It all started 10 months ago when.... wait! There's more to this story than just what happened ten months ago! I could quickly describe my nail care, but I really want to share my whole experience, because I believe there are a lot of great things that played a part in this little journey of mine. My hope is that somewhere along the full description of my experience, someone can learn something and be on their own road to overcome nail biting.
When I say I had unhealthy nails, I mean they were really unhealthy! Some of the worst you'd ever see! I was a nail biter since as long as I remember. I would not just bite the nail, but layers into it, the skin, AND my cuticles. My nail beds suffered so much throughout the years. I can now say that they have recovered tremendously from that trauma.
I would like to point out that one of my goals when I started nail art, was to have healthy nails. I told myself that it was a process, and that it would take a long time for them to look healthy, or at least be healthy. I was very patient about it, and just kept thinking, "everything I do is a step forward, it will always be better than it used to be, and they can only improve."
Here's some proof of how bad they were.It was so bad!!. This is circa July 2012, right before I started my journey with nail art.
Never in my life would I imagine that I'd be able to stop biting my nails, much less be a "nail artist". I was never someone who had her hands manicured, or nails painted, or an obsession for nail polish colors. However, I would always admire polish colors and beautifully painted nails in magazines.
Painting my nails constantly, working on designs, and having different polishes motivated me to want to have healthy nails, which then motivated me to paint my nails, work on designs, and get more beautiful polishes (hehe). As my nails finally started growing, I slowly stopped biting my nails. I think it really took a full year before I completely stopped (it's a really hard habit to break). Still, I realized, just because I stopped biting my nails, it didn't mean my nails were to become magically healthy. My new habit became picking polish off of my nails, which didn't help much in the growing healthy nails department. This was another bad habit I would eventually overcome.
As my nails were growing, they were still very thin and fragile. I had a constant battle with constant peeling, more than anything, and of course, I would pick at that too. Another constant battle was that my weakest nails (middle and index fingers on both hands) would constantly chip from the corners.
Good thing I was already in the IG nail art community, and I learned plenty of information on what I could do to build up the strength of my nails.
The first thing I did that started my road to improvement, was to use Hard as Hoof cream that was recommended by so many people on Instagram, including my very good friend Margaret of @maagsdinwiddie. I was very true to applying this cream, and rubbing it into my nails at least 3 times a day, every day. After finishing a whole little tub, I noticed my nails were growing longer before they would chip, and there was a significant reduction in the amount of peeling that would happen. I also noticed my nails were a bit thicker. After using Hard as Hoof, I purchased my first Nail Envy strengthening base coat, and started using that under my manis.
The next thing I did was take notice of my cuticles. I learned that healthy cuticles actually make a difference in the health of your nails. The first thing I ever purchased was Lemony Flutter by LUSH cosmetics, because that was all the rave at the time and it was what everyone was using or talking about. I'm not gonna lie, I really liked it, but I bought it while on vacation, since there were no LUSH stores around me, and purchasing anything on their website was overwhelming, so it really wasn't a long term solution. I don't know why, but I could just never hop on board with Burt's Bees cuticle cream. I think the consistency of it was something that never appealed to me. My long term go-to cuticle balm became Sweet Baby by Donna by my very good friend Donna @workinggirlnails :). More on that later.
By this time, I had already started using Neutrogena Norwegian Formula regularly as my hand cream! I can't remember if when I first tried it it was because I heard it from someone, or if it was a chance pick at the store. When I started working as a nurse in 2008, my hands were getting severely chapped, with cuts and even some freckles formed. This cream was the only thing that healed them.
Seeing the difference that a good moisturizer, and good cuticle balm and oils made on my nails and cuticles, was such a happy moment for me. I kept true to my routine at the time, especially of moisturizing right after using acetone to re-hydrate all that skin.
Please head on over Part 2 here, where I talk about how I kept improving my nails' health :)
Thanks for reading everyone!