Problem Solved: I Have a Cheap, Five Step Cure For Gnawing On Your Hangnails

My hands no longer horrify people.
Publish date:
November 1, 2013
nail polish, cuticle oil, bad habits, hangnails

I’ve had the nervous habit of chewing and picking at my hangnails since I was a kid. What started as a little uneven skin tending quickly spiraled out of control.

I don’t just pick at them: I gnaw and chew at them until any raised skin is torn clean off, usually resulting in a bloody mess that makes it seem as if Freddy Kruger does my manicures. I don’t produce melanin in my thumbs anymore...that’s how bad it’s gotten. It's really, really gross. I know this.

About six months ago, a manicurist took pity on me and showed me a quick, cheap five-step plan that has all but stopped the skin-snacking madness, leaving me with the lovely hands I was meant to have. Short of spraying bitter apple spray on your hands, this is what’s worked for me:

Clip any raised or uneven hangnails the minute they start - I carry a nail clipper with me everywhere I go now. Get rid of uneveness quickly, because once you see it, your instinct is to start picking and tearing at it, which is just the gateway to madness and infections and all sorts of maladies.

File the skin with the gentle side of a nail file - If you’re like me, years of picking has made that skin calloused and tough, so filing it won’t hurt it -- just be gentle when filing. Smooth the area down until you can’t feel any uneven surfaces.

Apply any nourishing oil to your cuticles immediately, and repeat often - I use a lot extra virgin olive oil when I cook anyway so I usually drop a little onto my fingers too. This also works with coconut and almond oils. Hand lotion is amazing, but it never seems to have the lasting powers of those oils. So while I’m not carrying bottles of EVOO around like Rachael Ray, I tend to carry Julep Essential Cuticle Oil with me wherever I go so I’m constantly keeping my hands hydrated.

Keep your nails manicured - I don’t know why, but when my hands are looking gorgeous and even, I’m less inclined to pick at my them. I have tons of polishes, but Sally Hansen Quick Dry works in a pinch and in under two minutes, my nails are done, dry and the urge to pick subsides.

Buff and oil your cuticles at night before you to bed - I keep a buffer and another bottle of that Julep Cuticle Oil next to my bed and I gently buff and oil my cuticles AGAIN. Because if I wake up with a hangnail, the madness starts again...

The total cost of this process? Almost nothing, but presentable hands that don’t cause people to recoil in horror when they see my nails? Priceless.

Any other pickers out there? How did you stop?