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Lessons I Wish I Knew: How to Stop Biting Your Nails


How to stop biting your nails

As a nail-biter, I’ve tried out many different methods to try and break the habit. Some seemed to help (if only for a few weeks), but many flopped. I’ve doused my fingers in jalapeño pepper juice every morning, covered them in band-aids, and cringed at microscopic images of what I’ve been putting in my mouth, but nothing seemed to work.

However, after nine years of being a chronic nail-biter, I was finally able to quit my sophomore year of high school. In today’s post, I’ll be sharing my three best methods on how to stop biting your nails, as well as some stories about my experience with each one:

1. Press-On Nails

Acrylic nails
Product Information: Snowflakes — Etsy, Stripes — Etsy, American Flag — Urban Outfitters

This was one of the methods I constantly loved to try: if I couldn’t have long nails, I could at least glue on long nails.

The only downfall of this was the difficulty I had performing daily tasks – you’d be surprised how hard it can be to open a soda can or zip your jeans with super long nails. And, naturally, my fake nails seemed to always pop off at the most unfortunate times – especially at times when I didn’t notice. I would typically walk around at school with only eight nails intact.

However, this was, without doubt, one of the more painless habit-breaking methods I put myself through. The only issues I had to deal with were biting into plastic and the complexities of going about my day with extremely long nails. (Although, filing them down a bit would have definitely helped!) This was, overall, a successful method for me.

2. Nail Polish

Lessons i wish nail polish
Product Information: Left to Right — Essie, Essie, Deborah Lippman, OPI, and Nordstrom

Nail polish was a great preventative method to use (why would you want to ruin something so pretty?), but it can be taken to the next level by opting for a bad-tasting polish formulated especially for nail-biters.

Before you try this, let me tell you that it has been four years since I’ve stepped near any thing like this, and I still remember my first reaction to it. I picked up my Bite It bottle at CVS freshman year of high school, and I recall the directions said to repaint my nails with it twice a day to prevent the polish from wearing off. I was watching TV, and I involuntarily placed a finger in my mouth to bite. The taste was absolutely revolting; I wish I had gotten my reaction on video now.

Even though the taste is worse than you can imagine, this product actually works. I could see my growth daily, and since my nails weren’t covered by colored polish or acrylics, it was very motivating to be able to see short term results. Unfortunately, as I returned to swimming, my nail polish would instantly came off halfway through warm up, and I would leave the pool with completely bitten through nails. If it hadn’t been for that, I definitely think I would have gotten over my habit at that time.

3. Snapping Your Wrist with a Hair Tie

Lessons i wish hair ties
Product Information: Solid — Jane Tran, Tie Dye — Zappos, Trio — Splendid

This was the last method I tried, and I only had to try it once, since I have an extremely low pain tolerance. I wore a hair tie around my wrist and flicked it against my skin every time I caught myself biting. Similarly, you can do this with a rubber band, which would probably work better. This really did work for me – it was annoying at first, but over time, it did get me to kick the biting habit for good.

My friend actually regaled how he got over his nail biting several days ago, and I had to share it. He used the same concept, but made himself promise that he would slap himself in the face as hard as he could, despite what circumstance he was in. (Yes, I swear this is true.) He clearly remembers a moment while standing in front of the cashier during lunch and catching himself biting his nails. He smacked himself as hard as he could, and his cashier dropped his money everywhere in surprise. He got over his habit completely in two weeks.

While I definitely am not an advocate for my friend’s extreme measures, I do strongly believe that everyone has their own solutions that work, and this certainly worked for my friend. Luckily, I didn’t have to go to such extreme lengths to kick my nail biting habit – the hair elastic worked for me after a few weeks, and my nails have been happy ever since.


Did you also struggle with biting your nails? How did you get over it? Comment down below and let us know your thoughts!

Posted on on February 28, 2014 / Filed Under: Beauty & Hair / Tags: , , , , ,

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12 Responses to “Lessons I Wish I Knew: How to Stop Biting Your Nails”

  1. 1
    February 28th, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    I’ve been biting my nails since I was very little! I’ve tried every method possible! Including the ones above as well as painting Bite It on my nails (I just got used to the taste) The method that worked for me was drinking water every time I felt like biting my nails! Boy was I drinking a lot of water, but I already struggle with drinking water so it was a win win for sure. The clincher was that my boyfriend was going to propose and I knew that when we were engaged EVERYONE would look at my ring and nails… Just that thought alone of people looking at my hands helped me stop biting my nails… I didn’t want to be embarrassed. It worked super well!

  2. 2
    February 28th, 2014 at 1:42 pm

    I bit my nails for a long, long time, but I finally stopped when a friend told me how gross he thought it was. They’ve been pretty good for several years now!

  3. 3
    February 28th, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    Just for the record, self harm is never a good idea – no matter how minor or “productive”.

  4. 4
    February 28th, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    Haha, your friend’s concept is a bit too brutal, but it’s the public embarrassment that does the trick!
    I’ve also been a chronic nail biter for many many years. Actually, I was probably biting my nails ever since my first teeth came out. I tried all sorts of things, and the bad tasting nail polish would have worked great if I didn’t use my fingers to eat – that really sticks on food and makes it yucky.
    It’s been two or three years since I stopped and it’s good to see how my nails start taking a more normal shape on my fingers!

  5. 5
    February 28th, 2014 at 4:20 pm

    The only thing that worked for me was just deciding to stop. It’s not really helpful for others, but I think it’s the only way that will really work.

  6. 6
    February 28th, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    I’d been biting mine my whole life, and what broke the habit for me was getting gel nails put on. My poor nails were absolutely destroyed afterwards, but having the nails on for about 12 weeks (because I kept getting them refilled and all) made the difference. After that I just kept putting polish on them, and treated myself to a bottle of OPI (it’s like $20 over here) so I’d have a good reason to keep painting them!

    My only issue now is when I get stressed, I chew on one thumbnail. It’s trying to grow out again now!

  7. 7
    February 28th, 2014 at 8:12 pm

    @ Lily:

    It doesn’t qualify as self-harm when you’re snapping an elastic against your wrist (assuming you meant that and not the face slapping example which was specifically not recommended). The point isn’t to cause pain, but to simply act as a physical reminder. It’s basically no different than poking yourself. It would only start being self-harm if you’re somehow snapping the elastic hard enough to cause real pain or leave marks. Otherwise it’s really no different than, say, scratching an itch in terms of pain.

  8. 8
    March 1st, 2014 at 12:04 am

    I’m the worst when it comes to biting my nails, especially when I’m stressed or anxious. I went from having acrylic nails for two months to gel manicures to regular manicures and I actually had nice, decent length nails for a while – until I stressed out and bit them all off again. I’m currently attempting to grow my nails again, and quite successful for now.

    Gel manicures are definitely a go-to to stop biting. They last for over two weeks (if you can deal with the grow out) and they won’t feel as weak. Of course, gel manicures aren’t the best for your nails, so once they’re long enough start getting regular manicures. I started using Nail Tek II to harden my nails to keep them from breaking, and I swear it’s the best thing I’ve ever bought. Check your local Rite-Aid and buy it. It works. It’s a clear polish you use as a base and top coat during a manicure and then you put it on your nails everyday. Well worth the $10.

  9. 9
    March 1st, 2014 at 11:30 am

    I started giving myself pretty manicures so I wouldn’t be tempted to nibble on my nails. I don’t remember how long it took me to stop biting and then over-filing my nails, but I’m sure it wasn’t long =) Now everyone’s jealous of how nice my nails are.

  10. 10
    March 1st, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    The hair tie/elastic band methond is kind of creepy in my opinion… I used to know a couple of anorexic girls who would use this trick to control hunger, so I think that using self-inflicted pain to control urges is not really a sane way to deal with the problem.

  11. 11
    March 2nd, 2014 at 1:04 am

    This may sound weird, but I actually used to sit on my hands to stop biting my nails! It looked super strange of course, but did work for me! (Now i just have to stop picking at my cuticles :/)

  12. 12
    March 2nd, 2014 at 8:57 am

    I used to wear press-on nails once in a while when I was a kid but they kept falling off and I looked like a goon. oh memories :-D

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