Of all the bad beauty habits out there (think: falling asleep with makeup, daily blowouts, and overdoing it with the self tanner), nail biting can be one of the toughest to break. Whether it’s due to stress, anxiety, or just plain boredom, excessive biting---or onychophagia, in med-speak---can lead to some unsightly consequences for your digits, including white patches, discoloration, and changes in shape. If this sounds like you, there's still hope. Follow these steps to kick the habit for good.
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1. Admit You Have a Problem
Yes, really. “The first step in combatting psychologically induced nail damage is, like with any other habit, to develop self-awareness and to make the decision to do something about it,” says dermatologist and nail specialist Dr. Dana Stern. Once you do so, you can begin identifying your triggers and manage the situation.
2. Keep Your Nails Short
Less nail equals less gnawing. Besides, short nails are more practical (like for typing on your smartphone) and they look great with just about any color. Need inspiration? Check out spring's hottest nail colors here.
3. Inhibit Nibbling With a Polish
A formula like No Bite by Orly ($10; orlybeauty.com) features a bitter taste to deter you from chewing. It dries clear, so it can be worn alone or over your favorite polish.
4. Pamper Yourself with Regular Manicures
Be warned: Long-lasting gel manicures can damage nails. Yet for nail biters, they can also serve as a deterrent. “Athough I only favor gel manicures for the occasional special event or holiday, they can also be an incredible tool to help nail biters to ‘bite the habit,’” Stern says. Just spending time and money on your nails, she adds, can help to refrain from picking and biting.
5. Celebrate Your Success
“Usually if my patients can avoid biting for 12 weeks, then they are successful at overcoming this habit,” Stern says. Our advice? Snap some gorgeous manicure selfies or your progress to keep yourself motivated.