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How to Fix Yellow Nails and Staining

Beauty Looks

How to Fix Yellow Nails and Staining How to Fix Yellow Nails and Staining How to Fix Yellow Nails and Staining

Have you ever removed nail polish only to come face-to-face with yellow nails underneath—yikes. We’d be willing to bet that isn’t the look you’re going for. Sure, you can apply a new coat of polish on top to disguise your nail discoloration, but we bet you’re wondering, “Why are my nails yellow in the first place?” You’ll be happy to know there’s a simple, harmless cause for stained nails and that removing those stains isn’t as difficult as you might think. Below, learn how to get rid of yellow nails and staining so you can go au naturel with confidence until your next manicure appointment.


Yellow or otherwise stained nails don’t have to be a scary thing. So long as your nail texture hasn’t changed, the culprit of your nail discoloration is likely to be nail polish. This is especially the case if you frequently wear bold, pigmented shades like ruby red or hot pink for a prolonged period of time. When you finally get around to removing the nail polish, a tint or stain can be left behind. This can be yellow, or it may match the color you were wearing. Red nail polish is notorious for pinkish staining, while blues and teals often leave behind yellow nails.  


Getting rid of nail staining is easy—in fact, there are three common methods for doing so. Take your pick!


If you haven’t scoured beauty shops for a solution to your stained nails just yet, you might not realize there are actually nail soaks specifically meant to take your nails from yellow back to their normal, natural look. They typically come in powder form and are meant to be added to warm water. You soak your nails in the solution for a matter of minutes and let it work its magic. Of course, the directions for this type of product will vary depending on the one you purchase, so make sure you’re following them correctly.

If your stains are prominent, you can consider using a clean toothbrush to gently yet thoroughly scrub your nails after the soak. Follow up by applying the L’Oréal Paris Age Perfect Hydra Nutrition Manuka Honey All Over Balm - Face, Neck, Chest and Hands to give your hands some well-deserved hydration.


We’re sure you’re familiar with soaking your nails in acetone to remove stubborn nail polish, so it should come as no surprise that you can use a similar method to remove nail polish stains. Cut ten strips of foil that will be used to wrap around each of your nails. Then, pour an acetone nail polish remover into a bowl. Dip a cotton ball into the bowl to saturate it with acetone and press the cotton ball onto the top of one nail. Wrap the nail in foil and repeat on the rest of your nails. Let your nails soak for 10 minutes, then remove and rinse! Since acetone can be very drying, make sure you finish by applying a nourishing hand cream.


Certain stains may be able to be removed with only your trusty nail file. For this method, first, apply a cuticle oil to your nail to lubricate it and help loosen any polish. Then, use the buffing side of a nail file to buff out the nail as needed. Keep in mind that this method will likely only work for minor stains and that you may need to use one of the methods above if buffing the nail isn’t effective. As always, give your hands some extra TLC by applying a hydrating hand moisturizer post-filing.


Want to steer clear of stained nails in the future? We don’t blame you. To properly prep your nails and prevent yellow nails moving forward, make sure to apply a base coat as the first step in your at-home manicure routine. This will act as a protective barrier between your nail and your nail polish, helping to keep staining from occurring. You can also specifically look for anti-yellowing base coats to further protect your nails.

Next up: Now that you know how to tackle yellow nails and stained nails in general, let’s move on to another popular nail discoloration topic: white spots. Check out our article, What Do White Spots on Your Nails Mean?