Take a closer look at any red carpet and you’ll see that knockout nails can be one of your best accessories. “Groomed nails give you a sense of self-confidence,” says Deborah Lippmann, celebrity manicurist and founder of an eponymous line of nail, hand and foot-care products. “And wearing nail color can boost your mood.” But if you often spend more time nervously nibbling at your tips than pampering them with polish, here are seven tricks that will help you to kick the nail-biting habit.
Trick #1: Think of the Downsides
Beyond the superficial, “biting your nails can lead to cuts and cracks in your skin, which may allow infection-causing bacteria into your body,” explains cosmetic dermatologist Elizabeth Tanzi. It also wears down your teeth. Last, it makes nails weaker. To get your nails back on the path to recovery, beef up their strength by cleaning and coating them every few days with fortifying products. Try: Zoya Remove+ 3-in-1 Formula Nail Polish Remover and Essie Grow Stronger Fortifying Treatment Base Coat. Also keep hands and cuticles moisturized. Try: Kiehl's Ultimate Strength Hand Salve and The Body Shop Almond Nail & Cuticle Oil.
Trick #2: Keep Your Mouth Busy
Try chewing gum. “It’s harder to bite your nails when you have a wad of gum in your mouth,” says dermatologist Jessica Wu. Other options include sucking on lollipops or hard candy. Even having a glass of water handy to sip from every time you get the chewing craving can help redirect a bad habit into a good one.
Trick #3: Paint on Anti-Biting Polish
Found at drugstores and mass merchandisers, these clear polishes are designed to put a halt to nail nibbling. “They’re bitter-tasting chemical solutions that parents use to discourage children from biting their nails or sucking their thumbs,” says Wu. But they often work for grown-ups, too.
Trick #4: Wear Gloves More Often
It may seem very Downton Abbey, but spending a few days in gloves may help you kick your urge for good. After all, you can’t gnaw on your nails through fabric! If it seems out of place when you are out and about, start by wearing gloves around the house, especially during hands-free activities like watching television when the temptation to nip could increase.
Trick #5: Squeeze a Stress Ball
With one of these pliable balls, your hands have something else to do besides head toward your mouth. And if biting your nails is a nervous habit, this can give you a different way to release that energy.
Trick #6: Have a Nail File Handy
“When you have a rough area, it’s a habit to use your teeth to smooth it,” says Lippmann, a former nail biter. “But your teeth will just make it worse.” File a rough edge the minute you notice it to help avoid the urge to chomp.
Trick #7: Get Regular Manicures
“If there are fewer hangnails and nails are kept short, there will be less temptation to chew,” Tanzi explains. “And if your nails look nice, you may be less likely to ruin them with biting,” Wu adds. One nail polish shade that we're particularly coveting right now? YSL La Laque Couture in Jade Impérial.