How I Stopped Biting My Nails

How I finally stopped biting my nails (via recently mentioned in this post about coffee creamer that I had successfully stopped biting my nails all through March, and now into April too. Wahoo! I’ve even posted about it a couple times on IG in a “series” I’m calling nail updates.

It’s not really a series. I just posted about it twice. But I like the idea of making it a series. And I’m also quite shocked that I’ve been feeling OK enough to share about it online. Over the years I’ve usually tried to hide my nails in photos because I know I will inevitably have someone comment about how I should stop biting them or how bad they look. And for me, Internet-meanness only really hurts when I sort of agree with the comment. So I’ve felt really ashamed about this bad habit for a long, long time now and often try to hide it.

Anyway, I’ve had lots of people connect with me over nail biting from these posts. Apparently I’m not the only one who has struggled with this bad habit for years and years. And there are so many different suggestions and solutions out there to try, so I thought I’d share what has worked best for me.

How I finally stopped biting my nailsSo for any of you that don’t know me, I’m Emma, I’m 30 years old, and I’ve been biting my nails for as long as I can remember. I have had a few times when I stopped for a month or more. The most successful I’ve ever been at not biting my nails was the six weeks before my wedding. I knew my hands would be in lots of photos that day (holding flowers, with my rings on, holding Trey’s hand, etc.), and I just didn’t want to have any of those important photos ruined for me because I hated how my fingernails looked in them. That motivated me enough to stop biting them long enough to grow them out at least some (enough that they weren’t completely terrible). But after the wedding, it did not stick at all.

I’ve tried lots of things over the years. I’ve been trying on and off to quit biting my nails since high school. I’ve tried fake nails, nail wraps, polish that tastes bad, getting a manicure, acrylics, wearing gloves a lot (I know, weird), and a few other random methods I either heard from friends or read online. I was sort of considering hypnosis but just didn’t trust it to work (apologies if anyone is really into that, I just didn’t think it would work for me). So… yeah… it felt like I tried almost everything.

Then a couple months ago, I was listening to a random episode of Gretchen Rubin’s podcast. Part of the episode touched on how we form habits and what makes us stick to habits. And the whole time I was listening, I kept thinking that maybe this could help me understand why I have this bad habit and what I can do to stop it. She has a new book out, Better Than Before, which I haven’t checked out yet, but it’s for sure on my list.

Anyway, the main thing I took away from it was this: I have a hard time following rules that I think are arbitrary (I’m a little bit of a rebel like that). I do well when I understand the goal. Like if my goal is to get an A in class, I can follow the rules or make a plan to get there (unless it’s math, then I’ll settle for a B). Even if it’s something I don’t really want to do, if I understand the big picture of why it’s important, I can generally make plans, goals, and habits that can get me where I want to go. The big exception for me is with things I deem arbitrary or unimportant. And I realized that I guess I put nail biting in that category. It doesn’t totally matter how your nails look, you will make it through life even with short, bitten off nails. I know this because I’ve done it for the past 15+ years. And when I’d hear someone say, in real life or on the Internet, something to the effect of, “You really should stop biting your nails,” or “Your nails look so terrible like that,” etc. there was a little voice inside me that kind of wanted to say, “So what? They’re my nails not yours, and I’ll do what I want.”

I told you. Total rebel. 🙂

So then I thought I could just do some research and figure out why nail biting is so bad for you (health-wise, or otherwise) and maybe that would unlock the key. It wouldn’t be so arbitrary anymore; I’d have a real reason to quit. I read a number of articles online and everything pretty much said the same thing. Nail biting is bad because it’s putting your germy hands in your mouth. Gross (or possibly makes your immune system stronger? I read one article that said that). Also it’s possible that long term nail biting may cause your nail beds to shrink or your nails to stop growing, become weaker, etc. There were some health concerns with nail biting, but not really enough to deter me if I am being honest. I was hoping for something like, “Studies show that nail biters live an average of 10 years shorter than non-nail biters.” But I just didn’t find anything that seemed to suggest that.

And it was at this point that I decided I should just give up on trying to trick the rebel in me that nail biting was going to kill me. It probably wasn’t. So instead, I tried to changed my mindset towards the whole thing. I tried to make it less about following an arbitrary rule and more of a daily decision that I could choose or not choose to follow. Because the truth is, I do in fact like biting my nails. But I also like having longer nails. And these two things can’t coexist. So everyday I allow myself to decide which it’s going to be for that day only.

Everyday, especially when I want to bite my nails, I tell myself, “If you want to bite your nails tomorrow, you can. Just don’t bite them today.” And I really mean it. I figure that if a day comes when I really want to bite my nails but I don’t let myself and the next day I regret it, I wish I HAD went ahead and allowed myself to bite my nails, then I can bite them. Why not? It’s arbitrary anyway. But so far everyday that I don’t bite them, I’m glad I didn’t. So I keep going. But everyday it’s something I think about and struggle with a little. Especially if I’m stressed out or in a highly social setting, as those tend to really trigger this bad habit for me.

How to stop biting your nailsAnd that’s it. It’s pretty simple. I just decide everyday what I’m going to do, and I only stick to it for that day. Then it starts over the next day.

Will this work forever? I don’t know. My crystal ball rarely works.

Are my nails the most beautiful, longest nails in the world? No. I don’t think I have a future in hand modeling as a career. 🙂

Do I miss biting my nails? Yes. Often.

Am I happy, or at least happier that for now I’ve kicked this bad habit? YESSSSS. I feel SO proud, you guys!

I know it’s totally silly, arbitrary, probably temporary, and maybe even a little ridiculous that I’m even still struggling with this at 30, but – I feel so good that I’ve been able to stop this bad habit this past (almost) two months. I am really enjoying painting my long-to-me nails. I decided that if I go until the end of April without biting them, I’m going to treat myself to some new nail polishes. I’ve been wanting to invest in some natural polishes but haven’t wanted to spend the $$$ if I was just going to keep biting my nails and not really use the polish. We’ll see if I make it.

There you go, over 1300 words on nail biting. This has kind of been my nightmare post because I seriously hate talking about my nails. Ha!

Here’s to trying to kick old, bad habits! It’s hard. It’s embarrassing. But there you are. 🙂 xx. Emma

Credits // Author and Photography: Emma Chapman

  • Thank you Emma! I have struggled with nail biting for all my life but I never tried this “just for a day” approach. I’m definitely going to try this. It sounds like something that will work for me. 🙂

  • Hi Emma , what you have written about yourself is as though you are writing about me . I am 35 year old and have struggled with nail biting . I was constantly nagged by my mother, husband , son and many relatives and friends . I stopped biting my nails 6 months ago during the corona virus epidemic . I was so paranoid about catching the virus that I just couldn’t bring my fingers to my mouth . It’s a miracle for me . I am so happy and constantly take photos of my nails . And to be honest I do miss biting my nail and the comfort it gave me .

  • I bit my nails for over 20yrs, and now in my late 20’s I have finally stopped. I had tried countless times, but would ultimately end up getting discouraged when I relapsed after a month or two. This time around, I woke up one day and really determined to make it happen. I actively took note of any time my hand gets close to my face. After the first month, I treated myself to sns powder nails with tips. Once I got used to having longer more beautiful nails, I did not want to go back. The powder makes nails pretty thick, and for me biting my nails was no longer appealing as the powder made them much harder. I did notice that I started almost tapping my nails on my teeth or on the table to counteract the urge as well. After 3 sets of powder nails, my real nails finally graduated to where they looked decent enough on their own. I still go in on a monthly basis to get a regular manicure. I find that keeping the ritual helps a lot. Granted after the first 6 weeks of powder nails I no longer had the urge to bite much. Still get the occassional tapping urge. It took a little over 6 months for me, but I’ve finally gotten my nails to the point I want them to be at.

  • For as long as I can remember I have been biting my nails and picking at my skin surrounding the nail. I would often spend hours subconsciously picking at the skin around my nail, sometimes to the point where it would bleed and get infected. Every time I would get motivated to finally break the habit and stop biting my nails, I felt like there was no product that could possibly help me until I stumbled across a product that worked for me. Bitter Gold is a clear odorless nail serum that is applied on nails like nail polish. The nail serum strengthens the nail, while healing the dry skin around the nail for those who pick the skin and tastes so bitter you won’t want to put your fingers in your mouth. Not only, did it help me stop biting my nails, but my nails grew in stronger than ever. I really recommend everyone who bites their nails to give Bitter Gold a try.

  • Oh man, I haven’t thought about this in years, but I too was a compulsive nail biter for as far back as I could remember (kindergarten or earlier.) I had a really stressful childhood, and I believe that contributed to the start of this nervous habit. The problem with quitting is YOU HAVE NO IDEA YOU’RE DOING IT until it’s too late and you’ve chewed through a nail.

    I quit after I started college. It was a fresh start for me, leaving home, becoming independent, and I was determined to stop biting (and hiding) my nails. (I used to keep my fingers curled in and/or hidden against my arms or thighs all the time in public.) This is how I did it:

    1. I bought pretty polishes and laid them on fairly thick, right on those horrible, chewed-off nails, and a little above the ends to seal off part of the skin, try to protect it from my teeth.
    2. When my teeth hit the polish, it gave me the “jolt” I needed to notice that I had stuck a nail in my mouth, and I could try to stop.
    3. When the compulsion was just too strong, I only bit the nails on my ring fingers and pinkies, so that I still had pretty nails on 2/3 of my hand.
    4. Eventually I was able to reduce biting to pinkies only, and then to just “holding” a nail between my teeth without biting through. (Crazy how strong that oral fixation is!!!)

    I still, 20 years later, sometimes hold a nail in my teeth, mostly when reading something in print or on the computer, but I promise you, you CAN stop biting your nails if you hang in there. I wish everyone the best of luck in this journey, because it’s not easy!

  • YAY! Good Job! This post made me so happy-the part about not caring about arbitrary rules is something I struggle with-along with nail biting, so I could totally relate. I laughed at the part where you googled if it’s harmful to your health, hoping to find a study saying it will shorten your lifespan. I ALWAYS google things hoping I find a “good enough” reason to care. FYI I’m also 30 and my nails are terrible little nubbs that take on the grunt of my stress. Poor things, really, but I’m also scared what nasty lil habit will pop up if I stop biting my nails!

  • I really relate to this! I don’t bite my nails, but I do pick at/bite my cuticles and the skin right around my nails. It’s embarrassing and I’ve tried so much to stop. I even told my boyfriend to tell me to stop anytime he catches me but nothing works! I think you’re right about the motivation factor – I always used “I want my hands to look better” as my motivation, but I need to find something less arbitrary. Because in the end, it doesn’t matter what my fingers look like! I think I’ll start using your technique. First, often my fingers hurt from it, and sometimes bleed which is so uncomfortable – motivation! Second, telling myself I can do it tomorrow if I don’t today sounds like it might work. I don’t think I’ll regret NOT picking at them. Thanks for sharing this! It might feel silly, but it’s so relatable!

  • I always bite my nails unless I’m in love. Funny, huh? I always know I’m in love when I notice my nails are growing. I’m 36, though, and no lasting love… so the nails are bitten to the quick at the moment. I like your approach. I’ve been trying sometimes to find the feeling of centeredness and love inside myself each day, and sometimes that works for a bit.

  • What helped me the most to stop biting my nails was to pick just one nail that I could still bite & leave the other 9 alone. It really worked!

  • I remember I stopped biting my nails when I was a teen because a friend of mine also wanted to stop (she was using the bad tasting polish), and I guess I had someone to be accountable to. Plus she pointed out that it was a sign of nervousness, and bothered me (like, people might look at these nails and make assumptions that I’m nervous? Uh, no way, I have to maintain this facade of coolness)! Also know that once your nails get long enough it’s really satisfying to cut them all down again.

  • LOVE THIS!! Thank you, Emma! I struggle with this so much and it’s so encouraging to hear your process. Thank you for being honest about it being hard and also for how happy it’s making you!

  • I used to bite my nails, but that stopped the moment I went to nursing school. Germs, lots and lots of germs. Hope you can stick with it!

  • Thanks for the share! And the habit breaking tip. I know I’m an alcoholic and I struggle with drinking everyday. This same mantra is something I constantly have to battle. Sometimes by the hour. It’s good to know that it’s helped you for 2 months! Go guuurl!

  • Good for you!

    And this is exactly how a colleague of mine goes about smoking. So far, she hasn’t smoked for over twenty years, taking it one day at a time. And then the next. And she still isn’t sure that there might not come a day on which she decides she does want to smoke on that day, but considers the chances quite slim (also knowing that that will make NOT smoking again the day after a lot harder).

  • Your strategy reminds of two things: one, being the gym quote I always hear – “You’ll never regret a workout,” meaning that you might hate exercising, but once it’s done, it’s done and you’re proud! Kinda like your nails. 🙂 and two, being what Kimmy Schmidt says on her eponymous show, that she can go through 10 seconds of anything (it makes a lot more sense if you’ve seen the pilot episode). So your version of 10 seconds is a day, and then the next day, and so on.

  • Thank you much for writing this!!! I have been a nail biter ever since I could chew (26 years?). People don’t understand why it’s so hard to stop – I bite them sometimes without even knowing that I’m doing it. I’m trying really hard to stop now because it’s so satisfying to be able to paint my nails. I still put my fingers in my mouth but don’t chew the nail – I guess kinda like putting a cigarette in your mouth without lighting it. It’s the ultimate test of will power!
    Your fellow nail-biter, Nicola

  • Thanks for this post! You’ve got me thinking about my nails, which..I never do. I have hand eczema so I feel like my hands look bad anyway so my addition to biting my nails has never really bother me that much….other then how gross it is. I’ve been doing it for so long now that I don’t even know I am doing it, but I think I will try to free myself from it for one week and see what happens 🙂

  • Thank you for sharing your struggles & success with this! Cheering you on & looking for some hand modeling with the new polishes 😉

  • A few days late and way off topic, but can we talk about how delicious Cinnamon Toast Crunch is?

  • Had to laugh about how it hurts when it gets real short. Sometimes, I wouldn’t even allow my be to touch my fingers because they hurt.

  • I’m 31 & struggle with this, too! It was basically reading about myself. Yep, rebel. 🙁 I’m on & off. What’s worse is, the tip of my left middle finger broke when I was a toddler and fell off a desk while a rotary phone fell with me and my finger was caught… So, it makes matters worse. Also sucks because I could always get all the free mani from my nail tech sis.
    It was good to read this. Gotta stay busy so I can focus on other things than nail biting.

  • Dude, that’s how I quit smoking! I found that the hardest thing was to not smoke when all my friends went outside for a ciggie break, so I would tell myself that I would have a smoke during the next break. And when the next smoke break rolled around, I’d tell myself to wait for the next one. It totally worked, I haven’t been a smoker for 4 years!

  • So glad you made it!!!!!
    I am 37 and i have the same problem….I have tried fake nails,acrylic etc….NOTHING :@ !!!!!!
    I will try to follow your advice…hope to make it…I love rings soon much but i never put them on cause i am so embarrassed 🙁 .
    Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • congrats for winning the challenge!

    when will i? T__T auftt its so hard

  • I love Gretchen Rubin too! So great that her tips have helped you. I too am a Rebel, and I learned to do the exact same thing to “trick” myself–I think, well, I can always do it tomorrow. I’m doing a Whole 30 right now and am on day 7. I would never, ever have gotten this far without everything I’ve learned from Gretchen! Anyway, I think you are so brave to write about this, and I am rooting for you to keep it up. 🙂

  • Thanks for sharing your story and congratulations on growing em out! Hope you keep deciding to do exactly what you want 🙂

  • Yep. I tried that. Didn’t work for me.

    But, I hope this post didn’t come off like I had the magic answer for everyone. I don’t think there’s one solution, I think it’s whatever works for you. So glad to hear this method helped you and I’m glad you commented so it can help others!


  • 5 years—wahoo!!!!! You’re making me feel excited for the future over here. Thank you and big high five to you!


  • We all have our demons, emphasis on the plural there. There is no shame in admitting it, but man is it hard! I think too that for me, I don’t like admitting that I am “wrong” or that I have something I’m kind of failing at (nail biting, healthy eating, could be smoking but that hasn’t been my particular demon in life). I want people to think of me as accomplished and put together. But just because I fail or struggle in one area doesn’t mean I’m not accomplished or put together. It can be both, and probably usually is for most people except for those occasional saints (which I am not).

    I don’t know where I’m going with this, just chiming in as if we’re talking I guess. 🙂


  • YES. Except for me it’s usually a glass of wine instead of cookie. 🙂

    The healthy eating struggle is real and alive in my life too. But the day to day decision thing helps me a ton bc it reminds me that these little (hard) choices are not forever. Nothing is off limits, but I’m seeking what I really want daily and can change course tomorrow if I want.


  • Yep, professional settings always made me feel like my fingers (bitten nails) look like a middle school kid. Which would then get me thinking, do I even know how to do my job? Can I even run a business this size? And all that self doubt that I’m sure you know comes with being an entrepreneur. It’s silly bc rationally I know it doesn’t make any difference to your business skills if you bite your nails or not, but something about it always made me feel super uneasy and kind of ashamed. I hear you!


  • Your nails look great Emma. Keep it up one day at a time!

  • Yes, for me the whole 21-days-to-a-habit thing would totally derail me! I just felt like I would for SURE fail. It’s just sounds so long to someone’s who’s been biting my nails forever. So the day to day decision thing has been a game-changer for me.


  • Yep. When I would bite them so low that they would hurt to do things, like type or rub my husband’s back (TMI?), that would always be an all-time low feeling. Like, why do I do this to myself? You know? So frustrating to feel out of control.


  • Yes, I think unless you’ve been a nail-biter you can’t know that it’s actually pretty enjoyable. I’m sure there’s something deeper to it, like it’s self-soothing or an outward way to deal with anxiety on the inside, etc. Idk. But I honestly really enjoy biting my nails, I just don’t like how it looks and it’s not a super healthy habit (but, there are worse for sure). At any rate, I really also just feel so much more, I don’t know, confident. Not in the whole appearance thing although that’s nice, but just that I am not a slave to the habit. Feels more in control and powerful, and I like that. There’s so much about life we can’t control so being able to choose good habits feels amazing.


  • Interesting. I was hoping someone had tried hypnosis who could chime in on how it went for them. I def didn’t want it to sound like I meant it’s not for others, I’ve heard some pretty amazing stories. I just didn’t end up trying it myself. Anyway, good to hear you had a positive experience.


  • Yep, I hear you! I don’t know what’s gonna do the trick for you but hang in there and keep trying. I felt like I tried EVERYTHING before I finally found something that worked for me and my personality type.

    Also big congrats in 3 months!!!!!! What an exciting season in your life!


  • That’s true! I’m really glad you pointed this out. It does feel like a struggle most days, but another way of looking at it is that it’s a daily success—which is pretty cool. Great point!


  • Ah man, cuticles! I don’t have the same issue as you, I’m more of a nail-biter, but I am finding that I have NO idea what to do with my cuticles now. I’ve def picked at them before and it can be painful.

    Anyway, I feel ya. Good luck on your own journey friend!


  • It’s SOOOO hard! I’m rooting for you. You got this!


  • Thank you for posting this! No one ever talks about stuff like this… Most people try present a ‘perfect’ persona online. I am a 41 year old cuticle picker/biter… A horrible habit I started when I quit smoking 10 years ago. I am going to adopt your tips and choose not to do it ‘just for today’. Thanks again!

  • Thanks for sharing Emma! I’m a life-long nail biter too so hopefully this will get to me to re-think my mindset too!

  • Yay Emma! I used to bite my nails when I was a kid. Like 4/5-7/8 ish? I had a lady tell me that if I stopped biting my nails, she would give me a ring. So I did, but she never gave me a ring. ??

  • The best way I was able to stop was by flaunting it. Making people aware, so they could hold me responsible for it. Similar to how you’re talking about it and posting pics! My mom let me start getting manicures when I stopped (at least, kind of stopped) and they were so pretty and I was so proud so I would just flaunt them around and get compliments and they made me feel great, and never want to bite them again!

  • It took me sooo long, and even now I still nibble some times !

  • This is great Emma! My boyfriend bites his nails too… It`s so difficult for him to stop!
    xx Caroline

  • Hi, biomed student here 🙂 i have a huge passion for immunology. Our bodies have some amazing line of defenses against pathogens. The number one? Our skin! Our skin does an incredible job of keeping out pathogens, and it’s our “holes” (mouth, eyes, nose, etc!) that can let them in. Keeping your hands/fingers out of your mouth (and out of your ears! and your nose! and your eyes!) definitely helps in not letting those pathogens in. Think of this: you would put a band-aid on a cut, and why? To prevent infection! You’re covering that break in the skin. Keeping your fingernails out of your mouth is the same concept 🙂

  • I am also 31 and have had this habbit my whole life.
    I have always been told off by family, “to stop bitting my nails” been warned about infections and bad tasting nail polish. But it did not deter me, like you it made the rebel in me grow stronger.
    Then one day when I was 28, pregnant with our 3rd child and having maternity photos taken, the photographer asked my partner to kiss my belly for a picture. As he did he noticed my hands and how every nail was gone. He made a comment and I qickly moved my hands from the side of my belly to hide them underneath. That was my first real kick in the butt to try and stop this habbit. Its been hard; and progress slow. However I have found some success in only “giving” myself my thumbs and only my thumbs to bite if im stressed or nervous or whatever and i just need that release. Eventualy I hope to get it to just one thumb and then none…but until that day, the thumbs can be easily hidden when need be.

  • i’m also recovering from this habit! These days I don’t bite very often, but I pick at my nails and make them peal… very satisfying when i’m doing it, very irritating afterwards! I don’t really remeber how I finally quit biting, but the past years I had horribly weak and pealing nails and I solved that when I bought this awesome nailpolish that actually made my nails superhard and nice. It’s called Trind – nail repair color. And I’m not sponsored!

  • I love how this post is resonating so much. I haven’t bitten my nails in years, but I’m the same way when it comes to other habits I struggle to break–just one step at a time, one day at a time 🙂

  • Hi Emma, I’m 31, and I’ve been biting my nails since I was a child. What made me get serious about quitting a few years ago was the condition of my teeth! I had this moment in the dentist’s chair. He asked what was up with the severely worn enamel and stress lines in my bottom front teeth, so I showed him my stumpy finger nails and then awkwardly apologised. Over the last three years, I have been able to cut back to the point where I’m down to merely fidgeting by running my teeth under the nail instead of biting, nipping at a hang nail, or picking at my polish. I do rarely chomp one, but now it hurts my sensitive teeth because they aren’t used to it anymore. Also, I seem to have replaced nail biting with minor lip biting and almost daily post-shower, mini manicures where I do a super quick cuticle nip and file the problem spots that I think I’ll pick at later. Baby steps… You can do it too!

  • i don’t usually comment, but i just wanted to thank you. this post resonated with this anon. thank you <3

  • i don’t usually comment, but i just wanted to thank you. this post resonated with this anon. thank you <3

  • Habits like this are so hard to kick – I should know, I’m a 29 year old former thumbsucker. And by former, I mean I stopped a month ago. I’ve quit before but always revert to it in times of severe stress – this time I picked it up again after a car accident and it’s been so hard to stop! I love your idea of telling yourself you can do it tomorrow, such a useful trick, and one that I’ll be using if I get the urge to slip back into my old habits.

  • Thank you Emma for your post! I’m a nail biter too since young…& I thought I was never going to kick the habit for the rest of my life. I always have to hide my hands and make sure no one’s simply embarrassing and yet I can’t stop especially more so when I’m anxious! Thanks so much for your inspiring message!

  • I have exactly the same issue as you!! I felt like I’d tried everything as well, and the only thing that was even vaguely effective was eating food every time I wanted to bite my nails – which of course put my desire to lose / maintain weight in jeopardy! I like the idea of saying “if you don’t today, you can do it tomorrow” – it might actually work! I’ll make sure I let you know how I go 😉

  • That’s amazing! I have a terrible habit of picking at my cuticles when I’m stressed, so no matter how long and nice my nails are, the skin around them looks terrible. I did have some luck with Sally Hansen’s cuticle Rehab gel – it’s so oily that I don’t want to touch them, and a friend who borrowed it said it stopped her biting for the same reason. I do it so absent-mindedly that I don’t know if your method could work, but I’m going to give it a shot.

    Also, Better Than Before is great – halfway through it and can’t recommend it enough.

    xx Jessi

  • Good for you! I’m a nail biter too and I haven’t chomped down on them for about two months (trimming with nail clippers). But a lot has to do with me being an anxious person. I notice when I’m under a lot of stress or feeling overwhelmed, I go back to this habit. I’ve tucked a pack of gum in my bag to help ease the temptation. Best of luck!

  • GO Emma! You have always been such an inspiration to me. I love your story and I also love your style. Will you please share you got that amazing PINEAPPLE shirt! I want to order it immediately.

  • I had a dental hygienist who pointed out that people who bite nails are vulnerable to getting sick because of all the crud under our nails. Whether true or not, that got me to stop cold turkey.

  • I love your approach to dealing with the habit. I bite my nails too and have had periods where my nails have been long and quite gorgeous if I do say so myself. But I can never keep them for very long and I don’t beat myself up about it.

  • Thanks again for posting about this! I, too, was able to stop leading up to my wedding last summer but have totally relapsed this last year. I find I bite my nails most when I’m anxious, but a lot of times it’s also when I’m idle (like reading a book or watching a movie). I’m always say I’m going to stop but haven’t yet…I love what you said about taking it day by day. It’s really a mind-over-matter type of thing! Good job and keep it up!

  • What great advice!!! I too have struggled with nail biting all my life. And it’s the type of nail biting that makes my nails look horrible. Some people bite their nails and you can’t really tell, but mine would bleed and the cuticles were constantly cracked and they hurt too! I have recently not been biting my nails. I have been getting manicures to help. I still pick at my cuticles some which drives me nuts. But it happens when I am stressed. I TOTALLY relate to everything you said in your post. It’s like i could have written it! And i personally love the look of short, manicured nails. yours are beautiful. In fact, makes me want to go get a mani in that exact color!! Imitation is the highest form of flattery 🙂

  • your nails are beautiful now! I used to bite my nails too and stopped because I was always so ashamed of how my nails looked. I started eating vitamin E supplements to strengthen my nails and it has also really helped with keeping my nails looking nice.

  • I’ve been biting my nails my entire life as well! I completely sympathize with you and have always hated the way my nails looked, but didn’t care enough to quit. You’ve really inspired me to try again! Congratulations and good luck!

  • Emma! That’s exactly how i stop biting my nail, now i do slip up every couple of months, but the knowledge that I CAN stop biting my nails really helps me try again. The decision to do it is the hardest part. I also find not filing my nails but using nail clipper helps to reduce snags which then leads me to playing with them and ruining my nails. I also don’t let them get to long because you want them to be strong and shortish rather than weak and long.I think if you dot biting for 3-6months you can let them get a bit longer but i haven’t got that far yet! YOU CAN DO IT, and if you slip up you can try again!! xx

  • Love this, I so appreciate your honesty. None of us are perfect! Good luck in your battle…

  • I definitely was expecting some miracle answer when I clicked into this article, as I too am a chronic nail biter, but I guess it really is as simple as having some self control. I put an biting into that “harmless” category as well, which is why I think it’s been so hard to kick. x

  • OMG thank you so much for this post!! I have the same exact problem – biting nails and also actually picking at my cuticles. And the only time I really successfully stopped doing it was for the few weeks before my wedding, because I wanted the photos to look nice! And I also get triggered in social situations, or if I am otherwise feeling anxious, like on an airplane or during a scary movie. I will definitely try your method! But even more than that, thanks for writing this post and making me feel like less of a weirdo!! xoxo!!

  • Thank you so much for sharing. Confession time: I’m 43 and a biter. I did really well last year – kept them unbitten for about 6-8 months but then I made the mistake of having a SNS manicure, thinking they would help. They looked good for about a week and then I cracked them doing boxing class!! And when them came off, my nails were weak and cracked and I started fiddling and biting them again 🙁

    I’m definitely going to try your approach – well done for yours – they look really pretty 🙂

  • Great article! I used to bite my nails all the time. I stopped at the age of 20 because I got my wisdom teeth removed and it hurt to bite down on anything remotely hard for about 3 weeks, so I wasn’t able to bite my nails for three weeks… and then I found myself with painted nails and didn’t want to ingest that. (I don’t recommend getting oral surgery done just to stop a bad habit though!)

  • totally relate to this–I’ve been a life-long nail biter ? My issue is not that I’m a rebel (haha) but a total perfectionist–if my nails are uneven or ragged at all, I’ll bite them to even them out…and then keep going and going until they hurt since they are never going to be perfectly even! I’ve also quit for long stretches, but it never seems to stick once i hit a particularly stressful period of time. Ah well, back on the wagon again I suppose!

  • Emma, I am 53 years old and still struggle with nail biting. A few weeks ago, I had managed to grow them out, which I have done off and on in the past for weeks/months at a time. Then one breaks (they are so easily broken and peel too) and it’s on again, biting right down as far as I can. I’ve had more time with ugly nails that with nice ones, but I do want to try again. Its worse when I am anxious/depressed and I’ve been going thru “issues” lately so I think that triggered this round of biting. The worse thing is that my son picked up this habit when he was a child. He’s 30 now and still struggles with it as well. 🙁

    And shame on those who make ugly comments to you about it! Thank you for sharing!

  • I LOVE this as a way to break any bad habit. Definitely going to try this! Thanks for sharing!

  • I barely comment on blogs and possibly never have on A Beautiful Mess, but I had to say it: Emma you are so brave for sharing your story! Your vulnerability is beautiful. I’m 30 and sometimes I bite my nails; it’s shame-breaking just saying it <3

  • Oh my goodness, I love this post! I’ve been biting my nails for years, too, & no matter how hard I try to grow them out, I end up biting them over & over again. I know why I do it, but it’s hard to stop something you love doing so much. You’ve inspired me to stop biting, though! It’s one of my goals for May. Thank you!


  • Same problem here at 34! I have the problem where I bite them and if I ever stop, I have to make sure I trim them a little bit b/c I can’t handle how ‘long nails’ feel and then I bite away. Someone go ahead and fake that 10 year longer life article in a convincing way!! I’m going to try your daily affirmation/negotiation. Thanks and good luck!

  • That’s great! I love Gretchin Rubin’s podcast and books. Now I’m curious to know if you have taken her Four Tendencies quiz. I am guessing you would actually be in the Rebel category.

    You should definitely read Better Than Before because she goes into depth about the Four Tendencies. It’s so interesting to hear what habit strategies work for some and not others based on their Tendency. Thanks for sharing!

  • I really appreciate this post. I had a huge problem with nail biting all the way through school and college. It was especially bad if I had midterms. I sat in the test and would systematically chew them off while mulling over the problems. I totally get the liking it thing, too. I catch myself peeling at a nail (or a scab, I’m horribly about scabs) and it’s like an inner fight: “You should stop. Just stop.” “No. Don’t want to, I want to rip this off.” 🙁

    I’m not sure exactly how I stopped biting them, I think I kind of just did what you did: decided I wanted to stop and reminded myself each day not to. I also find that if I do my nails nicely in a pretty polish that it keeps me from seeing those splits that sometimes happen in the very end of the nail. I still have a hard time not peeling at those, so if I can’t see them, I don’t do it. Weirdly enough, not doing certain activities prevents me from chewing them, too. I used to play the violin a lot and you need short nails for that, especially on the left hand. I’d get to my violin lesson and chew them off before my teacher caught me instead of using nail clippers.

    Sadly I think my nervous habit transferred because now I chew on the inside of my lower lip, which I don’t remember doing before… :/

  • Thank you for sharing! I do not bite my nails. Instead I pull my hair out or I’m touching it all the time. My hair is oily as a result and I have a lot of damage from pulling on it so much. Your post is very inspiring and I’m going to try to stop today.

  • This is a great strategy, for many of the little habits people have. I particularly like that it basically is about treating yourself as a grown-up who can make many different choices for multiple reasons – and that’s absolutely ok. The deferred fulfilment (not doing x until the day after) both stacks the deck in favour of a mood change in between, and also removes your decision from that moment, so it’s legit if you do decide to diverge from your goal. It would be a more reasoned choice, rather than a spur-of-the-moment impulse.

    Anyway, kudos on the nails – they look great. Proud of you for keeping this up 🙂 xxx

  • I have some issues like this (I actually am a recovered nail-biter but do other things like pulling out hair and biting the inside of my mouth) that are actually a result of OCD and I’ve been told that cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) works really well for this sort of thing! Maybe more effective/regulated than hypnotism…

  • Oh my goodness. Someone who finally understands my struggle! It’s a horrid habit!

  • Thanks for sharing this. I can relate, however my vice is smoking. (don’t judge) And it’s so so so so so so much worse than bitting your nails. Simple fact is that I do enjoy smoking. I know it’s gross, I know it can kill me, and I can’t quit. Even though I have quit many times before. I like the idea of “If I really want to smoke I can do it tomorrow, not today” I’m going to try that.

  • Good for you! I’m glad you found something that works for you. But nail biting is a sign of stress as we know, so maybe incorporating some stress relief strategies into your life would help?

  • You are so brave for sharing this. We all have things we are self conscious about, thanks for sharing yours.

  • I love (love love love) this post. I’m not a nail biter, but I am a cuticle picker/biter – especially if I’m stressed. Really, my bigger habit is that I’m habitually late. My work has a flexible start time of 8:30ish – I’ve been here for 6 years and now stroll in at 9:45….9:45 – how ridiculous is that?! And then I stay til 7. It’s a horrible cycle – but since I don’t get in trouble for it (it’s a great job) – I can’t break this terrible habit. I think the issue is that I never feel bad until I walk through the door, or when everyone leaves around 5:30. But at all other points leading up to being late: meh – I don’t care.

    Lastly, what I appreciate most about this post is that I can totally relate to that feeling of “shame” about a bad habit – and the fact that you put it out there for us to read means SO much. Thank you for sharing!! It’s really a great reminder that habits ARE breakable….you just have to own it and then change your mindset.

    Thank you Emma! And congrats – your nails look fab!

  • Thank you for applying this to eating! That’s what I need right now…

  • Well done Emma, I don’t bite my nails but everyone has a guilty little bad habit they’d like to give up. It’s honest “real girl” stuff like this that makes ABM a big hug across the internet. xx from the UK!

  • My whole family struggles with nervous fidgety habits like this – my sister once absent-mindedly plucked off a one inch section of her eyebrow while studying for exams, and my dad bites his nails so short they’re wider than they are long. I think what helped me was finding a fidgety habit that wasn’t necessarily bad. So since I was a kid and decided I wasn’t going to let nail biting be my thing, I’ve been pushing my cuticles back (gently!) with my other fingers. For me, it satisfies the same sort of need, but now I have pretty good nails and great cuticles 🙂

  • I struggle with this also! My issue is that I have always had weak, thin nails & I don’t have cute hands. So whether I bite them or not..they look bad. Haha. It’s rare that I decide to grow them out.

  • Good for you Emma! Thanks so much for sharing this. I struggle with OCD (lots of handwashing) and I think trying your strategy of just making the choice one day at a time might help me!

  • I used to bite mine until my fingers bled. I remember biting my nails my whole life. It hurt! Once I got one nail, the OCD in me caused me to gnaw on all 10. You know what helped me? I got pregnant 😉 Just a suggestion! ha.

    Seriously, though. I bit them my whole life, & on January 18, 2014 I found out I was pregnant and I just stopped immediately. What was once a daily habit is now something that I have done 3 times in the past 2 years. Pretty awesome. Go make a baby. 🙂

  • Haha! I read all this kind of hoping for something that would make me want to stop biting my nails, but also kinda not wanting because I like biting my nails!
    I’ve been doing it forever, but around december last year I decided I would try to stop because I wanted to paint my nails (I have never really learned to because of the nail biting thing). It worked surprisingly well for a couple of weeks until my nails just started to break down. They looked so bad because of nail polish and nail polish remover and the whole nail file procedure made my poor nails flake (even though I did it the “right” way). It felt like the opposite of what I had thought would happen! I had read somewhere that on small babies you aren’t supposed to cut or file the finger nails, you can just sort of pull them off and that is supposedly the absolute best and most harmless way, and that thought stayed in my head. Like what if nature WANT’S me to bite my nails?! HAHAH! I know, so dumb. But it really is a very hard habit to break. I am now biting my nails again (though not at all as much as before) and they look so much healthier (people have actually commented on my healthy nails before and that has always felt like I have this huge secret, making me giggle inside, “Oh, you should try this new trend, it’s called nail biting and it’s SO good for you!”) So you could safely say that this whole thing didn’t go at all as planned.
    I am going to slowly try to stop biting them and not paint my nails because I think my fragile nails don’t want that right now (I have a stupid thyroid…).
    So yeah. I talked for ever. Sorry. But this is apparently a big thing in my life too, haha!

  • Not stupid at all. I struggled to quit biting my nails for yeears. When I first started dating my now husband, he made a comment about me biting them that made me super self-concious. I quit that very day. But there have definitely been moments where I got totally stressed or overwhelmed and bit off every last one. I’ve been getting gel manicures for the last couple of years and that’s really helped because I can’t bite them with the gel on. I LOVE that you admit you like biting your nails – I do too. It’s a soothing habit. But I’d take a cute manicure most days over biting my nails. Keep it up! <3

  • I personally have very different nails than the majority of people as I have a hereditary mutation that affects my nails (they look very different than normal people, the bed is raised and they’re very thick). This is passed down from generation to generation in my family and when I have kids, they will have it too. My problem growing up wasn’t so much biting my nails as it was over cleaning them. The thing is, since they are raised, they get dirty very quickly (underneat). Like peeling an avocado or an orange is a nightmare ’cause I litterally have chunks of it stuck under my nails. And since they’re very different well, I often get comments on them (the usual range from: “wow! those are weird”, “ah cool, they look like claws” or the most common “eeeewww do you have mushrooms??? Gross”)

    So growing up, I was very self concious and cleaned the hell out of it every day after showering (I would use the little buffer wand on nail clippers and scrape the softened skin under my nails). Unfortunately, I did this so much that now, it looks like I have a permanent french manucure…….a very large french manicure and if I reach too quickly for something I risk ripping them off accidentaly (which I’ve done on two occasions……the pain is just unbelievable). So now I have to keep them not too long otherwise “death by nail ripping”. So not the same but a bad habit I had to kick as well. But now at 30, I’m not so self concious anymore, haters gonna hate!

  • This is a great tip for any goal you have in mind! I think I’ll use it to help with my diet.

  • Thanks for sharing Emma! We all deal with long term bad habits, no matter how old we are (41 year old sugar addict here). I really appreciate your honesty. Also, your top is ADORABLE!!

  • thank you for sharing. i have bitten my nails off and on (mostly on) for as long as i can remember … like low … like bleeding low. the biggest downside to me biting my nails was having to hear from so many people that i shouldnt or that they looked awful or my husband hated the sound it made. so i was always really self conscious about it. normal, high functioning, beautiful people dont bite their nails, right? i can remember going to job interviews and doing everything i could to make sure my nails couldnt really be seen. thank you for addressing that some people just struggle with this and also a different way of thinking about it … maybe it will be helpful for me to quit for good.

  • Not directing this at you, Emma, but want to mention some additional context:

    I have CSP (compulsive skin picking), so admittedly a pretty severe form of what in others may manifest as “just a bad habit”. But I wanted to mention here that, if you come to a place where you realize you are veering into being out of control with your bad habit, a counselor specializing in CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) can be extremely helpful. Compulsive skin picking, hair pulling, nail biting, and many other BFRBs (body focused repetitive behaviors) are real health problems and it’s OK to need professional help with them! Here’s some more information:

    I felt so much better when I learned that what I had wasn’t a “bad habit” that I should just be able to solve myself. Professional help is out there if you think that support would be good for you! You don’t have to go at this alone!

  • I get so annoyed at myself when I catch myself mindlessly biting my nails, it completely ruins them! This was such a helpful, informative post, thank you!

    Love, Maia

  • Something that may help? I dont know. I paint my nails to be relaxed. After a really stressful day/ week whatever, I have a little nook in my house that i curl up in, remove my old polish, file my nails really nice and then paint them. It takes about an hour but to me that time is totally worth it to “recharge.” Then I have beautiful nails after and i can be really proud about that.

    Maybe this can help take the focus off wanting to bite them, but maintain them instead 🙂
    Congrats on the (almost) two months!

  • Mom (she’s gone now but her little inspirations live on) always said, when I’d get discouraged, it’s just for now. That little saying has helped me more than you’ll ever know and more than I’d have ever thought! So congratulations, just for today, and maybe tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow!

  • Ahh!! I’m not a nailbiter, but struggle with touching my face and picking at any dry skin or little zits I can feel starting to lurk under there. Like the nails, I get so self-conscious afterwards when I’m left with redness or scars, but it’s something I do almost compulsively (more now with the stress of school and working full time)!! I love your approach of making a daily conscious decision. It makes it feel more approachable to make a new habit when it feels like you’re only committing day by day! Thanks for sharing!!

  • I am not gonna lie- when I have seen you mention your nail biting in the past (especially in a post about food) it made me cringe, but this was a really great post! Your simple technique to break your habit is just such a great tool that pretty much anyone could find a use for. There is a reason one of the mantras in Alcoholics Anonymous is “a day at a time”. Habits are habits whether they are big or small and can be overwhelming to break. Taking on a habit in daily increments is something that anyone can do. I applaud you both for getting real here, and for your success. Good job Emma!

  • Thanks for sharing, I’m a bit of a Rebel, and often have a hard time figuring out how to get myself to make habit changes, this was a great example of something that might work well for me. Thanks for sharing! BTW I was a life long nail bitter until I was 30 too! ( now 35). I occasionally still do (absently while stressed). But for the most part my nails are unmolested ?. I have absolutely no idea what got me to stop. I just woke up one day and decided I didn’t feel like it anymore. Total rebel?

  • I have bitten my nails through my teen years. My nails weren’t really bad I didn’t like how my nails looked.
    In my mid twenties I got braces con my teeth and suddlenly my nails couldn’t reach my teeth. I couldn’t bite my nails no matter how hard I tried. So after almost a year not being able to bite them I was cured. I dont bite my nails anymore.
    It is not the cheapest way to quit it, and no one would put braces on their teeth with the only purpose to quit, but it’s how I got over it.
    Maybe if you are considering wearing braces, you can do two birds in one shot!

  • I didn’t know anything about nail biting, or about it being such a source of anxiety for so many women, but I really applaud your well-written article about this and your thought process on trying to stop. I learned something. I wish you luck with this- and go buy your new polish because I’m sure you will continue to be successful!

  • I’m a nail biter too!! My fingers look terrible as a result but I can’t help but feel black nail polish looks the best on stubby nails? Is this just me? LOL.
    I quit for the longest before my wedding as well and when I look at my wedding pictures, I’m shocked at how long they were. The reason you bite your nails, is the same for me – it’s some sort of rebellious streak. But I also notice that apart from that, I go straight to my nails when I’m in an anxious situation. So it’s a bit of both. I’ll try this tip. Thanks for sharing. It’s not gross at all!

  • Not that you really need it, but here’s an additional reason to stop biting: damage to your teeth. I recently chipped my front tooth and my dentist told me that years of nail biting probably contributed to the enamel weakness and caused the chipping. And then about 18 months later it happened again. Each time I paid several hundred dollars to get it fixed. I’ve managed to stop biting my nails but I am still tempted by my cuticles. But I try to remember that I can’t afford to keep getting chipped front teeth fixed.

  • Lifelong nail biter here too! My mother says I have bit my nails ever since I realized there was something there to bite! I have tried many many times to stop and always end up biting them again. On the days they hurt I tell myself “that’s it no more biting!” but alas, I do it again. And nail polish is even worse for me because I pick and peel it off! I need to keep my hands busy all the time…I bite them most when I am watching TV or at work when I am thinking and not typing. Thanks for writing about this habit that so many of us fight with!

  • Well done! I’m a nail biter of 41 years, and I know exactly how you feel. Also, non biters don’t seem to realise that unlike, say giving up smoking, you can’t just leave your fingers at home, or just not buy them!!! They are always with you and often they are in your mouth before you realise.

    I too am giving up (again), and I’m doing something similar. I read that it takes 100 days to make or break a habit, so if we do one day at a time for 100 days, we should get there! I’d be keen to hear how you get on, regardless of how well that is. Good luck!

  • Congrats on quitting! I struggled with the exact same thing up until last year, when I quit with the help of smartphone apps. I blogged about that experience here if you’re interested:
    Thanks for sharing your story!

  • So many nail biters out there! I’m a lifelong biter too (that makes me sound like a vampire, or something). Thanks for this post! It is so encouraging to me. I love how you and I both scoured the interest for scare articles and it didn’t work ? In that search, I found an articles relating nail biting to crazy perfectionism. Guilty. What is pushing me to quit is that my dad just last week had a huge chunk of his front tooth chip off (and look rotten) and the dentist told him it was because he has bitten his nails for so long. YIKES. Keep it up! You’ve got an army of biters trying to do the same thing.

  • As a nail-biter for 30 years I was happy to see this post. Thanks for being willing to talk about it. It’s given me some motivation to try to stop … again.

  • Thank you for sharing this post. I, too have been struggling with nail biting for as long as I can remember. It’s really nice to read a success story! It gives me hope and has inspired me to get started on dropping this habit today!

  • Your tattoos are lovely! I don’t bite my nails, but I am terrible at keeping up their maintenance i.e. filing, buffing, painting etc. My nails are always chipped that’s why I tend to wear mostly neutral shades as imperfections are harder to detect x

    ALittleKiran | Bloglovin

  • Congrats, Emma!!! My mom bit her nails until she was 55. She had to get acrylic nails to finally kick the habit.

    BTW, if I may, where is your amazing pineapple shirt from?! It’s super cute. 🙂

  • I used to bite my nails when I was younger. What helped me a lot was carrying a good-quality file (I like glass ones now) and a nail clipper in my purse at all times. Lots of times my compulsion to bite came from having a rough spot on my nails. I would start to obsess over the rough patch. Then I would bite it off to get rid of it, but then it would feel even rougher, the cycle continues. Having the tools available to tidy up my nail without biting pretty much eliminated any desire I had to chew on them!

  • Have you tried one nail at a time? I used to let myself bite all but one, and then as the weeks went by, it was all but two, and then 3 and so on… until I was up to 10. It helped to kick the habit gradually.

  • This is great, Emma, thank you for sharing! So applicable to all kinds of little habits that we aren’t huge fans of (for me, it’s face-picking). I appreciate you putting it out there 🙂

  • I had no idea you bit your nails too! I’m a life long (going to be 30 on Monday!) nail biter and have tried EVERYTHING to stop and I just couldn’t. I actually did hypnosis (though I went in for my anxiety) but it did help immensely. However, it was still a day to day decision. The hypnosis just helped me feel like my mind was on my side now. I wasn’t fighting myself anymore about it. I’ve wanted to stop for a long time and it helped me feel like I could. However, I now pick them. Oy. So thank you for this. I have to now take one situation at a time to stop the picking but I’m determined to do it!

  • I will let you in on a little secret….this is EXACTLY how I feel about smoking. I love it. It’s relaxing. I am triggered in highly charged scenes, but everyday I tell myself you can always do it tomorrow. And every day I don’t im happy with my decision. Smoking and drinking are more taboo habits because they have things that are actually bad for your health…but the mind of any addict is pretty much the same…no matter what the habit is. Well done Emma!

  • I love this post, but mostly because I also relate. I have a really bad habit of biting my nails, and if I’m not biting them, then I pick the skin around them and then it swells and bleeds and scabs over, then I pick them again. I’ve been doing really well over the past week or so, mostly because I have family, a hubby, AND a coworker who all get onto me for it. My nails have gotten long and it’s kind of weird for me. But I feel proud. So a million high fives to you, because I totally understand the struggle.

    (Fun note: my mom always used to bite her nails as a kid/teen, but my dad told her he wouldn’t put a ring on her finger if she didn’t quit biting her nails, so she did, cold turkey!)

  • Thank you so much for sharing on a topic that is usually so taboo! I, too, share this bad habit and have been trying to stop for years. You’ve inspired me to try again, starting today! 🙂 Congratulations and hope it sticks for you! xo

  • Yay! That is so awesome. I am also a recovering nail biter (I still have relapses, so this is inspiring!) and I think you’re absolutely right that the trick is not that it is off limits, but reminding yourself that you don’t want to do it. Health wise, the one thing that managed to convince me was that I can feel where one of my teeth is worn down from yeeeaaaaars of biting. Ugh! I have found that mindset really helps with eating healthy as well. It’s not that I can’t have a cookie, I just don’t want to eat a cookie today because I feel better when I don’t. But sometimes, COOKIE.

  • Thanks for your post! I’m 36, two kids, an entrepreneur, and I still have horrible nails that I often bit until they bleed (I love the cuticles/skin most). I hide my nails in public – especially meetings for work. But you’ve inspired me! I’ve made a lot of other changes to my health recently, and this is something I’ve just been putting off. I like your approach – it has to work better than what I’ve been doing (which is nothing!)

  • I do the same thing, Marcia. My boyfriend whined last week about a little cuticle cut and I showed him my hands and realized that I have gotten used to living with near-constant finger pain…

    Thank you Emma for letting us know what worked for you. I’m going to give it a try and see if it will work for me, too!

  • Well, this resinated with me in a deeper way that something this shallow ever should! Good job, Emma! You rock!! I don’t usually bite my nails, but I definitely am always picking at them — including the skin around them that is *always* shabby because of it. Sometimes when I have a hangnail I can’t pick off I do rip it off with my teeth so (oh man it is totally gross. I’m sorry I’m sharing this much detail.) Here’s the thing: I find when I wait just one or two days, they look so much better, but my downfall is sitting still and writing or something (usually when I’m taking notes for something – i.e. church) and I see them and start picking at them again.

    I read somewhere it takes 21 days to kick a habit, but I couldn’t hold it off that long. As various trips come up I try to not pick at them the weeks leading up to it, but it kinda always fails for me.

    I’m so glad this helped you – I’m definitely going to try this… starting today!

  • I, too, have struggled with this nasty habit for as long as I can remember (I turn 28 next week). I did well leading up too my wedding, with the same sort of motivation you talked about, but it just didn’t stick.

    For me, it tends to be when I’m nervous or bored that I do the most damage to my nails. So, keeping my hands busy as much as possible has really helped the in the past couple months. (I’m also on a 2 month-ish streak of no biting – except those darn thumbs…ugh.)

    I also try to remember how much my fingers can actually hurt when the nails are so short, so that’s has helped some too.

    If I’m honest, I don’t know if I’ll ever completely kick the habit.. but hopefully keeping them painted fun colors will serve as some motivation 🙂 Good Luck!

  • “Do I miss biting my nails? Yes. Often.” – it’s so me…I like to bit my nails, and I know it looks horrible. My husband used to say that my nails look like rat teeth :-S With dark nail polish I don’t bite the nails so often, but then I always “play” with the nails…means I rub the ring finger nail and thumb nail to one another, so that my thumb nails really look like rat teeth. Thanks for sharing your story!

  • Good job Emma! I’m a nail biter as well – it gets especially bad when I’m nervous or anxious – but I too have been on a kick lately where I haven’t been biting them. I’m proud of myself, and am hopeful I can keep it up! We can do this!!

  • Thank you so much for sharing this! I am 47 and still bite my nails. I’m going to try your approach!

  • I really appreciated this post! I’ve also been a life-long nail biter, and with my wedding coming up in less than 3 months, I’ve been desperate to stop. But nothing – manicures, nail polish, vaseline, &c. seems to work as much as just mind-crushing it. Glad to hear your take on this struggle :).

  • Thank you so much for this article, Emma. I do not bite my nails, but still I struggle with trying to change other small habits.
    It is helpful to hear stories from other folks about how they made small changes in their lives.
    It is also nice to be reminded that I am not the only one who can struggle with this.
    Your nails look lovely, by the way! You luck with keeping on!

  • I bit my nails a ton as a kid and now as an adult only when I get stressed. I think for me though the biggest thing is keeping them not so long that I’m tempted to bite them off in an attempt to shorten them.

    I really like that you make it a daily goal. That way you can feel the success daily!

  • I’m 40 and I still struggle with it. Thanks for the tip, I’m gonna try it 🙂

  • I also struggle with nail biting, and I am very self conscious of it too. Your nails look great! Congrats on making it this far already. 🙂

  • I’m a cuticle biter. I have unusually clingy cuticles which even the nail salon has told me. They they will stick into my nail for an extra long time, and then a portion will break free. It’s all I can do not to be constantly pushing them back and hiring them off. Depending on how much anxiety I have, sometimes I’ll bite them off to the point of bleeding.

    Yes! Same here! The longest time I ever went was before my wedding for pictures!

    You’ve inspired me. I’m going to try and stop… But I don’t know how it will work long term.

  • …Literally biting a hangnail as I read this, ahhh! Loved reading this post; kudos to you for kicking this awful habit! I need to Jedi mind trick myself to stop biting mine because your nails look fly (as do those rings!).


  • Good Job, Emma! Little daily choices turn into good or bad habits, that’s definitely true. You should be proud. I don’t deal with nail biting per se, but I can relate to this for other things like eating healthy diet (trying to cut out sugar this month… going on day 22) or sleep habits or exercise. Sometimes it’s just that little daily choice. 🙂 Your nails look pretty!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.