How To Get Rid Of Nail Stains

How To Get Rid Of Nail Stains - Mersi Cosmetics

Has excessive use of nail polish left unpleasant yellow stains on your nails? There might be different causes behind this. Painting your nails with vibrant colors is a fun activity to style your everyday look. However, it can turn out to be a worrying situation if you notice it affecting your nails. 

Removing nail polish and seeing stains on your manicured nails is the most heartbreaking thing. You must find out the reasons behind this discoloration before finding a solution for them. Using bright colors often can cause yellow marks on your nails. 

People usually try to hide these stains under nail polish, but this is not a permanent solution. The stain on nails is a serious problem that requires your attention. Let’s dig further to know how to treat this problem.


What are Stained Nails?

Stained nails are discolored nails that may have yellow, green, or black patches on the surface. Stained nails do not occur overnight. It takes a few days or weeks to form gradually. Nails are usually sensitive to discoloration. They easily get stained with harsh chemicals in nail polishes and look unpleasant. This may cause embarrassment, due to which people tend to hide their stains under the nail paint. 

Causes of Stained Nails

There can be various causes of stained nails. The common causes of nail staining are mentioned below. 

Nail Polishes

Nail polishes contain several inorganic pigments. Another common ingredient in nail polishes is formaldehyde. This can sometimes become the cause of yellow nails if kept on for long. It can react with keratin in nails. The resulting effect turns them yellow and brittle. These stains usually stay until the nail grows out, and you cut them gradually to get rid of the marks.

Darker nail polish shades also tend to leave marks on your nails. The darker pigments can give the cause a chemical reaction between the nails and the pigment. As a result, the nails stain.

Nail Infection

Another reason for stained yellow nails can be any nail infection. It is quite rare, but there is a possibility of it damaging your nails. The nail infection is commonly known as onychomycosis. It is caused by yeast and fungi. A type of fungi called dermatophytes relies on keratin in nails to grow and survive. It can reside in nails and cause infection, leading to stained nails.

Similarly, candida is a type of yeast that can infect nails. It can harm the nails to the extent that they begin to smell and become brittle, flaky, and discolored. A leading reason for these fungi and yeast infections can be exposure of hands to extreme climates. 


Smoking is not only bad for your lungs but can affect your nail color also. The nicotine and tar in cigarettes can cause your nails to discolor. This usually does not happen with occasional smoking. Excessive smoking can lead to stained nails. It is better to decrease and then gradually quit smoking to save your health. 


Keeping your body and nails hydrated is very important for healthy nails. Lack of hydration can lead to several issues. When your nails are dehydrated, they tend to absorb moisture from anything you put on their surface. If you wear nail paint on dehydrated nails, they absorb their color and moisture. It does not cause any harm to your nails except discoloring them.

You need to know what actually is the cause of your nail discoloration to find a suitable treatment for it. Luckily, stains resulting from nail polish are harmless and therefore are not alarming at all. If your nail’s structure has also changed or you notice an unpleasant smell, it might be concerning and needs medical attention. 

Methods to Getting Rid of Stained Nails

Stained nails look equally awful and embarrassing. Whether they are caused by a chemical reaction or nail paints, you can treat them. Luckily, some treatments are easier than others and are cost-effective also. 

Following are some harmless, easy-to-follow methods to get rid of stained nails easily.

Baking Soda Scrub

For this method, you will need some ingredients that you can easily find in your kitchen cabinets. These items include baking soda, olive oil, and lemon juice. Take these items in the ratio of 2:1:1. Mix it well until it forms a paste. 

You can adjust the consistency but do not make it too runny. It needs to be thick. Adjust the amounts of olive oil and baking soda to bring it to the right consistency. Keep mixing it until it becomes thick and smooth. 

Now take an old toothbrush and dip it in the mixture. It must stay on the brush. Use it to scrub the paste on your nails. Scrub thoroughly but not harshly. Move the brush in a circular motion. Keep scrubbing until you see your stains lighting. Finally, wash your hands with soap and water. Dry and moisturize them. 

Toothpaste Scrub

Did you know that your whitening toothpaste can do much more than add shine to your teeth? It can also brighten up your nails. Take some toothpaste and apply it to your nails. You can apply it to clean nails that have no stains. Now take an old toothbrush and gently scrub your nails with it. Rinse after a few minutes. You can repeat this twice a week. 

Lemon Juice Soak

Another remedy with your kitchen ingredients is this lemon juice soak. The only thing you need for this method is lemons. Take a bowl and squeeze the lemon juice into it. Now soak your nails in it. Let them sit for a while. Take a toothbrush and gently rub your nails. Wash your hands with clean water and dry them. 

Nail Buffing

This method is effective for stains left by nail paint. It requires you to put some drops of cuticle oil on your nails. Let it stay for some seconds. It will soften the stain and make it easy to remove. It also softens the skin around your nails. Apply it to all stained nails. 

Now take a buffer and gently buff the surface of your nails. Go in a crisscross position. Do not buff too harsh. Spend a few seconds on each nail. Make sure you do not damage the surface of your nail. Once you have done scrubbing your nails, dip a cotton ball in nail paint remover. 

If some nail paint is still remaining, remove it using the nail paint remover. Gently rub the cotton ball on nails where some nail color remains. Wash your hands, dry them and apply some oil or moisturizer. 

Acetone Soak

You might know about using acetone to remove nail polish from your nails. You can also use it to remove nail stains. Avoid this method if your skin is sensitive to acetone. You will need a foil and acetone nail polish remover. Cut the foil into ten pieces. These pieces must be long enough to wrap around your nails. 

Take a cotton ball and soak it in acetone. Put it on your nail such that it covers it completely. Wrap the foil carefully around your nail to secure the cotton ball and keep it intact. Press it so that it stays firmly in its place. Repeat the same process for all nails.

Keeps your nails in this position for a good 10 minutes. The acetone will do its job to lighten the stains on your nails. Do not leave it for too long otherwise, it might irritate the skin. After 10 minutes, remove the foil and cotton from your nails. Wash your hands with clean water and soap. Rub your nails to remove all the chemicals from them. If your nails feel dry, apply a good moisturizer. 

Hydrogen Peroxide Soak

A hydrogen peroxide solution can also be a good soak for treating stained nails. For soaking your nails, always use diluted hydrogen peroxide. Mix it with water in a ratio of 1:4. Soak your nails in the solution for 8 to 10 minutes. You may also soak a cotton ball in this solution and use it to soak your nails. 

After 10 minutes, rinse your hands with soap and water. Apply a moisturizer, hand cream, or oil to your nails and hands to avoid dryness. Repeat this process once every week. Frequent use might weaken your nails. 

Denture Cleaner

Denture cleaner is also a good method to treat your nails at home. These cleaners contain mild bleach that can lighten the unpleasant marks without damaging the nails. They contain sodium hypochlorite that acts on nails to remove the stains from the surface and make them white. For this method, you will need a denture cleaner tablet and a bowl of warm water. 

Dissolve the tablet in warm water. Wait until it is completely soluble in water. Now soak your nails in it for 5 to 6 minutes. Take your hands out of the solution and rinse with clean water. Dry and moisturize them. Repeat the process twice or thrice a week to see visible results. 

All these methods work gradually. They do not remove stains overnight. You must be patient with the process. If you are not patient enough, you can try a professional manicure. Go to an expert who understands your nails well. A good manicure can help you brighten up your nails and lighten the stains. 

Tips for Preventing Nail Staining

Removing nail stains is not enough. You must also ensure that they do not happen again. Prevention of nail stains is easier than its treatment. Following are some effective tips to help you prevent yellow marks or stains on nails. 

  • Avoid scrapping your nails. It does not remove the stain but rather damages your nail and make them weak. 
  • Avoid using darker shades of nail polishes. Dark nail paints tend to stain your nails more. 
  • Protecting your nails while wearing nail polish is important. Always apply a base coat and then a top coat on your nails. It acts as a shield and prevents discoloration.
  • Apply nail oil daily to your nails. It helps with the porosity of nails and keeps them healthy. 
  • Do not leave nail polishes for too long on your nails. Ensure it even more if you are wearing darker colors. 
  • Use nail paints with no formaldehyde if your nails are sensitive to it. Many halal nail paints do not contain this chemical. 
  • Scrub your nails once or twice a week with toothpaste or baking soda. This is an effective remedy to keep them clean.
  • Use cuticle oil often to keep your nails hydrated. You may also use a moisturizer. 
  • Use a halal breathable nail polish that prevents your nails from harsh chemicals and staining.

Stained Nails: Do You Need to See a Doctor?

Your nails can indicate so much more about your health than you think. They often reflect a lot about your health and hygiene. Stained nails can be an indicator of several health issues and diseases, such as diabetes and lung infection. They may also indicate certain nutrition deficiencies in your body. 

If your nails are not stained from a nail pigment, it might be a matter of concern. Whether they are due to nail infections or any other disease, you must consult a doctor. In such a situation, avoid treating them at home using different remedies. 

Bottom Line

Nail stains are not shameful. Adopt healthy nail care practices to keep your nails healthy and beautiful. Prepare your nails before putting nail paint on them. Choose the right shade. Use nail paints with lesser harmful chemicals. In case of any unusual appearance, consult a specialist. Follow the right procedure to apply nail polish and decorate your nails with your favorite colors. 

Stained Nails FAQs

Are stains on nails harmful?

No, stains on nails are not harmful as long as they are caused by nail polish. They are only marks left by pigments in the nail paints. It only affects the surface of the nail and causes no damage to your skin. 

Can we apply nail paint to stained nails?

Yes, you can apply nail paint to stained nails. There is no harm in it as far as the stains are not caused by a fungal or bacterial infection. 

How long do nail stains last?

Nail stains can last from a few days to a few months. If the stains are light, they might go away in a few days using some remedies. If they are dark, you might have to wait until your nails grow and you cut off the stained part. 

What causes stained nails?

Some of the common causes of stained nails are fungal infections, allergic reactions, nail paints, smoking, and lung diseases. All these causes, except nail paints, require medical attention. 

Do dark nail polishes cause stained nails?

Dark nail polishes are more likely to cause stained nails. The pigments in those nail paints, such as red, pink, or purple, tend to leave your nails yellowish if kept on for a long time. 

Looking for a healthier alternative to nail polish? Check out our Breathable nail polish made with a unique formula that allows water and oxygen to permeate through. Essentially allowing your nails to breathe and stay hydrated! 

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