I think I started biting my nails at around the age of 2 (no joke). I can remember in elementary school and middle school biting my nails until they bled. In high school, I always got acrylics done so my hands would look, “pretty.” I continued to pick and bite at my cuticles and skin though. In college I began to make attempts to break the habit. I would stop getting acrylics when my natural nails underneath were long. The problem was that my real nails would be so damaged that they would then break. I think it honestly took until about the age of 27 to really tackle the problem. Here are some of the ways I made a change (it probably will not work for everyone, but maybe one or two of them will help someone).
- I bought “break the habit,” nail polish. It is meant for nail biters and thumb suckers. I found it at my local Walmart. The good part about it is that it is truly repulsive! It takes like a mixture of poison and throw-up. The bad part about it is that the taste will transfer to anything you touch. This makes it really difficult to eat finger foods. The other bad part is that you have the power to use it or not. There were days when I dreaded putting it on but I knew I needed to.
- I should own stock in nail files. I keep them EVERYWHERE! There is a nail file in every room in my house, in my purse, in my car, in jacket pockets, in my desk at work, in my work bag, in my computer bag, etc. If I break a nail it is a catastrophe. If I do not have a nail file on hand to even it out, I know I will bite. I try to prevent this by making sure nail files are easily accessible.
- This one is going to sound weird! Nail biting was always very comforting to me. I have bad anxiety and have trouble sleeping. A lot of times, I would bite my nails to fall asleep (similar to someone sucking their thumb to get to sleep). So many times I would grow my nails out only to bite them when I was watching a movie or trying to fall asleep. I bought about 10 pairs of winter gloves. I will put lotion or oil on my cuticles and sleep with gloves on. Sometimes on a bad day, I will wear lotion and gloves while I watch tv. This keeps me from biting and also helps my cuticles and skin to stay soft so I do not pick at that as much either.
- WEAR NAIL POLISH! I used to think if I wore nail polish too much that it would ruin my nails or dry them out. Whenever I have my nails long and go bare, one breaks. It happens every single time. I take very good care of my nails so I know it isn’t from lack of trying. I just feel like having something on my nails makes them thicker and stronger. If I feel like my nails do not look long enough for a color, I use OPI nail envy. This is a very thick gel like polish. It is different from most strengtheners because when I take it off, my nails do not feel rigid and dry. It is much more expensive than most polish (approx $15) but it does make all the difference and prevents nails from breaking.
It takes patience and I am not going to lie and say I 100% never bite or pick. I do. Everyone has bad days. I have gotten much better though. I maybe only bite twice a year when I am very stressed. These things have helped me though to control the habit. I hope it helps you too! Let me know if you have any other suggestions or tips to break the habit.