After Years of Picking My Nails, This Is the Routine That Finally Got Me to Let Them Grow

I finally got a good regimen down to keep my hands and nails healthy using products that, in some cases, literally hold my nails together.
Publish date:
July 25, 2016
opi, nail files, base coats, nail polish, Seche Vite, hand lotions, Orly, hand washes, TO112

I was never a nail biter. Instead of using my teeth, I was a nail picker. Like, with my nails against other nails, which is kind of worse because it's basically nail cannibalism.

It was a compulsion to have my nails be even. It didn't matter if they were short or I gave myself a bunch of hang nails in the process, I would pick and pick at my nails until they were all passably uniform and straight. So God forbid I'd break a nail — I would spend the rest of my day picking at all of them until they were right.

It has taken me a long time to get over this. I didn't do anything dissimilar to what people recommend for nail biters, except I also started keeping a nail file on me at all times so I could iron things out on one nail without having to pick at all of them. Add in a genetic predisposition for weak and flaky nails, I really didn't think I could have nice-looking nails until maybe two or three years ago.

I finally got a good routine down to keep my hands and nails healthy using products that, in some cases, literally hold my nails together. And all of a sudden, they started to grow.

Part of nail care is hand care and that means keeping them clean and moisturized. I keep on my bathroom sink both hand wash and lotion so I remember to moisturize right after washing.

There is a Deborah Lippman quote that pretty accurately sums up my hand washing and lotion routine, and you can extra-trust her because she's Deborah Lippman. Anyway, it goes, "Think of your nails and hands like your face. It wouldn't occur to most women to wash their face and not apply a moisturizer, but they wash hands over and over without applying hand lotion."

Well said, Deb.

I'm using TO112 hand wash and lotion right now because they both have coconut and tamanu oils to keep your hands super-soft, and they smell deliciously like lemongrass. Plus, proceeds from each sale of the lotion are donated to so really, all good things.

This OPI Crystal Nail File is my best friend. Because of that whole pesky nail-picking habit turned nail-filing habit, I used to run through those cardboard/sand-paper emery boards like they were water. They would just shrivel up and become totally useless because I used them way too much.

I made the switch to this crystal file over two years ago, and besides the OPI logo on the end rubbing off with use, the file itself is still in tip-top shape. The grit is extremely fine, so instead of filing off way more than you expected with those heavy-duty cardboard ones, you only take off exactly what you want.

Really quickly, I'm going to run you through my best recommendations for the manicuring process. If you have weak nails that are prone to flaking or peeling, especially on the tips which 100% will chip and tank your manicure faster, you need the ORLY Bonder. This stuff is like rubber cement for your nails.You paint on a thin layer before your nail color and it holds onto your nails for dear life. Because it sticks the flaky parts of your nail together, you won't have an instantly chipped manicure. I've been using this for well over a year now and I honestly can't imagine going back to any other base coat.

I have lots and lots of favorite nail polishes — more than enough for an article of it's own — but for this article, I'm wearing Sinful Shine nail polish in Spitfire.

I paint on one or two coats of my nail color, depending on how good the pigmentation is, and immediately move onto the top coat, Seche Vite. For the magic of Seche Vite to work right, it needs to go onto nail polish before it's totally dry. I simply paint one hand at a time and once I get done with the last nail, go in with the top coat.

Seche Vite is super-thick and dries to the touch faster than any other long-wearing topcoat I've tried. Because it's so thick, it can actually constrict a little as it dries, so make sure you cap the nail when using it so you don't have a weird bump of topcoat just before the edge of your nail.

  • What are your top nail care products?
  • Do you have a more or less extensive nail care process?
  • Please tell me there are other non-nail biting, nail pickers out there!