A close-up photo capturing a bitten fingernail, with chipped and damaged nail polish, revealing the consequences and side effects of habitual nail biting.

Bite It Nail Polish Side Effects: Everything You Need To Know

Nail biting is a common habit that many people struggle to quit. Bite it nail polish offers an innovative solution by creating an unpleasant taste when you go to bite your nails. But is it safe? What are the potential side effects?

This comprehensive guide will cover everything you need to know about bite it nail polish.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Bite it nail polish is generally safe when used as directed. Potential side effects are mild and may include skin irritation, nail discoloration, chipped polish, and an unpleasant taste. Use a small amount and avoid the skin around nails.

What is Bite It Nail Polish and How Does It Work?

Bite It is a clear nail polish designed to help people stop biting their nails and cuticles. It contains denatonium benzoate, an extremely bitter additive that creates an unpleasant taste when nails coated in Bite It polish are put in the mouth (1).

This nasty taste serves as a deterrent, training nail biters to avoid putting their fingers in their mouths.

Bite It is applied to clean, dry nails just like regular nail polish. It dries quickly to create a tasteless, invisible barrier on nails. When nail biters go to bite their nails, the bitter taste signals to their brains to stop biting. With repeated use, the polish helps break the nail biting habit.

Some users report noticing improvements in as little as a week of consistent use (2).

The key to Bite It’s effectiveness is consistency. It works best when applied daily as part of a concerted effort to end nail biting. Using it alongside other strategies like keeping nails trimmed short or getting regular manicures improves success rates (3).

Over time, users find they bite less often or stop completely.

Active Ingredients in Bite It Polish

Denatonium Benzoate

Denatonium benzoate is the primary active ingredient in Bite It nail polish. It is an extremely bitter chemical compound added to the nail polish to help deter people from biting their nails (1). Denatonium benzoate is often described as one of the most bitter substances known to humans (2).

Even in incredibly small amounts, it causes an intense bitter and unpleasant taste that can last for hours. Most human taste buds can detect denatonium benzoate at concentrations as low as 50 parts per million (ppm) (3).

When added to nail polish formulas like Bite It, the usual concentration of denatonium benzoate is 2-5% or 20,000 to 50,000 ppm. This ensures that even a small bite of the nail polish will result in an overwhelming bitter taste that deters further biting.

The bitter taste usually lasts for 30-60 minutes after exposure (4).

Some key facts about denatonium benzoate in Bite It nail polish:

  • Added at 2-5% concentration (20,000 – 50,000 ppm)
  • Bitter taste detectable at just 50 ppm
  • Causes an intense bitter flavor that lasts 30-60 minutes
  • Deters nail biting through unpleasant bitter taste
  • Recognized as safe for use in personal care products like nail polish


Tromethamine, also known as Tris or THAM, is a buffering agent added to Bite It nail polish (5). It helps maintain the proper pH balance of the nail polish formula. Nail polish requires a slightly acidic pH between 5-7 to stay stable and apply smoothly.

Tromethamine keeps the pH of Bite It nail polish in the ideal range by neutralizing small amounts of acids that may form over time. This prevents the polish from becoming too acidic. Maintaining the proper pH helps the polish go on evenly and smoothly without affecting the color or consistency.

Some key facts about tromethamine in Bite It nail polish:

  • Added at 0.1-2% concentration
  • Buffers pH between 5-7
  • Neutralizes acids to prevent pH changes
  • Keeps polish evenly applied with ideal viscosity
  • Prevents issues with application, thickness, and color

While tromethamine is not directly responsible for deterring nail biting, it plays an important role in maintaining the shelf life, application, and performance of Bite It nail polish. The buffering action helps the polish glide on smoothly and evenly deliver the bitter denatonium benzoate to the nail surface.

Together, denatonium benzoate and tromethamine work synergistically to create an effective nail biting deterrent polish with a smooth texture and lasting bitter taste.

Potential Side Effects of Bite It Nail Polish

Skin Irritation

Bite it nail polish contains denatonium benzoate, an extremely bitter additive designed to deter nail biting. Unfortunately, some people may experience skin irritation from exposure to this chemical.

Possible skin reactions include redness, swelling, itching, stinging or burning. Those with sensitive skin are most prone, but anyone can develop a reaction. If irritation occurs, immediately remove the polish and avoid future use.

Nail Discoloration

Certain types and shades of bite it nail polish can temporarily stain or discolor natural nails, especially with repeated use. Darker colors like black, blue and purple are most problematic.

However, properly removing nail polish with non-acetone remover before reapplication helps prevent lasting stains. Buffing the nails gently after removal also helps restore original color.

Chipped Nails

As with regular nail polish, bite it formulas can chip or peel off nails. However, because the purpose is to stop nail biting, chipping may happen faster.

Using a standard base coat underneath helps bite it polish adhere better to nails. Getting occasional touch-ups rather than letting it chip entirely off also reduces chances of nails breaking.

Unpleasant Taste

The extremely bitter taste of bite it polish is wholly unpleasant and shocking to the taste buds. For those sensitive to bitter flavors, it can be difficult to tolerate.

Swallowing any nail polish can cause stomach upset. With bite it formulas, nausea and vomiting may occur from even tiny amounts due to the bitterness. Keep the polish away from small children and pets.

Who Should Avoid Using Bite It Nail Polish?

Pregnant Women

Pregnant women should use caution with Bite It nail polish or consider avoiding it altogether. Many nail polishes contain chemicals like toluene, formaldehyde, and phthalates that can be absorbed through the skin and have been linked to developmental and reproductive harm with exposure during pregnancy.

According to the American Pregnancy Association (https://www.americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/cosmetics-during-pregnancy/), nail polish should be used sparingly during pregnancy because the ingredients can enter the bloodstream and reach the baby.

There are some safer “pregnancy-safe” nail polish options pregnant women could consider instead.


Children under 6 years old should avoid using Bite It or any nail polish according to the FDA. At this young age, kids tend to put their fingers in their mouths a lot, increasing ingestion risks. If nail polish chips are accidentally swallowed, ingredients like toluene and formaldehyde can be toxic.

Older children can use nail polishes sparingly under adult supervision. But parents should check labels and avoid options with the most concerning chemicals like phthalates and opt for “kid-safe” water-based polishes instead whenever possible.

People with Skin Conditions

People with skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, or allergies/sensitivities should either avoid using Bite It nail polish or opt to test a small amount first before applying to make sure they don’t have a reaction. The chemicals in nail lacquers can be irritating for some skin types.

Dermatologists also advise doing a 24-48 hour allergen test on the arm before using nail polish if you have chronic skin conditions. Check for redness, swelling, itching or other reactions that could indicate sensitivity to an ingredient in the product.

Those with nail fungal/yeast infections should abstain from using nail polish as well until cleared by a doctor, as the color lacquers can exacerbate or conceal underlying nail problems.

How to Use Bite It Nail Polish Safely

Do a Patch Test

Before using Bite It nail polish for the first time, it’s important to do a patch test to check for any potential allergic reactions. Simply apply a small amount of the polish to the inside of your elbow or behind your ear. Let it dry completely and leave it on for 24 hours.

If any irritation, redness, or swelling occurs, you may be allergic or sensitive to an ingredient in the polish. Discontinue use. If there is no reaction, you can safely use the product on your nails.

Apply a Thin Coat

When applying Bite It nail polish, use thin and even coats. Thick or globs of polish can lead to the product being ingested more easily. The bitter taste deterrent is most effective when polish is applied properly in a smooth, thin layer. Allow each coat to dry completely before adding another.

Typically 2-3 thin coats is all you need for good coverage and color payoff.

Avoid Skin Around Nails

Be careful not to apply Bite It nail polish to the skin surrounding your nails. The bitter taste deterrent can be unpleasant if transferred to your mouth or lips. Use a steady hand or corrector pen to neatly paint only the nails themselves.

You can also apply Vaseline or lotion around the nails first to create a barrier. Take care when polish is wet to not touch other areas until dry.

Remove Thoroughly with Nail Polish Remover

It’s important to remove Bite It nail polish thoroughly with a 100% acetone nail polish remover. Any lingering traces left on the nails or skin can transfer to the mouth and cause an unpleasant bitter taste.

Expert tips for complete removal include: Soaking cotton pads in remover and holding them on nails for 30 seconds before scrubbing off, using wooden cuticle sticks to gently push back cuticles and get under nails, and buffing nails lightly after soaking to get rid of final remnants.

When to Stop Using Bite It Polish

Knowing when to take a break from using Bite It nail polish is crucial for maintaining healthy nails and cuticles. Though these polishes help deter nail biting, overuse can lead to brittle, damaged nails.

Being mindful of certain signs indicating it’s time for a polish hiatus allows your nails to recover and remain strong.

If Experiencing Discomfort or Irritation

The first sign it’s time to give Bite It nail polish a rest is if you notice any discomfort, inflammation, or irritation around the nails or cuticles after application. Though rare, some may have mild allergic reactions to ingredients like denatonium benzoate, resulting in redness or itching.

Should this occur, stop polish use and allow the irritation to clear before considering reapplying.

If Nails Become Brittle or Damaged

Frequent Bite It nail polish application can lead to brittle, peeling nails over time. If you notice increased dryness, cracking, or breakage, take a break from the polish. Allowing your nails to breathe without product for several weeks enables moisture retention and strengthening.

Once nails regain health, limited, occasional use may resume without further damage.

If Experiencing Headaches

Though not a common occurrence, some report headaches after applying Bite It polishes, potentially from the bitter taste. The denatonium benzoate bitterness can occasionally trigger migraines in those prone to them.

If you begin regularly getting headaches after polish application, stop use for a while. Eliminating variables like these polishes can help determine if they’re the catalyst for your headaches.

If Usage Exceeds Recommendations

It’s easy to overdo it with Bite It polishes when trying to curb nail biting habits. However, most brands recommend use just 1-4 times per week to avoid overexposure. Going beyond this with daily or twice-daily applications can start causing nail damage over time.

If noticing your usage far exceeds company guidelines, take a break to prevent excessive denatonium benzoate absorption.

If Trying to Conceive or Pregnant

Though these polishes are considered safe for most, doctors typically recommend pregnant or breastfeeding women avoid them due to limited research on denatonium benzoate’s developmental effects. If actively trying to conceive or discover you’ve become pregnant, stop polish use as an extra safety measure for your baby.

If Usage Ages Exceed Recommendations

Most Bite It polishes indicate they’re not recommended for children under ages 5-7 depending on the brand. The long-term impacts of consistent exposure in early childhood are still being explored. If you’ve had your child using these products for nail biting, be sure to take breaks in line with company age guidelines.

Monitoring for potential irritation is also wise.

Paying Attention to Your Body’s Signals

Learning to listen to your body’s signals can help determine when it’s time to take a little break from Bite It polish. Signs like skin irritation, headaches, brittleness, or discomfort associated with application can all indicate overuse.

Paying attention to these clues and acting accordingly keeps your nails and health in tip-top shape!


Bite it nail polish can be an effective aid for nail biting with minimal risk when used properly. Start with a small test area first. Apply a thin coat only on nails, avoiding surrounding skin. Stop use if any irritation occurs.

With some basic precautions, bite it polish offers a safe alternative to help kick the nail biting habit for good.

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