Confessions of a serial nibbler

Hi! I’m Charlotte, and I’m a nail biter.

I stopped once during two weeks of work experience in a vet surgery: the sensible part of my brain finally kicked into gear, yelling “DID YOU NOT SEE THAT SICK CAT OVER THERE STOP PUTTING YOUR FINGERS IN YOUR MOUTH” every time my hands snuck up to my face. But as soon as I returned to school, the nibbling returned with a vengeance.

Another time I read a beauty article where the authors pointed out that snacking on your nails all day was essentially cannibalism: that made me pause for thought every time a cuticle found its way between my teeth, but on I chomped.

I’ve had hypnotherapy, buckets of Stop’n’Gro, false nails, gel polish (a colossal waste of money on my 5p-sized nails) and pretty much any other fad guaranteed to cease the biting.

What finally worked was bribery: I bought  a heap of pampering items which were completely unusable on my poor stumpy nails, and pointed out to myself that these fun, expensive things were useless unless I stopped biting. So, miraculously, I did!

And then I discovered one of my life’s best little ironies: turns out this seasoned nail nibbler’s allergic to nail varnish. Hil-arious. Without a coat of polish my nails didn’t stand a chance, and the slightest stress or distraction sent me back into the land of absent-minded nibbling and having to hide my hands at drinks parties.

It took me ages to find a polish range that didn’t make my face itch and my eyes puff up like balloons, but eventually I stumbled on Butter London – a line of cheerfully named varnishes and nail treatments that are Three Free and don’t seem to hurt my face. And I went a bit bananas.


That’s my fridge, baby: ketchup, some weird jam, Polaroid film and ALL THE POLISH. Those Butter bottles go three deep and there’s even a few interlopers from newcomers to the UK Zoya, who also make non-allergenic shades of varnish. I’ve got gold glitter, metallic peacock green-blue, daisy-centre yellow, a veritable palette of gorgeous shades – all of which I can’t use at the moment.

Yep, I had a relapse. My career change earlier this year brought about some passing moments of angst, and when coupled with a foolish thought that I could go without polish for a day means that at the moment, I’ve got no nails and keep beating them back every time they try and grow. Sigh.

With a couple of weddings coming up and colourful summery outfits to wear, I desperately wanted to have nice-looking hands again. So off I went to Boots, who now seem to stock the entire Butter London range (hurrah!), and treated myself to a home nail-care kit from my favourite company.


I splurged on Butter’s Melt Away Cuticle Eliminator, their Handbag Holiday Cuticle Oil and a new bottle of their Horse Power Nail Fertiliser. (The bottle of Hardware on the end was already in my arsenal and is thoroughly recommended as a speedy-drying topcoat).

I’ve just tried out the cuticle eliminator, which softened my raggedy cuticles enough to enable smooth and gentle lifting and shaping, and am currently typing away with a soothing slick of the vitamin-filled cuticle oil on my fingertips. Hopefully it’ll do something great for my laptop’s keyboard as well (whoops). Once I’ve finished tapping this out, I’ll apply a couple of coats of the herb-infused, silica-rich fertiliser to give my little nails a bit of a boost as they start their hopefully non-Sisyphean journey towards being long, strong and getting painted loads of exciting colours.

Maybe this time it’ll be for keeps. Fingers crossed…

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