Beauty 101: Solutions & Prevention for Yellowing Nails

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A lot of maintenance and money goes into keeping your nails healthy and beautiful, so the last thing you want is to remove your polish only to find a yellowing nail bed underneath. Not only is a yellowing nail unsightly, but it can also indicate that something may be wrong and require medical attention. 

Using the appropriate products when getting your nails done can be a great preventative measure for yellowing nails, so it is important to do your research and stick to ingredients that will nourish your nails rather than damage them. 

Why Are My Nails Yellowing?

  • Dark-colored nail polishes leave behind a residue due to a chemical reaction between the strong dyes used to concentrate the pigment and the keratin found in your nail bed. 
  • Smoking cigarettes is not only detrimental to your overall health but can also cause discoloration of the nails due to the tar found in tobacco smoke.
  • A common ingredient in many polishes is formaldehyde which is a nasty chemical that causes your nail to become discolored, brittle, and weaker over time. 

If none of these ring a bell, consider a visit to your general physician, as the yellowing could be an indicator of something more severe, like a vitamin deficiency or fungal infection.

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What Can I Do to Fix It?

The good news is that if you are dealing with yellowing due to stains, removing the unsightly tint is no biggie. Depending on the severity of the staining, you can do either of the following:

  • For mild stains: take a damp nail brush and apply whitening toothpaste to the brush before gently scrubbing the nails for a few minutes and then rinsing in warm water. 
  • If the stains are a bit more embedded, try whipping up a concoction using 3-4 tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide with half a cup of warm water in a bowl. Soak your nails for about two minutes before gently scrubbing the surface of your nails with a soft, clean toothbrush or nail brush. Rinse your hands in warm water and apply some cuticle oil and hand lotion to restore moisture, and repeat 2-3 times per week if needed for more severe stains.
Base Coat Nails
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How to Prevent Yellowing from Occurring in the Future

While yellowing nails can be extremely common for many people with the use of nail polish, there are a few precautions you can take to lessen the likelihood of staining. 

  • Using a base coat each time your paint your nails is one of the best ways to prevent the polish from staining your natural nail by creating a barrier between the nail and the polish.
  • Pay attention to the ingredients in your polishes and nail products. As mentioned, formaldehyde is the culprit behind many stained nails, so avoid any products that list that as an ingredient. Instead, look for quality ingredients like Vitamin A, D3, and Calcium which can be found in SNS Dip Powders and are far less likely to cause yellowing to the nail when properly applied. 
  • Stick to lighter color polishes. As we approach fall, dark reds, purples, and browns come into season, but these darker and moodier polishes tend to be the culprits in staining your nails. Be sure to use darker polishes sparingly if you’re prone to nail discoloration, and do not forget your base coat, as mentioned above!
  • When selecting a polish remover, Healthline recommends a less harsh option without acetone and to avoid using polish remover more than once a week.

While yellowing nails are common and the at-home treatments can be simple, pay attention to your nails. If the yellowing does not improve or continues to worsen, it may be an indicator of something more serious and should be addressed by a medical professional. 

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