Fixing Gel Nail Discoloration


    If you just have spoilt yourself with a pretty gel manicure that’s an upgrade to your usual acrylic nails, it can be disheartening to see them turning brown or yellowish. Sometimes, it happens soon after, but at other times it can turn murky as the weeks go on. Either way, it doesn’t look good, and you likely want to know the causes so you can avoid it next time.

    Causes of Gel Nail Discoloration

    People who go to the salon to get a gel nail manicure often want nails that last. But it can be unfortunate to see your long-lasting nail polish turning into some color that doesn’t look fresh. Here are some potential causes of discoloration:

    1. Wrong curing time

    Gel nails stay longer because of the gel formulation and the curing process – the process of drying the gel nail products right after application. The UV or LED light hardens the gel and makes it stay longer.

    However, if curing is overdone or underdone, the material can start turning brown a few days or weeks later. This is why most lamps at the salons have a timer, and after the minutes are done, the machine switches itself off.

    If you wish to do your gel nails yourself using a gel nail kit, make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions for curing time.

    2. Smoking

    Smoking is an unhealthy habit that makes your teeth turn yellow, your skin dry, and your clothes smell. It can also cause your gel polish to turn brown or yellowish in color. The tar and nicotine found in cigarettes can leave stains on your nail beds and even around the skin. The habit of smoking also causes blockage of oxygen supply to the fingernails, which results in discoloration.

    If you’re a smoker, you may notice more discoloration on your dominant hand. Maybe you will consider it another good reason to give up smoking!

    3. Exposure to chemicals

    Contact with strong chemicals like hair dyes, cleaning supplies, makeup products can cause discoloration that may cause yellowing of white and light-colored nails, and it can cause browning for other colors. These chemicals can react with the gel on the nails that can either cause discoloration or chipping.

    4. Sunlight and self-tanning products

    Overexposure to sunlight is harmful to both the skin and nails and too much exposure to UV rays can cause discoloration.

    Also, if you are using fake tanning products, it can leave stains on your nails. People react differently to tanning, and people observe different issues with their nails and skin after being in a tanning salon.

    5. Poor quality products

    Another potential cause for discoloration is applying poor-quality gels. Unlike acrylic nails, gel polishes are non-porous, so they can soak up liquids or get stained when they contact other chemicals. And not all salons use the best quality gel polishes – that’s why the prices are different. If you want your nails to last long in their best state, it’s better to pay more than go cheap.

    How to Remove Discoloration and Stains from Gel Nails

    Luckily, there are some ways you can do to remove brownish or yellowish stains and discoloration:

    1. Nail polish remover or alcohol

    You can use a nail polish remover or rubbing alcohol for mild to moderate discoloration and yellowing of gel nails. Don’t worry – it won’t peel off or dissolve your gel nail polish unless you soak it or put it excessively over your nail plate. Take a cotton bud and dip it in remover or alcohol to lightly rub the stain. Do it gently to keep the gel nail intact, and make sure you’re not using acetone!

    2. Scrubbing

    Simply wash your hands with soap and water if the stain is caused by makeup or after cooking with coloring agents. Scrub your nails well to remove these stains. Do not use anything too harsh so as not to remove your gel nails.

    3. Lemon and baking soda

    If your white or light gel nail polish is yellowing, you can use lemon and baking soda as bleaching agents. Since they are natural, they can gently scrub your nails, and you won’t risk any gel polish damage.

    Squeeze a whole lemon into a bowl of water and add a tablespoon of baking soda. Then, dip your fingers for 10-15 minutes. Finally, rinse your hands with water without soap while gently scrubbing your nails.

    4. Hairspray

    If the yellow or brown stains on your gel nails aren’t fresh, then the solutions mentioned above might just not cut it. In this case, you may need your hairspray. Put your hand on a towel and spray it with hairspray until your nails become wet. Then, use cotton buds to remove the stains gently. When you’re finished, wash your hands with soap and water.

    5. Tea tree oil

    Tea tree oil is another natural stain remover. It’s beneficial also if you are suffering from nail fungus because of its antibacterial properties. Soak your stained nails in a bowl full of water and two tablespoons of tea tree oil. Let the nail soak for about 10-15 minutes, then rinse without soap.

    If you don’t have tea tree oil, you can also use this hack on castor oil or coconut oil.

    6. Getting nails redone

    If all else fails, consider getting a new set of gel nails. Sometimes, if stains are left for a long time or if it has been too dark, all remedies listed above would be ineffective.

    If you feel that the quality of gel nail polish is to blame, then it’s a nice idea to go to a different nail salon this time or do it yourself using quality gel nail kits.

    While it’s impossible to prevent your gel nails from discoloration forever, you can do things to help prevent it. Use quality products or go to a good nail salon. Keep your nails and cuticles moisturized by regularly applying moisturizer. Before handling harsh cleaning products, protect your manicure by using gloves or wash your hands with soap and water immediately. Finally, maintain good hygiene.


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