Being presented with a set of short, uneven, bitten nails can make even the most experienced of technicians instantly despondent. But for those willing to offer a patient and sympathetic hand, there are options that can turn nail-biters into fiercely loyal and rewarding clients.
Ideal for light but regular biters who prefer a natural, low-maintenance approach. A basic manicure will help anyone on the path to good nail and hand health, but especially for nail-biters, who are more likely to gnaw at rough or ungroomed nails.
My Top Tips
- Trim cuticles, file rough edges, and buff to perfection – leave no weak point unturned because a nail-biter will find it!
- Provide a home maintenance kit (nail strengthener, nail polish, nail file, cuticle oil, hand lotion) and offer aftercare advice so clients can take responsibility for nailcare outside of the salon. They should be armed with the knowledge of product use, so they’re not tempted to take a bite when repair and maintenance are also at hand.
- A gel manicure will provide a little more durability both in the health and style stakes. The high-shine finish and pop of colour should leap out each time those nails go near the face, serving as another deterrent.
For biters who want to get started on their reformation journey without theatrics. Overlays that cover the length of the nail but don’t extend beyond the hyponychium (the skin at the edge of the base of the nail plate), are great for guarding the natural nail from being chewed through. Acrylic overlays will stand strong even against exploratory bites, should those fingers reach the teeth.
My Top Tips
- Keep the nails short to allow the client to become accustomed to the feel, look and almost imperceptible weight. It will allow them to go about routines without difficulty or fear of snagging, chipping and breaking a nail – common triggers for nail-biters.
- Ensure the overlay covers the whole nail – fill any gaps, bring it as close to the cuticle as possible so there is no leverage for lifting, and seal off the tips cleanly. Don’t allow them a way in!
- Nail art can also be helpful for fending off biting. Use elongated designs that flatter the nail length to reduce the temptation of doing anything that could reverse that. Incorporating powders or foreign objects that could enter the body can also be a deterrent. Just make sure everything is flat, so there’s nothing for the teeth to latch onto.
Biters receive instant gratification, plus a longer-term pay-out the longer they stick with maintenance visits. The extensions, when paired with acrylic overlays, effectively protect against nail-biting and allow plenty of room for natural nail growth. Plus, it’s a glimpse into the future right at their fingertips, and a powerful incentive to reduce and even stop nail-biting habits. Technicians do have to exercise a great deal of patience from the outset, but the result for all involved will be worth the investment.
My Top Tips
- Statement stiletto, ballerina and coffin nail shapes may be the most desired, but a rounded, moderate-length tip may be more practical. Without sharp edges, points or corners to fit more easily between teeth, nails are less likely to be nibbled.
- Applying tips may be less fiddly but they can be more vulnerable to damage due to the smaller nail surface area the tip connects with. A nail sculpted form allows the acrylic to bond to the whole of the nail (and you’ll need as much as possible with nail-biters!), so there is less stress placed near the vulnerable fingertip area.
- Aftercare advice, along with a maintenance kit that includes cuticle oil and a nail file, is key to looking after extensions, and preventing them from scuffs, dents, breaking and of course, biting. Remind clients that extensions can affect everything from tapping on a phone to taking off clothing, so exercise nail mindfulness. Plus, weekly infills should be recommended for the first few weeks, progressing to fortnightly if the client prefers, to prevent large gaps from forming that might be tempting for them to pick at or get their teeth into.