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Nail chewing is a habit that I struggled with since I could remember. Thinking back to my childhood I can’t even remember having regular length nails. As weird as that sounds, I’m not lying.
You know those timid nervous people that twirl their hair when they feel out of place? Well, replace hair twirling with nail chewing and that was me. That was how I dealt with uncomfortable situations all my life is by chewing my nails.
Because I was a super nervous, anxious person…I was uncomfortable a lot.
Now, I don’t mean the normal nail chew where you chew your nail for a few seconds and then go back to living your life. I mean constant nail chewing where your nail is practically non-existent and your little nubs hurt because you chewed too far.
My gross looking fingers were something I was extremely self conscious about most of my life, even to my mid 20’s. I don’t remember exactly what year I stopped but it was no more than 4 years ago. So, it’s still a pretty recent dilemma.
I never thought I would be able to have regular nails. Nails I could paint and be proud of, as silly as that sounds.
Fast forward to the present and look at my pretty little nails. Younger Loops would have never thought this day possible. The reason I decided to write this post about nail chewing was to give others in the same boat some hope. Especially those who are also embarrassed and self-conscious about chewing their nails.
Trust me when I say that if I could stop chewing my nails, so could you. I will try not to bore you with how I achieved this amazing accomplishment.
It wasn’t until I was about 19 that I started getting manicures. Thanks to my boss who practically forced me to go with her one time (maybe she had seen my nails). I remember I was embarrassed to have even the nail technicians see my hands.
I worked as a cashier and nails are kind of the face of that job. When you are counting money back to people- yes they are probably looking at their money…But I’m sure they are also looking at your hands AND nails too.
I remember while I was getting my nails done thinking it was hopeless. How could these people put fake nails on nothing? But to my dismay everything is possible with acrylics. And they are practically cemented on, it feels like.
That made it harder to take them off and chew my nails. That was the first part of my nail avoidance. The fake nails would last about two weeks and in those two weeks I would not chew my nails.
They looked so pretty that I didn’t even think of snapping them off to chew my own nails. I started to realize that maybe I could eventually extend those two weeks to longer one day.
Getting acrylics worked for a while. I just kept getting my nails done. Two weeks would go by and they would start growing out and then I would eventually snap them off and right away go back to get them re-done.
I kept doing this even though it started to get expensive.
BUT, once I started trying to learn to play ukulele I realized I couldn’t keep getting my nails done and had to have shorter nails. As soon as I stopped getting my nails done I reverted back to old ways and started to chew again.
Fun fact: I remember going to Starbucks and being so embarrassed to hand over my cash/debit card to pay because of my nails.
Fake Nails + Glue
Then came method #2. I started buying those fake white/clear nails that you can just glue on yourself. I would glue those on my real nails and then trim them really short to be able to still play ukulele. I would paint them and boom.
For some reason painting my nails or when they looked pretty made me not want to chew them. But, the glue that I would use wouldn’t last long. I felt like I was replacing my nails over and over like every couple of days.
The more I lived like this the more I realized I wanted to somehow have my own regular length nice nails not those little helpful imposters. I didn’t want to have nail chewing be something I was constantly battling.
Then came the last attempt. This was a combination of fake nails and my real nails. Yeah, I’m weird.
Nails to Chew vs. Nails off Limits
After buying and gluing and replacing nails over and over and still chewing…( I would chew my nails still as soon as the fake nail would come off before replacing it again) I finally decided to make an agreement with myself.
I basically agreed that I would allow myself two out of my ten nails to chew when I wanted. The other eight were off limits. I started only chewing my thumb nails. Again, yeah I’m weird.
But for some crazy ass reason, this worked for me. I stopped chewing my other nails and only would chew my thumb nails.
And before going out since I was embarrassed of my little thumb nails being chewed up, I would put fake nails on those only. At that point I had grown out my other nails. I’m sure my hands looked hilarious af, as eight nails were my real nice long nails and the other two were fake.
But I really think seeing that I was able to grow eight of my nails out was a big motivation for me. Because shortly after I saw how pretty those eight nails looked and that I was able to accomplish growing eight nails and I randomly just decided no more.
I decided I would not chew any nails from then on not even those chubby thumb nails. And I don’t remember the exact day that I decided this, but one day I found myself painting all ten of my own pretty regular length nails.
As sad as this sounds, this is something that I am really proud of. Only those who constantly battle nail chewing to this extent know the struggle. It’s a gross habit, even I considered it a super gross habit. But when it’s a coping mechanism for other issues, it doesn’t matter how gross it is.
It’s hard to stop. But today I can tell you that I did it. It maybe took me 20+ years to stop, but I stopped.
This means you could too!
I thought I could share my methods to maybe help others out. If these don’t work, don’t lose hope. You just need to figure out your own way to stop that habit.
(I understand these methods might not be an option for some men. I’m sorry).
To reiterate the different methods that helped me out:
Try getting acrylics at a nail salon. They stick those babies on good and for a couple weeks you won’t be able to chew your nails and they will grow a bit. FYI- this could get expensive.
Try glueing fake nails yourself. This will be cheaper than manicures at an actual nail salon and you could keep replacing them yourself. FYI- they fall off quick (like after 4-5 days if you are lucky). I already have a nail cutter/and tools to trim and file and glue so I only bought the nails by themselves which is the first link. Second link is an item I haven’t personally purchased but it’s cool because it comes with the accessories to glue and cut/trip the nail to your liking if you don’t have them already.
I also added a link to the glue I use and like so far.
Try to slowly limit your nail chewing to certain nails. As some nails grow you get more confident and see that it’s possible to grow your nails at all and can slowly keep it going. Ps. if you get embarrassed of your actual short nails you could try putting fake nails on those like me or a bandage on the ones you’re embarrassed about. Silly, but the shame is real for some.
The point of these methods are to help you eventually stop chewing your nails altogether. Remember you could do it! I believe in you!