Dark polish. Red polish. Back-to-back gels. Peeling a bunch of oranges to snack on. There are any number of reasons why your nails might be stained yellow, and luckily, there is an easy fix for getting them to gleam again.
We tapped Marcela Correa, a licensed medical pedicurist and owner of Medi Pedi NYC, a medical spa for aesthetic and therapeutic foot care, to find out what causes your nails to yellow and how to brighten them up for good.
Why are My Nails Yellow?
"The main cosmetic reason your nails turn yellow is leaving polish on for too long, which causes them to dehydrate and become discolored," explains Correa. "However, if you don't typically wear nail polish and you're noticing that they're stained, it could be an underlying medical condition like nail fungus or psoriasis, in which case you should see your dermatologist."
Bottom line: If you don't remember the last time you went without polish and there aren't any changes in your nail texture (i.e., thickening or curving) the culprit is most likely le lacquer.
How to Whiten Nails at Home
"The best thing to do at home to help whiten your nails is to exfoliate them regularly and hydrate them afterwards," Correa tells us before sharing her go-to DIY for keeping her client's nails healthy and bright.
What you need:
- A tube of whitening toothpaste
- A nail brush (a clean toothbrush works, too)
- Your favorite nail oil (Correa recommends Gehwol Nail Care; olive oil is a good substitute as well)
What you do:
1. Squeeze and spread a pea-sized amount of toothpaste onto each nail so the stains are completely covered.
2. Let it sit for a few minutes (maybe do a quick meditation?).
3. Gently scrub your nails with the brush.
4. Rinse hands thoroughly and thoroughly massage the oil into your cuticles and nail beds to finish.
The active brightening ingredients in your toothpaste lift discoloration from your nails the same way they do your teeth, while the oil rehydrates them.
How to Prevent Yellow Nails in the Future
According to Correa, the best way to prevent your nails from yellowing in the future is to keep up with your home care and make sure you don't leave your polish on for more than two weeks at a time. Also, don't forget to apply a base coat. Adding another step to your mani is annoying, we know, but a base coat will create a barrier between your nail beds and your polish to prevent further staining.