How I Make My Nails Presentable While They Recover From Anxious Biting

If I keep my nails bare, I'll just keep biting them; but I don't like to draw attention to mangled nails with bold colors. Here's my happy medium.
Publish date:
July 3, 2013
mac, nail polishes, opi, nail files, nail biting, cuticles, habits, cuticle oils, short nails, CND, Models Own

When I’m anxious, I do all sorts of fun things: tidy my room like a madwoman, manically craft, examine every pore on my body with a magnifying mirror. I feel like I get some sort of payoff for quite a lot of the activities I fixate on in a frenzy, which makes it sort of OK; I have such a tidy room, albeit sprinkled in craft-related glitter.

However, I also peel my nails and hands apart; both the layers of the nail itself, rendering them flimsy and weak and useless, and then my cuticles, leaving a gory, bloody mess.

I was going to do a post on neon nail varnishes this week, because I really love them and I have heaps of amazing ones I want to show you guys. However, I had to send Marci an email last week apologizing because I went kind of cray and ate my hands, and I didn’t want to paint them bright colours because I didn’t want to draw any attention to the mess they had become. I’m currently waiting for them to grow back, but in the meanwhile, I’m trying to work out ways to make them look presentable.

I deeply love good manicures. I can do my nails better than any nail professional, I am a nail art wizard, and I also associate the length of my nails and their uniformity with the wellbeing of my mental health. I don’t know where this has come from, but I remember as a little girl seeing a lady tap her nails impatiently in a film and thinking it looked painfully cool, so perhaps the fixation evolved from there.

Also, I think because I find it so hard to keep my nails nice, it’s a way to be kind of nasty to myself. My hands really directly correlate to the state of my anxiety: happy Olivia has fabulous nails because she doesn’t have her hands in her mouth at all times. Crazy Olivia looks like she’s stuck her fingers in the blender (and also possibly talks about herself in the third person?).

If my nails are left bare, I will peel them to shreds, so I like to keep them coated in something; but not something too jazzy because when they are short, I’d rather people didn’t look at them. I mean, they usually look OK from a distance, but once you get up close you can see the bloody bits where I have ripped the skin apart with my teeth, and that is groooooss. And sad, I guess. But mainly, groooooss.

I always, always, always use a base. I am a devoted fan of Sally Hansen products and have been using Hard As Wraps Powerful Acrylic Gel forever and it is fantastic. I mean, I have tried every nail growth product going and Sally smashes them all to pieces.

I am also a really big believer in cuticle oil for the cuticles themselves, because mine get all gross and hard and scabby when they grow back, which not only looks disgusting but encourages more painful peeling.

I spend half my life reading beauty blogs and forums, and I recently caved and got everyone’s holy grail product: CND Solar Oil. It has jojoba and vitamin E, it has made my nails more flexible (so less prone to brittle breakages), and it soaks in super-quickly.

I have been using almond oil, coconut oil, just about everything on my hands for ever, and so I kind of resented the idea of paying more for what is, essentially, oil. But I’m pretty converted, and you only need the teeniest bit, so it lasts forever. Anyway, I’m down.

I carry a nail file everywhere I go. Everywhere. Because if something chips one of my nails, I need to file it or I will just gnaw it apart. Gross.

It is really important to me to file all my nails the same shape and length. Even when that means I have to file my pinky finger nail down more than I would like (it feels counterintuitive voluntarily filing my nails to the quick), the resulting evenly shaped nails is totally worth it.

And then comes the question about what to paint them, because I kind of hate nude nails. I want them to look good but, like I said, not too attention-grabby, so I am into nudes and opaques at the moment.

NARS Trouville: This is my favourite pink at the moment; it applies incredibly evenly and is pretty and cute without being too pretty and cute.

Models Own Mermaid Tears: As if a glitter is this pretty. This is a vaguely purply jelly base with the most amazing little pieces of foil-y purple-y magic in it, which makes your nails look nude but magical when they catch the light. Also, how good is the name?

OPI Significant Other: Again, this is a really light pinky-purply, almost transparent colour but when it catches the light, it shimmers golden. Fabulous.

MAC Quiet Time: This is my favourite beige polish because there’s something about the depth of the colour that stops it being that tedious flat pigment that I hate in nail varnishes. Also, nude/beige nails are so chic at the moment, guys. Winner.

For years, I was a devoted Seche Vite fan, but my bottles kept going gloopy before I finished them, and I paint my nails an awful lot, so it felt really unfair. I have recently discovered Nails Inc as my go-to brand for polishes because they have some of the best colour saturation I have ever found, but they also have an amazingly wet-look topcoat, Albert Bridge. It dries super-fast and has the same high-shine effect that I adore. Plus, it doesn’t promote nail varnish peeling, my ultimate resentment.

So, what do you do when you’re anxious? Do you always need your nails done? What are your top tips on growing them back? And your favourite subtle nail colours?