Until about a year ago, I had one habit that, despite my efforts, I could not shake: I was a chronic nail-biter. Not the standard cuticle chewing you might find yourself mindlessly engaged in during a stressful argument or boring meeting. I was a full-on, bite-them-till-they-bleed, can’t-get-enough-of-that-sweet-sweet-keratin, fingernail-destroying nervous wreck. Every time I’d bite a nail to the point of throbbing pain, I would promise myself: never again. Then as soon as it regrew even a little, I was back at it.
Determined to finally kick this disgusting and painful habit, without the expensive therapy to figure out why I was doing it in the first place, I embarked on an Amazon mission to find the best-reviewed nail-care products. I can now report being (mostly) nibble-free, thanks to the following regimen.
To Make Your Nails Taste Gross
This Swiss company is the gold standard in nail care, and sells products engineered specifically to help chronic nail-biters and thumb-suckers. Their ace in the hole is this aptly named jar of enamel that, with one dab, makes you stop biting cold turkey. The nails taste so bad that your brain is quickly conditioned to keep your mouth from getting too close. The taste is somewhere between bitter and acrid — not enough to make you sick, but enough to make you not want to put your fingers anywhere near your face. The only drawback is that finger foods become tricky. An errant taste of this stuff will ruin the best chicken wing or potato chip, but that’s a small price to pay for watching a real fingernail grow, where only a nub used to be.
To Strengthen Your Nails
I apply a tiny amount of this treatment to the tips of my newly sprouted nails a couple times a week, and it keeps them from getting brittle or flaky. In fact, my nails have become so hardened and talonlike that, at the request of my finacée, I had to invest in a product I never thought I’d need: a nail clipper. I’ve had a bottle of this for over a year, and there’s still plenty left — the tiniest amount makes the difference.
To Nourish Your Cuticles
I top off my regimen by rubbing this lotion into the nail beds and cuticles before bedtime. I don’t know what it does, but my nails look like they would after a manicure when I wake up. My cuticles went from a wasteland of ragged skin and fragments of old hangnails (gross, I know) to shiny and smooth, matching the new nails they protect.
To Chew on Something
Finally, I carry these cinnamon-flavored toothpicks with me everywhere now — when I feel the urge to chomp on a nail, I take it out on these instead. They help keep me from falling back into my bad habit, and have the added benefit of freshening my breath. (They come in mint, too.)
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