Long post, as I am on a bit of a nail journey myself!
I was never really a biter, but I had awfully weak, bendy nails that would split all the time. I could never grow them, and all the breakages made the areas around my nails swell and look even worse.
Like you, I was very embarrassed by them and hated anyone looking at my hands.
I started to get Shellac manicures earlier this year and it did wonders for my nails. They’re hard and strong, and grew lots.
Be sure you get the Shellac professionally removed, as I tried it at home after my last one, and I found it difficult to remove and ended up scraping off part of the top layers of the nail :/ I think when people say that their nails are in bad condition after Shellac, it is mostly due to picking at it or removing it incorrectly.
The Shellac is very strong, so might help prevent damage even if you do bite, and will help strengthen the nail too.
Since my discovery of Shellac (and getting engaged not long after!) I have been on a mission to look after my nails better. The top tip that I got from the salon was to use a cuticle oil to keep the nails hydrated and nourished. They reccomended the Shellac one, but said that anything like almond oil, coconut oil or jojoba oil would also work.
I did a bit of my own research to confirm, and kept coming across Vitamin E oil (and the fact that all the above oils contain high amounts of Vit E) so I decided to keep my eye open for something cheap to test it out. I have quite oily skin anyways so was a bit skeptical of putting more oil anywhere, even my hands!
I happened to spot a Vitamin E ‘Super Balm’ for cheap as part of a skincare range I already use on a buy 1 get 1 1/2 price deal a few days later so picked it up.
It is reccomended for “dry skin, nails, cuticles and lips” and contains a natural mix of all of the plant oils I had read about and shea butter. This stuff is AMAZING! I use it on my nails and lips daily. I leave it on the coffee table so I can apply it while watching TV in the evening.
I’d definitely reccomed picking up something similar (or if you are already a coconut oil fanatic, try that!)
I used the balm with my last Shellac manicure for about 2 weeks until it grew out. I then removed the Shellac, and have been DIYing my nails since, about 6 weeks. I have had ONE breakage, and that was because I was camping and hit my thumb with a mallet. Even so, it was only the tiniest crack (maybe 2 mm) and the nail is still intact. No split nails, no peeling.
My nails are growing long, hard and strong, although not as quickly as when the Shellac is on.
What I am currently doing is; daily use of the VitE balm, and giving my nails a day or two break between polishes as many are non-porous and don’t allow the nail to ‘breathe’. (FYI Shellac is porous so this is not an issue, but the CND Vinylux is non-porous).
I also file them everytime I take off the polish. I never really did this before as my nails were short and crappy anyways. Filing helps prevent the splitting and raw edges.
They say to file in one direction rather than back and forth. I’m still working on this part and learning how to shape!
Another factor to consider is diet; they say that our hair, skin and nails tell a lot about how good our diets are! Vitamins B and E are important for this, as are minerals like Zinc and Selenium.
Vit D is one which is often difficult to get enough of from diet alone and really helps strengthen nails – you may notice your nails get stronger and harder on holidays, Vit D from the sunshine is why.
If you think you may be lacking in one or more of these, consider a multivitamin or supplement.
I hope some of this helps, Bee! Have faith and persevere, my nails were awful back in March. I never thought I’d have strong, healthy nails 🙂 I can even do a sexy nail clacky thing on my desk 😉
My last Shellac:
A chipped DIY attempt from last week ft. the thumb I hit with a mallet: