Stop Nail Biting

Confession: once upon a time, many many many moons ago (really, eons), I was guilty of nail biting (ew). They weren’t cute (obviously).

Nail Biting - Image Courtesy WikipediaNail Biting

Those aren’t my nails, by the way – that picture is courtesy Wikipedia. Anyway, when you look for solutions to stop nail biting, you often see bottles of liquid that you apply to your nails or fingertips as a deterrent – usually they have a bitter or otherwise foul flavor to them. You brush it on, then when you absentmindedly go to bite, you’re met with an unpleasant flavor.

I’m not a fan of this method, as we are neither children being taught not to swear nor beasts being deterred from gnawing on things. We are civilized, we can overcome this ourselves and stop nail biting without wasting money on foul-tasting liquid that prompts us to grimace and gag.

I, “fixed,” my problem a long time ago, but since so many people are surprised to learn that I used to bite them, I figured I’d share my secret to success. It doesn’t involve weird diversions, stuff that tastes gross or makes your hands smell, weird supplements, etc.


Paint your nails.

No, I’m not joking. Yes, I hear your protests, “My nails are mangled!” and, “They’ll look awful!”

True on both counts but it isn’t insanity. Ever heard the expression, “fake it ’til you make it?” Regardless of whether you believe that or not or apply it to other aspects of your life, apply it here. It works.

Even if they look like hell at first (and they likely will) you will look at the paint job and be less inclined to bite. Even if your nails/nail beds look weird, you won’t want to encourage the paint to chip any sooner than it will on its own. It will help you stop your nail biting. Bonus points if you try to do nail art – it is more difficult to fix art after the fact than it is to just slap on a new coat (I wish I would have thought of this back then, but nail art was waaaay off my radar, then).

Then, when it is time to change polish, remove all of it and start from scratch. Try to neaten the edge with a soft emery board if they have grown to enough to have a free edge. Be sure, when painting your nails, to use a strengthening base coat (I really liked Sally Hansen Miracle Cure, $7) and top coat (like Seche Vite, $5). Use a color that you find really pretty – you may already have one, you may need to buy one. Keep your nails bare for as little time as possible; bare nails are easier to bite! (Your nails do not need to take a, “breather,” from polish; they do not breathe, they are dead cells, anyone who tells you otherwise is mistaken. I’ve heard licensed nail technicians tell people this and it makes me crazy – the science isn’t there. I do, however, advocate breaks in between artificial nail enhancements if you do those – but that’s a strength thing, not a breathing thing.) After that, slap some oil on your cuticles to keep the area moisturized – it will help heal and rough/chewed/screwed-up skin faster. You don’t need to buy a special product for this, EVOO will do if you don’t mind your hands smelling like it. Otherwise, I like Almond or Argan for this.

Do this for about 2-3 months straight. You might slip up a little at first, which is normal and you shouldn’t punish yourself for. At the end of two months (though sometimes up to three), your nails should be in considerably better shape. Eventually, you will stop thinking about it all together and can enjoy

A few other tips to help the early stages:

  • If you chew your nails due to an oral fixation, try chewing gum instead.
  • If you do it because you find that your hands often need to feel “occupied,” try taking up something that will occupy them. Read a book (you’ll be holding it). Learn to sew. Play some video games. Apply some makeup!
  • If you do it because you notice a break or uneven area, keep an emery board with you. Even after I stopped biting like a savage, when I would occasionally notice a break or snag, I’d try to bite it even, gg logic fail. This does not work. Don’t do it! Like I said, keep an emery board or file handy. I don’t bite at all, ever, now, but it is still a good to keep one handy – I keep one at my desk at work, one at home, and if I remember to stuff one into my purse I have one there, too. (Snags make me crazy. Like, “No more wire hangers!” crazy.)

I hope those of you who struggle with this can use it successfully. Let me know if you try it and how it turns out for you!

Disclosure: Hey! Some of the links in this Stop Nail Biting post are affiliate links – this means I may get a very small percentage of the sale if you decide to buy something. I only recommend products I’ve tried and verified as awesome. Ethical blogging FTW.