Yellow Nails after Polish

Have you ever noticed that you end up with yellow nails after your polish? This is especially true if you have applied a dark color polish. They end up looking so bad that you want to put another color over them just to hide it. If you don't let your nails breathe by putting more polish on, you are going to start a vicious cycle that won't end until you stop applying polish. If bacteria starts to build up, your nails are going to look even more discolored.

Why do You Have Yellow Nails after Polish?

When you wear nail polish, there is a good chance that your nails will absorb some of the color, especially if the colors are red through dark burgundy. The pigments involved are iron oxides and they are the same components that appear as rust on old pipes and cars. Many nail polish companies make yellow and red pigments using iron oxide.

If you have been in any older houses, you probably have witnessed brown water coming from the old iron pipes, and the porcelain sink attached to the pipes taking on the brownish red stains, too. These stains on the sink come from the iron oxides present in the water, which can also be found in nail polish. Your nails are made up of keratin and can absorb liquids. Thus they can take on the iron oxide from your nail polish in the same way that the sink absorbs the oxides from the water, leaving your nails to remain stained even after you take off the polish.

How to Make Nails White Again

The best way to not have yellow nails after polish is to avoid painting your nails. But if you find that you started experiencing this, there are home remedies that will help return your nails back to white again. They can also help the discoloration that smokers get.

1. Hydrogen Peroxide

Soak your fingers in a mixture of three parts of water to one part hydrogen peroxide for around 15 minutes. You can also make a paste of the peroxide – a few tablespoons and a little baking soda – and brush it on your nails with a toothbrush. Let the mixture stay on your nails for about 10 minutes then rinse. When using peroxide make sure to put a moisturizer on your nails after the treatment so they don't get dried out.

2. Whitening Toothpaste

This toothpaste can not only whiten your teeth, it can make your nails bright and white again. Just rub some toothpaste on your nails, rub it into your nails and let it stay on for a few minutes before you rinse it off.

3. Lemon Juice

Soak your nails in a bowl with the juice of one lemon for 5 to 10 minutes can help to get rid of yellow nails after polish. Moisturize your nails afterward.

4. Denture Cleaning Tablets

Just as whitening toothpaste can work, denture cleaning tablets can do the same thing. Dissolve 2 to 4 tablets in water, soak your nails for around 15 minutes, dry them off and apply moisturizer. You can do this up to three times each week.

5. Baking Soda

You can mix baking soda (2 1/2 tablespoons) with a tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide or 1 tablespoon of baking soda with a teaspoon of lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil to whiten your nails. Apply the paste and let it sit on the nails for about 4 minutes. Rinse off with warm water.

6. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar can not only eliminate the discoloration on your nails, it can also get rid of any bacteria that can cause an infection on your nails. Soak your nails in 1/2 cup of vinegar for around 20 minutes. Dry the nails when done; you can repeat this three times a day for a month.

7. Orange Peels

You can get rid of yellow nails by rubbing orange peel to your nails a couple of times each day or make a paste of 2 tablespoons of dried orange peel with a little water and applying the paste directly to the nails. Rinse and repeat twice a day for a couple of weeks.

How to Prevent Yellow Nails after Polish

  • Make the switch from dark nail polish to a lighter shade or skip the polish altogether.
  • Make sure you use a couple of coats of basecoat under your nail polish. This will serve as protection and prevent the dark nail polish getting through to your nails.
  • If you do use nail polish, look for the ones that are 3-Free (or 5-Free) which means they do not contain chemicals like formaldehyde which can cause your nails to yellow.
  • Only keep your manicure on for a short period of time. Give your nails a chance to recover by taking off your nail polish for a short time before applying a new coat.
  • Make sure you moisturize your nails and keep them healthy. Nails that are dry and brittle will absorb even more pigments.

Could It Be Something Else?

  • Your nails could actually become yellowed for other reasons than from your nail polish. There are some health issues that result in yellow nails such as problems with your lungs, liver or thyroid. You could even have low zinc or iron readings or other vitamin deficiencies. 
  • A fungal infection can be another reason for yellow nails. Additional symptoms include an odor and peeling and flaking of the nails.
  • The nicotine and tar from smoking cigarettes can also result in colored nails.

If your yellow nails do not get back to normal even after you stop using nail polish, you might want to have it checked to rule out any underlying condition.

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