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This $10 polish finally got me to stop biting my nails

My nails have never looked this good.
Before and after illustration of Emma Stessmans hand after using the ella+mila Nail Care
TODAY Illustration / Courtesy Emma Stessman

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I've been a nail-biter for as long as I can remember. I started doing it when I was a kid, like so many others, and it soon became an unconscious habit that kicked in whenever I was stressed or nervous. It's actually a more common behavior than you may think: It's estimated that around 20 to 30 percent of people of all ages habitually bite their nails. And anyone who has tried to stop knows that it's a lot harder than simply putting your mind to the task.

I have tried a number of tactics through the years to stop myself from biting. From getting regular manicures to attempting to gross myself out by thinking about all the germs on my hands — none were successful. Until I finally tried the Ella+Mila No More Biting Polish, a bitter polish with more than 2,500 five-star ratings on Amazon.

Ella+Mila Nail Care, No More Biting

It immediately stops me from biting

In my search for the product that would finally help me break the habit, I tested out a few of the most popular anti-biting polishes, and this one was by far the most effective. It has a strong bitter flavor, plus, it doesn't dry out my skin if I apply it to my cuticles or the edges of my nails.

Most of the time I don't even notice when I'm biting my nails. It usually just happens when I'm zoned out or feeling anxious or bored. And before I even realize what I'm doing, I've turned my fingernails into little nubs. But the polish fills my mouth with a bad taste as soon as I put my fingers to my lips and makes me notice what I'm doing so I stop pretty much immediately.

The taste is strong, but not overwhelming

I'm not going to lie, the bitter flavor is pretty gross and really strong at first, but that's what makes it so effective. Thankfully, it doesn't linger in your mouth for too long and can usually be washed away with a few sips of water.

The brand recommends that you apply it every two weeks, but I found that the taste usually fades altogether after just a few days. When it wasn't as strong, I was more likely to go back to biting, so I've been applying a new coat every four to five days.

Some reviewers note that the flavor can transfer onto your food when cooking and eating. As someone who uses my hands a lot in the kitchen, I've never noticed the taste in any of the meals that I've prepared. I will say, though, you can definitely taste it when you eat with your hands. As a result, I've started eating some of my go-to finger foods like fruit or small bites with utensils. Which, with all the focus on proper hand hygiene right now is probably more sanitary anyway.

It doubles as a top coat for nail polish

My nails look better than they ever have, and it's not just because they're longer. The polish goes on smoothly, dries within a minute and gives them a nice glossy shine.

I never liked wearing nail polish, because I didn't feel like it looked good on my short, stumpy nails. But now I love the way my longer nails look when coated with a cute color, and I've found that it works as an effective top coat to keep the colored polish from chipping.

It's "17-Free"

All of Ella+Milas polishes are vegan and cruelty-free, but they're also free of 17 potentially harmful chemicals like acetone, toluene, camphor, formaldehyde and more. Which is comforting to know, considering that it's, at least momentarily, going in my mouth.

Parents love it, too

The product has an average 4.3-star rating from more than 3,700 reviews and the review section is filled with parents singing praises for the product, saying it helped their little ones break a nail-biting or thumb-sucking habit.

"My three-year-old has been biting his nails for as long as I can remember to the point of them not growing," wrote one reviewer. "From first application, he stopped biting! Only had to apply it three times over a week and we are done!"

Courtesy Emma Stessman

At just $10, it's a worthwhile investment. I've been using it regularly for about a month now and have barely even made it through a quarter of the bottle. Soon enough, I'll likely be able to ditch it for good, but it's nice to know that there will still be plenty left if I ever find myself slipping back into the habit.

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