We are all guilty of it from time to time, but some of us just can’t keep our hands away from our mouths. That’s right, I’m talking about nail biting and as a reformed nail biter, I know the urge all too well!
If you’re a nail biter, you’re certainly not alone. This habit known as Onychophagia is actually quite common. According to Psychology Today, the habit affects a surmountable 20-30% of people across all age groups.
Biting fingernails not only takes away from the appearance of your hands, but it’s also actually unsanitary! In fact, a study found that 76% of nail-biters had E. coli and other dangerous bacteria in their saliva whereas only 26.5% of non-nail biters had the same bacteria in their mouths.
In my opinion, the sooner you experience the benefits of overcoming any bad habit, the easier it is to quit. Thankfully, the average fingernail grows about one-tenth of an inch each month. This means that once you kick the habit, you'll experience prettier and healthier nails within the first week of following these simple tips and tricks.
1. The One Finger Rule
You have to start somewhere. I'm a big believer in the saying “all good things in moderation,” and this definitely applies to quitting nail biting. Trying to top biting all your nails cold turkey can be very overwhelming. Instead, choose one finger on your non-dominant hand and do your best to resist the urge to bite the nail for two full days.
To make it easier, I recommend using our Resist Nail Bite Inhibitor + Restorative Treatment polish. This targeted formulation functions as two products in one. Like traditional nail lacquers, it will leave you with a bitter taste to discourage nail biting and thumb-sucking. The idea isn't just that it tastes bad though. Often, nail biting is a subconscious habit and people don't even realize when they're doing it. The harsh taste of nail polish juts people back in the moment and makes them conscious and aware that they're doing the biting. We've then taken it a step further by infusing the treatment with our signature protein-peptides that will help to restore the nail damage you've incurred while deterring you from continuing the habit. A truly comprehensive solution for any and all nail biters! Once you've mastered one nail you can then feel more confident to take on other digits! Baby steps always!
2. Keep a Nail File on Hand
Whether it’s a rough edge on your nail or a sudden stressor in your daily life, there are many reasons why people bite their nails. Overcoming the physical habit of nail biting is the hardest part, and the goal of this tip is to replace biting with filing.
I recommend purchasing a dozen small nail files and stashing them for easy access. Be sure to place one in your car, on your nightstand and even on your work desk. When the urge strikes to bite your nails, take a deep breath and then file your nails instead.
Keeping a nail file on hand helps you battle the physical addiction of placing your fingers in your mouth. Be sure that you don’t apply too much pressure when you file your nails and feel free to do it as often as you need to during the first week of not biting. Also keeping nails shorts leaves fewer tips to munch on.
3. Medical Tape to the Rescue
If you don’t have any luck putting the above tricks into practice, then try covering your fingertips with fabric-based medical tape for 2-3 days. Placing medical tape on your fingertips will act as a constant reminder throughout your day to quit biting your nails.
I suggest wrapping the tape like a bandage around each of your fingertips on Friday after work, so you can relax on the weekend and not worry about people asking about your new fashion statement.
When the nail-biting urge strikes, feel free to nibble on the tape (better than your nail bed), but do not remove the tape. Make sure the tape remains on your fingernails while you sleep (though it should be removed for showers) and reapply each time you wash your hands. It may sound crazy, but I know so many people who have found success with this trick!
After one week of doing this, your nails will start to look better. The improvement in your nails coupled with the time off from biting will encourage you to keep on going!
4. Keep your Fingers Moisturized
Last on my list is the simplest, but often forgotten tip for anyone looking to quit nail biting. Take care of them! Apply a nourishing treatment, like our Rejuvenail Fortifying Nail & Cuticle Treatment, to your fingers and nails multiple times each day. This treatment not only provides hydration and essential nutrients to the nails and cuticles but is also peptide-infused to help restore damaged nails back to their natural strength! Keeping your cuticles and nail beds moisturized will prevent hangnails and help you resist the urge to bite.
5. Get Back on Track
In the case of slip up (which will happen from time to time), stop what you’re doing and sit on your hands for one minute. This causes a disturbance in your blood flow and makes your fingers feel tingly and different. Think of it as a negative reinforcement for bad behavior. The more repeatedly focused you are on the elimination of your habit, the more successful you'll be.
Trust me when I say that quitting nail biting is one of the hardest habits to break. The ultimate decision comes down to willpower and motivation, which I know you definitely have!
Are you ready to quit biting your nails today and achieve beautiful hands that you’re proud to show off? Let me know in the comments what your best nail-biting prevention secrets are!