From as far back as I can remember, my New Year’s Resolutions list has always included:

Stop Biting My Nails!!! (Exclamation points included.)

It’s taken me almost two decades but last year I finally, fiiiiinally managed to (almost) completely stop. Hurrah!

Nail-biting has officially been one of my hardest habits to break. Even now, this very week, I woke up after a tipsy night out with one nail bitten right down to the quick (darn you Long Island Iced Teas!).

It’s not a nice habit., but it’s not a destructive one either. Usually its unconscious movement, one that happens when I’m distracted or nervous.

So how do you stop biting your nails?

How To Stop Biting Your Nails

I’ve tried a million (ish) ways of stopping.

That vile-tasting polish that supposedly is meant to put you off nibbling? Totally pointless. Your tastebuds are on your tongue, so unless you lick your finger before you bite, you’re not going to taste the horrid stuff until it’s too late.

I’ve tried applying false nails, but they just ripped off and left my actual nails in a worse condition than when I’d started. I know they’ve worked for other people, but they’re just not for me.

The thing with quitting a bad habit is, it’s not as easy as just stopping. Think of it the same way as you would if you were trying to losing weight: will power just ISN’T ENOUGH. You need a plan. A strategy.

So that’s what I did!

And here’s what worked for me. It might not help you. After all, everyone’s stories and circumstances are different.

But hopefully it will give you some ideas on how to start your journey and stop biting your nails.

How To Stop Biting Your Nails


First step: figure out the root cause.

Do you bite when you’re nervous? Or when you’re bored?

In the past, I’ve actually managed to stop biting for months at a time and then I’d relapse and be back where I started. For me, it was a totally unconscious habit. And it took me aaaages to become properly aware of when my hands were even near my face.

Once I did start to become mindful of it, I noticed that I was most likely to bite my nails when I was both anxious and distracted: usually when I was watching a tense film or TV show (yeah Game of Thrones, I’m looking at you), or thinking about stressful things like my finances or my complete lack of direction in life.

I remember coming out of the cinema after seeing Toy Story 3 and being in absolute agony cos I’d bitten my nails right down until they were red and sore (if you tell me you weren’t also on the edge of your seat when they’re sliding down into the fiery pit, then you, sir, are LYING).

I’d been concentrating so hard, that I hadn’t even noticed my hands drifting towards my mouth.

I also figured out that I’m much more likely to bite if I’ve caught my nail on something and the edges are rough.

There’s just something about that that drives me nuts!


For my film-watching problem, I started out by wearing gloves to the cinema (not fun in mid-August!)

Then I met Gary and now, when we go to the cinema together, I make him hold my hands. Or I’ll tuck mine underneath his, so that I physically can’t get to them. I also asked him to please help by telling me if I start biting when we watch TV.

For my issue with rough edges, I bought a massive multipack of nail files. Then I stuck one in every single handbag I own. I also have one in every coat pocket, one in my purse, one in my pen pot at work and a couple in my makeup bag.

There is literally NO excuse for me to rip my nails apart when I can tidy up a rough edge in a matter of seconds with a file.

How To Stop Biting Your Nails


Healthy nails are MUCH less likely to split and break, and if you’ve been biting for years then your nails are going to be weak and brittle enough as it is.

So my next suggestion is to invest in a good quality hand cream and use it several times a day.

My favourite is this Vaseline Intensive Care for Healthy Hands and Stronger Nails. Super cheap but very very good. It has keratin in it, which helps strengthen nails, the smell is nice but not obtrusive and (most importantly for me) it’s not greasy and it sinks in super quickly.

I’ve got a tube of this in my handbag, one on my desk, one on my bedside table and one on my bedside table at Gary’s house.

I also make sure I leave at least 24h between taking my nail polish off and re-applying, so that my nails get some proper oxygen and have a chance to soak up the cream.


Yes, I know they’re “too short”. I know you don’t want to really draw attention to them. It’s probably going to look messy and not very nice for a while.

But hear me out.

For me, buying nail polishes and painting my nails a pretty colour was a MASSIVE incentive to stop biting.

Firstly, the sudden flash of bright colour in my eye-line was a huge help in making me mindful of when my hands were getting too close to my mouth.

Secondly, and this won’t help everyone, but I HATE peeling nail polish off. The thought of it alone makes me want to cry. So, unless they get severely chipped, I’m much less likely to nibble at my nails if they’re covered in green glossy paint.

And thirdly, once my nails started to grow, I could see a massive difference in how my hands looked. The process of properly caring for my hands made me look at them much more closely, and really really WANT to stop.

It’s like when I get into an exercising groove. Once I see how well it’s working, and the results are THERE, I don’t want to give up. I want to keep seeing those results.

How To Stop Biting Your Nails


I’ve mentioned protein before (several times in fact), but it’s true that, when it comes to improving growth rate and keeping your growing nails healthy and strong, protein is your best friend.

Healthy nails = less breakages = less rough spots = less of me tearing my nails apart…

At the moment I’m trying to get back into my breakfast protein shakes (RIP Christmas pudding), which I find always helps a massive amount in the growth rate of both my nails AND my hair. Double whammy.

Vitamin D is also a big part in helping your nails grow strong, so make sure you get at least half an hour of sun a day if you can, and for those of us who can’t (Rain. Sob.) then maybe look into getting supplements.

how to stop biting your nails

I have to be honest here, I’m not sure if any of this will help anyone.

Habits, in general, are hard to break and people’s journeys and circumstances are always different. What worked for me, might not work for someone else.

But I always think that the best thing to do is read as many stories and tips and articles as possible, and then pick and choose until you find what works FOR YOU. So I guess this is just me sharing my tips and (sort of) story.

Hopefully one or some of you will find at least parts of it useful :)

  • Thank you so much Katy! This post is so helpful, I was actually just about to bite my nails when I scrolled past this on Bloglovin! I’ll definitely be trying all your tips :D

  • It’s literally only been the last year that I stopped biting my nails. I found that painting them all the time made me stop

  • Olivia Welch

    These are all really helpful tips, I’ve been biting my nails ever since I remember and painting them doesn’t even help because I always end up chewing it off :(

    The nail file idea is really good and something I will definitely start doing!

  • Kirsty Baker

    Well done for kicking the habit, even if you do still occasionally have a ‘blip’. I used to bite my nails as well and could not stop for love nor money, everything I tried just would not work. By some miracle though when I started my office job I just stopped – just like that, really weird I know. Now I’m forever painting my nails and taking really good care of them. I too have to carry a file EVERYWHERE so that if one breaks i’m not tempted to tear it off with my teeth.

    Anyways now that I haven’t bit them for so long and have maintained them at a good length if I go to bite down on one they’re so strong that it feels horrible.

    Sorry for my rambling haha, good luck with not biting your nails! xx

  • I’m definitely a nail biter. And I know my trigger. My nails flake at the tips and I always bite then. Gross but true. x

  • thriftoclock

    Brilliant post! I stopped biting my nails when I got braces as it’s possible it could break the braces. However I still find myself picking them if they get broken/I’m anxious. Painting them is definitely a good tip! I also quite like Nail Envy as it strengthens them up if you use it regularly :)
    Maeve // Thrift O’Clock

  • ninegrandstudent

    Great post! I’ve never bitten my nails, but I know so many people who do and I know its a difficult habit to stop. And yep, the fiery pit scene in TS3 is so, so, sooo tense! Great film though! x

    NINEGRANDSTUDENT: A Student Lifestyle Blog

  • Victoria Nightingale

    I used to always bite my nails, quite obsessively really but painting my nails sort of broke the habit because I loved how my nails looked haha.

  • This is such a good post – I’ve managed to stop biting my nails over the Christmas holidays, but when I go back to uni I just know I’ll be trying to start it again! I laughed so much when you mentioned Game of Thrones – the last series DESTROYED my nails haha.

    Charlotte xx

  • I was a constant nail biter until a few years ago, but recently I find myself doing it again. I know the root cause, it’s something I do when I’m stressed out. I need to start carrying a pack of nail files with me wherever go to stop the idea from creeping into my head. This was a great post!!

    xx Amanda|

  • I’ve been biting my nails for so very long and your insights into why it happens are dead on. I really need to keep nail files handy because using my teeth to file down a nail is the worst idea ever. Thanks for this post. I too need to add this to this year’s resolutions.

  • Polkadot Pink

    I stopped biting my nails at the same time as you, then started again. My trigger is work stress. I find putting polish on helps me stop biting too! I am definitely inspired to try again simply because yours are gorgeous and I am majorly envious! As a nail biter to a recovering addict, I can simply say WELL DONE! It’s a bloody hard habit to kick and your nails are bloomin’ beauts! xx

  • Loved reading this. I don’t bite my nails but my boyfriend did. Right after we first met, I convinced him to let me paint his nails with a thin layer of clear polish. He wouldn’t bite his nails with the polish on because it tasted bad I guess. I did this a few more times and after a while, he stopped biting, lol. :-)

    Beauty Isles | An Island Girl’s Beauty and Lifestyle Blog

  • I paint my nails all the time to stop me biting them but I think my biting is stress triggered. My Mum used to make my brother & I put on that disgusting tasting nail polish, until we realised if you soaked your fingers the taste would go, ha! Well done you for stopping, it’s not easy. xx

  • painting my nails defiantly works for me!! I don’t want to damage the pretty colour <3 Gisforgingers xx

  • I fiiinally managed to stop biting my nails after having my wisdom teeth out. They actually grew while I was physically incapable of biting them and once they were long there weren’t as many straggly bits making me want to bite them. Like you, having rouugh bits drives me INSANE!

  • Roma

    This one hit a bit close to home! I’m an unreformed biter. Hello acrylics.

  • mg-1

    I have gone through cycles of biting and growing my nails for as long as I can remember. I’m beginning to wonder if I do it in my sleep as I am rarely aware of actually biting them. Rough skin and edges really bother me. I think the more you bite (fingertips in mouth) the worse your nails and skin peel and flake, probably because of digestive juices in your mouth. I’ve tried the nasty tasting polish; works at first but eventually chew right through it. Tried wearing a rubber band on my wrist and popping myself every time I started to bite, which worked also. Nail biting is sooo hard to quit!

  • Kimberley Jessica

    I love this! I’m such a terrible nail biter and one thing that stops me is painting my nails. I’ve found when I’m bored or nervous I bite my nails