Advice for a nail biter


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Well-Known Member
Jan 27, 2007
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My first ever client was a severe nail (and skin) biter, with the tiniest nail beds ever.:eek:

At her first reballance 7 nails were gone!! Several weeks down the line and she now has lovely nails and I can tell that she is looking after them well.

And she is so excited that she can also now see her 'own' nails under the free edge.:)

She is now asking me when she can have the enhancements removed and just have her natural nails.

I have suggested that we wait until they are all a constant length but I am worried that her own nails are going to be quite weak/soft and that she'll end up with breakages that will put her back to square one.

I'm so proud of her and how well she has done and want to leave her with lovely nails that she can be proud of too, so what is the recommended way forward with a reformed biter? When do we go natural and how can I help her keep them tip top?
Maybe suggest a Natural Nail Overlay when they all get to a consistant length. Explain that it is only a short time for her to have "broken the habit" of biting them and an overlay will help remind her when they go in her mouth that she really shouldnt bite them.

The other thing to consider is maybe its a money issue and she might not be able to afford basic infills, let alone all the repairs she is having done due to biting/breaking them off. Some client wont say that they cant afford it but their eagerness to return to NN speaks volumes.


Oh heck - I just realized I've posted this in the wrong forum - can someone move it for me!!:o
My mum was my model for my foundation course - she was a terrible nail biter too (I didn't make life easy for myself! LOL)
Any way, it went really well and she has been fantastic. Stopped biting and nibbling and has managed to grow her own nails. She now has NNOs.

It is amazing, but her natural nails are really strong, even though they were so badly damaged...... so in theory she could easily go on to a natural nail care programme.


A few weeks back she cracked one of her overlays (NN undamaged). I was staying with her and as it was quite late, we decided to soak it off before bed and replace the Overlay in the morning.

Th next morning, I was so upset!! She had chewed the whole thing off!! I don't mean nibbled or bitten - I mean eaten!!!
The nail bed was shorter, she was bleeding - it was awful!!!
Mum was in so much pain and couldn't understand why she had done it - she hadn't even thought about biting in 3 months! She had done it without realising - like it was still habit.

I think biting nails is a bit like smoking...... everyone is different. Usually one of the following happens.

1. Having overlays for my mum is a bit like wearing a patch - takes away her craving.
But without her 'patch' she does't feel strong enough to fight her need to nibble!

2. Some biters will even eat their enhancements - just the same as some people will smoke whilst wearing a patch.
Their desire to bite / smoke is too strong.

3. Others can use an aid (enhancements / patch) to break a habit for a few weeks, then go it alone and never look back - well done them!

I'd let her try going natural if that is what she wants.

However, I think that you should warn her that it is possible that she could start to bite again - old habits die hard!
How would she feel if that happend? My mum was devastated!

But, if she goes for it and turns out to be a 3 (you never know!), because her nails are quite weak, I would advise her to keep her nails quite short for a while - give them time, let them air and to use Toughen Up to help them along, before trying to grow them properly. Manicures too - as often as she can afford.
Thanks Rachel and Gelly.

So how long would I recommend she has NNO? Would it be just until she has the confidence to go 'naked'?:lol:

I know she's really keen but only she knows whether she's ready.
personally I would prefer they stay with NNO for as long as possible. Old habits die hard and all that.

Good Luck xx
As a former biter, I can tell you with perfect honesty: it usually takes 12 to 24 months to completely reform a biter and they can STILL have a relapse after.
Many times I had thought I had given up the habit. I then gave up my enhancements and then within a couple of weeks - boom! I bit them all off again, just to have to start over.

It's harder to quit biting than it is to quit smoking since nails are so available AND because you can bite/nibble without realizing they're in your mouth, unlike with a cigarette. With a cigarette, you have to conciously get a cigarette and light it. With biting, you don't have to choose to buy cigarettes and get a lighter etc.
AND biting is acceptible anywhere, unlike smoking.

Biters need a LOT of support and a LOT of encouragement.
Explain how it's a habit, and very often an 'unconcious' one. That in all likelihood, if she goes 'natural', and one breaks/chips/cracks; she'll more than likely nibble it... and then right down the line she'll go. She may have the best of intentions: but like anyone trying to change a habit, it's a struggle.
Also, since most likely, her nails are unciously in her mouth so often, and she's nibbling without biting - therefor putting undue pressure on them - they'll be more brittle and inclined to break/chip etc.

Until the unconcious part of the habit is broken, she won't be a 'non-biter'. While she can't really bite (unless completely determined and aware of what she's doing) while there are enhancements on them,I'm pretty sure she still puts her fingers in her mouth.

Encourage her to keep them on at the very least for 6months. Better yet, 12. She wouldn't want to have to start the cycle all over again.

She's doing good, let her keep up the good work and be absolutely certain that she's kicked it.

Until she has a natural overlay and all her nails are of equal length, and goes several months without chipping/cracking etc... I wouldn't try going natural. If she still bangs up the enhancements, she'll most certainly bang up the natural nails which are more delicate.
Biters not only have to give up a bad habit, they have to relearn how to use their hands as "whoops, there's a free edge there that wasn't there before".

I hope that this helps

Thanks Rachel and Gelly.

So how long would I recommend she has NNO? Would it be just until she has the confidence to go 'naked'?:lol:

I know she's really keen but only she knows whether she's ready.

My mum didn't think she would eat her poor naked finger overnight! We all thought her biting days were long gone - but she didn't realise she was doing it.

Just because someone feels ready, doesn't mean they are........ So warn her that it is possible, if she goes 'naked' (lol, I love that!) she could go back to square 1 without realising..........

She might want to test herself, to see if she has really kicked the habit! I'd let her.
You'll be there to fix and care for her hands no matter what happens.
NNO as long as she can afford it

I never have to suggest it to my reformed nail bitters thou because after they are used to seeing gorgeous enhanced nails most cannot stand the sight of a natural nail which is flat with no beautiful apex! - I know how they feel thou I have been enhancing my own for so long that I now find my own natural nails - all thou in perfect condition under my enhancements - simply ugly.

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