Hi, I’m Kelsey. I have 28 years of experience loving dogs, being sassy and chewing my nails. That is until recently I *finally* cracked the code and figured out how I can sustainably have long, healthy nails without using pills, hypnosis or that foul-tasting anti-biting nail polish.
I think it’s important to determine why we chew and pick at our nails in the first place. Personally, I’ve always previously gnawed at my digits whenever I was stressed or bored. I’d be halfway through a workday or a cheesy rom-com movie and suddenly I’d realise that I had eaten through the latest OPI shade, surrounded by a dusting of broken ‘Alpine Snow’ chips. Yes, I knew it was gross and I although I often fantasized about having long pretty nails, the type that click away on a keyboard, I just couldn’t help myself.
Biting my nails was a subconscious nasty habit that I was desperate to break. I had tried everything in the book and failed, that is until the recent pandemic set me onto a winning combo for growing nails. As a result, in the past month I’ve transformed my nails to “oh shit!” to “on fleek 💅” – emojis and all. Here’s how:
5 tips for growing nails
1. Practise good hygiene
Nothing beats realising the importance of good hygiene like living through a worldwide pandemic. Seriously though, the unfortunate COVID-19 situation immediately kept me from touching my face (as recommended by the WHO), and consequently biting my nails.
When you think about it, chewing your fingers is just plain NASTY. Your nails are home to a plethora of gross germs, fungus, yeast and other pathogens. Not only that, but continual nail-biting can ruin your teeth and gums, give you facial warts, make you sick, give you bad breath AANDDDDD can lead to teeth grinding. So wash your hands, sing happy birthday and keep your hands away from your face ya filthy animal.
2. Protect your digits
I’m not surprised my nails were weak af when I made the realisation that I wasn’t using any protection. No, not that kind of protection! For as long as I can remember I’ve been washing up dishes and cleaning the house with my bare hands and without a care in the world – and consequently committing serious nailcare sin!
Direct contact with the potent combo of detergent, hot water and bleach will seriously break down your nails and strip your hands of natural oils and moisture. Simply wearing gloves as you go about your domestic chores will work wonders in protecting your digits. Also ladies, don’t use your nails as tools either – that means no cracking open a can of cider using the tips of your fingers!
3. File & moisturise
You know the situation: you’ve accidentally broken off a chunk of your nail and it’s all too tempting to bite the rest off in an attempt to even it out. Before you know it, you’ve almost chewed down to your bone. Stop right there, thank you very much. Yes, it’s hard to grow long nails when they are already weak and prone to breaking – however, if you can resist the biting temptation, your nails will thank you for it. Always carry a nail file with you, so you can whip it out and swiftly file down a broken nail without losing too much length. This simple fact saved my nails so many times and for that reason, I now keep a file in my handbag, at my desk and next to the bed. Files for days.
I know we’re all incredibly busy people, though if you can add moisturising your cuticles as part of your beauty regime, it will work wonders when it comes to growing nails. Cuticle oil not only moisturises but it also helps increase circulation in the nail bed and can stimulate new nail growth. I’ve linked some top-rated oils below but you can also use coconut oil and massage that into your nail beds, and it’s no doubt easily found at the back of your pantry.
4. Get your nails (professionally) did
Before you jump to any conclusions, I’m not trying to deplete your bank account. Getting your nails done professionally is incredibly expensive and a luxury, however, this is what ultimately led me to long nails and you only need to get them done once to be well on your way to having your dream nails.
Treating yourself to an initial gel manicure is essential for growing nails. Why? Gel polishes aren’t like regular nail polish, they’re a cool LED light-activated polish that can last two to four weeks and are initially incredibly hard to chip. The simple fact that you spent your hard-earned money on a professional manicure will help you resist undoing all the work by chewing it all off. Getting your gels done is an easy way to get that initial nail growth going with little effort. I know it’s not financially sustainable, so that leads me to my next point.
5. Invest in a DIY nail kit
So you’ve managed to stop biting your nails and now your gel manicure is hanging on by a thread, so now what? It’s time to invest in a DIY nail kit so you can recreate the salon experience at home for a fraction of the cost. This will mean you can easily (and safely) remove your gel polish and apply a new colour without leaving the comfort of your home, meaning pants are optionable. Better yet, I love doing this as a form of self-care, it’s the ultimate “me-time” activity and best accompanied by a glass of wine and a banging Spotify playlist.
For step-by-step instructions on how to remove your gel polish, watch my tutorial here. You might have half the tools already, however here is a link to an Amazon shopping list with everything you’ll need including: 100% Acetone (essential for removing gel), A LED lamp, prep solution, base and top coat, lint-free wipes, a cuticle nipper & pusher set, nail file and your favourite gel nail colours.
Enjoyed this article? Read my step-by-step tutorial on how to do DIY Gel Nails here.