How I Finally Stopped Biting My Nails for Good — And How You Can, Too

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One of my favorite childhood memories revolves around what my mother affectionately dubbed, “Sunday Night Spa Night” — and, years later, it helped me stop biting my nails permanently. Every Sunday, my mother would set aside some time to pamper herself for the work week ahead, which included blowing her hair out, tweezing her eyebrows, and painting her nails.

I, like many little girls, reveled in watching my mother “beautify” herself. I was fascinated by how she was able to style her thick, curly hair into smooth, voluminous waves and even more mesmerized by how effortlessly she painted her nails to perfection — and she noticed. One Sunday, it happened: She offered to paint my nails. I remember all at once being really excited and then immediately filled with dread because I bit my nails, something she also noticed. Regardless, she took my tiny six-year-old hands and gave me my first manicure. I was convinced they’d look horrible, but as they say, “mama knows best” because after she applied that shiny Sally Hansen top coat, I felt like a star.

As much as I’d like to say that the manicure cured me of my nail biting, I can’t. In fact, nail biting is a habit I kept up for decades after that. So, why bring up that first manicure and the “Sunday Night Spa Nights” if they didn’t stop me from biting my nails? While that manicure may not have cured my nail biting then and there, it would be the driving force behind how I stopped biting my nails for good.

How to Stop Biting Your Nails for Good

For those of you struggling to break the habit, I’m sure you’re more than aware that it’s going to take more than just slapping on a wonder polish and calling it a day. This is not going to be an article where I wax poetic about the wonders of Mavala or any other insert name of “no-more-biting” nail polish here because I’ve tried them all to no avail. When it comes to nail-biting, punishment won’t resolve it.

There are significant changes, both mental and physical, that must be made, but if I can do it, I have faith that you can too. Scroll down to see the seven steps I took to stop biting my fingernails.

Step 1: Make the Commitment to Stop Biting Your Nails and Skin

After years of literally chomping at the bit, I took the first and hardest step: I made the conscious decision to commit to a bite-free lifestyle and stopped cold turkey. Now I know “to break the habit you have to just stop” isn’t what you want to hear. Boy, do I know. However, as with any habit, to truly break it, you need to channel your inner willpower. You need to remind yourself why you want to do this and why it will be worth it.

At the end of December 2016, I asked myself, “What could I accomplish in the next year that would make me proud?” Immediately, the memory of that first manicure flashed across my mind. I wanted to recreate the feeling I had after that manicure and knew that meant one thing — I would have to stop biting my nails. At that point, I found myself wondering, "Is it really possible to stop biting your nails?" And I was glad to say that I found the answer was yes. Was it easy? No. Did it get easier? You bet. It meant a little soul searching on my part, but it ultimately led me down the hardest and most transforming road of my nail journey.

Step 2: Identify Your Triggers and Replace the Action of Biting Your Nails

While step one is the hardest, step two is runner up for a reason. Giving up a habit will test anyone. It’s something that takes a lot of discipline as well as some mental rewiring. So after you make the commitment and stop, you need to identify your triggers and replace the action.

For me, anxiety has always been a big reason behind the issue, so whenever I found myself in a stressful situation, feeling the urge to bite, I snapped my fingers. I know it sounds ridiculous, it was. But hear me out — by doing this, I was consistently alerting myself to the problem, giving me ample time to process what I was doing and address it head-on. Thanks to this auditory cue, I began to realize just how much I was biting my nails, and it was a lot. Layer that with what I had known for years about the number of germs I was willingly putting into my mouth on a daily basis (which is a good reason why to stop biting your nails in the first place), and my habit gradually began to die to down.

Step 3: Load Up on Biotin to Boost Nail Health

Aside from the mental aspect of deciding to stop biting my nails, there was a vital second part to the internal change I needed to make — I needed to incorporate some vitamins. The years of abuse on my nails had made them flimsy and weak, and with nails being a good indicator of your overall health, I knew they needed some intervention. After being recommended biotin pills by my doctor, I went to the vitamin aisle to find the right supplement for me. Here’s a list of some of the best vitamins for nails (including my go-to!):

1. Sports Research Biotin

This vitamin from Sports Research is a great option for those new to biotin supplements. Biotin is one of the B complex vitamins widely known to aid the health of hair, skin, and nails. This particular supplement is made with coconut oil, the wonder oil of the last 10 years, also known to have immense benefits in the aforementioned areas of the body. But don’t take my word for it — check out the rave reviews! Amazon buyer Vanessa M. said, “My nails are great now, so strong I can keep them quite long. People ask if my nails are real!

Where to buy: Amazon, $14.20

2. Sugar Bear Hair Vitamins

If there’s one skin/hair/nail vitamin you’re probably aware of, it’s this one. These vitamins became a viral sensation after getting scores of celebrity endorsements and seem to have a cult following for a reason. Made with over 10 of the most essential vitamins to a healthy diet, including 5000 micrograms of Biotin, these gummy vitamins might very well become your favorite part of your vitamin regimen.

Where to buy: Amazon, $44.50

3. Genius Beauty Hair, Skin, and Nails Vitamins

This next supplement is not your everyday beauty vitamin. Far from just another biotin supplement the Genius Beauty Hair, Skin, and Nails vitamin is made with ingredients scientifically proven to give you results, including collagen peptides, glutathione, astaxanthin, ceramides, and other antioxidants. If you’re looking for a hair/skin/nail supplement that can also aid in boosting your immune system and soothing your aching joints, this is the one for you.

Where to buy: Amazon, $37.99

4. Vine Nutrition Hairtonica

The Hairtonica vitamin from Vine Nutrition is similar to others on this list thanks to its biotin and collagen composition, but what sets it apart is its two other star ingredients: keratin and grapeseed extract. Both are well known for being incredibly helpful to the overall health of nails, and when combined with biotin and collagen, what you get is the ultimate beauty vitamin, guaranteed to strengthen your nails, grow your hair, and keep your skin smooth and glowing.

Where to buy: Amazon, $27.99 $21.99

5. Vitamin Bounty Radiant Beauty

When it came down to choosing a nail vitamin for myself, this is the one I picked up. This vitamin worked wonders on my nails thanks to its complex mixture of vitamins and minerals, including 3000 micrograms of biotin per serving. The 3000 microgram dosage was something important to me. I felt more comfortable starting with a lower dosage than most hair/skin/nail vitamins because I wanted to make sure I wouldn't have a reaction to all the added biotin before upping the dosage to the recommended 5000 micrograms. With additional vitamins, such as magnesium, selenium, and zinc, Vitamin Bounty Radiant Beauty acts more as a multivitamin than just a straight biotin supplement, something that, in the end, won me over when it came to deciding. Ultimately, this one became a staple in my morning routine.

Where to buy: Amazon, $19.99

Step 4: Create Your Own Nail Tool Kit

Now that we’ve addressed some internal steps to take towards ditching the nail habit, let's talk about the external steps. On my nail journey, my saving grace was approaching it from a self-care standpoint. Instead of looking at caring for my nails as a chore, I turned it into a treat by stocking up on everything I’d need for a great home manicure I could be proud of.

The first step to any successful project is to make sure you have all the supplies you’ll need. Now you can go and pick up one of those wallet-sized manicure kits that don’t even come with everything you need, or you can make your own with these four handy products.

1. Magique Cuticle Oil Pen

The first thing I picked up for my kit was a cuticle oil pen, like this one above from Magique. Made with a rich blend of vitamins A and E, this oil will soften your cuticles while indulging your nails in some much-needed nourishment.

Where to buy: Amazon, $10.95

2. Cuticle Pusher

Alongside the cuticle oil, I made sure to pick up a cuticle pusher. After saturating the nail with oil, specifically focusing on the cuticle area at the base of the nail, I gently push my cuticles back with the curved edge of the instrument. Make sure you never cut the cuticle as this can leave microscopic cuts on the skin around your nail, leading to infections.

Where to buy: Amazon, $8.99

3. OPI Crystal Nail File

The next item I made sure to pick up was a crystal nail file from OPI because after some proper cuticle care, its time to give your nails a good file. Why the crystal nail file? I prefer to use a crystal file over a traditional emory board because the file lasts longer, makes the nail shine more, and files down the nail in half the time.

Where to buy: Amazon, $9.95 $9.45

4. L'Occitane "Amande" Hand Cream

The last item (and one of the most important) to make sure you add to your kit is a good hand cream. Once I'm done filing, I rinse my hands and apply some of my favorite hand cream to top off the experience. I’m a huge fan of the Amande hand cream from French beauty house L’Occitane because, while its rich and hydrating, it never leaves my hands greasy, something vital for the next step.

Where to buy: Amazon, $12.00

Step 5: Protect, Polish, and Preserve to Stop Biting Your Nails Fast

Now that your nails have been properly prepared, it’s time for the fun part, something I refer to as the three P’s: protect, polish, and preserve.

1. Nailtiques Formula 2 Plus Protein Base

Before you paint your nails, it’s important to apply a base coat to protect the nail bed and apply nutrients directly to the nails surface. My go-to from day one has been Formula 2 Plus from Nailtiques. Thanks to its hydrolyzed protein and keratin complexes, this polish strengthens nails, prevents splitting, and helps them grow in record time. If there’s one product I recommend the most on this list, it’s this.

Where to buy: Amazon, $9.50 $7.49

2. OPI "Thrill of Brazil" Red Nail Lacquer

Up next is the polish. When I first stopped biting my nails, I always opted for a red hue. It’s bright, it’s cheerful, and most importantly, it’s visible. Using a bright color will help deter you from biting your nails because you’ll feel less inclined to mess up a good job. If you do, it will painfully noticeable. My go-to was (and still is) “Thrill of Brazil” from OPI’s Nail Lacquer line, my favorite red and my favorite polish for its long-lasting quality and ease of application.

Where to buy: Amazon, $10.50 $7.47

3. OPI Infinite Shine Top Coat

As with any good manicure, it’s important to seal it all in with a nice top coat. I personally use OPI’s Infinite Shine glossy top coat. It locks in the color fast, never dries out, and keeps my manicure shining like a diamond for weeks on end.

Where to buy: Amazon, $12.50

Step 6: Invest in a Nail Drying Station

One of the biggest problems I had when I first started painting my nails was dinging them. I can’t tell you how many manicures I ruined because my nails weren’t fully dry, and I wasn’t used to moving through the world with wet nails. It was then that I decided to invest in a nail dryer. Now I know this may seem a bit excessive, but trust me when I say it was one of the best purchases I made on my nail journey. What really sold me about this particular nail dryer from Sunyear was that it is a painting station as well as a dryer. Thanks to its added hand rest and adjustable lamp on the top of the dryer, I can take a closer look at my hands as I paint, meaning I could honestly give myself a salon-worthy manicure from the comfort of my own home, ding-free.

Where to Buy: Amazon, $139.99 $38.99

Step 7: Use Art as a Driving Force to Stop Biting Your Nails Forever

If you're anything like me, then you love a good DIY activity — so what better way to encourage you to break your nail biting habit than with the possibility of a fun art project? Once my nails got long enough, I wanted to experiment with nail designs. For years, I had admired the scores of beautiful manicures I had seen across Pinterest, dreaming of the day I could recreate them on my own nails. It was always something in the back of my mind, acting as another driving force to stop biting my nails. So the minute I was able to, I picked up this nail dotting design set from Benemo. With 14 dual-sided instruments, some with a brush end and some with a ball end, I was finally able to turn my beautiful, new nails into the canvas of my dreams, officially recreating the magical feeling from that “Sunday Night Spa Night” long ago.

Where to buy: Amazon, $16.19 $12.19

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