August 10, 2014

How I Stopped Biting My Nails

I used to bite my nails. I bit them for about 21 years, and last year, almost to the day, I made the decision to stop. I had been working as a lawyer for a year and I started to notice people's hands more at work and at networking events (all that hand shaking I think). To me, it was very obvious when someone had short bitten nails. I started to think - if I'm noticing it on other people, people must notice it on me. I thought it looked unprofessional and a bit juvenile. So I made the decision to try to stop. 
(By the way, I'm sorry but I don't have any "before" photos because I didn't have the foresight a year ago to think I was going to do a post on this.. Below are some of my favorite manicures I've had over the last year.) Anyway, here's some of my tips on how I quit my worst bad habit. 
1. I started out by getting a set of acrylic nails put on. These can usually stay on for at least 2 weeks, which would give my nails underneath time to grow out. Plus, the acrylic is really hard - so hard that I could still put my nails in my mouth, but I couldn't physically bite my fingernails because they were so hard. I left the acrylics on for about 3 weeks to let the nails under grow. As an aside, I know acrylics basically ruin your nails, but I was starting from scratch and knew my particular purpose. I purely did it to grow some initial length.
2. After I got the acrylics taken off, I got a professional manicure done to even out the ragged edges. But my real step 2 was that I started getting gel/Shellac manicures for about 2-3 months. This also "ruins" your nails and makes them paper thin, but the trick for me was not physically being able to bite my nails. The gel polish is pretty thick, but still thinner than acrylics. Therefore, I was still able to do the action of putting my nails in my mouth without physically biting the nail off. It wasn't until about December of 2013 that I weaned myself off biting altogether and was able to move on to regular manicures.
3. After my nails had grown long enough to my liking, I started getting manicures every 2 weeks. I found that whenever the polish chipped, I was more likely to revert back to biting my nails, so my #1 tip is to always have a polished manicure with no chips. The prettier my nails looked, the less I wanted to ruin them. 
Essie  - I think it's "Too Taboo"
4. As I finally completely stopped biting, I let my nails grow longer and longer - this was a mistake. Whenever I let them get too long inevitably at least one nail would break or crack, and I'm back to square one on that nail. I now keep my nails pretty short (like all of the above photos) to make sure I don't break a nail. 
(This is not the above color - but it's similar and it's one of my favorites - Essie "Chinchilly" is probably the color I choose most at my manicure place)
Ring: Michael Kors (similar)
5. After 21 years biting my nails, they were very, very short. I had damaged my nails pretty badly but hoped that as the nails grew they would reattach to the skin. Unfortunately, after a year, there has been little to no reattachment. This results in me always wearing opaque nail polish because I just hate the way the nails look without it. I accidentally chose a see-through pale pink polish at my last manicure appointment, so you can see what my nails actually look like below. They aren't terrible, but I'm still self conscious about how they look "bare," or without opaque polish. 
Finally, I want to say that I definitely did not quit cold turkey. I bit my nails a few times over the last year. But I usually caught myself doing it, stopped, and immediately filed the nail a bit to get rid of the rough/jagged edge. Despite a few biting setbacks, I think the thing that kept me going was looking down and seeing pretty nails. I now love changing my polish and I've found that it's a great accessory to an outfit. Plus it's fun to buy pretty polishes :)

So, yeah, this was kind of a weird/personal post for me. I don't usually talk about my life much on the blog, as you can tell. I'd love to hear from anyone who also used to bite their nails, anyone who currently does and is looking to stop, - or anyone who's got some favorite polishes to share! My collection is growing and growing, with Butter London polishes at the top of my list. I LOVE their glitters! 


  1. Elissa I've never been a nail biter but I think it's a good idea to get them done so it's too pretty to bite. I personally love Essie but there are some who don't. I have used OPI and Zoya when I do get my nails done. I used to use Chanel and Urban Decay too but that was ages ago. I think Butter London is good!


  2. I love Zoya polishes - I've only looked at the colors online but I think I want to buy some to try. My salon is pretty backwards and only has old Essie and OPI colors - nothing fancy. I actually bring my own polishes about half the time because of their lack of selection!

  3. I was also a nail biter for 20+ years. I finally managed to quit last October after I went ring shopping with my now fiance. I felt too self-conscious extending my bitten nails to try on rings, so I resolved to finally stop. I started by filing my poor ragged nails and painting them with Mavala Stop (I got mine on Amazon). That stuff tastes so nasty! It broke my habit of absentmindedly putting my fingers near my mouth. As they grew out, I would keep them neat and regularly rub in cuticle/hand cream. Then I moved onto regular nail polish + Mavala as a topcoat, but I had to keep them perfect (or I would be tempted to bite) so I was stripping the polish and repainting them all the time. Then I stopped using Mavala but kept painting them. Then I only used clear nail polish. Now I can go without any nail polish and haven't had any relapses. I'm so glad we were both able to stop!

    Also, out of curiosity, what do you mean by reattachment? In that last picture, your nails look normal to me.

  4. Yeah I usually bring my own as well, but more towards lack of hygiene lol.

  5. I mean the nail bed growing back and reattaching to the skin. I guess what I don't like is how "U" shaped the pink part of my nail is - I wish they were more slightly rounded if that makes sense? Like this:

  6. Mine eventually did reattach, because before the white part would grow out at the quick (eww) and now it starts just a little bit before the edge of my finger tip. I looked at pictures of other nails online just now, and it seems like some are more square and others are more oval like this:

    Yours do seem more on the oval side. Maybe the shape is genetic. Mine are slightly oval. My mom's are the same, and she never bit her nails.

  7. I was soo proud/impressed by you! I wish I could stop picking at my cuticles soo much. I feel like every time I try I fall back into it a day later. I know how hard this is! Congratulations again!

  8. Question for Professionally Petite - do you wear the glitter and bright colors to work? I just took the bar and will begin working in San Francisco and I'm not sure if glitter and bright colors would be appropriate. Thanks!

  9. The short answer is yes, I do wear them to work. The longer answer is that most of the above manis were for "special occasions"/holidays so I usually got them done right before the holiday so I technically only wore them 1-2 days (Thursday or Friday) at work/court which tend to be more casual days in Miami.

    The even longer answer is that everything always depends on the culture of your firm and city. My firm definitely doesn't care about my nails (I can wear jeans when I'm not in court), and I find Miami to be a pretty casual city - at least in the criminal court house. I've seen some VERY questionable outfits at my courthouse so the last thing I'm worried about is the color of my nails. I also wouldn't wear glitter or bright colors when I know I'm going to trial.

  10. Have you tried that bad tasting stuff? That was the one thing I didn't try in the last year but other people say it works. Or is it more picking and less biting the cuticles?

  11. Congrats on growing out your nails! Maybe it is genetic.. next time I see my mom I'll make a note to look closer

  12. Thank you! That makes perfect sense. I really enjoy your blog.

  13. This is so awesome! I'm an attorney also and I decided that nail biting just isn't professional! Thanks for the tips I am definitely going to try this.