When you go back to natural nails after using nail polish, or have discolored your nails another way, knowing these DIY nail whitening techniques can be a big help. Stained, dirty, or yellow nails are both unappealing and unprofessional.
When the nail polish remover reveals ugly stained nails, no worries. You can whiten your nails again fast and have great looking hands, nail polish on or not.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you have not used nail color recently, nor have another clear reason for discolored nails, it may be best to consult a physician, rather than to attempt whitening the apparent stains. Infection or serious underlying medical conditions can effect nail appearance.
Whiten Your Nails, DIY Methods
So, how DO you get rid of yellow discolored nails and make sure that underneath your nail tips are nice and clean? Here are a few great ways to whiten nails, that you can do right at home. When soap and water just won't cut it, these methods will help.
Whitening Toothpaste for Nails
This is the go to method to whiten nails. It is easy, not harsh and only requires one item, a whitening toothpaste that contains baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. A white paste, not a colored one.
First, use nail polish remover, if you have any bits of actual polish remaining. Use a cotton swab to get in crevices.
Use a toothbrush (a baby one is the ideal size) to apply the paste. Scrub your nails gently for a couple minutes, taking care not to damage your cuticle. Rinse and check your progress.
- If you seem to have ridges a gentle buff with a nail buffer may be warranted.
- Repeat if you are almost clear of stain.
- Still discolored, but evenly so, cover your nails with the whitening toothpaste (top and underneath nail tips) and leave on for at least 5 minutes, before rinsing with warm water.
One time may do the trick, but when yellow nails persist, you can repeat the process. Move on to another method, if your progress is not sufficient or nail beds are thin.
Acidic lemon juice can work as a mild bleach to whiten nails. This is one to skip though if you have any cuts or cracks in the skin surrounding your nail bed though, as it will sting.
There are a few ways to use lemon to remove nail discoloration.
- For mild stains, simply rub fresh cut lemon right on your finger nails and tips.
- Paint lemon juice on your nails with a brush or cotton swab. Leave on for 10 minutes, then rinse with warm water.
- Make a nail soak, with a tablespoon of lemon juice, cup of lukewarm water and a splash of liquid hand soap in a small plastic bowl. Soak your nails in this soapy water for 10-15 minutes, then rinse your hands off.
Baking Soda Fights Stains
A simple baking soda paste can be made to for DIY nail whitening. Water can be used to make the paste, but most prefer to add lemon juice, white vinegar or hydrogen peroxide* to the mix. Lemon juice and baking soda are the most popular combination to give nails a fresh clean look.
To make the basic paste mix 1 part warm water to one part baking soda. Apply it on your finger tips and let it sit for a minimum of 10 minutes. Add a splash of lemon juice or white vinegar to the warm water if you like.
*more concentrated than toothpaste, a good choice when nails are thin and delicate, you do not want to scrub your nails in that condition.
Hydrogen peroxide has natural bleaching properties, which can effectively whiten your nails. Just mix a ¼ cup of hydrogen peroxide with a ½ cup of warm water in a small bowl. Soak your nails in the solution for 5 minutes for light stains and up to 15 minutes for more stubborn ones.
As mentioned, a baking soda paste can also be made with hydrogen peroxide. This is a quick and powerful way to whiten stained nails. In a small plastic bowl, mix one tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide with 2-3 tablespoons of baking soda, then apply generously to you finger tips. Rinse after 2-3 minutes and pat dry with a clean towel.
TIP: If you suffer from toenail fungus try this solution of paste on your toes with a few drops of tea tree oil added.
Denture Cleaner to Whiten Nails
A great trick for getting rid of yellow nails is to use denture cleaner. The tablets are made with active ingredients specific to remove stains from hard surfaces after all.
To make the soak, just drop 1 or two denture cleaner tablets into a bowl of water. Soak your nails in the solution for 5-10 minutes, then rinse your hands and marvel at the fresh white nails that result!
How to Keep Nails from Getting Stained
Of course, keeping your nails from getting stained in the first place is the ideal way to tackle this problem.
Nail Polish, Culprit
Use a base coat!
Using dark nail color polish, particularly red toned polishes, without a base coat layer is the most common way end out with a stubborn yellow stains. The base coat provides a barrier between your nail and the pigments in the polish. It is also a good idea to give your nails a rest at least every two weeks, either with natural nails or at least a more neutral shade.
Keeping your hands and nails well moisturized and clean also go a long way in avoiding any nail issues, including staining. Using hand moisturizing cream regularly avoids cracks in the skin and dried out nails, both of which are more prone to stains. Wear gloves when gardening our chopping highly pigmented foods and spices.
Try my DIY nail strengthener oil. It is great for both the nail and cuticle.
White Nail Tips
Beyond the home remedies for stained nails shared above, you can also keep your nail tips fresh and clean looking with the help of a nail whitening pencil. Scrub them with a nail brush first, then run the pencil underneath the tips.
For a more durable look throughout the day, try sporting a French manicure. To do so paint your nails with basecoat or faintly pink tinted clear nail polish. Then paint the tips white and apply a clear coat over your nails. Using stick on tip guides makes painting the white nail tips easy.
So in conclusion, don't forget to use base coat before applying nail polish color and take care of your hands to avoid staining. If you do get yellow nails, don't fret we can whiten them quick!