Although it is the most common nervous habit, nail biting is actually a bigger problem than it seems at first glance. Not only is it unsightly, but it can also pose several health risks due to damage to teeth and nail beds.
According to WebMD, about 50% of those between the ages of 10 and 18 bite their nails, as nail biting most often occurs during puberty. Although this number steadily declines as we age, it is still a problematic habit for some people until about the age of 30. If this applies to you, don’t worry! Here are some easy ways to resist the bite.
Wear anti-bite nail polish
This is probably one you’ve already heard of, but it’s a proven way to stop you from biting your nails! Anti-bite polishes usually have a rancid smell or taste that make you think twice about wanting to dig in. Be sure to keep the polish with you at all times so you can keep your nails covered throughout the day.
Wear jewelry to keep your hands busy
For some, nail biting is a simple way to pass the time or to keep their cool while anxiously awaiting something. Try wearing a loose bracelet or necklace instead – if you keep your hands busy fidgeting with something else, you won’t be as tempted to chew on them.
Use a big event as motivation
If you have something fancy or formal coming up (like a dance, a hot date, or a big meeting), use it as motivation to keep you from biting your nails! Wouldn’t you much rather attend any of those events with a long, elegant manicure as opposed to bitten and bleeding stubs? If you’re going for this method, try keeping your nails painted continuously up until the big day so that you can admire how much nicer they are looking as time goes on.
Always keep clippers and a file on hand
Pun intended. If a fingernail is bothering you, try filing it down first instead of biting. And if you really do need to cut off a portion of it, use your clippers instead of your teeth! That way you will only take off what you need to, and you won’t have to struggle with trying to bite your way into an even cut. This will also take away all of those little excuses you give yourself about just biting a little bit longer until you get your nail how you want it!
Splurge on an expensive manicure
If you really need help to stop the bite, treat yourself to a pricey day at the nail salon. If you just paid $30 on a brand new gel manicure, you’ll feel worse about (literally) eating through your money. If you’ve already invested this much money into your nails, you might as well match it with time, right? Gel or shellac manicures work best for this because they are very chip resistant and will last longer than normal polish – which is totally worth the extra cash anyway.
They say it takes 21 days to break (or make) a habit, so set a start date and get to it! No matter which of these tactics you decide to use, stay positive knowing that you’re just three short weeks away from having the Instagram-worthy nails of your dreams.
Originally published on September 11, 2014.