For My Fellow Nail-Biters

Many of us are, to some extent, nail-biters. For some, that just means they need a manicure after finals season or might want to carry a file or pair of clippers around with them. For others, however, that means bloody stumps instead of fingers and a constant risk of disease from compulsively consuming parts of the body that touch, well…everything. I fall closer to the second camp. While I do savagely tear away that beautiful white tip of the nail if one ever gets long enough, the real problem for me is the cuticle and the skin around it. Think Black Swan. If you haven’t seen Black Swan, just think, well, lots of blood. It gets ugly.

I have tried just about everything under the sun at some point in my life to kill this damn habit. Or even to make it manageable. In high school, my parents instituted a rule somewhat like a ‘swear jar’ – if anyone caught me biting my nails, I had to put 50 cents in a jar. I lost a lot of money, but no habits. I also tried painting my nails regularly (ate a lot of nail polish), bitter polish (foul, yes, but not prohibitive), and even leaving band-aids on every single one of my fingers for weeks at a time (makes it really hard to play instruments or sports, FYI). I’m sure some of these methods could work for some people, but none of them worked for me. Absolutely nothing worked for me. Until I (accidentally) stole a magic product from my older sister: Burt’s Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream.


It looks like this, and it costs somewhere from $5-8, depending on where you’re buying. It works by actually softening and healing your cuticles and the rough bits surrounding your nail that otherwise inevitably must be torn off. The result is that even if I want to bite my nails, if I’ve used the cuticle cream recently enough there’s just nothing to bite. I can leave it alone. Right at first it’s something like an ointment-esque coating, but it only takes a few moments to soak in and I find I have no problem using it as I’m handling pens or keyboards or whatever else.

I will say that while I adore this product, worship it, would marry it if I could, it does only work if I use it consistently – for me, that means at minimum a few times per day. But it’s tiny, and so I have no problem carrying it with me and applying as needed, much like chapstick. I keep one in every bag.

So for my fellow nail-biters, if nothing else has worked, I really recommend giving this stuff a shot before you resign yourself to a life of insatiable autocannibalism.


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