Why Structured Gel Manicures Are A Nail-Biter's New Best Friend

When we're feeling particularly anxious or when our nerves get the best of us, we tend to do things that help alleviate some of the pressure, chief of which can be nail biting. Sure, the habit can be borderline gross, but according to experts, nibbling on our talons can be one of the physical tolls of feeling anxious. "It can provide a distraction from the anxiety and serve as an outlet to discharge that nervous energy," psychiatrist Dr. Steven Levine explained to Refinery29. "Also, by engaging other senses, like touch, it can divert attention away from anxiety to something physical."

Occasional nail-biting, especially in high-stress situations, is something that many experience. However, when the habit escalates to being chronic, then you may want to kick it to the curb. Psychology Today notes that onychophagia, or the compulsive habit of gnawing on your nails, can lead to a series of health issues, including skin and fungal infections, gastrointestinal problems, and tooth damage.

There are plenty of ways to stop yourself from nail-biting. These include wearing mittens, doing other activities that busy your hands, or applying bitter nail polish. But there's another effective, not to mention stylish, way to try to ditch the habit, and it's through getting a structured gel manicure.

Structured manicures help kick your nail-biting habit to the curb in style

If your regular manicures or the prettiest nail polish colors can't get you to refrain from chewing on your nails, perhaps a structured gel manicure can. It's a procedure that helps restore your nails, freeing you from hangnails and jagged edges that make nail biting more tempting. It's also more time and labor-intensive than manicures you've grown accustomed to, as it involves layering a builder gel and regular gel. When you have a builder gel coating underneath, it functions as an additional protection that supports and reinforces natural nails. Whatever you put on top would be less prone to breakage, allowing you to enjoy your manicure for longer.

Celebrity manicurist Laura Malarkey also pointed out to Byrdie that compared to typical gel manicures, extensions, or acrylics that tend to be harsh on your nail beds and sometimes even cause damage, structured manicures are the complete opposite when applied correctly. "They cause virtually zero damage to your natural nail and can actually help you grow your own nails long and strong, even if you are prone to breaking," she said.

What's more, if your nails have seen better days due to your nailbiting habit, celebrity nail stylist Julie Kandalec shared with Allure that structured manicures can help bring them to their former glory. "Having any enhancement on for a longer period of time can help the hyponychium (the skin under the free edge) reattach itself after it's been torn too low or bitten too much," she explained.

How else can I stop myself from biting my nails?

Structured gel manicures can be on the pricier side since they require a high level of precision, so it's understandable if you can't get them as frequently as you want. Fortunately, there are other ways to ditch your nail-biting habit, but first and foremost, it's worth identifying what even compels you to want to make your talons a snack in the first place. When you know your triggers, you have a higher chance of mitigating the habit. "We try to identify all the triggers and control them in various ways — either by blocking them or by finding substitutes," Dr. Fred Penzel, a psychologist specializing in repetitive disorders, told Vox.

If your nailbiting habit is linked to chronic stress and anxiety, Cleveland Clinic recommends resorting to behavioral therapy, so a professional can assist you in navigating your emotions and customizing a treatment plan. Self-care activities apparently work, too, as doing something that soothes your mind and body does wonders in alleviating your stress.