a far cry from the looks of disgust I used to receive.
Below I have shared the seven tips that truly helped me stop biting my nails. These are solid, actionable, concrete steps that you can take, that are far from “just stop” and don’t involve visualization. If it was as easy as that, none of us would bite our nails, duh. If you’re trying to break your habit, consider yourself seven steps closer to the French manicure of your dreams.
Forget saving the best for last, I’m putting the best, and most effective (IMO), step first. As a nail biter, I constantly (consciously and subconsciously) scanned my nails for even the slightest bump, tear, or hang nail that I could grab on to and nibble away at. Of course, the more I bit, the more ragged my nails became, and the cycle continued. As I was able to identify this trigger, I purchased a package of small, cheap Sally Hansen nail files, and tossed one in every bag I owned, so that I would have one on me at all times. At even the slightest hint of a ridge on my nails, I would quickly file it away. Once my nail was smooth and straight, the temptation to bite disappeared. I keep nail files on me to this day.
There is no motivation quite like personally investing your money into something to make sure you preserve it. When you buy an expensive bag, you make sure that it’s smooth leather surface does not even touch the ground. Similarly, if you slurge on a nice manicure, you will likely be extra-inspired to keep them away from your mouth. The longer they’re manicured, the longer they will grow!
I once had a friend tell me that your nails contain more bacteria than a public toilet seat and my life was pretty much ruined from there on out. I apologize for doing the same to you, but it was effective in keeping my filthy paws away from my mouth. Just think of licking a public toilet seat. Yup, disgusting.
When I made a conscious effort to stop biting my nails, I enlisted the help of my friends and family. I told them to make a comment each and every time they saw me bring my fingers to my mouth. It turned out that it happened much more frequently than I was expecting, and it quickly became enormously annoying. So annoying, in fact, that I began to consciously ensure my hands were far away from my mouth every time I was in front of friends and family. Success.
Taking supplements like collagen protein, BioSil, Biotin and Folic Acid will help grow your nails (and hair!) faster, allowing you to see more immediate results from quitting your habit. I noticed that the longer my nails grew, the more motivated I was to keep them that way.
It’s logical, really. The busier your hands are playing with a fidget cube, the less likely you are to bite them. Try doing those two things at once and get back to me. Your family and friends may get annoyed, but you will have beautiful nails, so who really cares? Tell them (your) beauty is (their) pain.
I tried to draw a correlation as to how chewing gum keeps your mouth busy but I’m not entirely sure if even I buy that. What I do buy, however, is that fact that chewing gum means I am significantly less likely to bite my nails, for whatever reason. Whenever you feel even the slightest inkling to chew, pop a piece of gum in your mouth instead and the temptation resides. Pretty nails and good breath, it’s just a win, win really.
COVER IMAGE: Pinterest