Confession time: Up until about a year ago, I was a nail-biter. Before I started getting regular manicures—aka the key to finally stopping the habit for good!—I was often left with throbbing fingers from mindlessly chewing away. It was basically my prime stress-reliever. Whether you chew on your nails til the cuticles bleed or cut them too short with clippers, the result is always instant regret.
Fortunately, there’s a way to deal with the pain until your nails grow back out. According to Amy Ling Lin, founder of Sundays, a nail-care brand and studio in New York City, there are two things anyone with too-short nails should start doing immediately. The first is to practice good nail hygiene, because nobody wants to deal with an infection from bacteria seeping into the skin around the nail.
“I would suggest soaking your hands in warm water with a small slice of lemon a couple times a day to keep your nails clean,” she says. “Lemon is a natural antibacterial and antiseptic—however, I wouldn’t suggest having too many lemon slices, as it might cause your fingers to sting.”
Next, grab some nail oil. A little goes a long way when it comes to soothing your nails and giving you some relief. “Since your cuticle will be weak or improperly removed, try rubbing a natural cuticle oil such as jojoba oil,” Lin says. “It’s very moisturizing and a mild solution to help relieve pain without irritation. You can apply it numerous times a day.”
After your nails are clean and moisturized, your next step is vowing to never get into this painful situation ever again. The best way to do so is to quit trying to grow them out—for now, focus on keeping them nice, neat, and short.
“If you have issues with biting, I suggest keeping them short,” Lin says. “Having long nails is heavy on the cuticles, which will make them weak. You don’t want extra weight on it. A nail-biter has a compulsive need to remove any longer nails, so it’s easier to keep them short.”
Another tip? Make time for regular manicures, or DIY them at home. If your nails are pretty and polished, you might not be as tempted to chew them. Even during those intense episodes of Big Little Lies. If it worked for me, it’ll work for anyone.
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