Can't Stop Biting Your Nails? Try Getting Them Shellacked

Obsessively biting one's fingernails -- otherwise known as 'onychophagia' -- is an oral compulsion that affects more of us than we'd like to admit. If you're sick of the 'gnawed digit' look and want to rid your house of disgusting fingernail leavings, getting your nails shellacked could be the answer, as a Lifehacker reader explains.

By her own admission, Lisa Banks has been a frenzied nail-nibbler ever since she grew teeth. Last week, she decided enough was enough and opted to give her nail-biting habit a good shellacking -- in both senses of the word.

"Over the past 20 years I've tried everything from acrylic nails to horrible tasting nail polish to curb my habit with no success. Then a friend told me about shellac - a fairly new form of nail care where multiple layers of nail polish are put onto your nails to create a very thick coat that is hard to bite through," explained Lisa.

Shellacking is a manicure treatment primarily designed to produce long-lasting nail color that won't smudge or chip. However, the process also represents a handy way to curb nail-biting.

During the process, several coats of shellac are applied to each nail, which are then hardened under UV light. The entire process takes about half an hour from start to finish and can cost as little as $15 (although prices are naturally higher at upmarket nail salons).

Explains Lisa: "I got my nails shellacked on Friday and so far so good! I've had the craving to bite them a couple of times (particularly when I'm stressed), but having the shellac on has kept my teeth at bay.

"The good thing about shellac compared to acrylic nails is that it's much easier to maintain and the polish doesn't make your nails weak. I also felt as though acrylics were like a band-aid rather than a solution to stop biting them."

Lisa assures us that shellac comes in completely clear shades -- which means the tip also works for all types of blokes -- not just New Romantics.


Comments

    (1) can you get clear shellacking?
    (2) if you get clear shellacking, is it obvious?

    What I'm really asking is - is this suitable for guys?

      Well, i think it would be - at least if your nail biting problem was bad enough. You will get alot of laughs from guys if you do get this done... But the alternative is chewed nails.
      Its up to you, i guess, if the pros of the situation outweigh the cons.

      You can definitely get clear shellac, and it won't be that noticeable. Your nails will just look a little shiner, and only to anyone looking up close. The nice thing is that when you go back to get the shellac topped up, you get a manicure so all the rough skin and edges start to get shaped and trimmed nicely, so your hands start too look nicer over all. You can have your toenails shellacked too if you have rough feet (I know tradies who like to get their feet done as a way to relax after a hard week at work, no really!!)

      I'm a guy, and I shellaced my nails about 3 weeks ago and they're great!

      The shellac adds real strength and thickness to them, but not only that, they feel so nice and smooth that you get more pleasure from touching them with your fingers and rubbing them your lips than biting them.

      And you can't tell either. They're now shiny, but that's it.

    I just used willpower to stop biting my nails. I suppose that's not very useful for everyone though. :P

      I don't know anyone called Will who is powerful enough :(

    Nailbiting is actually a symptom of anxiety disorders. Most people don't realise they are suffering from underlying anxiety issues and just think of themselves as being stressed or highly strung. If you tend to bite your nails at times when you feel worried or stressed you should try cognitive behaviour therapy to deal with the cause rather than the symptom.

      Hannah you are exactly right - the more I realised what an addiction biting my nails was, the more I realised there had to be a bigger issue behind me doing it. That's another reason why I've gone with the shellacking option - it's not a "bandaid" like acrylic nails are - it is a major incentive to stop biting (and it's pretty hard to bite them with the polish on!) but with acrylics I felt like I wasn't thinking about/dealing with the reasons of why I actually bite my nails in the first place. Hope this makes sense ;)

    And if that's not enough to get you to stop, how's this...

    Shellac is pretty much just beetle shit!

      While on the subject of making things out of bugs, apparently some red food dye use to also be made out of beetles. Though it was the actual beetles, not the poop (if I remember correctly). Yum!

    I let my nails grow out once, and found that they kept getting caught on the edges of the next row of keys on keyboards. That was it for me. I went back to biting them, because no matter how much I liked the way that they looked, they were in the way and annoying to me 8-12 hours a day, and that was too much of an impact on my life. No, I didn't have "talon" length nails, just normal length nails. But I didn't care for the impact they had on my keyboarding. Apparently the new chicklet (hmmm ;-) keyboards are more compatible with womens' longer nails, but I don't like them as much as I like classic keyboards.

    I was a compulsive nail biter all my life, and in the end it was acrylic nails that fixed it for me. It really was impossible to bite them, but more importantly, I got used to the feeling of actually having nails on my fingers - which is a very odd feeling if you're not used to having them there. It took about 2 years but now I can grow my own nails quite nicely, and only rarely have a biting incident (it usually only happens when a nail breaks and the urge to nibble on the rough bits is impossible to ignore).

    Also, I want to know where you can get shellac for $15!

    Just obsess on the nerve damage you could be doing to your teeth, that fixed my problem. You could also go eat an apple when you get the urge to bite those nails. Now I cringe at the thought of biting nails. :S

    Wear nail polish! When you bite you nails, it tastes awful and you don't want to bite them

      I am a nail bitter and i would literally bite through the nail polish despite the taste. Depending on how determined you are you can do it. It may taste horrible but for some, like myself, they need something that makes it next to impossible to bite through. When the taste goes away after a few minutes, that isn't very much help.

    An alternative is to apply (multiple) layers of transparent coat (e.g. all in one). Thanks for the article!

    The transparent coat is suitable for men...

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