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The 5 Best Nail Biting Polishes, According To Reviewers

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Bustle/Amazon
By Rachel Bar-Gadda

Breaking a nail-biting habit can feel like an uphill battle, but there’s hope. I can personally attest to friends who have told me nail-biting polishes made all the difference for them. The best nail-biting polishes contain denatonium benzoate — an extremely bitter ingredient with an off-putting taste — so you think twice about landing those chompers on delicate cuticles.

What Causes Nail Biting?

If nail-biting is more than an occasional occurrence, it’s then designated as onychophagia, a kind of body-focused repetitive disorder. While there is no definitive reason why people bite their nails, there are several widely accepted theories. There could be a potential genetic link or higher-than-average rates of mood and anxiety disorders in family members. The cause could even be excessive or pathological grooming, tied in with a quest for perfection, or it could be a calming coping mechanism for anxiety, boredom, and stress.

How Do Nail Biting Polishes Work?

Nail-biting polishes are almost identical to regular polishes but contain one special ingredient that causes intense bitterness: denatonium benzoate — the most bitter substance ever discovered. It’s considered safe to use in low doses for human or animal consumption. Bitter nail polish can help bring awareness to the habit, which is the first step in what’s called habit reversal training. The awful-tasting polish establishes negative associations with the habit.

What Are The Best Nail Biting Polishes?

To help stop biting your nails, look for formulas that include denatonium benzoate. For your convenience, know that all of the picks below are formulated with that bitter agent. From there, it’s up to you as to whether you prefer a portable pen that allows for touch-ups throughout the day or even a nail-biting polish that includes botanical oils like nettle to encourage nail growth. Some nontoxic polishes are 5-free, which means they are free of dibutyl phthalate, toluene, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, and camphor, but you can even find nail polishes that go up to 17-free, which makes them free of the aforementioned dirty five, as well as acetone, animal-derived ingredients, bisphenol-A, ethyl tosylamide, gluten, glycol ether, nonylphenol ethoxylate, parabens, styrene, sulfate, triphenyl phosphate, and xylene.

Keep scrolling for more nail-biting polishes — there’s one for every style and budget.

1

A Nail-Biting Polish With A Cult Following

This nail-biting polish has over 14,800 reviews on Amazon and loads of happy customers singing its praises. Many reviewers who admitted to years of nail-biting reported that this polish helped them nix their habit for good. It contains the signature ingredient of bitterness, denatonium benzoate, and is designed to be safe for use for adults and children over the age of 3. Each application lasts between two to three days and the Swiss formula goes on in a sheer coat over nail polish or by itself.

Helpful Review: “It works great!! Highly recommend! I knew I had a problem biting my nails, but until this stuff did not realize how much I did it subconsciously. This stuff tastes terrible and completely stops me before doing any damage to my nails! And they have grown so well and are so healthy! Has also helped me not rip my cuticles!”

2

A No-Bite Polish That’s 17-Free

If you’re a devotee of nontoxic nail polish, you’ll fully approve of this nail-biting polish that is free of 17 of the most toxic offenders (such as formaldehyde, toluene, and phthalates). The cruelty-free formula is vegan, certified by PETA, and derives its bitterness from the all-important denatonium benzoate. The polish has over 5,900 reviews and conveniently goes on in a clear coat, so as to be applied alone or as a topcoat with your regular polish. According to the brand, you should repeat the application after two weeks.

Helpful Review: “The product is non-toxic, but you'll swear it's going to kill you when you accidentally taste it at that first urge to nibble. The taste stays with you for about 20 mins or so, but the product itself lasts for up to a week or more. It doesn't matter if you wash your hands, use nail polish remover, or paint them; the taste stays until it wears off itself. I've recommended this product to everyone I know who has asked me how I quit biting my nails. It's phenomenal!!”

3

A Nail-Biting Polish Pen For On-The-Go Applications

This nail-biting polish is easy to carry and apply whenever you have the urge to bite your nails. It comes in the form of a handy click pen that fits conveniently in your purse or pocket and can be brushed on quickly and repeatedly throughout the day. This polish — with over 2,600 reviews — has no sheen and is virtually invisible, which is great for people who don’t want the look of clear polish on their nails. It contains the key ingredient denatonium benzoate as well as lots of organic, anti-inflammatory botanical extracts like aloe leaf juice and ginger root to soothe nails. It’s free of parabens and formaldehyde, too.

Helpful Review: “This product did the trick, I have been a nail-biter most of my life [...] I couldn't stop until I found Nail Quail. I did try biting after applying it but the taste was so bitter, I can honestly say it worked. My nails look great again. Sometimes I still get the urge, so I keep one in my pocketbook, one by my bedside, and one near my TV chair. When the urge kicks in, I use my applicator and the urge passes.”

4

A No-Bite Polish That Also Helps Your Nails Grow

This nail-biting polish acts as a deterrent and strengthener in one by not only stopping you mid-bite but also adding nourishing ingredients to help nurse nails back to health. In addition to containing the bittering agent denatonium benzoate, it also includes botanical extracts and nutrients designed to help nails grow back stronger, such as sunflower seed, horse chestnut seed, and nettle extract. It goes on the nails in an invisible coat and is free of 10 of the most toxic ingredients normally found in polish (like formaldehyde and dibutyl phthalate). The formula is vegan and cruelty-free with over 2,700 reviews on Amazon.

Helpful Review: “Fantastic product! I have nails again! I have always chewed my nails and had very few nails when I started using this product. The taste is so awful I couldn't put my nails near my mouth! It actually has made my nails stronger and thicker than they have ever been after using this for only a couple of months. Highly recommend to anyone that chews their nails.”

5

An Affordable And Popular Nail Biting Polish

This budget-friendly nail-biting polish is effective yet affordable. It has over 10,500 reviews, proving its popularity, and features the crucial bitter flavor created by denatonium benzoate. The vegan formula is free of seven common toxic ingredients and goes on clear with a hint of shine, so it can act as a base coat or topcoat over colored polish. Each purchase even includes a small nail file to further assist you in keeping those nails in top shape.

Helpful Review: “I've been biting my nails for as long as I can remember (in my early 30s now) and I purchased this item in desperation of kicking this habit, sick of being embarrassed by how badly my nails always looked. After about 6 weeks I couldn't be happier with how my nails and fingers look. The polish is definitely very bitter, which some people seem to complain about, but I was happy with it since it's definitely a perfect deterrent. After one day of using this product, I wasn't putting my fingers anywhere near my mouth with the reminder of how disgusting the polish is! [...] Great stuff, highly recommend!”

6

Also Nice: This Nail Strengthener With Rave Reviews

Now that you’ve stopped biting your nails you can use this nail strengthener to assist them on their way to becoming stronger and longer. With over 52,000 reviews, this popular formula contains nourishing vitamins E, C, and D, on top of silk protein and calcium to condition nails and heal damage. The cream comes in a light coconut scent and can be applied with or without nail polish.

Helpful Review: “I started using Mavala Stop to stop biting my nails and skin and started using Hard as Hoof to repair the skin and help my nails grow. OMG. I have tried everything to stop biting and I’m still shocked this actually worked. Mavala is absolutely disgusting (the goal) and Hard as Hoof worked SO FAST [...] And my nails are hard as rocks- not a single one has broken or peeled and they are pretty long! [...] Anyway, I could not be happier with this product, I am so happy I ordered it!!!”