How to Stop Biting Your Nails



Nail biting is one of my very worst habits. The infuriating thing is that I don't even understand how it started - most people pick up the habit in childhood and then often manage to stop as an adult but my experience has been the reverse. I never bit my nails until about four years ago. I don't know where it came from, but after 22 years of long, strong nails I started absent-mindedly nibbling at a broken thumb nail and that, somehow, quickly turned into a full-blown biting habit.

Stress is definitely a trigger - my nails always look their worst when I'm really busy or dealing with a lot of anxiety - but I can't blame it entirely on that because I've had some pretty gnarly looking fingers during some of the most chilled-out and happy periods of the last few years too. It's a horrible habit, and not just for cosmetic reasons. My fingers hurt when I'm going through a particularly bad phase, and the bacteria that's getting transferred between my mouth and my nailbeds is a big concern. Plus, nobody knows frustration like a nail biter with an itch they can't scratch.

Every now and then, I'll make an effort to grow them and break the habit, and I've found a technique that gets them looking good again within about a month. I've had a lot of success with it, although thus far I've always ended up succumbing to biting again when life inevitably gets manic a few months later. If you're a bit stronger-willed and less highly strung than I am and you're trying to break a biting habit though, the threefold process I use might help you grow the nails of your dreams!


1. Make it Difficult to Bite
The first step for me is always to stick on some fake nails. I find that short, uneven nails are really tempting to bite, but once they're filed and shaped and somewhere near the tips of my fingers the urge starts to fade. I love Kiss Active Oval to stop me getting to my real nails while they grow out a bit - they fit perfectly (which a lot of press-ons don't; my hands are about as far away from small and dainty as you can get), they last a good week or so if I'm not too ham-fisted in my daily activities and, crucially, they're impossible to bite or chew (yup, I've been so tense in the past that there have been times I've actually caught myself chewing at plastic nails). I do still have a habit of biting the skin around them when there's not an actual nail I can get to though, which brings me onto the next point...

2. Be Mindful
One of the big problems I have with nail biting, or biting the surrounding skin, is that I'm often just not aware I'm doing it. It's an action that happens without me noticing, so it's important that I take steps to make sure I'm aware of what I'm doing with my hands. This is actually the most fun part of the whole process - screw that bitter-tasting paint; I carry strongly scented, really moisturising hand creams around with me (The Body Shop's Hemp Hand Protector is my favourite) and reapply constantly, which makes me think about my hands and leaves my mouth feeling horrible if I do bite. I also wear jingly bangles that make a noise when I move my hands, and I change my nail varnish regularly (this is another thing I like about the Kiss nails - I've had no problems removing varnish and repainting) so that the lingering nail varnish smell and the bright, cheerful colours distract me. By doing things that make me actively think about my hands, I'm much less likely to accidentally start trying to bite or destroy the skin around my nails again.

3. Repair the Damage
After a week or two of letting my real nails grow under the fake ones, I'm generally sufficiently proud of my progress and aware enough of what I'm doing that I can take off the plastics and start doing some damage control. My nails will usually be quite brittle at this point, with dry cuticles and weak tips. For the first few days, I smother them in cuticle balm (Burt's Bees Lemon Butter is incredibly moisturising and smells divine) and regularly reapply a strengthening treatment like Sally Hansen Diamond Strength Hardener. After doing this for a while, it's just a case of keeping them filed and polished, and keeping up with the hand creams and cuticle treatments.



Have you ever beaten a nail biting habit? What are your tips for strong, healthy nails?
Follow me on Bloglovin' and Twitter to keep up to date with new posts!

18 comments:

  1. Luckily I don't bite my nails! I have some friends doing that and some of them used spicy nail polishes, I don't know if you ever heard of it. I don't really know if it works but I guess it leaves the similar taste as hand protector. I don't really do much for my nails, when I file them properly then it doesn't break easily and they are also strong without having to apply hardener. I hope you will not be biting them again xx

    www.elabellaworld.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've tried the really bitter tasting varnish and it didn't work for me to be honest! Might try a spicy one if I can't break the habit this time though! X

      Delete
  2. I'm actually really glad that you have made this post! This is one of my worst habits and I find that nothing helps other than like you when I wear acrylic nails or have shellac on. I really wish l could grow my nails naturally as I know they can grow but this habit of mine leaves them looking horrid! I will try some of your tips and hope for the best! x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, mine got super long when I wore acrylics but ended up so damaged from them that I had to file them all back down after! Definitely tempted to try Shellac once I've grown them out a bit this time though :)
      Hope some of the tips help - I find the whole part about always doing stuff that makes you think about your hands to be what makes the most difference for me. Good luck! X

      Delete
  3. I bit my nails as a child, but my mother used that horrible tasting polish that can also be applied to your finger to stop you from biting and/or sucking your thumb. Ever since then I haven't had the urge, but a friend of mine wears acrylics for exactly that reason.
    The one thing I wish I could stop doing is picking at my zits. Even though I am fully aware that it will lead to scarring and actually make things worse, I can´t resist...

    Linda, Libra, Loca: Beauty, Baby and Backpacking

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I sometimes catch myself doing that too, it's all a lack of awareness with me I think - I just don't register what I'm doing until the damage is done!

      Delete
  4. I've actually given up biting completely after years! I found painting my nails helped so much as it made it practically impossible haha xx

    Jasmine Talks Beauty

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, having them painted definitely helps me once they're past a certain point. When they're super short I hate having polish on them though, draws attention to them too much!

      Delete
  5. This is very helpful. I don't like fake nails on myself but otherwise this is a great post :)

    Anything & Everything | Bloglovin'

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I used to hate them on myself too, but then learned to love them! What I also sometimes do is just file the fake nails right down so they look more natural :)

      Delete
  6. I love the body shop hemp hand protecter! I've repurchased it for years - I've never found anything as good as it to beat the winter dry skin!

    Jodie @ Jodetopia x

    ReplyDelete
  7. Such a great post! I got fake nails when I couldn't stop biting mine

    xx Selina | Selinas Inspiration

    ReplyDelete
  8. Great suggestions! I used to bite my nails for over 10 years and tried loads of different ways to stop. What worked for me was painting my nails so it made them thicker and more difficult to bite. I also used OPI Nail Envy as it makes your nails stronger and they grow so quickly! I can't be without Nail Envy now, I love it =)

    http://thebeautyprep.blogspot.co.uk/

    xx

    ReplyDelete
  9. i don't bite my nails but i pick at them which i suppose is just as bad, thanks for sharing these :)

    danielle | avec danielle

    ReplyDelete
  10. I'm the same, never did it as a child but now when stressed I bite them all off. These tips are great though, I suck my thumb still when tired (I know - I'm 27 it's ridiculous) and these would apply to that too.

    http://fourcatsplusus.co.uk - Amy x

    ReplyDelete
  11. I've thankfully never been a nail biter, I imagine it's such a hard habit to break! Sounds like you've got it sussed though :D

    Jess xo
    http://just-jesss.blogspot.co.uk

    ReplyDelete
  12. Really good post Misia, I used to be a bad nail biter until my mid 20's, even used to start on the skin around the nails after that until they were sore. I found taking care of them more plus painting them, made me look down and think how much better they looked so kept on with it. I've never used false nails as don't like them but, another good tip, I used to pick on just one nail and take care of the rest.
    Heidi x

    ReplyDelete
  13. Love this post! I will get these products for my friend who just can't stop biting her nails x Ania
    http://aniaaniapawlak.blogspot.co.uk

    ReplyDelete