Old habits truly do die hard. 

By Instyle
Updated Jun 06, 2016 @ 2:45 pm
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Credit: Corbis

I've been a nail-nibbler for most (if not all) of my adolescent life. Barring a few instances when I was able to kick the habit for a few months, I've been a tried and true nail biter since I was around 9. And I'll let you in on a little secret: I've hated every single moment of it.

Any nail-biter will tell you this, but it's embarrassing. When you introduce yourself to someone, the first thing they see aside from your eyes, is your hand. To extend a hand that has raggedy, chewed up nails, it essentially announces to someone that you have anxiety. Not to mention, it just visually drives me insane and the guilt isn't great either. I don't want to say that it is soul-crushing, but it's definitely not great.

But thankfully, (much to the pleasure of my dear friend M, who spends more time than I am proud to admit saying "get your hand out of your mouth), I've had a few weeks of regular manis, and as a result, have managed to curtail my bad habit—save for one minor slip last night with my left pinky, but I stopped myself.

Given my (mostly) cold-turkey streak, I wanted to know the best possible way to maintain my good behavior, and fingers crossed, kick the habit for good. To do that, I sat down with celebrity manicurist Deborah Lippmann to get her advice.

Her advice was simple. "Have a nail file with you everywhere you go." It makes perfect sense when you think about it. My weak moments come when there is a perceived imperfection on my nails that I feel the impulse to correct... with my teeth. So if I had a nail file at my desk (or in my handbag), perhaps I wouldn't have to resort to my choppers. And it just so happens that Lippmann does an #ACE nail file ($12; sephora.com).

Another suggestion from Lippmann was to keep your cuticles groomed, as cuticle picking often leads to fingers in the mouth as well. The key here, though, is never to cut your cuticles. Since the cuticle is the skin's last barrier to infection, you really shouldn't be chopping it off. Instead, push your cuticles back and trim those pesky hang nails.

And if you really need to get rid of some excess skin, use a product like Deborah Lippmann's Cuticle Remover ($20; sephora.com), which exfoliates the dead, built-up skin from your nail beds.

And with that, I felt so much more equipped to keep up the good work. To my fellow nail-biters out there, may the odds be in our favor.