Why Clear Nail Polish Turns Yellow And How To Prevent It.




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Are you wondering why your beautiful nail polish tends to turn yellow after some time? Are the yellow nails causing concern? Well, let’s figure out why that happens. There must be many reasons. Some nail polishes last long, and you can go for days without needing a manicure. However, they come with their challenges. So, why does clear nail polish turn yellow?

When the clear nail polish becomes over-exposed or under exposure to UV light during the drying process, it causes reactions that lead to nail discoloration. Your nails also react to chemicals in cleaning agents, spices, and makeup products and get discolored. The outcome is yellow nail polish.

Nail polish discoloration takes away the shine on the polish and leaves your nails looking dull and ugly. Nobody wants that, and so it’s essential to know how the discoloration happens and what to do to prevent it or solve it if it happens. This article debunks the causes of nail polish discoloration and the solutions to help you deal with it.

Why Does Clear Nail Polish Turn Yellow?

This is a question that people ask severally, but there is still no one single reason why the clear nail polish might turn yellow; it could be for a couple of reasons or even a combination of them. In addition, there is no fixed period as to how long after getting the manicure can you expect the clear nail polish to turn yellow.

For some people, the yellow color may start to appear after merely a day or two. For others, it could take even a week or more for the nails to start turning yellow. Therefore, the reasons behind the discoloration can significantly vary, and the time frame is also quite varied. 

Maybe you might be experiencing such a problem, or you have a friend with the same. Therefore, this article will significantly be of help to you.

Here are some of the most common reasons why your clear nail polish might turn yellow.

  • Keeping your polish on for too long 

After six days, the chemicals in the polish will start to discolor and may even turn yellow. A good manicure is good for six days, and it is always best to remove it when those days are over. Most people don’t realize this, but it is harmful to your nails to keep your polish on until it literally chips off completely. 

I was also doing the same thing before I realized the effects. For me, I used to think that it is normal for nail polishes to turn yellow after some time. I would use the exact polish for so long without changing. At long last, I realized the need to keep changing the polish.

Ensure that you have an acetone-based nail polish remover which you can use to remove the nail polish before it turns yellow. You can buy acetone from a beauty store near you. After six days after application, clear the polish entirely and leave your nails for 24 hours to recover. During that time, you can rub hand lotion directly onto your nails, massaging it in until it is completely absorbed.

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  • Poor quality gel nail polish or products 

Gel polish is designed to repel liquids and stains, unlike acrylic nails which can soak up fluids and other chemicals. However, the market is flooded with substandard gel products that are porous and therefore absorb liquids. You can get gel nails in just any budget range. 

You’ll realize that in those salons that charge high for gel polish manicures, there’s a high chance that they are using a high-quality nail gel that is non-porous. It isn’t always true, but we can’t deny the fact that multiple qualities of nail polishes exist, and using the below-par nail polishes can turn yellow soon after getting the manicure. 

Take my example, about five years ago; I used to go for the cheapest nail polishes in the store. I don’t mean to degrade the commodities, but honestly, they didn’t serve me well. They would discolor very fast and chip off immediately after application. I decided to go for the higher quality ones, not denying the fact that they were a bit expensive, but the results were incredible.

  • Exposure to sunlight or UV rays 

Sunlight or other UV rays damage many polishes. Over-exposure to sunlight can lead to clear nail polishes turning yellow. You’ll notice that during summer, most people complain that their clear nails are turning yellow, unlike in the winter days. However, different people tan differently, and that’s why you’ll hear different yellowing experiences. Those who spend time in the sun will notice that their nails turn yellow fast. This is a result of the reaction of the sun’s UV light and nail polish. 

  • Exposure to harsh chemicals

It turns yellow when the nail polish is exposed to chemicals such as hair dyes, skin care products, and makeup products. These products happen to contain chemicals that react with the polish on your nails and cause discoloration and even make them chip faster. This is the case with one of my friends who got in contact with these chemicals. She uses lots of makeup products, and her nail polish keeps on turning yellow.

  • Smoking 

Probably you think that smoking only causes yellow stains on your teeth. You will realize that it also causes your nail polish to turn yellow. Therefore, if you are a smoker, the chances of you experiencing discoloration on your nail polish are higher. As a matter of fact, you might also realize that in your dominant hand or rather the hand that you hold the cigarette in, there is more discoloration. Maybe it’s high time you give those cigarettes a miss.

  • Nail polish ingredients 

The possibility of formaldehyde [a standard nail polish ingredient] causing the polish to turn yellow is high. This chemical reacts aggressively with the keratin protein found in your nails and makes them brittle and yellow. 

While rare, nails that are exceptionally yellow could be a clear indication of nail infection. Wouldn’t you like to have the yellow color on your polish, right? So keep checking on your nail polish and change it after a short period. Nail polishes look beautiful on you when they are not discolored.

How To Prevent The Nail Polish From Turning Yellow

I am sure you want a solution to discourage your nail polishes from turning yellow, just like me when mine were also turning yellow. I was so worried that my nails would be affected and even get an infection. Well, I carried out several kinds of research in order to get a permanent solution to my problem. 

Fortunately, there are a number of ways that you can fix your clear nail polishes if at all you notice that they are turning yellow.

  • Soak in lemon and baking soda 

This is one of the methods I used, and you can rest assured that it is very effective. Baking soda and lemon are natural bleaching agents, which means that they would work excellently in removing the yellow stains from the clear polish on your nails.

The procedure is simple. First, squeeze some lemon into a bowl of water and add a tablespoon of baking soda into it. Stir the water to mix the lemon and the baking soda. Then soak your fingers into the created mixture for 15 minutes. The stains will dissolve into the mixture, and you can rinse your hands using freshwater. As you rinse, you can gently scrub your nails using your hands.

  •  Applying the base coat

Nail polish yellowing is common, especially with regular nail polish use. However, you can adopt the habit of using a quality basecoat every time you paint your nails so as to create a stain-proof barrier between the nails and the polish. It sounds obvious, but how often do you really use a base coat every time you paint?

This will not only help your polish to last longer, but it will also prevent the pigment in your nail polish from getting to your nail, which also causes the nails to be yellow in the first place. For extra protection, I recommend that you double up your base coat. Only be sure to use thin layers to keep the polish from looking too thick.

  • Just take a break 

You might think that when you give your nails a break, they won’t look good. This is not true—Buff out your nails with a fine grit file. Then wear a polish that that has nourishing benefits that will strengthen your nails.

  • Use lemon juice 

Soak your nails in lemon juice to get rid of the yellow stains. Soak for 10 to 15 minutes each day, and you will be happy with the results.

  • Use nail polish remover or rubbing alcohol.

This method is most effective if you use it as soon as the stain appears. Just ensure that you are not using acetone on your nails. 

To fix the discoloration and restore the original color of the polish, use a cotton bud dipped in remover or rubbing alcohol to rub off the stain lightly. You don’t need to rub too vigorously, or you will end up rubbing the nail polish.

  • Use hairspray 

Well, if at all the yellow stains on your polish are not fresh, then lemon juice or nail polish remover might not help. In such cases, you can use hair spray to solve it.  Place your hand on a towel or a piece of cloth and spray the hairspray on your stained nails till you can see they are wet. Then use a cotton bud to scrub off the stains gently. Finally, wash your hands using fresh water and soap.

  • Scrub well 

The stain may appear right after eating curry, cooking using coloring agents, or using makeup products. You’ll need to wash your hands immediately using soap and water. Ensure that you scrub your nails well to remove any staining agents from your nails.

  • Soak in tea tree oil

This substance is a natural stain remover. It is simple; soak the stained nail in a bowl filled with water and two tablespoons of tree oil. Allow your nail to soak for 5 to 10 minutes, and then wash your hand. Repeat the process once a day for a couple of days until the stain goes away.

  • You can get your nails redone

If all the above remedies fail, don’t worry. You know it’s time to visit the salon and have your nails redone. The manicurist will remove the old polish and adorn your nails with fresh polish. 

Can Leaving Nail Polish on Too Long Cause Fungus? 

Nail polish may make your toes look pretty, but it can also cause toenail fungus. Heavy nail polish tends to block light, creating an environment more conducive to fungal growth. It happens that most people just kind of forget to take off the nail polish, especially the toenail polish. The hidden polish inside socks and shoes can be forgotten, and by the time you check it, your polish may be chipped off, discoloring your nails.

It is always important to give your nails a break. It is recommended to leave polish on for a few weeks, and then remove the polish and go without for a couple of weeks. When it’s summer, ensure that you don’t keep your nail polish on your toes for too long. Let her toes rest. Your nails are permeable and absorb liquids, and as a result, they can soak up substances such as nail polish that are applied to their surface.

If you keep your nail polish on for too long, you risk the absorption of the nail polish pigment into the nail layers and cause it to dehydrate and dry out. When that happens, yeast, fungus, mold, bacteria, and mildew can develop under the nail plate and harbor there. 

In addition to going for weeks or so without the polish, try as much as possible to leave your feet open and dry during the day and at night times. You can achieve that by wearing cotton socks all day. You can also wear sandals or shoes made of breathable fabrics and natural materials like leather or cotton. 

On the day you remove the polish, and you notice that your toenails look stained or have a chalky white appearance, you can take steps back to nurse them back to health. 

To keep your nails healthy, be sure to always use a base coat. It acts as protection for the nail and prevents the polish from sipping into your nails and dehydrating them, and making them brittle. It’s important to invest in a high-quality base coat that comes between your nail and polish in order to protect them from damage.

Generally, you can’t leave your nail polish on your nails for too long. Experts recommend taking a break between pedicures to allow your natural nails to breathe and let you check for any signs that something may be wrong.

Toenail fungus infection 

Briefly, let me talk about the toenail fungus infection so that you can clearly understand why you should take a break from the nail polish. Nail fungus infection is common, and it’s usually painless unless it is severe. The scientific term for nail fungus is onychomycosis, and it’s responsible for causing about 50% of all nail diseases. 

The nail fungus is known to affect toenails more often than fingernails, with the infection typically developing on the big toe first. Toe fungus can often begin as a skin infection. It can also occur when other yeasts or molds get into the nail through cracks or breaks in the nail.

Ways To Keep Your Polished Nails From Discoloring 

 It is nearly impossible for your polished nails to discolor forever, but you can postpone it. 

These include using quality products, going to an experienced nail salon that knows the ideal time and intensity of the UV lamps that they should use, regularly applying a top coat to your polished nails and cuticles to keep them moisturized, using gloves when using any products such as cleaning agents that contain strong chemicals, or immediately washing your hands with soap and water after they come in contact with anything that might stain.

Does Only The Clear Nail Polish Turn Yellow?

Basically, any nail polish actually changes its color after some time for any of the above. Colors will obviously change to different colors. The bottom line is that discoloration can occur in any color.  My point is that don’t stop using your favorite color nail polish because it turns to a particular color. Just maintain your nails well, and you will be good. 


I hope that this article has been helpful in providing some reasons and solutions around what to do about your clear nail polish turning yellow. Be sure to follow the above-named solutions.


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