I remember the exact moment I started biting my fingernails: A friend in elementary school bit hers and I wanted to understand the appeal. Unfortunately, that curiosity led to eight years of finger-gnawing, straight down to the nub. My nails were so short that, when polishing, I’d have to go with horizontal strokes — from left to right — like a pinky toenail. Although I had acrylic nails off and on throughout high school, once those fake talons were off, the biting would begin again. I finally broke the habit after having my wisdom teeth removed in college; I was in so much pain, I physically couldn’t bite them.
A few weeks later, I was at an indoor flea market perusing nail polishes at a beauty-supply kiosk. Unprompted, a woman in the booth pulled Healthy Hoof — a protein-enriched nail cream that claims to be used on horses — out of the case and stared down at me. “I’m going to share a secret with you,” she said with scary conviction. “Use this nail cream every night for at least six weeks. I mean it, every night, no cheating, and your nails will grow like you’ve never even imagined.”
I was sold. I bought it for six bucks and used it diligently for the first six weeks. You simply rub a tiny dab of the thick cream on the nail and cuticle area before bed. One jar lasts forever. After six weeks, I noticed a significant difference in the length and strength of my nails. Determined to break my habit and see even better results, I continued using it every night. Three months later, I had long, strong nails that rarely broke, chipped, or tore.
It’s been 15 years since that fated flea-market day, and I still have a jar on my nightstand. When I go to get a manicure, I’m often asked if I’m there for an acrylic fill. When the nail artist is filing my thumb, I can usually see beads of sweat forming on her forehead from the intense arm workout. But the best part is watching my nails polished vertically, in long strokes, as it should be.
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