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How I Broke My Worst Habit

Dior Nail Glow

For most of my life, I bit my nails. It was such a gross habit, but I’d always end up biting them while reading or watching TV at night, maybe as a way to deal with stress or restlessness. Every year, my New Year’s resolution was to stop (exhibit A, exhibit B), and I even tried this vile stuff. But then a few weeks ago, something finally worked…

One evening, Alex and I were hanging out in our living room, watching Veep (side note: we recently got totally into it) and eating take-out Indian food. We had ordered saag paneer and rice, which literally could not be softer. It’s basically like eating soup.

After the meal, I felt something funny on my front tooth. Was it a bit of spinach? A piece of rice? I went over to the mirror, and almost fell over: MY TOOTH HAD CHIPPED.

Nothing makes you feel bedraggled more quickly than having a messed up front tooth. It wasn’t a charmingly off-kilter Lauren Hutton kind of thing, it was a full-on giant chunk out of my tooth. Horrifying.

The next morning, I called my dentist’s office and asked how soon they could see me. “We’re pretty booked for the next two days,” they said. “I’ll be there in ten minutes,” I replied.

While reclining in the chair as Dr. Gangi assessed the damage, I asked him why it had happened. “I wasn’t even eating anything crunchy,” I said. He asked me if I drank a lot of coffee. No. Soda? No. Do you bite your nails?

So, there it was. Three decades of nail biting had weakened my front teeth so much that wilted spinach could make them chip. Dr. Gangi told me that some people chip their teeth multiple times and finally have to get veneers. This was too much. This would not do. Teeth could not just be falling out of my head.

And so, with that, I stopped cold turkey. It was surprisingly easy, once I was motivated. Before, I had figured, oh, it’s a random stress reliever, it doesn’t hurt anyone. But now there was a real reason to commit to quitting. Instead of biting my nails absentmindedly, I became more present and aware of when I was doing it, so I was able to stop.

So, now I’m curious to ask you about the fun part of nails! My nails are now long enough for polish, and I’d love to know which polishes you like wearing. I love the look of Dior Nail Glow – all glossy and shiny — and for fall, I’d love to try navy nails. Lexi says she always gets a manicure without polish, since it’s quicker and less expensive, and polish always chips so quickly anyway.

What about you? I’d love to hear! I feel like I’ve just entered a new club:) And have you ever bitten your nails? Do you have any habits you’re trying to break?

P.S. How to blow dry your hair like a stylist, and the prettiest kind of earrings for spring.

(Photo by Alpha Smoot for this nail post.)

  1. Anon says...

    I didn’t realize it for years, but finally figured out that my gross habit has a name – Trichotillomania. I absentmindedly play and pull on strands of hair on my head. Some people pull out their eyelashes – I’m way too emotionally attached to mascara for that! – but I have this completely addicting habit of grabbing individual strands of hair and if it’s deemed to coarse or annoying, I pluck it off my head. Luckily I have incredibly thick hair but I hate the habit and need to stop.

    • Katie says...

      I do that too! I don’t think it’s quite a compulsion, but I definitely like to get rid of those short coarse hairs that stick up!

  2. Lilyana says...

    I was chronic nail biter growing up. Mom tried all ways to make me stop but it didn’t work. The only thing that did was pretty nail polish and seeing how lovely it looked on the nails of my step sister. She’d let the nails grow out so she could paint them. That really worked for me! I hardly use polish now but I also don’t bite my nails anymore :D

  3. Christie says...

    Nail biting for me was always about laziness – I’d see a little chip of nail that needed filing and instead of getting up to grab some clippers/file I would bite at it, until that little piece came off and then another and another, until I was bloody! Talk about OCD…

    I managed to kick the habit by forcing myself to go and find a pair of clippers or a nail file. Soon enough my nails were stronger and chipping less often.

    • Tali says...

      I;m the way way! But mine don’t bleed that easily. I hate that I bite them, I though I had kicked the habit but recently got really stressed and now I’m back to much shorter nails. They are so pretty when they are long.

      Hoping that this post will motivate me to quick for good. I do not need to weaken my teeth anymore!

  4. Nicky says...

    This explains why my teeth are so messed up, for sure. Like you, I bit my nails for decades. I finely broke the cycle (the first time) by getting acrylics (gels weren’t yet invented) and sometimes they were gluing them onto skin because my nails were stumps. I find I get the urge to bite when I’m stressed. And my cuticles grow crazy fast and snag a lot so I will still sometimes bite them. For me, the best way to stay on top of this habit is to keep my nails painted and filed or even just putting on nail strengthener in a pinch.

  5. Kate says...

    Lol I love this post! I totally have had nightmares about my teeth falling out. So scary! What a great motivator to stop biting your nails. :D

    • Kate says...

      PS. Your nails look super pretty!

  6. Effie says...

    I had the exact same habit for my entire life. Biting my nails was such a huge anxiety reliever for me. When I got engaged at age 25, I quite cold turkey. There was something about everyone wanting to see my ring (and nails as a result ) that I just totally stopped. BUT, I then started biting the insides of my cheeks. That habit has been going strong for 8 years now and I’ve actually had to get two teeth fixed due to chipping from THAT habit. Oh, anxiety.

    • Ana says...

      Effie, jus to let you know that there is a great health risk from bitting the insides of the cheek, it is called leukoplaka. The problem is that it can turn to cancer over time.

  7. CM says...

    Jo,
    Thanks for the inspiration. I too am a life long nail-biter/ cuticle picker. It is awful. They look terrible and bleed. I will go for stretches where I do great and then get stressed at work and bite them off. I recently left a job where I was so unhappy (lots of nail biting) and am happy to say that they are growing. Thanks for the PSA! ALSO, to celebrate my new job we went to NYC and totally relied on your guides!! Thanks!

  8. Lana says...

    I was a big time nail bitter. I know this sounds not possible but I quit cold turkey after breaking up with my ex. Haven’t bitten my nails since.

  9. Ivy says...

    I don’t bite my nails, I bite the skin around my nails. (I know, GROSS.) I can’t seem to stop and am especially tempted when I trim my nails or when I’m nervous. I blame my older brother (of course) because I caught him doing it when I was younger and thought it seemed like a smart thing to do. How silly! Would love to quit doing it though because otherwise I have pretty nice fingers. Any suggestions welcome!

  10. Beth says...

    OMG…..I am JUST like you! I have bitten my nails since I can remember! I do it when I am nervous and or bored. I too have damaged my two front teeth in doing so. I have had the chips and major pieces fixed with bonding but this hasn’t seemed to stop me. I WILL NOT be biting my nails anymore now that I know you have beaten the habit! Way to go….Thank you for the inspiration and push to stop!

  11. Oh, thank you so much for sharing your story! I haven’t bit my nails for several years now, and don’t intend to start again anytime soon.:)

  12. Angie says...

    Crazy! I had the same exact experience. A few weeks ago I chipped a front tooth biting them while all stressed out on a Saturday night and got in first thing Monday morning to get it fixed. It drove me crazy. Haven’t bit my nails since!! They told me that biting your nails and biting fishing line (I live in Michigan :)) are the most common causes of chipped teeth.

  13. Cheryll says...

    Wow – I had no idea that’s a reason my teeth chipped! I was eating a salad a few months ago, just baby spinach, and my tooth chipped! My dentist was able to fix it, but I never put two and two together. I bite my nails all the time and have tried to correct this habit forever – I hope this now scares me out of doing it ever again. Thanks for sharing.

  14. ha – chipped teeth – I have so been there (in fact, I chipped one whilst biting my nail!). I stopped biting mine on my first big overseas trip – I suddenly noticed one day that my nails had grown! If I am very stressed/bored and a nail has broken I tend to nibble a bit still, but only to even it up and usually only to one (my stress nail!).

    I don’t paint my fingernails any more because I find they always split afterwards and I hate that.

  15. Sorry about your tooth Jo! The end to my nail biting was tooth related too – having braces in high school made my teeth ache so much couldn’t stand to bite my nails anymore! Thankfully changed habit has lasted long after the braces were taken off.

  16. Gaby says...

    I love this post! I bit and picked for almost 3 decades. When I got engaged, my doctor saw my ring and told me I should stop biting my nails to be worthy of the ring. That did it. I still bite my thumbnails, at times, and still struggle staying away from picking skin…but for the most part, no nail biting . I have a small chip on my front tooth – I bet it was from nail biting!! Thanks for sharing!

  17. ae says...

    I bit my nails as a kid [perhaps, as all kids do] until one day my older sister said to me, “that’s super gross. everything you touch–including the butt you wipe- gets under your nails.” Then i thought about that gross, gritty brown dirt that inenvitably ends up under nails and quit biting my nails right then and there. No quicker way to get a 12 year old to stop biting their nails than to tell them, basically, that they’re eating poop. I’ve had super healthy nails since then and they randomly are always being complimented!

  18. Emily says...

    I always go through cycles of not biting my nails for weeks or even months and then one stressful week breaks the streak. But I think this post has scared me straight! I have trouble with my teeth already, I really don’t need more reasons for them to start falling out of my head!

  19. Emily says...

    I bit my nails till I was in 6th grade. My parents tried everything to get me to stop, like taking my cabbage patch kids away. Nothing worked. I even got pinworms from it when I was 10 (and on my body…horrible!). Finally, I was driving in the car with my dad, and he said that he thought I had nice hands and that guys don’t really like when girls bite their nails. I don’t know if that’s true, but I cared a lot about that stuff back then, so o stopped. Just like that. I did start chewing up my pens though. I stopped that in 8th grade when the boy I liked said it was gross. Thanks, Brent! Ha! I have really great nails now. People think I have a French manicure but I don’t. I do pick at my cuticles. I don’t bite them, but I mess with them a lot. Thankfully none of my kids bite their nails. I was so worried they would.

  20. where did you get your ring on your middle finger?! it’s amazing!! and i’m a total fan of the deborah lippmann, baby love, color – super subtle but pretty!!

  21. yael steren says...

    I don’t bite my nails but it looks like I do because I have such dry skin! To make matters worse, I have to take detailed photos of my hands because I blog fashion and need to show off jewelry. Does anyone have a good hand cream they can recommend? Or any solution really!!! I’d be forever grateful!! Thanks!! xx yael

    http://www.yaelsteren.com/blog/

    • Caitlin says...

      If your hands are super dry, I found this stuff at the hardware store with glycerine that works wonders, O’Keefe’s Working Hands. My fingers were literally peeling this winter and they were totally fine within a few days of starting to use it. http://amzn.com/B0148PKYXU

    • Mindi says...

      Coconut oil! I rub it all over my nails and hands every night.

    • Nina says...

      Be aware of what ingredients you use. I love beauty products and tried a nail cream that got such rave reviews and my cuticles were bleeding! I realized it was the lanolin. While that works for many people it does not for me…so if you figure out what the problem is, you can avoid that one ingredient. I love Tokyomilk in dark – its a lip balm but I use it as a cuticle cream. and then just putting on any hand lotion regularly helps – I use jergens BB protect right now…but it makes my hands smell like i put self-tanner on them so I’m not sure I’d buy it again. I really love Weleda Skin Food (oh my gosh its so thick and rich!) so check that out. I use that at night and on rough patches like elbows and feet. I put it on my son’s elbows and knees (little kids get on their knees a lot and it makes the skin hard) and they got soft after two applications.

    • Gina says...

      I love Herbacin hand creme. You can find it in the drugstore, Walmart…it keeps my hands soft, but not greasy.

  22. Jodi says...

    Woo! Go you! I was always an incredibly bad nail biter. My mom made me put that nasty tasting polish on my nails, but I suffered through the bad taste and just kept chomping. As soon as I saw any hint of white evidencing nail growth, off it went. It’s been probably 2+ years since I broke the habit. One trick that always helps me is getting a gel manicure. The gel lasts 2 weeks, hides any white that tempts me to bite, and keeps my nails really hard and strong (flimsy nails are an easy target for me too!). I am still so amazed with myself, ha! I like my nails really short which is definitely possible with the gel manicure. Did I mention no chipping and completely dry when you leave the salon?

    I love OPI’s Big Apple Red. It’s an awesome classic red that is good all year round. Looks incredible with a tan, too!

  23. Dj says...

    Thank you for this message! You’ve been the right message at the right time. I think I will take heed now. Wishing for your future success in overcoming these obstacles. Have you heard of BFRB? It’s like this compulsive act that just seems to get away on us it actually has an acronym now!

  24. Holy crap! I’m not a nail biter, but that would’ve scared me straight as well! I have enough dental issues.

    Currently wearing Enchanted Garnet from Estée Lauder. I was wearing Amazon Flash from L’oreal which is a pretty gold. I love navy in the fall and cobalt in the summer too.

    I recently discovered Wet n Wild 1 step gel nail polishes which are great drugstore polishes. I Went crazy and bought a bunch of colors–price point is great!

    Xo Lendy
    http://www.twoplusluna.com

  25. Jamie says...

    I also bite my nails but my main problem is biting my cuticles, as others have said. They sometimes bleed, and sting if something acidic gets on my hands (nail polish remover etc). If I paint my nails it easily prevents me from biting them, and they’ll grow really quickly while they’re painted, but that doesn’t help the cuticles.
    One time for about 6 months I did successfully quit biting my nails and cuticles. At first I allowed myself to only pick at the cuticles rather than bite. Then I phased that out and had successfully quit. But then last year our beloved dog passed away (he was 15, so there were no surprises, but it was still a really stressful, upsetting time period) and I started biting them full steam again.
    So now: I’m quitting. I literally have not bitten them all day since I read this post early afternoon. Thank you Joanna, and everyone please wish me luck :)

  26. Ellen says...

    I bite my nails, have all my life. As I started reading this I was like, hey, maybe this will work for me, too, but then I could feel it – no, it won’t. Nothing will ever work!

    At the moment I have actually stopped biting the nails on my left hand, but that’s just because I operated on my left wrist recently and have not been able to get my hand up to my mouth because of the pain. Not really a solution in the long run, but effective!

  27. Jos says...

    Ohh – how dreadful – you poor thing and this post has put the fear of god into nail biting me! One tip – go natural in terms of brand with nail polish as they can be full of nasties in a chemical sense. 100% Pure and Pacifica 7 Free are both fab natural polishes with loads of cool colours. I have a gold shimmer one from Pacifica 7 Free and it is divine!

  28. Jessica says...

    This is kind of random, but I love the small wedding bands in the photo. Are they yours and can you say where you got them? I ditched my heavy engagement/wedding ring combo ages ago and have been looking for something really lightweight to replace them.

  29. Summer says...

    Mine is peeling my nails (bc they can get sooo bad). I use nail stregthener (Nailtiques Formula 2) and try to keep them painted (Covergirl Colorstay is by far the best polish, including the fancy brands), but the BIGGEST help has been:
    always carrying around a file (glass file by Sephora, don’t go back and forth) and cuticle oil (Ciate for weak nails)

    Like, I can’t believe I went this long without using cuticle oil. It’s amazing. The glass file has also made a huge difference.

  30. Lindsey J says...

    I’m hooked on gel manicures! They last about 2 weeks on average but I can get them to go 3 weeks on a regular basis. In the summer I normally choose a coral or bright, fun, neon-ish pink and in the winter I’ll stick with crimson and various shades of red. I’d love to try navy! As long as it doesn’t come out looking too much like part of a Halloween costume :-)

  31. Joanna, I’m glad you can now paint your nails!!! How exciting! I love polished nails.
    It’s fall where I live so you tempted me with those blues nails.
    In your case, for spring, I imagine you wearing Mint Candy Apple by Essie. It’s beautiful!!
    Alina
    http://www.eclecticalu.blogspot.com

    PS I chipped one of my molars last Friday! The dentist visit wasn’t particularly pleasant… I hear you…

  32. Never been a nail biter! But, I did chip a tooth eating a very crunchy granola bar once. I quit those cold turkey too.

  33. Erin says...

    I’m 30 and have had this habit my entire life. The other day, after biting my thumb nail, my front tooth felt a bit funny. It’s fine now but made me wonder if I am giving my teeth little hairline fractures or making them weaker, and this post decided it! It isn’t good for me. I’m stopping. One of the nice things about….scratch that… The ONLY nice thing about biting nails was that I didn’t have to clip/file them. Have you found any manicuring tools you love? And when do you take care of them? Over a trashcan watching TV? After showering? Silly questions, but I feel like they’re things I’ve never really had to think about, and if I’m going to make this a routine, I’d love some tips! Thanks, Jo. I’ve been a fan for years <3

  34. I used to bite my nails, especially during my games as a college basketball player (double gross!) and eventually the ONLY thing that stopped me was thinking about all the things that got under my nails during the course of the day. Thinking about it that way helped me stop. Now that you’re in the nail gal club; gel polish is AWESOME but it’s pretty much as hard on your nails as acrylics. Buy some $2 Sinful colors polish, a $5 bottle of Seche Vite fast dry top coat and always swipe with remover before you polish. A $7 manicure that looks as good as a salon.

  35. I didn’t know biting nails could make teeth weak. I have the same thing, I mean when I was you and until I reached high school, I was biting off my nails. I started to stop when I got really jealous of people who have pretty long nails. Then on college before I graduated I stopped biting off my nails. I make sure I have nail polishes on my nails so I won’t bite off them. But I know sometimes nail polishes could make nails weak and stuff. Hahaha.

  36. Theresa says...

    I had the same thing happen to me! Had a nail-biting habit for as long as I can remember and then, maybe a year and a half ago, my front tooth chipped (I’m 33). I was horrified, especially since my parents spent a TON of money on my teeth in my teens (4 yrs of braces, upper/lower jaw surgery). Needless to say, I kicked that habit pronto. I still catch myself doing it occasionally, but I stop as soon as I realize it. And I get on my girls’ cases too if I see them nibbling… :)

  37. Melinda says...

    I bit my nails until my early 20s when I became really interested in classic red nail polish. I bought a bottle and painted it on, even though my nails were very short. Every time my hand went to my mouth I would see a flash of red, and it gave me enough of a reminder not to bite! I kept my nails painted and tidy for about seven years after that. Now my nails are strong enough to go nude and I’ve truly broken the habit. I second the comment about keeping a nail file on you at all times – while your nails are growing stronger, some will break and you need to be able to file them instantly (not nibble). Good luck!

  38. julie says...

    After years of nail biting I had really thin, bendy nails. The only product that worked well to harden them up into nice “normal people” nails was a clear nail strengthener called Nailtiques (Formula 2 for weak, bitten nails). It really made a huge difference. Now mine are pretty decent, especially when I keep them polished or wrapped. I do still bite them once in a while though — two nights ago when I was staying up way too late finishing a suspenseful book!

  39. Vanessa says...

    Nail Glow is my everyday go- to. I’ve gone through two bottles! Love it.

  40. SeaEyes says...

    I just found Alia nail polish and remover. They are awesome and actually good for your nails. I stopped using polish after doing some research on what was in most nail polishes, but summer with bare toenails wasn’t cutting it. Also the names of each colour are great and come with the story behind them.

  41. Eliza says...

    Oh my gosh – this story is so familiar! I also chipped my front tooth, although for me it was because someone bumped into me while I was drinking out of a glass.

    Sadly, it ended up re-chipping and I would up getting veneers just to make sure my teeth would stay. No one can really tell, but now I am avidly aware of my teeth everytime I bite into a sandwhich or see ads for whitening strips (which I can’t use any more!)

    You seem to be managing the chipped tooth with grace – glad it at least helped you kick the nail biting habit :)

  42. Jessica says...

    My big take-away from this post was VEEP! My husband and I just recently got into it too. Oh man, I love/hate very single character! Such a great show.

  43. Caz says...

    I used to bite my nails too! My dad was a nail biter and I think I started copying him when I was a kid. I stopped a few years ago just because I wanted to have long nails (I love a classic french manicure, but it’s quite hard to do on yourself – I’m still working on it!)
    Weirdly, I have found that I sometimes revert back to biting them when I’m drunk. I’ve woken up a few times after a night of over-indulgence to see that I’ve chewed all my nails off!

  44. I am in the same boat — front tooth chipped, and I’ve got “virtual nails” on now (there is a GENIUS woman in BK and NYC @Nailfeen on instagram – you should try her — tell her i sent you ;) that are helping me break the habit.

    I’m nervous that I may break the habit when the nails come off, but I am taking it day by day.

    May I ask — Where is that beautiful beaded-style ring from?!

  45. Long-time reader here! It would be great to see a post of some of your favorite blogs to follow.

  46. Theresa says...

    Congrats! Not easy to do and never heard that about teeth and biting nails. Eek. I’ve bitten my nails since I was 7. I am 43. I stopped my entire pregnancy (have one child) as I was paranoid about getting the flu. I started up again some time in my daughter’s first month. I have been going stretches without biting them but do want to stop once and for all!

  47. I did not see that coming :) Sorry to be laughing at your expense, but a very useful PSA nonetheless.

    Shruthi
    http://nyambura.co

  48. The photo, nails and jewelry, is beautiful. Where is the jewelry from?

  49. Meg says...

    The nails and jewelry in the photo are gorgeous. Where did the rings come from? Thanks!

  50. Congrats on kicking the habit!! I had this horrible habit until 2013! I had three reasons to stop:

    1) I saw a person on the bus who had bitten their nails so much that it was way down below the tip, almost as if there was no nail left at all and that was the most horrifying/frightening wake-up call about what could happen to my nails if I continued biting them.

    2) I have TMJ and biting nails actually makes it worse, so stopping biting them helped alleviate some of the symptoms caused by that.

    3) (The vain reason) My husband’s brother was getting married, and I was one of his fiance’s bridesmaids, and they were all so gorgeous and perfect that one of the only ways I could make myself look acceptable among them was to have better nails haha.

  51. melm says...

    * Possibility is a vitamin/mineral deficiency!!

  52. I bit my nail the entire time I was reading this article. I only took my finger out of my mouth to type this. I am a life long nail biter and at this point it’s hard to care if people think its gross or ugly. My fingers, my choice ;-). P.s. I also think it might be good for our immune systems. Science is showing more and more that avoiding dirt/germs/microbes is making us more probe to all kinds of problems.

  53. AJ Douglas says...

    It Wasn’t until I was in my 50’s that I stopped biting my nails. At that time I got a job as a receptionist and I realized that my hands would be very visible and I didn’t want to feel self conscious about my too-short nails all day long. So, I stopped biting them and never looked back!

  54. Michaela says...

    I also bit my nails my entire life–right down to the quick, always. It looked terrible. Then, when I got pregnant with my daughter, I mysteriously had no urge to bite them anymore. My daughter is now almost 3, and I haven’t bitten them since I was about 4 months pregnant with her. I don’t even have to consciously keep myself from doing it. I’m not tempted one little bit. It is the strangest thing.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that is so strange and cool!

    • h. says...

      That was my experience during pregnancy with both my daughters! But unfortunately for me the biting urge came back about a year postpartum.

    • Michaela says...

      Hmm…well, I got pregnant again when my daughter was 12 months, so maybe you are right. My second child is now 12 months, so we’ll see if the instinct to bite them will come back soon. I hope not, because nothing made me break the habit consciously!

  55. Laura says...

    I bit my nails until I was…26?…27? It wasn’t until a really good guy friend of my (now) husband mentioned casually “hands are one of the first things I notice about a person. If they are messy or gross, I just assume things about people.” For some reaso that reallllly stuck. I could care zero F’s about leaving the house in pajamas or without makeup on, or rocking my soft mom bod at the beach but the nail thing really punched me in the gut for some reason. Quit cold turkey and didn’t look back.

  56. Miyan says...

    We need a photo of the chipped tooth as proof. I’m an avid nail biter and literally this fear is real for me.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahahha i sent one to my friends, let me see if they still have it on their phones!

  57. jeannie says...

    If someone could bottle motivation, she would make a million! I can always diet before a family with no problem, but I can’t muster motivation without an external event!

  58. Karen Allen says...

    Every time I bite my nails, I think of all the germs lurking there and it stops me dead in my tracks. It’s been a huge help and my nails are stronger for it now.

  59. Ana says...

    Burberry nail polishes are amazing and last incredibly long! I personally love the shade Mink!

  60. Laureg says...

    Congratulations! A s a former nail biter myself, it is such a hard habit to break. For me, I need to keep nail polish on at all times, or I may backslide (watching a suspenseful movie, being bored, etc). I hate the look of chipped up nails and my hands are on display a lot at work, so., that’s motivation enough for me. Also, keep a glass nail file and some nail clippers handy at ALL times (purse, desk drawer, wherever), so that if you have a broken nail or whatever, you can deal with it immediately, instead of progressively whittling it down on your own by biting bit by bit.

  61. Bumpy says...

    Thanks for writing this Jo. I’m always surprised there isn’t more in the media about habits, because as humans we are all stressed and flawed and it’s such a relief to share! Also find it weird that nail salons don’t offer more services for nail biters and those in ‘recovery’. Welcome us in! We have a problem and we have money!

    Am also nail biter and cuticle biter. I have bit the latter so much that I’ve damaged the nail bed and now my thumb nails are bumpy and hideous.

    I might try gel nails thanks to this post!

    • Emily says...

      You might want to go to a dermotologist for the bumpy nails. My husband had bumpy toe nails and it turned out to be a fungal infection!

    • Rebecca says...

      Oh my! Same with my thumb nails!!! My husband gets so mad at me about this. I went on a kick of no biting for about a year and they were starting to look better but then I had a baby and that caused a lot of anxiety and now they are a mess again.

  62. Oh man having my teeth fall out is my worst fear! My husband was really bad for biting his nails and cuticles until one day he was sick of having gross hands. He bought burts bees cuticle stuff and every time he went to bite, he’d put the cuticle stuff on instead.

  63. This both helped me stop biting + is a good reward for longer nails. The first time I went, the gel lasted so long I had to FILE my nails for the first time in my life. http://paint-box.com/.

  64. Samantha says...

    Ah! I wish there was something this motivating to make me break my bad habit of pushing back/messing with my cuticles. I do it ALL THE TIME and most of the time have no idea I’m doing it until my fiance or someone around me points it out and tells me to stop! They always look terrible :/ The worst part is I actually have nice nails so if I could just break this habit I’d be good to go in the hand department! Sigh.

  65. Kim says...

    As a former nail biter, I strongly support manicures! My nails were so horrible, I followed a friend’s advice to get tips. After having them for one additional appointment, my own nails had grown out enough that I didn’t feel self-conscious AND I had broken the habit of fussing with my nails. I found that my main reason for nail-biting was horrible cuticles, so as long as I went for manicures for THAT problem, I was A-OK! I probably didn’t even need the tips – just clean, maintained nails! My nails are super-healthy nowadays!

    I prefer a raspberry-hued pink or a coral in the summer!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      raspberry sounds beautiful!

  66. I’ve chipped very small pieces of my front tooth from nail biting and it still wasn’t enough to make me stop fully. What finally did it was a (now ex) boyfriend who diligently tickled my sides every time my hand went anywhere near my mouth. I usually started biting my nails without noticing so suddenly being tickled every time it happened ended up making me a lot more conscientious of how often my hands went anywhere near my mouth. Eventually I’d find myself recoiling from it even when he wasn’t around.

  67. Seja says...

    Ohmygosh, thank you for this!! I just read this article to my 11-year-old daughter (whose nails I stopped clipping when she was 5 because she would bite them so frequently). That did it. The thought of a tooth chipping the school cafeteria was enough to make her say, “Okay, I am stopping now.” Thank you for the public service, Joanna!!

  68. Nicole says...

    Don’t forget about the NYT expose on nail salons and how horrible the industry is. I’ve stopped wearing polish cold turkey as well as getting pedicures. If you must, then def research some natural nail polishes and natural polish salons bc they are out there.

  69. Sophie says...

    My doctor told me nail biting could be a sign of OCD and that made me stop cold turkey.
    Try “Topless and Barefoot” by Essie, or “Before He Cheats” by Deborah Lippman for a soft, barely-there look.
    I use an orangewood stick to clean under my nails and push back cuticles. Can’t stand to have my cuticles cut, so do my own manis.

  70. Amy says...

    I was a nail biter for my whole life. In the last several years I finally wanted to make myself stop for good. The reason? I hated being our for a date or with my friends and grabbing my drink and feeling so self conscious of everyone seeing my gross chewed short nails while all my friends had beautiful polished nails and rings and their hands looked amazing.
    I also quit cold turkey. I just kept filing them, keeping them neat, and painting them. I tried to keep paint chips to a minimum and just keep the paint looking good. That would give me time for them to grow without biting them.
    Now I don’t need polish on them to not bite them. They still break easily and can’t get super long but they don’t look anywhere as bad as they used to.

  71. You have given me hope. For the past five plus years, I have been making it my goal to quit picking/biting my nails to no avail. I have gone several months before without picking/biting but somehow I end up right back where I started. I can’t pinpoint what triggers this habit either as it varies from stress to the fact that my nails aren’t perfectly smooth when they grow out. Frustrating.

    I am very weird about teeth though, probably from all the years of braces and going to the orthodontist, and thinking about a chipped tooth makes my stomach turn. In other words, I think this post might help me to kick this habit!

    Thanks in advance,
    Caitlin

  72. I used to bite my nails for many years, when I was 17 I discovered nail polish and started to use it often even though my nails were very short that time. The nail biting somehow automatically stopped and I had no longer the desire to do it :)

  73. Sara Jones says...

    This EXACT thing happened to me. Twice. Nothing is scarier than holding a piece of your tooth in your hand (and knowing it happened because you couldn’t stop gnawing on your nails). Best of luck!

  74. Life long nail biter here too! I managed to grow them long only 3 times in my entire life, and two of those times was because i had fake nails on top for weddings, so when the falsies came off and i saw my real white nail underneath, that gave me motivation to stop and let them grown on their own. the third time, i stopped cold turkey. i have no idea how i managed to do that, but i just had it in me to stop so i did. but i have since relapsed since getting pregnant and having my son and basically becoming a ball of nerves. your post gives me motivation that i need to try to stop again. i hate the dentist but also the fear of chipping a tooth is pretty intense. so thank you!

    as for my favorite polishes, i love julep and essie. they have great colors. and julep has a top coat that makes the color last long and stay chip free for longer than other top coats. but the most amazing top coat of all time (imo) is seche vite. ah-mazing stuff right there! makes your nails rock hard too :)

  75. Tamsin says...

    I was a chronic thumbsucker who thumbsucked well into my teens (not in public, I couldn’t get to sleep without thumbsucking). My teeth were horribly crooked, but I put that down to them being overcrowded, which they also were. The orthodontist said I could get a brace when all my adult teeth had finally come in, but only if I gave up thumbsucking.

    So now I had motivation, but any addict knows that going cold turkey is not easy. So how did I manage it? Well, being a starryeyed teenager helped – I put one hand on top of the other, linked my fingers together, and went to sleep pretending I was on a speedboat and that a hunky guy from Neighbours (I forget his name but he was a long blond haired surfer type) was sitting behind me with his arms round me and his hands over mine on the speedboat handles!!! Sounds so dumb but worked for me! I had to do that every night for a long time.

    I am in my thirties now and don’t thumbsuck, but to this day I get the urge to if I am feeling tired and rundown. I am basically on the thumbsucking wagon and must resist any urges as it would be a slippery slope back to my thumbsucking ways. Oh thumb, you are the perfect comforter. I miss you!!

  76. Jenna says...

    I bit my nails for YEARS….and the two times I was horribly ill I am convinced it was due to traveling/picking up strange germs as I put my hands in my mouth. I used to bite so low that at night I wouldn’t be able to extend my fingers out straight because they hurt so badly. My dentist can also see chips on my teeth from biting. I randomly quit cold turkey,…but be careful, once you break one habit you replace it with another! Case in point: my excessive manicures! Now that I no longer bite I cannot stand to have them unpolished. I also find that when I am feeling anxious I am more prone to biting if they are unpolished. I only go for shellac these days :)

  77. Amy says...

    Post a picture of the chipped tooth. Pretty please :)

    Also, congrats on kicking the habit! I quit cold turkey at the beginning of the year. I still don’t have great nails. They’re short and stubby and not that fun to polish. But, I’m really glad I’m no longer biting.

  78. Elizabeth says...

    This is so timely for me! I have a really really gross habit of picking at my nails and toenails. I’ve suffered from major anxiety my whole life and it’s definitely all related. Well from picking at my toenail I got a nasty infection and had to see a podiatrist this morning!! The numbing shot before he removed part of my toenail was horrendous and I don’t think ill be picking any more. Can’t wait for manicures and pedicures!

  79. Meghan says...

    Get yourself to Hortus Nailworks in the Lower East Side!! Their signature manicure involves a smoothing buff instead of polish. It lasts until your nail grows out but looks like you’ve applied Dior Nail
    glow to it. You could bike over the WBurg bridge to get there.

  80. Klara says...

    Congrats Joanna! For nailpolish: I discovered By K. It’s a Danish brand that makes cruelty free nail polishes that also leave out the worst 11 chemicals that are usually in every nail polish. Strangely enough, they keep soooo much longer on my nails than any other nail polish I used before! Win-win if you ask me. Check it out and have fun! http://www.by-k.dk/com

  81. You once posted a tutorial on galaxy-nails or smth like that. I got REALLY into that, and became pretty good at it, even though im not a pro! I also found that you can easily cheat and do a quick fix when they start chipping. ;) I also love dark, metallic gray. I’ve actually used that color for over 6 months, and then repeated next winter! That’s just for the winter though.
    In the summer I’m at the beach, soaking in the sea every weekend, so I don’t see the point in making the effort. I love paler colors though, like light pinks and nudes, and some bright pinks with a very very fine shimmer to them. The color looks good with everything: blues, blacks, grays, browns, purples- you name it, and I’ve had compliments for it from countless people in random places: my laser hair removal dr, my colleagues, my friends, my mother, clients, waiters, everyone! :)
    Anyway, you’ll try things and find some that don’t look as good on you as they do on others (im struggling to find the perfect nude and pink nude for my skin color), and ones that look magical on you and not so nice in the bottle! Trial and error!

  82. Laura says...

    As a VERY long-term nail biter who currently sports an adorable fingertip-length squoval manicure at all times, you’ve got to be prepared for meltdowns.

    ALWAYS have a nail file within reach. My trigger is imperfection, and ANY teeny unevenness will set me abiting. Bring with you everywhere whatever you need to mitigate the immediate biting/picking response. If cuticles are your thing, bring nippers or cuticle oil. The moment you see anything worth messing with, bring out your tool.

    Secondly, for those of you who love the look of gels, but not the damaging effect they have on your nails, use Deborah Lipman’s Gel Lab polish. You can find it at Sephora. Seriously. It. Is. A-mazing. I use their Gel Lab Pro set (it’s just a top and base coat) with any nail polish I want, and it comes out flawlessly despite my lack of expertise, and it plumps up like a gel. It lasts FOREVER, and most importantly, it doesn’t hurt my natural nails one bit!

    • Alison says...

      I’m exactly the same. I managed to finally stop when I went on holiday and my nails grew quickly, I kept a nail file by my side and I managed to finally kick it…I think the embarrassment finally got too much as well. Nothing like hiding your nails in a meeting.

    • SC says...

      THANK YOU!

  83. jill c says...

    I pull out my eyelashes when i’m overly tired/stressed/anxious. I tried hypnotherapy and that didn’t work so well. Now i realize as soon as I start to rub my eyes and touch my lashes that I must stop instantly. If i can stop it right away it’s easier for me to not continue with the full process of pulling out my eyelashes however, once i really start i can’t seem to stop (it’s like having an itch that you just have to scratch…it’s the only way i can explain it)… As of now i only seem to lapse into this bad habit about 2 times a year – hoping it continues to lessen b/c honestly eye lashes take so long to grow back! So happy you kicked your habit!

  84. Oh my gosh, how crazy! I go through periods of biting, then no biting. I love biting my nails, I don’t really think of it as a stress relief, just something I do when in deep thought, or bored. The one thing that has seemed to work is getting gel nails, so that’s my new expensive habit.
    -Lauren

  85. Anya says...

    My nails are pretty flexible, so I keep them really short, especially just before polishing them, and I find it slows down the chipping a lot, but I also always bring my own polish if I’m getting my nails done at a salon so that I can do touch ups at home and make it last a bit longer!

  86. I’m a horrible nail biter, too. (Might have to stop now!!) When it’s totally out of control and grossing my husband out, I do an at-home manicure (too much fungus and nastiness at salons!) with a glass file, buffer block, shea butter or similar on cuticles and then Dior Glow. Once they’re long enough, I keep them short and square. My absolute FAVORITE summer color is Cajun Shrimp from OPI. The best!!

  87. **shudder** I have an odd fear about losing/breaking teeth. Perhaps all those years of braces and then wearing a retainer at night has me valuing my teeth very highly! So glad the chip situation is a positive motivation for you!

    My bad habit: checking email on my phone first thing in the morning right after I turn off my phone alarm. I think the solution is no longer using my phone as an alarm, but I haven’t done anything about it yet…

  88. Nicole says...

    I used to bite my nails when I was a kid, but then my parents (both doctors) told me all about the diseases that it could bring, totally gross, so I got over it. Yay for tact…

    I love painting my nails with these colors & rotating every other week: bordeaux by Essie, find me an oasis by Essie and Russian Navy by OPI. I find that having pretty nails help increase my productivity :)

  89. Jess says...

    I recently stopped biting my nails too! When my daughter was born in February, I spent 3 days in the hospital and was too preoccupied to bite my nails. Once we got home I noticed that my nails had grown out a bit, so from there I have just been trying to mindfully avoid biting my them. If there’s a rough spot I make myself file it right away so I don’t pick at it/ultimately bite it. And if I realize im about to bite my nails watching tv or whatever I force myself to stop. It’s getting easier, but surprisingly still a struggle after 3 months. I thought habits were supposed to be broken after 21 days? Totally not true for me in this case. Also, I have NO IDEA how to actually take care of my “new” nails. What shape should they be? How do I clean under there when I’m washing my hands? How long/short is socially acceptable? I’m completely lost.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Good for you! Sorry to hear it’s still a struggle. As for length, most of my friends cut them very short and square. I also found, once my nails grew longer, that they felt strange to me — putting my hand in my pocket or typing or whatever would make me “feel” my nails in a way i wasn’t used to. so short and square feels right to me, too. hope that helps!!

  90. Bethany R says...

    This sounds so gross, I know, but my bad habit is to bite the inside of my mouth. I need some serious motivation to stop… maybe somebody could send an article my way about how it causes mouth cancer or something?! Am I the only one who has this terrible habit??

    • I do this! I definitely do it when I’m stressed. My dentist always does an oral cancer screening and he has never scolded me for it. (My cheeks have definitely been chewed up on dentist visits!!!)

    • Ally says...

      No, I do, too. The only thing that helped is when I hurt myself at work and split my lip… It hurt to make the repetititive motion, so after a few weeks I no longer felt the compulsion. However, a thirteen year habit is hard to break… When my brother died 2 years later, I started to do it again.
      My fiance always gently points out when I’m doing it. Lately, I try to keep my tongue between my top and bottom front teeth and keep my jaw relaxed. That helps a little! Wearing lip balm also helps, or lipstick, since I don’t want to bite the inside of my lips and make them unsuitable for pretty tints! And my teeth have cracks in them, now. So this story will motivate me a little more!

    • Alyce says...

      I do it too. I think it may not be that common, since my dentist and his dental hygienist both remarked on it on my first visit, and asked what caused it.

    • Ally says...

      I bite the inside of my mouth when I’m anxious. The only thing that helped is when I hurt myself at work and split my lip… It hurt to make the repetititive motion, so after a few weeks I no longer felt the compulsion. However, a thirteen year habit is hard to break… When my brother died 2 years later, I started to do it again.
      My fiance always gently points out when I’m doing it. Lately, I try to keep my tongue between my top and bottom front teeth and keep my jaw relaxed. That helps a little! Wearing lip balm also helps, or lipstick, since I don’t want to bite the inside of my lips and make them unsuitable for pretty tints! And my teeth have cracks in them, now. So this story will motivate me a little more!

    • Twyla says...

      My husband does this too. I always know when he’s deep in thought because his mouth is contorted because he’s biting the inside. I’d like to video him one time to show him how looney he looks when he’s doing it!

    • Emily says...

      I used to have this habit for years also. I come from a family of dentists, and being told it increases the chance of oral cancer wasn’t able to motivate me to stop, since I didn’t always realize I was doing it. I decided to get Invisalign at age 31, to straighten my teeth which had started to shift after having already had braces as a teen. While wearing the aligners 24/7 (except while eating) I couldn’t bite my cheek for an entire year. The inside of my mouth healed, my teeth are straight, and I haven’t bit the inside of my mouth in 3 years. Breaking that habit was worth every penny of the orthodontist bill, not to mention, having straight teeth again!

  91. Lauren says...

    I don’t bite my nails, but I constantly (like a few others mentioned) mess with my cuticles and pick and pull at the skin around my nails! It’s terrible- every now and then I can stop for a week or so, focus on moisturizing and how pretty my hands look. But I can’t make it last!

    My worst habit that causes me actual shame is hair pulling (trichotillomania). I mostly use tweezers and pull out the hair on my legs- but I dig and squeeze at them (so gross, I know), and I could do it for hours on end. I’m seeing a dermatologist and a psychiatrist to try dealing with it (in addition to other mental health issues). It has gotten worse lately, and my legs are so terrible I cannot possibly wear skirts or dresses like other women. There are lots of sores, bruises, scratches, so much redness. I’ve not been able to stop for long, but sometimes when they’re at their worst, I start to feel motivated to quit.

    • SV says...

      OMG. I have felt like a freak my whole life. I ALSO bite/pick my cuticles and pull my hair. Never talked to anyone else with this combo before. They are SUCH hard habits to break!

  92. I was a snaggle toothed little girl. It did not make me feel better to be told that my teeth were like Ali McGraws … I hated my teeth.
    When I was 19 I was living in LA .. I saw a dentist… I got caps.
    I smile now with no self consciousness, I am flattered when people admire my perfect teeth .. I worked as an advertising model .. Smile Big !!
    So I totally agree with stopping any habit that will mess up your Teeth !
    :D

  93. MCW says...

    I’m an accountant with three kids under four- so I’m hard on nails tittering away on a keyboard all day and having no time for even polish to dry, let alone getting away for a manicure! I bought all the supplies to do gels at home. OPI Gelcolor is the best, stays shiny and chip free for two weeks for me even with frequent hand washing from a record-breaking number of daily diaper changes. It also removes easily without scraping the nail- done properly the color pops off. Funny Bunny, pinky white with a very very subtle pearl, looks super sharp. That or bright red is all I wear. My nails have a capsule wardrobe! After wearing all kinds of colors, I feel best in those, so I don’t waste time with anything else. I used to get major manicure remorse if I chose a color I ended up hating! I just make a date with myself one night every other week after the kids are asleep to get it done and feel so put together! For me, having nicely polished hands with only an hour investment is totally a morale booster.

  94. Mary says...

    My habit is so gross. I absent-mindedly pick the dry skin on my feet. (Ew! I know! It’s awful.) Getting regular pedicures helps because I don’t want to mess up the technician’s work. Interestingly, my husband’s disgust provides almost zero motivation to stop. Ha! I’m like, “It’s my body! I do what I want!” He’s totally right, though…

    • MCW says...

      Get yourself a Pedro by Tweezerman! In the shower- so awesome. It keeps my feet so smooth and snaggle-free, the manicurist marvels at how little she has to scrub- she joked once that she wanted me to stop doing it so she’d have something to work on!

    • Mary says...

      Ordered. Thank you for the recommendation!

    • Aya says...

      Ordered too! Thank you. And Mary, same…ugh.

  95. I quit biting my nails when my orthodontist told me I would need jaw surgery if I didn’t stop. It’s amazing what a dire warning can do!

    Congrats on kicking the habit!

    • Kasia says...

      Wow! Good to know. I have bitten my nails and cuticles since I remember, and although my teeth are not chipped, the enamel on the top is cracked. But, more importantly my jaw sometimes falls into a wrong place with sharp pain, and will even stay immobilised for a few seconds. Often it just makes a clicking sound. I knew something was wrong but didn’t know the solution was so simple!

  96. Kimberley says...

    Sorry to hear about your tooth…literally my worst nightmare! As for my nails, I used to love a CND Shellac manicure until I discovered I’d developed an allergy to it (sad face). My favourite colour was called Creekside which is a gorgeous pale blue and I used to get SO many compliments whilst wearing it. Luckily I’ve found an identical shade in a quick drying polish!

  97. Katie says...

    I never comment, but this is so timely! I have also always bitten my nails (save for a few stints where I thought I’d kicked it), until recently! No chipped tooth, but I found out I had mono (at age 30!) — nothing like fear of infecting everyone around me to keep me from touching my hands to my mouth. So far so good, hoping to keep it up!

  98. Cynthia says...

    I quit biting my nails when I got braces at age 11. I rarely do nail polish, because it chips, and gel nail polish(cured under a lamp) is damaging to your nails. I buff mine which gives them a nice shine and I use Revlon’s Crazy Shine nail buffer. A number of years ago, I was eating a Reese’s peanut butter egg, and my lower front tooth chipped. My dentist was able to fix it, and she said it was just one of those things.

  99. Jessie says...

    Shoot. I’m not a nail biter, but I am a nail picker! I pick and my nails and my cuticles until they are just completely torn up, and it’s the worst habit ever. If I do manage to wait awhile without destroying them, I’ll get a gel manicure and keep myself together for 2-3 weeks while they look nice. But then I’ll start picking off the gel, which is horrible for my nails! UGH!

  100. Sarah says...

    Does anyone have a reason or a way to stop picking at cuticles??

    • Lindz says...

      Until recently I always picked and chewed at my cuticles. I had done so for as long as I could remember and I was always embarrassed. What finally worked for me was Shea Butter (the real kind). I carried it around religiously and whenever I felt the need to pick or bite I would apply the shea butter. It took about 3 weeks for my fingers to heal and then I treated myself to a manicure. This was a 27+ year habit that was difficult to beat and I sympathize with you and wish you lots of luck.

    • Kasia says...

      You could also try one of those cuticle pens (some of them are called cuticle removal pens but all they do is soften the skin). Not sure whether they are available in US but I used to have one by alessandro, and a cheaper version by essence. I find that when I have one I apply it to my cuticles as compulsively as I would otherwise pick at them, so it works double :)

  101. I’ve been nibbling my cuticles lately and it’s the worst. It actually started to bleed–while I was with a client. Cue to me awkwardly pressing a tissue muttering “clot, dammit, clot”. I try to be better about moisturizing but California is so dry!

  102. Right now, I love wearing a royal blue. But I pretty much only paint my toes. My fingernails never dry fast enough for me and I seem to chip them instantly. :( I really only get them painted for special occasions.

  103. Katie says...

    I’ve been a nail biter as long as I can remember. I’m almost 30. I’ve tried it all and to no avail. The longest I’ve ever made it without biting them was 2 weeks and then I could feel them when I was typing and what not, so I bit them! If I ever stop, I’ll never grow them out. I’ll just trim them extremely short. Long(er) nails gross me out for some reason. Also, I think I have weaker enamel to begin with since I’ve chipped 3 teeth so far (one from a tricycle accident, one from diving off a 60 foot cliff, and the other I’m sure was due to nail biting, but was caused by my daughter jumping up underneath my chin). Ugh I wish I could stop. Congrats to you!

  104. Dominique says...

    I lost two teeth a couple of years ago in a scooter accident when I was living in Taiwan. It took weeks to get a temporary replacement for them and then much longer to get a permanent fix. Damage to the front teeth is the worst because it has such a huge effect on your appearance and how you see yourself. I’ve never bitten my nails, but my 3 year-old does and we’ve been trying to figure out a way to get her to stop.

  105. Nora R says...

    I know this post is about nail biting but I find myself staring obsessively at your rings instead! I’d love to know where they’re from!

    • Megan says...

      Ditto @Nora R — lovelovelove those rings!

  106. Annie says...

    Oh my god!! This terrifies me as a lifelong nail biter. I mean LIFELONG. Now I’m wondering what bite of food is going to be the end of my front tooth. When I do try, however, to make them look nice and presentable, I love the Sephora Sheer Strength line. The colors are very sheer and flattering and EXTREMELY tough, much less chipping. Good luck Jo and thank you for this!!!!

  107. Laura Brown says...

    I stopped biting them when I took up smoking, at 17 years old. I quit smoking when I quit my toxic ex-boyfriend, at 25. At that time I also stopped drinking any alcohol, anytime, and started exercising. My motivation was hitting rock bottom in terms of my mental health. I wish it had only taken a chipped tooth! x

  108. Kate says...

    I love Essie when I get manicures, but for DIY at home nails I like OPI. Something about the OPI brush makes for easier application compared to other brands. My go-to color for summer is called Cajun Shrimp. I’ve been wearing it since college. It’s a bright orangish pink that looks great against tan and fair skins alike. It’s a little loud but I think it’s the nostalgia that keeps me hooked!

    • HAHA! Just named the same favorite summer color! Isn’t Cajun Shrimp so fun? It really doesn’t feel like summer until I’ve got it on. Toes, too!!

  109. Christine says...

    I’ve been a chronic nail biter since age 5! I’ve “quit” for months at a time by investing in regular manicures, but those have gone by the wayside since having my first baby last year. I had no idea that biting could weaken my teeth, though, and your scary story is motivating me to attempt to quit cold turkey!

  110. Anna says...

    I have ALWAYS done the same thing. I don’t ever remember not biting my nails. It used to be my new year’s resolution until I thought the same thing – what is it really hurting? Now I know, lol! Need willpower. Must quit :-)

  111. I don’t bite my nails, but I tear at them all the time while sitting at my desk! I’ve started rewarding myself with manicures for every week or two I leave them alone.

    Essie has a pretty dark green polish I like right now – I think it’s called Build Me an Oasis!

  112. East Hampton Cottage by Essie, it’s a milky, pearly pink that is flattering on everyone and goes with everything. I wore it on my wedding day! For summer, Essie has a beautiful red-orange called Color Binge. The thing with nail polish is that it can easily be changed and you can be as demure or as funky as you’d like without it being like dying your hair!

    I sometimes get the gel nail color, they last 2 weeks and sometimes more without chipping, but they do tend to weaken the nails if you do it all the time.

    Lastly, but for you posting about this, I wouldn’t have believed nail biting could weaken teeth! I get hangnails sometimes and those I try to bite off when I can’t find one of the 32 nail clippers I own! They seem to go missing all the time…

    Funny you mentioned Veep, my husband and I also watch it. I really don’t like it honestly, but it’s become something we do together and he likes it so it’s part of our thing now.

  113. Awads says...

    ugh! i chipped a tooth on a friday evening during a blizzard. lucky for me, it was a back molar (whew!) but i still wanted that thing fixed and was so fortunate that my dentist took me first thing on monday.

    My son has been biting his nails down to the quick since he was about 2. he’s almost 9 now and there is no end in sight. it pains me to look at his nails. any idea how to help a little boy quit??

  114. Natasa says...

    Congrats, Joanna it’s really not easy to stop this bad habbit.
    I was a nail bitter till my mid twenties (I’m your age) and I stopped with some ugly bitter nail polish.

  115. I’m so confused by the logistics of biting nails! Do you chew down on them like food? Or like, bite and tear?! OUCH! I have some terrible habits (hello knuckle cracking) but this one I really don’t get.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      you kind of bite them, it’s hard to describe! it’s really gross when you think about it!

  116. I don’t bite my nails, but when I’m stressed I tear them. It’s so annoying, I’ll make a real effort not to for months, and suddenly I’ll have an argument with my fiancé or miss my train and suddenly I’ll realise I’m doing it again! I do have a success story though: when I was 11 I stopped sucking my thumb. This was a BIG thing, because, embarrassingly, I still sucked my thumb about 75% of my waking hours and couldn’t sleep without doing it. My mother tried everything to get me to stop, but eventually we made a deal that if I stopped by my birthday, I could get my ears pierced. Since otherwise she would have made me wait until I was 15, and ALL my friends were getting theirs done, I went cold turkey and stopped within a week, which really irritated her.

    moncahierjaune.wordpress.com

  117. Madeleine says...

    I get gel polish put on my nails from time to time. I’m a nurse and regular polish chips the second I get to work. And because the gel is a little pricier, it gives me even more of an incentive not to bite.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s a great tip!

  118. wendy says...

    I was also a nail bitter. My grandmother always had perfect nails and it was literally one of her last requests. “Have a happy life…and stop bitting your nails!” As far as dying wishes go, that’s pretty easy

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh, wendy, that’s really sweet. love that you did it for her.

  119. Congratulations! Quitting cold turkey isn’t easy. My Pilates teacher quit smoking cold turkey three weeks ago. The best thing is to never start. I’ve never even held a cigarette much less taken a drag on one. But I crack my knuckles and really wish I would quit.

  120. Erin says...

    I love navy nails. Try Midnight Swim by Shellac. The Shellac polishes last for weeks without chipping. The down side is that you need to have the polish removed (or do it yourself) with acetone, which seriously dries out and weakens my nails. Fortunately, I am usually getting it removed at the next manicure!

  121. Tracy says...

    I was also a nail biter, so was my son who’s 11. While mine has not chipped just yet, last year, my son had this unexplained pain on his front tooth and gum (no rawness seen, they looked okay, so we couldn’t tell what’s wrong) so we took him to the dentist to find out that my son’s front tooth was ‘filed down’ very low for someone his age (from his x-ray). The dentist immediately said that it’s because he bit his nails quite a bit. I didn’t even realize he was doing this (biting his nails) then my son told me that he always bit his nails because he’s anxious at school and that just broke my heart and we both promised to nip this in the bud and quit biting altogether and instead try to talk things out more so we don’t feel more anxious.
    Thank you for sharing your story.

  122. Maywyn says...

    Congratulations! I’m proud of you.
    About the tooth…I don’t know if they use bonding anymore. Every tooth I had that a dentist used bonding on, broke off worse. I’d go for a cap.

    I love pearl pastel gray blue nail polish ( similar to Zoya’s Jo) with a tiny dab of silver glitter on the moons.

  123. Leah says...

    Let’s go get manicures :). My fave is a pinky purple called My Babe. Gel is the best; It sounds intimidating but lasts two weeks or more. Xo

  124. Jenessa says...

    Joanna! I’m feeling like you’re my secret kindred spirit right now because the EXACT same thing happened to me. I’m a grown ass woman but up until about a year and a half ago I was still biting my nails like an anxious teenager. I was sitting at my desk at work snacking on carrots and I crunched on something way harder than a baby carrot. It was a little piece of my bottom right tooth (my primary biting tool apparently). The dentist asked me the same questions later that day while he was fixing it and we realized that it was genuinely just a result of biting my nails. I quit cold turkey and haven’t looked back! Now I have this other nasty new habit of spending $40 on a manicure every two weeks.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      no way!!! i feel less alone! that is really funny/tragic. so glad you’re still not biting. and so funny about the manicure habit… but you deserve it :)

  125. Gabriella says...

    Congrats to you! I also had a really bad habit of this sort that had haunted me for years (I’m actually still too embarrassed to share it) that I finally kicked recently. My wedding was coming up and this habit would have affected how I felt on that day–the urgency of the deadline made me actually try to stop in a serious way for the first time in years. I failed a bunch of times and then I’m convinced I actually just became tired of failing. I was disappointing myself so much! So, whenever the urge came up…I would just think about that fact and not do it.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      gabriella, that is so awesome! good for you. really inspiring.

  126. Aaaand now I’m considering also stopping the nail-biting :/ And by considering, I mean deciding. I’m more of a casual biter (haha), as in not biting them too short but just enough for it to be a bad habit.

    For special occasions, I like gel nail manicures.

  127. Elizabeth says...

    What about messing with cuticles? That’s my horrible habit. I read somewhere that people subconsciously do this as a form of grooming, which of course is not the result. If I have a cuticle with a little snag I have to pull at it — it’s so distracting, and of course, with ten fingers, it’s an on going problem. I think the problem is living in a dry climate and the cuticles here get so dry. Anyway — any advice from anyone on how to overcome this?

  128. shahnnen says...

    I did sort of the opposite- I had chipped my teeth from playing sports and got veneers- and they were so $$ and mildly painful that I now baby them (night guard, sports mouth guard, never use them to open packages, etc) and it made me quit nail biting immediately! I find keeping my nails very short helps me to not have much temptation, too.

  129. Rebecca says...

    Ugh! I’m a nail biter off and on too, since I was a kid. I honestly think I picked up the habit from my dad who STILL bites his ridiculously low. My husband HATES it. I also tend to bite mine while reading and watching tv and when I’m anxious. I had kicked the habit for a couple of years but had my first baby in December and completely fell off the wagon!!! All those sleepless nights and night time nursing sessions did me in. Maybe this will be the push I need!

  130. Maria Lara says...

    LOL! Hilarious post! (sorry Jo, lol.) As a mid-thirties thumbsucker (only in the privacy of my home, none of my boyfriends have ever picked up on it either.) I’d appreciate ANY input on how to stop break this habit!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      you could always try the bitter nail polish or even these? http://amzn.to/1XcgGUL they look crazy, but might work? it’s so hard to break a habit!

  131. Glenda says...

    Your nails look so cute! I love clear shine or Essie Ballet Slippers. Essie with a good top coat lasts one week. If you wear dark colors you can instantly see a chip compared to light colors. Congrats!

  132. I’m not a nail biter, but I did chip my front tooth as a kid and every few years, the bond pops off and I need to get it fixed (and inevitably the dentist can’t squeeze me in for a few days). There’s nothing like trying to act like a functioning adult and have people take you seriously when you look like Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber! Were I nail biter, I agree this would be sufficient motivation to stop : )

  133. Sonya says...

    I chipped my front tooth on bread after years of biting my nails! Sadly I still catch myself biting them sometimes. I really like Sally Hansen’s Nail Rehab. It gives a bit of colour and shine but is more low maintenance than a full-on polish.

  134. THIS: http://www.amazon.com/OPI-Nail-Envy-Original-Ounce/dp/B00178TVXG

    It is The. Best.

    Makes nails SUPER strong (almost like Shellac hard) except it doesn’t peel off or anything, and can be easily removed it you’d like. AND you can use it over a color. I’ve used it for YEARS and everyone asks me how my nails always look so healthy!

  135. I always knew diet soda wasn’t the most healthful drink, but I thought as long as I drank enough water, and not too much alcohol, then was my nightly Sprite Zero so bad? But once my doctor told me to avoid all artificial sweeteners, I went cold turkey and became best friends with cherry-pomegranate flavored seltzer.

  136. Steph B says...

    I went through this same thing but I was 10! I obsessively bit my nails and one morning felt a crack and it was a tiny chip in my bottom tooth. I never told anyone because I was so horrified and embarrassed. Not even my parents! I quit biting right then and there. I still have the tiny chip (I’m 33 now) which is barely noticable except to me. It serves as a reminder to never bite my nails. You’ll notice how much less you get sick now and how the sound of people cracking their nails in their teeth will bug you! A therapist friend once told me nail biting is a way to feel successful, similar to cutting even. It’s instant gratification of I DID IT, I GOT THAT NAIL! I can see it. It was really gratifying.

  137. Jane says...

    That’s a major accomplishment — breaking a habit is super hard (I read somewhere that it takes 3 days to form a habit and 27 days to break one).

    I like getting manicures with a clear coat — the nails look shiny and perfect, and all the cuticles are taken care off, but you avoid the chipped look. For events, I go the no-chip route if I can manage to take the time. Usually, I go for a light gray or a deep burgundy in the winter. For toes, my current favorite is OPI’s Miami Beet, which is a beautiful purpleish magenta that makes me smile every time I look at my toes.

  138. wait!? how did you fix your tooth!?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      haha i’m not even sure! i think he put a cap on it or something! now it looks normal, thank goodness, and i can apparently eat whatever (don’t have to avoid crunchy things, etc).

  139. I have very weak nails, so if I’m not biting them I will tear them. However, I find that having a clear manicure on them makes them stronger and prevents me from messing with them. Win Win!

    Also I think chipped polish on nails is just…ick.

  140. Madeleine says...

    Well done!! Thank you so much for sharing this! It really has inspired me as I am full of bad habits! My favorite nail polish colors are OPI barefoot in Barcelona and Lincoln Park after dark. I also LOVE the Dior Glow but it chips so easily!

  141. Aya says...

    I’ve been loving RGB nail polish. I recently did a rehaul of my nail polish because I hadn’t painted them since my daughter was born (it grossed me out to think of using polish when she has my fingers in her mouth so often) but missed gussying up a bit. The formula is easy to paint, not gloopy, and doesn’t have as many yucks in it. My favorites: the liquid buff, rgb10 for a nude (much prettier on) and oxblood for my toes.

    And congrats on breaking your old habit!

  142. I’m with Lexi–nail polish chips way too easily to make getting manis worth it for me, except on special occasions. And forget about doing it myself, I have the shakiest hands. But a polish-free mani sounds nice!

  143. D' says...

    thank you for sharing! do you do anything differently now while watching tv/reading? or do you just sit with the urge?

  144. Katie says...

    Firstly, congrats! It’s so tough to break habits, I’m stoked for you. Secondly: NAILS ARE THE BEST. I have been doing my own since 6th grade. I find it super relaxing, meditative, and fun. It’s a cheap way to constantly mix it up. And, practice ambidexterity, if you’re into that ;) Typically, I’ll get situated in front of an old Law & Order or a beloved movie and then I’ll drag all my nail stuff out: remover, cotton balls, emery board, clippers, polishes, base coat, top coat, etc., maybe a bit of olive oil for my cuticles later. I get a professional manicure once, maybe twice a year, and I concur with Lexi on the polish: total waste of time. But. If you teach yourself how to paint your own nails, oh, the glory! I’ve been a devotee of CoverGirl NailSlicks since middle school – it has a built in topcoat & great volume, plus, it’s totally affordable, and they tend to have great colorways. Recently (as in, probably years ago) they were re-branded and now go by OUTLAST STAY BRILLIANT NAIL GLOSS. Here are three colors I adore: Smokey Taupe (daily/neutral); Fury (summer fun – totally great crustacean red!); and Nemesis (a great dark blood red for fall). Also, I’m a teacher, I don’t work for CG — just long loved their polish & feel like it’s something of a best kept secret! Kudos & bravo, Joanna! (PS – I checked online & they have a solid navy color called Diva After Dark; Essie Boy Blazer is also a superb navy polish.)

  145. Erin Mary says...

    I’m a lifelong nail biter! It’s such a vicious cycle. My nails are all weak and get chipped easily, so then I’m like “ugh might as well finish the job”. Also, I haven’t found a good nail file that doesn’t leave my nails all ragged. PLUS I can never even file them into a good shape so they look gross no matter waht. Also I have anxiety like woah, which is probably 90% of it. But I also have a tiny chip in my front tooth that I’m sure is a disaster waiting to happen. ughhhh. It’s hard.

  146. Natalie Brennan says...

    this is too funny! poor you! i have bitten my nails all my life and think i will probably just never quit at this point.

    …but maybe if my teeth chip i have hope lol ;-)

  147. Megan says...

    Congrats on kicking the habit! I stopped a few years ago cold turkey. Just told myself one day that I wasn’t going to bite them anymore and somehow it worked. I occasionally still bite one or two when I’m really stressed, but then I get back on the wagon!

    I keep my nails painted probably about 50% of the time. I swear by Sally Hansen’s 60 Second Quick Dry. It comes in a red bottle and really does make your nails dry faster and less likely to chip. I’ve always wanted to try the Dior Nail Glow. I may finally have to just go for it!

  148. lisa says...

    I am disappointed! Here I was hoping for the secret to getting my 2.5 year old to stop biting his nails! ;-)

    Actually – good on you Joanna! Now I’m extra motivated to get my son to stop sooner rather than later.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      the bitter polish might work! i think kids would find the taste extra unappealing: http://amzn.to/1XbBwn7

  149. Caitlin Dyck says...

    Right now I love baby blue pastel nails :) they look so nice when your nails are shorter and you have a bit of a tan! I actually had them on my wedding day as I had a pastel bouquet with lots of soft colours and I had beautiful baby blue flower in my bouquet. It matched perfectly!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that sounds so beautiful, caitlin!