Our nails are an extension of our style and personality. Some people prefer low-maintenance, bare-faced nails. Some prefer going to the salon to have their decked-out talons tidied up as a regular treat. And for others, a quick single layer of nail polish in the car will do the trick. But there's one thing that can be a bother with DIY nails: discoloration from nail polish stains. The unsightly yellowing hue looks less than appealing, but there are several ways to avoid it and remove these stains for good.
If you change colors a lot, it's best to use an acetone-free polish remover to prevent discoloration in the first place, but you can use an acetone-based remover on tough stains.
Saturate a cotton pad with the acetone, and wipe it over the nail. Remember that acetone can dry the skin and cuticles, so once you've tried it—regardless of whether it worked—wash your hands and apply cuticle oil and lotion to your fingernails.
Whitening toothpaste works on your pearly whites to keep them bright and clear, so why not try it on your fingernails? Apply a layer of toothpaste to each discolored nail, and allow it to sit for a few minutes. Then, you can use a toothbrush or soft nail brush to buff the paste into your fingernails. Remember to rinse it off well and apply cuticle oil to the nails to moisturize the nail bed.
Baking soda can be an effective cleaning agent for stubborn stains. It also has an abrasive quality that helps exfoliate and lift marks and spots. Add warm water to the baking soda to form a paste, and apply the mixture to your nails, massaging into the nail using firm but gentle pressure to lift any discoloration. Baking soda can also dry out the skin, so always rinse well and moisturize afterward.
Another secret to removing stains from fingernails is to soak them in a denture tablet solution. These tablets contain a bleaching agent to sanitize and remove various stains, like coffee and red wine. Dissolve one tablet in water, and then soak your fingertips in the solution for 10 minutes. Rinse your fingers well and apply oil or lotion to lock in moisture.
Lemon has long been used to clean and brighten due to its acidic properties, and its citrus aroma makes for a pleasant household cleaner. But you can also use lemon for pigmentation problems on your hair, skin, and nails. Just cut a wedge of lemon, place it on top of each nail, and gently rub it in for about one minute. Remember to wash your hands afterward, as lemon can cause stinging and skin irritation, and be careful if you have any cuts on your hands.
Hydrogen peroxide is a popular household cleaning agent that sanitizes and removes stains from things like tile grout and shower glass. This clear and odorless liquid seems unsuspecting but can be abrasive on fingertips. So to use hydrogen peroxide to remove nail discoloration, dilute it with water with a ratio of 1:4. Then soak your fingers in the solution for 10 minutes. Wash your hands afterward and hydrate with cuticle oil.
If all else fails, you can always use a fine grit buffing block or nail file to remove the yellow discoloration from the nail surface. Our fingernails are made from layers of keratin fibers but can become brittle when filed too much, so be careful not to remove any of the nail that isn't discolored.
The best way to buff the nail surface is to work in one slow, long, and gentle movement rather than rapid motions. Finish with nourishing cuticle oil.
Prevention is always the best medicine. To help you avoid discoloration on your nails, you should always apply a base coat before applying colored nail polish. A base coat protects the nail from pigment staining, helps keep nail color on for longer, and fortifies the nails, making them stronger and healthier. As a bonus, stronger nails will grow faster.
As mentioned above, you can avoid nail discoloration with acetone-free removers. Frequently using acetone-based nail polish removers can exacerbate staining, so try to use an acetone-free remover in your weekly routine. And when you finish using any remover, whether it's acetone-based or acetone-free, always wash and moisturize your hands with a lotion and apply cuticle oil.
If the above techniques haven't worked and you still have stains on your nails, it might not be discoloration from nail polish. You could have an infection. The only way to know is to visit a family doctor. Until you know, give your nails a break from nail polish so that they have time to breathe and heal.