For me, growing up I used to bite my nails. I actually remember someone teasing me when I was in elementary about my hands. They said that I had been shoving my hands up my ass and that they were covered in poo. Look, when you have dark skin, sometimes it appears darker on your knuckles and around your cuticles. I remember that about my hands when I was a kid and I know that biting them made it worse. That remark actually made me feel even worse and I just ended up perpetuating the cycle. Overall, I remember I was stressed about life so I think I just turned to biting my nails and the skin around it as a coping technique. It worked, so why stop?
Some time before grade 8, I lived with family in Saskatchewan for a bit. While I was there, I met this really nice girl who I thought was the epitome of gorgeousness. She had these really nice long nails and always wore polish and a small part of me was so jealous. I had these stupid, ugly, short nubs of nails. Long story short we spent a lot of time together and she always told me that nail polish looks good on both short AND long nails and that I should stop saying "I can't wear nail polish". I mean, it's obvious now but when you're a young girl going through puberty and all those other changes I never realized it. I just needed someone pretty to tell me. So I began wearing some nail polish.
FFWD into high school and alas, the same problem existed. I still chewed on my nails and my BFF always told me not to because she was disgusted by it. Fair enough, she drilled it enough into my head that I really cut down. I didn't change or stop doing it, but I didn't do it as much and began picking at my nails instead. I mean I always liked nail polish because it allowed me to express who I was. Before wearing dark colours was chic, you usually didn't see it on many people. And I liked that. FFWD into university and I was still doing the same thing. Especially during exams - I would just go to town and pick and pick and pick at them. It was gross! They were so raw! But that's just how I dealt with stress at the time.
Now, sometime along there I realized I just really wanted to have some pretty nails and I didn't want to deal with the sting of having raw cuticles. I mean, I don't really know what changed but I think I saw improvement in the condition of my nails and I realized that hey, maybe my nails will be ok. So I started to try to fix them. I don't have many pictures of my nails from when I was in junior high and high school but suffice it to say, they were WORSE than these.
Here's a collage of my nails from about 2009ish. You can see there are parts that are just raw, and areas where my cuticle is jagged and not one cohesive line of cuticle. I put these together to show that it took me time to get my nails to where they're at now and TRUST, they STILL have a ways to go. BUT, don't be discouraged if you're looking at blogs and jealous of other people's nails. Just find what works for you. Identify your problem first and then find a solution. A lot of people suggest eating Biotin or increasing your leafy greens intake. I didn't do that I just worked at it slowly. It wasn't until I started seeing results that I took my nail care more seriously.
Here's a step by step of roughly how I fixed my nails.
- Stopped biting my nails as much as I could.
- Stopped picking at my nails as much as I could.
- Began using hand lotion more frequently.
- Began to actually cut my nails regularly, and filed them after.
- Began wearing nail polish more often because I would damage my nails less when I had them polished.
- Started using Sally Hansen's Hard As Nails polishes.
- Started filing my nails in ONE direction.
- Started using OPI's Nail Envy.
- Invested in cuticle oil and cream. You can use whatever but I bought Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream and OPI's Avoplex.
- I would carry the cuticle cream with me and apply when I could, and Avoplex before bed. I would try my absolute BEST to stay away from touching hangnails. When I saw them I covered them with cream and did intense treatment of them. Sometimes I even bandaged it up so I wouldn't pick at it while it healed.
When I get overwhelmed and stressed, my nails are the first thing to go. I will just ignore them. Usually I stop using the creams and lotions which makes my naturally dry hands that much worse. Then I pick at the dry cuticles and it gets worse and worse. I have to be conscious of how I treat them for sure. As you can tell from the blog, the quality of my nails and cuticles usually fluctuates. The biggest step forward is to stop picking at them. Once you can commit to that, everything else just seems easy peasy.
I hope this helps someone!
peace n love