I have been biting my nails basically since I grew teeth. At times I’ve bitten them so badly I have struggled to type, which is just ridiculous considering that’s my job. I manage to grow my nails once or twice a year, but I always end up biting them off again. I think nail biting is psychological to a large extent, which is why the habit is difficult to beat permanently. You have to be mentally ready to stop biting, the same way you need to be mentally prepared to stop smoking. But here are a few tips to get you started…
1. Try a sand-textured nail polish that literally feels like sand when you put your fingers in your mouth. I’ve used this trick a few times to get over the first week hurdle. If you can stop until you get a little bit of growth you will feel more motivated to continue. I recommend the Zoya Pixie Dust polishes. They’re a bit tricky to get hold of, but you can email firstname.lastname@example.org to order. The bonus is that these won’t chip easily.
2. Try something that tastes disgusting like Mavala Stop. You will only need this for the first few weeks until you get a bit of growth. The more millimetres of nail you gain the more proud of yourself you become and the more care you take not to bite. This is a last resort for me because my mom used to put Why Bite on my nails and it made me puke, literally.
3. Keep nails and cuticles smooth. Even if it means you have to fuss over your nails a ridiculous amount, make sure you have no ragged cuticles or jagged bits of nail, otherwise you’re going to start picking and chewing. Try Sally Hansen Instant Cuticle Remover or Cuticle Eraser & Balm. Having said that, for the first week or two I chew and pick my cuticles a lot – if this stops you biting your actual nails, then just do it. You can always leave healing your cuticles till after your nails are grown. Baby steps.
4. If you’re desperate, try acrylic overlays. This will obviously stop you biting your real nails, but it does weaken your nails underneath and it takes quite a long time to get them right again once you decide to remove the overlays. And there is also the cost of keeping them filled every two weeks to consider. I’ve done this in the past and even used those artificial nail sets you can buy from Dischem or Clicks. Whatever keeps you away from your real nails for a week or two helps, but then you end up with an uneven nail bed until it grows out…it’s a choice.
5. Once your nails have grown a little, keep them manicured. Even if you need to go to a salon for a manicure every week for a month, it is worth it. Keeping your nails painted nicely makes you less likely to chew because you don’t want to mess up your manicure. Chipped or peeled polish lead to picking, which leads to nibbling…before you know if you’ve bitten off all ten nails! It’s a hassle, but I’ve found even if I change my nail polish daily it keeps me entertained and focussed on keeping my nails looking nice.
5. Keep them short for a few months. It might be a bit heartbreaking to file away your hard-earned nails, but the shorter they are the less likely to tear, which will lead to biting. I find when my nails reach a certain length they might look pretty, but they start to annoy me and I start picking on them. I like to make sure they are just peeking over my fingertips, but then I feel filing them across the top.
I’ve been growing my nails for a while now and I’m still going strong. Once you get past the first couple of weeks it becomes a lot easier, and not biting becomes the “new normal”. Good luck!