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I Tried Fake Nails to Stop Picking My Cuticles–Here’s How It Went

I have suffered from the terrible habit of picking the skin around my fingernails my whole life — a.k.a. my cuticles. No matter what I did (use nail polish, have a stress ball handy, literally sit on my hands), I could never kick the habit. So, I decided to try something I had never done before — wear fake nails. I learned a lot from the experience:

First, I researched what fake nail brands were rated the best. I wanted something that didn’t damage nails too much, looked nice, lasted long, etc., and ended up with KISS brand nails. At my local Ulta, I purchased the KISS gel Fantasy Ready-To-Wear Gel nails, pictured below. They only cost $8.52, with tax. (Much cheaper than a standard gel manicure!)


To the best of my ability, I healed my fingers prior to the application of the nails. I did not want the nail glue to touch any broken skin. My prior reading of customer reviews taught me that using the glue was the only way the nails would last 1-2 weeks. Before I put the nails on, I filed them down to fit the width of my nails. I later realized that people usually do this after they had applied the nails. Either way works.

The application process of the nails was relatively easy. The night before, I laid out the nails in order according to size, as there are numbers on the back of the nails. (Top row: right hand; Bottom row: left hand).  The next morning I washed my hands, as well as cleaned and trimmed my nails. I then dotted the backs of the fake nails and my real nails with glue, aligned the nails with each finger accordingly, and pressed down the fake nails for about five seconds. This attached them firmly, and they seemed to be sturdy. I avoided water on my hands for about an hour. 

I quickly realized that the nails were just too long for me to function. I intentionally bought the long nails to make it virtually impossible for me to pick my cuticles. However, I had to cut them, but they were still long. Here’s the final product:

After I cut the fake nails, they were still long, but I could actually use my phone and type on a keyboard like I normally do, so I was all set. They definitely took some time to get used to, especially in terms of how they felt on my nails and how they affected my ability to use my hands. For the first few days, every time I went to pick my cuticles, I couldn’t and gave up. I was frustrated, as I wanted to engage in my habit, but these nails prevented me from it. 

On about day five, my nails underneath the fake nails started to grow out and peeked out from behind the fake nails. I started to try and pick my cuticles with this newfound real nail but quickly stopped myself, as I loved the way my then-healed cuticles looked and felt. 

The nails lasted a solid week before they began to naturally pop off. The removal process of the nails took over an hour, for I had to soak my nails in nail polish remover until all remnants of the nail and glue were removed. It was messy and the polish remover dried out my hands, so I had to moisturize many times later that day. My natural nails were fine after the removal process, which was definitely a good thing. 



Short term effects: For about a week after I removed the fake nails, I had completely forgotten to pick at my cuticles. I had temporarily kicked the habit!

Long term effects: I still occasionally pick my cuticles. Old habits are hard to get rid of, and unfortunately, fake nails can’t fix something I have been trying to stop doing for my whole life. However, it was a great temporary solution. So, if you find a pair of nails you like, go for it! What do you have to lose?

Rebecca Kane

Lafayette '23

Major: English Smoothie-holic. Keeping my dreams alive by hitting the snooze button. Open to any and all song recommendations.
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