The Gloves Come Off: Nail Biting Be Gone

nail biting be gone

Name a remedy, any remedy—I’ve tried it. Nothing can curtail my nearly 16-year nail-biting/-peeling habit.

Those foul-tasting polishes that promise to repel? Not so bad.

Nails slathered in Tabasco sauce? A success until I rubbed my eye.

Gum can be spit out after the flavor expires, and gloves—especially in unseasonable temps—are hastily removed. I've worn bright coral lipstick on the premise that its smearability will keep my fingers away from my lips. Alas, Clown Mouth is no deterrent.

I’m admittedly germaphobic, but the anxiety of contracting a long-dormant virus on public transportation has only amped up the routine.

I once asked my dentist how damaging my chronic chomping was. "Why, just this morning, I worked on someone who broke off a front tooth because of nail biting," he said. Scare tactic well played, sir, but this cautionary tale seemed a little too convenient.

Tricking possible paramours into hand holding (“You're doing me a huge favor; this habit has got to go”) and taking up cigarettes seem to be my remaining strategies. But in the name of self- and lung preservation, I've been on the hunt for more viable solutions. And I found a promising option.

I ventured to premier New York salon Valley after a phone call with the understanding receptionist convinced me their resilient gel manicures have cured many a dedicated biter. Unlike acrylic-polish treatments, the manicure—with special gel-based colors set quickly with LED lamps—purports to last two weeks and beyond, and can only be removed with a pure acetone soak.

Won’t chip or crack? We’ll see: I can wreak havoc on a manicure. I’ve had, I’m sorry to say, many an embarrassing moment with Wet N Wild flakes in my teeth and ingested more Essie than is ever advisable. Challenge accepted.

After my attentive manicurist trimmed, buffed and painted each individual digit, she stuck the single finger under the light. Just 25 seconds later, she progressed on to the next nail.

Surely that can't be dry, I  thought. But no, I checked, accidentally dinging a few fingers against the LED lamps. Not one dent. I could have washed dishes with steel wool and not smudged the bright red color. Start to finish time? A little over 30 minutes.

Forty-eight hours after the fact and the polish is still intact. And it's also incredibly shiny. The price, at just under $40, is keeping my hands at my side, as I’m less than eager to waste the cash.

But I’m not in the clear yet. Isn't conventional wisdom that it takes about 30 days to break a habit? For me, it could be a little longer: I have gone through a few, several-months-spurts of abstinence only to pick up where I left off.

So if this fails, gratuitous hand holding it is. Any takers?