How To Whiten Polish-Stained Nails

So, you've finally decided to give your nails a break from nail polish. You're excited to save money on trips to the salon and can finally stop worrying about chips and peeling. There's just one problem: all that nail polish has left your natural nails with an unsightly yellow tinge.

There are a few causes for yellow or brown natural nails, including vitamin and mineral deficiencies (via Healthline). Yellow nails can also indicate thyroid conditions, diabetes, or psoriasis. However, one of the most common reasons for natural nail discoloration is the use of dyes or harsh products in the form of polish. Harvard Medical School explains that dark nail polish colors in particular can cause staining. A chemical reaction can occur when the colorant comes into contact with your nail bed, leaving you with temporary marks (via Lauren B. Beauty).

The good news is that staining from nail polish isn't a cause for concern and doesn't signify a medical issue. To whiten your nails for aesthetic reasons, there are a few quick, easy, and cost-effective home remedies you can try.

Whitening your nails at home

Before you attempt to whiten your nails at home, make sure there's no underlying reason for the discoloration. If your nails are persistently yellow, it's worth making an appointment with your healthcare provider to rule out other possible causes (via Beauty Crafter). Once you're sure your nails have been stained by polish alone, one of the best ways to whiten them is with toothpaste. Oral care brand Tom's of Maine recommends applying a small amount of whitening toothpaste to each nail, after you've removed your nail polish, and letting it sit for around 10 minutes. Then scrub the toothpaste in with an old toothbrush or nail brush. Rinse off the toothpaste, and if your nails are not noticeably whiter, repeat the process again.

Nail Pro advises that lemon juice is another great remedy for nail polish stains. Simply soak your nails in pure lemon juice and then scrub the stains out until they're no longer visible. The citric acid in the juice is a natural cleaning agent which can remove stains without damaging your nails. The website also states that you can mix a tablespoon of bleach in a cup of water and then apply it to the nail stains with a toothbrush. However, bleach is a harsh product and can cause irritation. When using this method, take care not to allow the bleach to touch your skin.

Other DIY nail whiteners

Hello Glow lists tea tree oil as another natural ingredient that can help you get rid of nail stains. Place a drop of the oil, which has antibacterial properties, onto your nail bed and allow it to absorb. You can leave the tea tree oil on your nails all day or rinse it off if you have sensitive skin. You could also try nail-whitening products that have been infused with tea tree oil, such as scrubs or soaks. Alternatively, simply buffing your nails may suffice if the stains are only superficial.

Baking soda is another classic household ingredient that can whiten your stained nails, according to personalized skincare brand ISHONEST. Try making a paste with equal parts baking soda and warm water and letting it sit on your nails for 10 minutes before rinsing off. Surprisingly, denture cleaners can also be effective whitening agents for nails. Just take a cleaning tablet and dissolve it in water, then soak your nails in the solution for 10 minutes (via Mersì Cosmetics). Rinse and moisturize your hands, and then repeat the process up to three times a week until you see results.

Stained nails are one of the annoying side effects of wearing nail polish, but discoloration doesn't have to stop you from rocking your natural nails. Try one or a combination of these DIY home remedies to get your nails looking their best again.