- While studies indicate that it takes 21 days to break habits, it can often take months, even years. It all depends on a lot of highly personal factors.
- Although it's a symptom of anxiety, in the world of beauty and cosmetics, nail biting is also considered a bad habit.
- Here, we share advice on how to slowly curb the habit, and a few topical products you can try.
In your lifetime, you’ve probably met someone who bites their nails. I'll be the first to say I used to bite mine in my pre-teens.
And I'll admit in my adulthood, I have found myself chewing at the corner of an index finger nail when stress levels peak.
So maybe that person was also you because somewhere between 20 and 30 percent of the population bites their nails, reportedly.
Once something becomes a habit, it can be hard to stop.
Breaking bad habits, however, isn’t as easy as just waking up and deciding to stop a specific behaviour. It takes time, effort, and dedication.
While studies indicate that it takes 21 days to break habits, it can often take months, even years. It all depends on a lot of highly personal factors.
Additionally, habits happen in cycles. Specific cues remind you of the behaviour, causing you to perform them, which yields a reward. That reward reinforces the desire to continue that behaviour.
Here’s how you can try break the habit cycle:
- Aim for small changes first. Working on one habit at a time and working on small progressive goals often has more benefits
- Stick with your progression. While a day or two or slip-ups won’t affect your long-term success, establishing a pattern of consistency can genuinely break your habit cycle in the long run.
A psychiatrist who spoke to Allure, Rebecca Berry, says cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is "the gold standard" when it comes to treating repetitive behaviors like nail-biting.
"Therapy does require the help of a mental health professional, but Berry outlines the key points of CBT which you can asses yourself at home," the article further notes.
"Initially, the therapist and client complete a thorough assessment of the problematic behaviors including thoughts, feelings, and behaviors prior to biting, during biting, and after biting," she explains. "Next, work is done to establish sensory substitutes to be used at the site of pulling to help the individual meet the body’s needs in a different way and therefore not engage in the behavior."
Additionally, nail artist, Gina Edwards, also advises giving yourself "manicures with bright colours you love as an excellent way to deter yourself from wanting to bite your nails."
"Set nail goals for yourself, take images off social media of your dream nail, save the picture as your screen saver on your phone for a constant reminder of your nail goals," the nail artist told Allure.
But if you still want something to serve as a catalyst to reversing your nail biting habit, that’s where anti-biting polishes come in.
Mavala Stop Nail Biting Polish
Mavala explains that the bitter taste their nail polish leaves in your mouth is "enough to make you never want to bite your nails again."
Mavala's products has also been heralded as “miraculous” by parents of nail-biting and thumb-sucking children (and adults who just couldn’t seem to break the habit).
“I’ve been biting my nails constantly for over 20 years, and the moment I started using this product, I stopped,” explained one happy reformed nail-biter.
Image supplied by Mavala
Shop the Mavala Stop Nail Biting Polish for R219 on Mavala online
Trind Nail Repair Anti-Bite
Trind Nail Repair Anti-Bite is a nail strengthener.
More notably, it was developed especially for those who bite their nails. It has a nasty, bitter after-taste to deter biters and cross-links the proteins in nails to leave them stronger and more rigid.
Shop yours for R210 at Clicks
And once your nails start growing, get a nail hardener to maintain strength and to prevent chipping and splitting.
Sally Hansen 'Hard as Nails', R110 on Superbalist
Sally Hansen recommended application:
Apply to bare nails and under nail tips. Use Hard As Nails alone, or wear as a strengthening base coat for your nail colour.
Do you have any other nail-biting cure tips? Share them with us here.
Additional information and images supplied by Mavala
Sign up to W24's newsletters so you don't miss out on any of our stories and giveaways.