5 Bad Nail Habits & How to Break Them

Break Your Bad Nail Habits, Not Your Nails

We all dream of Instagram-worthy nails: Not just to show off our kickass nail art, but also to slip in a backdoor brag. “Look at my ridge-free nails, my well-moisturized cuticles, my strong, shiny nails!” However, if you’re indulging in any of these terrifyingly gross nail habits, you’ll never get the nails of your dreams (and yes, we know you dream about your nails. It’s okay. We do too).

Biting Your Nails

Is there another bad nail habit so prevalent? Of course, it’s not just a bad habit – nail biting was officially identified as a form of OCD a few years ago. For most nail biters, the act itself is a nervous one, triggered by stress and anxiety. If you fall into this category, we get it, because we’ve been there too. But if we can change our ways, so can you, ’cause we know you’re just as grossed out by seeing your cut up, chewed down nails as we are. Figure out what makes you bite your nails. Is it the suspenseful wait for the next episode of Scandal? Are you nervous for a big date? Combat the urge to bite by keeping a travel manicure kit with you at all times. That way the next time the need hits, you won’t have to use your teeth as a nail file/nail clippers/emery board.

Sephora CollectionTravel Tips Mini Mani Kit Pink – $20

Cutting Cuticles / Pulling at Hangnails

Oh, the sweet, painful relief of cutting or pulling at those dry, ragged cuticles and hangnails. They’re so dry and ready for the picking that they’re basically asking for it, right? Wrong. Your cuticles are there for a reason: they prevent fungal and bacterial infections from getting into your nail bed. As for hangnails, well, those usually only occur due to dryness and/or because you’ve been pulling at your cuticle. First things first: STOP PICKING YOUR CUTICLES. If they need some healing TLC, apply antibiotic ointment until they heal. Once they’re in decent shape, know that the best offense is a great defense, and you can’t pick at dry cuticles if they’re not dry. Keep your digits moisturized with Sally Hansen’s Salon Manicure Cuticle Eraser + Balm: it travels well, works miracles, and smells pretty good.

sally hansen cuticle eraser and balm

Sally Hansen Cuticle Eraser + Balm – $6.99

Peeling Your Polish

Remember that Tinkerbell Peel-Off Polish from the 80s? It obviously instilled this bad habit in all of us (and think of all the chemicals we probably ingested while doing that!). We know there’s nothing more annoying than chipped polish with a lifted edge that’s begging to be pulled off, but you really, really don’t want to do that. Nail polish bonds to the keratin layer of your nails – and keratin is just a fancy word for protein. So when you pull off your polish, you are literally peeling off your nail proteins as well. This leaves nails in a weak state, prone to peeling, ridges, and breaking. There’s an easy fix though: just keep some portable nail wipes on you. Josie Maran’s Bear Naked Nail Wipes remove lacquer with an acetone-free formula, plus it’s infused with organic Argan oil to keep your nails – and your cuticles – moisturized. As we mentioned above, keeping nails moisturized is key to healthy, shiny nails.

Josie Maran Bear Naked Nail Wipes Grapefruit – 20 wipes


Your nail file is not a saw. Do not use it like one. And if you’re using one, make sure you are using the right one. Real talk: all nail files are not created equal. Most of us know this, deep down, as it’s especially hard to ignore when you’re at the beauty supply store and there are dozens of different types of nail files in varying colors, grits, shapes, and sizes. If you don’t have a nail tech background, your best bet is a glass nail file. Made of ground crystal, these files have a very fine grit that’s gentle but effective. They’re ideal for smoothing out bumps and shaping the free edge of your nails. Now, when you do file your nails, make sure you only file in one direction. Seesawing at your nails just gives you even more of a ragged edge, and can lead to those very painful hangnails occurring under the free edge of your nail.

Nordstrom Crystal Nail File – $8.95

DIY Acrylic/Gel Removal

Picture the scenario: you make an appointment at the nail salon, get a super cute gel and/or acrylic set, and fork over your hard-earned cash for an awesome manicure. A few weeks later, you break a nail, or you’re in dire need of a fill, or your polish starts chipping. You pick and prod and poke at a stoplight, during Netflix binges, or in the shower. You get that broken one off, and wow, feels good. But now you have 9 long nails and one short nail. What do you do? If you’re indulging in bad habits already, you’re probably gonna try and get that sucker off ASAP. But that was the old you, full of bad habits. The new you knows better: make an appointment with a professional. Not only will it save you so much effort, it won’t leave your nails looking like hell. You deserve better!

– Bren Lee Gomez

Elise Wright

Elise is a social media strategist from Sydney, now living in NYC, who has a long standing love affair with the beauty industry- especially the nail industry!

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