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Stop Biting Your Nails! 6 Ways to Kick the Habit

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Attention nail- and- cuticle-biters everywhere: I know how it is. You want to have cute nails that you can show off with nail art. You want to be able to watch scary movies without your fingers in your mouth, and to emerge from the theater with nails 100 percent intact. You want to go to dinner somewhere fancy and not caaaasually curl in your fingers so your date won’t see your red (maybe even scabby) cuticles and jagged fingernails. You are an adult. This nail-biting thing is a nervous childhood habit; it’s time to end this.

Except you can’t stop. You don’t know why. You’ve tried and tried, and nothing works. We’ve talked about this! I’ve been there. I’ve tried all the traditional stop-biting-your-nails tricks (willpower, getting regular manicures, watching horrifying “what’s under your nails?” Youtube videos) and nothing worked.

Notice how I said, “I’ve been there?” Past tense. I stand here today a free woman. I used to bite my nails and I FINALLY stopped.

And here is what cured me: fake nails. I got my first set of acrylics put on about a month ago, and since then, I’ve cut them much shorter and gotten them filled twice. Next week I’m going to have a new set put on. And why? Apart from the fact that they look menacing and I’m into that, having perfect, strangely thick, hard-as-rock nails does two things—one, it makes me admire my own hands all day and notice them more, making it difficult to not notice when I’m nibbling on the tips of my lil’ investments, and two, it stops me from being able to idly pick at my cuticles with my own nails, thus creating the hangnails I would usually bite into a swollen, red, painful-looking mess.

I’m planning to keep getting acrylic nails until I no longer have the urge to put my fingers in my mouth at all. We’re halfway there. I’ve been stopping myself every time I realize I’m trying to bite down on expensive plastic (a new set of acrylics costs anywhere from $20 to $35)—so I’m guessing we have about another month to go until the urge to chomp dies completely.

Acrylics: they actually work in the fight against nail-biting, at least for me.

So do a few other, lesser-known cures. Rest assured, these cures have nothing to do with willpower, so you’ll be able to weaken your addiction without an iron will. Check out these ideas, culled from fellow nail-biters and friends.

1: Get gel manis

Based on the same idea as my acrylics cure, gel manicures stay hard, strong, and perfect-looking for about ten days. They’re also pricey enough (without a discount, about $25 to $40) to cause guilt if you were to bite—and ruin—them. I say get gels in a flashy color, like orange or fire engine red, and keep those teeth away!

2: Experiment with extreme moisturization

Forget moisturizing a few times a day. It’s time to get extreme with the lotion. Buy some seriously thick, luxurious hand cream (like Embryolisse Crème Nutritive Douceur Mains), carry it with you everywhere, and put it on every single time you wash your hands. Every time. They’ll be gleaming and annoyingly hydrated. You’ll not only moisturize cuticles that need to heal, but remind yourself—every time you put your lotion-slicked fingers in your mouth—to stop the nibbling before it starts.

3: Try that nasty-tasting nail polish for nail-biters

You might already know about this one. There are unpleasant-tasting products out there made specifically for us nail-biters, and they taste disgusting. Buy the polish, and, here is the key: lavish it onto your entire nail and fingertip. Every time you get the urge to bite, you’ll be shocked anew at the sick taste in your mouth.

4: Bandage your fingertips—all of them

Yes. You’ll be inconvenienced and forced to be aware of your nails at all times. Plus, strangers will ask you what happened, and you’ll have to shamefully tell them the truth (which is that you’re in the Witness Protection Program and you’ve recently had all your fingerprints burned off for security reasons).

5: Wear gloves for a few days

Little white cotton gloves from the pharmacy. You’ll be the fanciest, and/or you’ll frighten everyone. But you could do it over a weekend in the safety of your own home. The point is, you’ll be annoyed at how often you have to take the stupid little gloves off and put them back on, and you’ll stop biting because either  you won’t be able to feel or see your nails, or you’ll be too exhausted at the constant off-again, on-again.

6: Buy a fidget ring

A fidget ring is a piece of jewelry you can play with, like a ring with a dangly charm or a ring made of several interlocking smaller rings. When you get the urge to bite your nails, you play with the thing that is close to your nails, without ever putting your fingers into your mouth! Hooray! Say hello to healthy nails and cuticles.