12 Ways To Remove Yellow Stains On Nails

how to remove yellow nail polish stains from nails

Here are some effective ways to get rid of yellow nail stains on your nail bed. Dark and red nail polishes can leave stains on your nails, it's a very common thing. But not to worry, we have some ideas to help get rid of those stains on your natural nails. 

Sometimes, the staining can go into the many layers of the nail and for those who have extremely stained nail beds, you might have to wait it out until your nails grow out.

We are going to show you how to whiten your nails with some helpful solutions.

If the nails are stained slightly yellow from your nail polish and you can see that it's a very light staining, you can try to remove it with some natural ingredients. 

how to remove nail polish staining on nails

So let's get into the tips on how to get rid of nail staining due to dark nail polishes. Then we'll share some ideas on how you can prevent yellow nail stains in the future.

Why Does Nail Polish Turn Nails Yellow?

Nail polish can turn your nail yellow from the highly pigmented colorants that are used to color the nail polish base, especially oxides. Shades of red and some blue colors are most likely to cause yellow staining on the natural nail. Natural nails can absorb the colorants which can be seen as a yellow tinge after the polish is removed.

Note: This article is for yellow nails caused by nail polish staining, not from fungal or a medical issue.

How to get rid yellow stains on nails

1. Use A Quality Acetone

Acetone is a solvent that will remove nail polish and help break down yellow staining from the top of the nail. 

Since the staining is most likely absorbed into the actual nail bed, acetone might help with the removal of the yellow staining on the surface, but you still might have a yellow tinge from within your nail plate.

You can find acetone and acetone pads here on Amazon. There are natural, acetone free nail polish remover options, but for removing actual yellow stains, they are not very effective.

After removing your nail polish, give your hands and nail plates a good washing with soap and water. Then assess your nails to see how yellow the nails still are.

how to get rid of nail polish stains on nails

2. Use A Sugar Scrub On Nails

You can use a sugar scrub to gently exfoliate the nail and cuticle area. Using a sugar scrub with olive or coconut oil mixed with a bit of sugar might help remove the yellowing from the surface of the nails and cuticles.

Use a natural sugar scrub with fine sugar graduals, or you can easily make your own.

Sugar Scrub Recipe For Yellow Nails:

1 tbsp of fine sugar

1/2 tsp of olive oil

1 drop of lemon essential oil

Mix all the ingredients and then gently scrub the nails and cuticles in a circular motion. This can be a bit messy so the best way is to use it is over your sink. Rinse well and apply your favorite hand cream.

remove yellow stains from nails from nail polish

3. Barielle Nail Whitener

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Barielle Nail Brightener is a nail care product designed to enhance and restore the natural beauty of your nails.

It helps to reduce discoloration, yellowing, and dullness, leaving your nails looking healthier and brighter with just a few applications.

nail whitener for yellow nails

4. Buff The Yellow Stains Off

Sometimes the yellow staining might not be too deep. You can try to gently buff the top of the nail to help remove the staining. Be very careful and only buff your nail with a nail buffer that is between 60 & 100 grit so that you do not damage your nail plate. Check nail buffer prices on Amazon.

Simply by buffing your nail might reveal the unstained nail bed underneath if the staining is not too dark.

remove yellow nail polish stains from nails

5. Lemon Juice For Yellow Nail Stains

Lemon juice works very well for removing yellow stains. If you use it a couple times a week, you should notice less yellow on your nails in a few days.

To use lemon juice to remove yellow staining, squeeze a fresh lemon into a small container. Then dip a cotton swab or cotton ball into the lemon juice. Go over each nail for about 20-30 seconds. Let it sit for at least 5 minutes, then rinse.

If you have any cuts or cuticles that are sore, this might sting.

how to get rid of yellow stains on nails 

6. Toothpaste With Whitening

Here's a great trick for helping get rid of yellow nail polish stains. You can use a whitening toothpaste to help fade the yellow. Just take some toothpaste and gently rub it into your nails. Let it sit for a couple minutes then rinse off.

You might need to do this a few times during the week for the full effect.

whitening toothpaste for yellow nails

7. Baking Soda Solution

Baking soda is a wonderful natural way to help remove yellow stains from nails. You just need to make a paste with baking soda and water. 

Put two tbsp. of baking soda into a small cup or container. Then add a little bit of water at a time to get it to the consistency of toothpaste. Gently rub the baking soda solution onto the nails in a circular motion and let it sit for about 2 minutes. Then rinse off.

If you still have yellow staining, you can repeat this a few times during the week.

how to remove yellow stains from nail polish

8. Hydrogen Peroxide For Yellow Stains

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This is a great way to help lighten yellow nails due to nail polish staining. To use hydrogen peroxide just take equal parts of hydrogen peroxide and water and pour into a bowl. Soak your nails for about 5 minutes. Then rinse.

You can also add in a few drops of lemon juice or lemon essential oil if you have it on hand.

Again, you might have to repeat this process a few times during the week. Since hydrogen peroxide can be drying to the skin, apply a cuticle oil or cream after the treatment.

remove yellow stains from nails

9. Rubbing Alcohol

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If your nail staining is just on the surface, sometimes using Isopropyl alcohol at 70% might do the trick. Just take some on a cotton swab and go over each nail for about 10-20 seconds. Rinse and then follow up with your favorite cuticle oil or cream.

10. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is one of those amazing natural whiteners that you can use a few times during the week to help keep your nails looking less yellow. We have a helpful article about how to use apple cider vinegar for nails.

To help remove yellow from nails using apple cider vinegar, you can either take some undiluted apple cider vinegar on a cotton swab and go over the nail plate.

You can also make a solution of 1 to 1 apple cider vinegar with water and soak your nails for 10 minutes. Repeat throughout the week until the yellow tinge is gone.

remove staining from nails

11. Nail Repair For Yellow Nails

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This nail repair formula will help with removing the yellow discoloration from your nails. For those with brittle or damaged nails, it can also help hydrate to improve the appearance of your nails.

 removing yellow stains from nails

3. Activated Charcoal For Staining

Charcoal is well known for it's stain removing properties and is one of the best things to use for yellow nail staining. You can use a charcoal toothpaste a few times a week, or try a charcoal whitening powder to help remove stains from your nails.

remove yellow nail polish stains from nails


Now that you know how you can remove the yellow staining from your nails, let's try to prevent it from happening in the future. Here are some tips to help prevent nail polishes from turning your nails yellow.

1. Buff your natural nail to remove the edges. Nail polish pigments can settle into those tiny lines. By gently buffing your nail smooth it will help with staining.

Be very careful when buffing your natural nails and buff the ridges with a nail buffer that is between 60 & 100 grit so that you do not damage your nail plate.

2. Apply a base coat to your nails. If you are going for a really high pigmented red or pink nail polish, consider applying two light coats of a base. Base coats come in regular polish and that require a curing lamp. Check prices for base coats on Amazon

3. Use a high quality nail polish. Nail polishes are definitely not made the same and some companies are way more dedicated to offering a product that is made with cosmetic grade colorants and pigments.

Do be aware that some polishes with deep red pigments might stain even though they are formulated properly. We all have different nails and some nails are more prone to staining no matter what kind of polish is used. 

For those who have a hard time with staining, perhaps try an artisan brand. We have compiled a list of Etsy sellers who offers nail polish and supplies.

4. Give your nails a week off. For those who love to have their nails done, it's hard to just let them take a break.

Try not to do anything with your nails for a week and really give them some TLC by using sugar scrubs and creams to help keep your hands hydrated and healthy.

5. Switch to gel polish or builder gel. Since gel polish and builder gels cure hard under a lamp, it helps prevent nail staining from the pigments from transferring onto the nail plates.

There's many beginner gel nail kits that you can purchase here on Amazon that come with everything you need to get started, including the lamp. We also have a list of the best gel nail kits for beginners.

We hope you found this article helpful and can get rid of the yellow staining on your nails due to nail polish.

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removing yellow staining from nails 


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