Up until July of 2007 I had fake nails on and off for about 5 or 6 years. I was a biter and would bite my nails down so low that they would be sore for days and often bleeding. I thought that the acrylic nails were helping me, when really I was just severely damaging my real nails. I am proud to say that I have not gone back to the fakes however after a year and one month of being bite free I slipped! I blame a 1,000 mile move and 3 weeks with the in laws for it! It was really frustrating at first because my nails were full of ridges and were very thin and weak. They looked terrible painted and every time they would grow to a decent length I would get a break all the way to the quick. It took about 9 months for all of the damage to grow out and now my nails are stronger than ever, they were long too until I bit them off. Keeping the polished really helps me take my mind off biting and it's something I really enjoy doing.
I used two products, Nail Tek II Intensive Therapy and Essie Millionails. Both products are designed to help strengthen and repair your nails. They have similar instructions recommending that you apply it every other day, and at the end of the week remove it and begin again. I used the products as a base coat as well as a top coat. These products do NOT work with a quick dry top coat. If you are impatient I recommend CND Dry 'N' Shine. I was not consistent with my usage of these but I still found them to be highly effective.
You can learn more about Nail Tek products at Nailtek.com.
You can find Essie at Essie.com.