Photographed by Ryan Koopmans.
I remember the day I started biting my nails as if it was yesterday. A self-conscious 11-year-old, I was about to compete in my neighborhood swim team’s 100-meter individual medley relay for the first time. While it seems silly now, back then, it felt like winning was life or death. But, rather than calm myself with a soothing mantra or a quick laugh, I tore into my nails with my teeth. And, it felt good. Little did I know, by the time I pulled myself out of the pool, I had cemented a habit I wouldn’t be able to shake for over a decade.
I tried everything to make myself stop: extreme mental focus; every treatment Sally Hansen, essie, and OPI made; that stinky stuff that makes your nails taste bad — even, in a moment of pure desperation, wrapping Band-Aids around my fingertips all day. But, nothing worked. To make matters even worse, my nails are naturally thin and brittle. Even during rare phases when I had almost broken the habit, a nail would peel, and I’d be back to pulling and chomping on them all over again.
Finally, I realized that for me to even have a fighting chance at quitting, I’d have to start by somehow making my nails stronger. Like, really, really strong — not that artificial layer of armor that so many nail treatments provide, only to vanish once removed.
I had all but given up on finding my manicure soul mate when, one day, I grabbed a bottle of Duri Rejuvacote. During a summer internship, I happened to spot this sitting on the counter, and I was struck by its plain Jane bottle and cheesy ‘80s packaging. I mean, I had tried a million formulas in a million gorgeous bottles with no luck. Maybe it was time to switch up my method and stop being so concerned about appearances.
Turns out, I made the right call. Two months later, I’m officially an ex-biter. First of all, I realized one of the main things that keeps me from chewing is making sure my nails consistently look well manicured. But, I just don’t have the money to get professionally polished weekly, nor the time or patience to constantly do it myself. One quick swipe of Rejuvacote every few days makes my nails look bright and clean, or as if I’d spent an hour on them.
Thankfully, that quick routine is enough to keep my teeth off my digits long enough for those lasting effects to kick in. A few weeks after consistent application, my nails were longer than they’d ever been, with not a peel or crack in sight. After all, this stuff — packed with keratin, soy protein, and calcium — is designed for nails ruined by acrylics. Two more weeks went by, though, and the inevitable happened: I noticed slight peeling. But, instead of chomping down, I decided to clip my nails so I wouldn’t be tempted to bite. Despite this, I still say my month of no chewing can be attributed to this one product.
But, the super-strengthening formula isn’t the only reason I’m now a Rejuvacote devotee. The formula is also perfect as a base and topcoat. As the former, it strengthens and protects the nail as usual, also providing a barrier between the color and the nail. As a topcoat — especially when carefully applied to the top edges of the nails — this stuff refuses to chip for at least a week. Reapply it every few days, and your color will last.
One thing to note: If you’re using Rejuvacote on its own and reapplying every couple of days, I advise removing it once a week with a non-acetone polish remover and starting fresh. Otherwise, it’ll start to build up and easily peel off.
If it weren’t for Rejuvacote, I imagine right now I’d be off somewhere destroying my nails, grieving over my raw stumps, and wondering if chewing them makes me look unprofessional. Now, I don’t have to worry about that. Added bonus? My mani arsenal only includes nail tools, lacquer, and a bottle of Rejuvacote. The anxious 11-year-old in me is rejoicing.
Duri Rejuvacote Nail Growth Polish System, $8.35, available at Walmart.
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