People think that nail biting is a purely nervous thing. Of course this is sometimes true, but in my experience it didn't matter if I was anxious, excited, bored or even not thinking and my hands were free, they would creep towards my mouth and I would be doing it without even realising it. And don't even get me started on the people who comment on your nails. I'm sure that they didn't mean to make me feel bad, but I was well aware of my biting and how they looked without having it pointed out to me. It was always a big self-confidence blow, which only made me bite more! A most vicious of cycles.
So I want to talk about how and why I have stopped, to hopefully give advice to anyone in a similar situation. This u-turn has not been a snap decision kind of thing. I'd say that throughout my whole time as a biter I thought of quitting at least once a week, and I actually made some good attempts at stopping from time to time. I would say that this was it, grow them, and they would start to look lovely; but no matter how nice my they looked I would always relapse and end up undoing all my hard work in a few minutes flat. Very frustrating!
I've tried to think of some helpful tips that worked for me to help you stop too. To be perfectly honest with you this time started practically the same as any other time, I'd told myself I was going to stop for good, and more to the point I had told my Mum who was supportive and encouraging as ever (I wouldn't have blamed her if she didn't believe me, I would if I were her, she has heard this many many times from me...) I suppose this time was different because I had made a promise to myself that I would start my new degree and life in Paris with nice nails. Horrible-looking bitten nails just don't go with my style anymore. So here are my pointers for helping you to stop, full stop, when it comes to biting your nails.
1. First of all, have a goal. You need motivation, something you're working towards. I wanted to have nice nails to go to uni with, but yours might be for a wedding, a party or function. Give yourself time in advance and get on with it!
2. Keep your hands busy. For me, revision was always a killer for making me bite. I would be stressed to start with, but then because I was just memorising off a page, I would have free hands that would go straight in my mouth. Now I have no exams, so I'm always holding a book or typing up essays, so I don't give myself the opportunity to chew. Keep your hands going when you're watching tv, sketching, knitting, stroking your cat, cuddling someone. Any of these are good band distractors!
3. Invest in a good (or bad!) anti-biting varnish. The clear nail varnish stuff that tastes rank so you don't bite any more. It's damned awful stuff, but it works. Stop 'n Grow is a good one, and costs just £4.50. I recommend highly, but don't do what I did and blob it straight on to your tongue. One of my less smart ideas. It definitely tastes bad, trust me!
4. Buy some nice nail varnish as an incentive. I always admired my friends' lovely painted nails from afar and wished that it could be me with those cool nails. The thought of having some nice nail varnish really spurred me on. After 3 months I realised that I had nice enough nails to paint so I got going! The one I'm wearing in the pictures is Barry M's Mint Green (304) varnish. I love pastels and I love this mint colour. It goes with a lot of stuff and is girly without being pink. My beautiful housemate has the nicest nails and nail polishes, so she has been a massive source of nailspiration. Of of my favourite things to do is have a girly evening, watching movies, eating things that are bad for us and painting our nails. Sally Hansen does an amazing strengthening nail varnish called Double Duty Base & Top Coat, which you paint over the top of your dried nail varnish. It's excellent, and is definitely worth the £5.25 price tag.
5. And finally... Will power. There's no substitute. Just promise yourself that you're going to kick the habit and bloody do it! Show 'em what you're made of.
I haven't bitten in nearly 4 months! It's hands down the longest time I have gone without biting and as time goes on, much like with any habit, I can only see it getting less likely that I will do it. I'm pretty strong-willed, and now I've seen what I can achieve fingerwise I really want to keep it up! If you want to quit, I hope that my advice helps you even a little. Just go for it, it will be worth it. Good luck!!