Yellow fingernails - how to whiten them

| June 16, 2014 |

Illustration of Citrus limon

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There are a couple of tricks to help you whiten your finger and toe nails if they have become discolored or stained due to nail polish.  The darker the polish, the harder it will be to remove.  Don’t get discouraged though, with a little time and patience you will be able to do it.

The first thing you have to do is take off your nail polish and keep it off for a little while, the longer the better.  I know this is not the most ideal situation, but it will get them whiter.  When you are removing a dark polish it may take a few days just to completely remove it.

If you’re anything like me I’ll be lucky if you wait a day to try the remedies.  That’s ok.  While they won’t work as well as if you keep your polish off for a while, they will help a little.  A great trick is to gently scrub your nails with a whitening toothpaste and old toothbrush.  Not only will this help remove some of the staining, it won’t dry out your nails and may even add a shine to them.

You also can use lemon juice, which is a natural bleaching agent.  You can rub it straight on to the nail, wait a minute, then brush with a toothbrush and rinse well.  I like using a soft toothbrush rather then a nail brush as it is much softer (nail brushes tend to be a little stiffer), but will still get the job done.  You also have more control over where you are brushing.  Another option is to mix the juice of one lemon with a cup & a half of water and soak your nails for up to 15 minutes.  You can also use the lemon juice to form a paste by mixing it with baking powder.  You’ll need to get a nail buffer, they are available at any beauty supply store and are pretty inexpensive.  On the center of each fingernail apply a dot of the paste and gently buff.  Be careful not to buff too much.  When you are finished be sure to thoroughly rinse the paste off your nails.

If you have really stubborn stains you can even use bleach to help remove them.  I know it sounds scary, but if you are careful it is safe and works well.  Make a mixture of equal parts water and bleach.  Dip a q-tip into the mixture and sparingly rub it on the nail.  Use a wet toothbrush, brush the stains off and rinse well.

Never use a file to file off the stains on your fingernails.  It will weaken the nail and most likely cause damage.   If you have severe yellowing on your big toes you can gently use a fine grit buffer and lightly file.  I only suggest you try this if you are a professional as you can easily end up damaging the nail.  There are also products that you can buy to help eliminate stains, but the homemade remedies we just described work just as well, if not better and cost a lot less.

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