Nail Polish Stained My Nails - How To Fix Them!

Update: My nails are no longer stained, check the bottom of the post to find out how I fixed them.

This post has turned into something of a experiment - how to get rid of those awful, embarrassing nail stains. First though, I'm going to show you what nail polish I used and give a little background about my nail's health.

I started nail art at the end of April 2012 and made this blog, Nailed it NZ, in early May. To be honest, at the time I didn't even know that nail blogs existed, let alone know that they're a massive thing. My friend over at A girl with some clothes has a blog with fashion and a bit of nail art too, but honestly I had no idea how big the world was that I was entering. I also didn't know that base coats existed! Which, with me painting my nails almost every day led to me quickly getting yellow-stained fingernails. Gross! Ever since then (June 2012), I've used at least one layer of base coat, and I've been patiently waiting for my previous mistakes - the yellowness - to grow out. Here's a shot of them at this stage.


But then THIS happened. Introducing "Lilac Hearts" By Jordana. 


Pretty, right? I spent a long, long time trying to get the hearts out of the bottle, but I thought the final result was just adorable. That's Jordana's "Lavender Fields" in the background by the way - "Lilac Hearts" is clear, which made it even weirder when it killed my pretty fingers. I know it wasn't "Lavender Fields" that did it, because I use that polish all the time and it's never done anything.  

I did these nails yesterday, and today (typical me) I got bored in class and started peeling them off. To discover...


THIS!! They're RED! So far this seems like a permanent stain. I'm expecting they'll fade to yellow but I could be wrong - I've never experienced something like this ever before with my nail polish. Yellow, yes, red, no. And yes, I'll admit that they're in pretty average condition, especially the pinky and ring finger. I'm still trying to train myself not to scratch my nail polish off - it can take off layers of keratin as well and damage you nail, which is what has happened here.

How did it happen? My one and only plausible theory is that it was because there were so many coats of "Lilac Hearts." As I said before, it wasn't easy to get every heart out of the bottle, and I did so many coats just putting them on. I think it was the hearts themselves that caused a lot of damage. If you look at my middle finger you'll notice the staining is in patches, almost dots... almost hearts. And if you compare this to the other photo with the polish on the hearts and splotches look to be in the same spot. I've noticed it's the same with rhinestones and the like, too.

 The next two photos are after the staining, and after I'd attacked my nails with a bunch of mostly useless treatments. After Uni finished I sat down and tried my best to get rid of/dull down the stains for over an hour. They look a bit nicer now but the colour hasn't really changed much.


But I'm working on it. Today I used a bunch of lotions and tried a bunch of ideas I found on the internet to tone down the staining. I also buffed them, cut off some hangnails, and filed them.


I will post updates as I learn more about nail staining!

UPDATE: 5 March 2013

It's been five months and my nails look quite different. These are what my nails look like now (well, actually a month ago) - still a bit stained but a lot lighter than any of the above pictures. They're basically how they were before the "big" stain. My plan at this stage is to see if it grows out.


UPDATE: 9 January 2014 - I found the fix!

I worked a lot in 2013, which left little time during the weekdays to paint my nails. I got in the habit of painting my nails in the weekend, then once they started coming off mid-week I'd remove them and leave them bare for the last few days of the week. There have been times when I have had them bare for extended periods of time; a couple of weeks was my longest "stint." And one day I looked at my nails and realised that my stains had disappeared. Completely.

This IS the "miracle cure" everyone wants. Sure, stains will fade, stains will grow out a little, but unless you give your nails a break fairly regularly they will not go away altogether. Here are my nails now.


Long, strong, healthy and unstained. This is just from giving them a few days break after removing polish, and of course, wearing a base coat. I do give them a longer break if they've gotten really stained from the last polish I wore, however.

So, if you have stained nails and want them to go away, just give them a break once in a while! It may seem slow, but take a picture before and after and you'll see the difference. I know that when you've got badly stained nails the last thing you want to do is to let everyone see them, but if you want them unstained it's the only way I've found that is guaranteed to work (and not damage your nails and/or wallet in the process). 

Things I have learnt:
  • Stained nails are not unhealthy nails. It's just a colour.
  • Whitening gels and the like don't work, at least not enough make it worth buying them.
  • Lemon juice, baking soda & whitening toothpaste don't work for old, set-in stains. I actually haven't found they work for any stains, but others claim they do so feel free to give it a try.
  • Some people have had success with Hydrogen peroxide mixed with baking soda. I can't support this as I never tried it (and it sounds a bit harsh on your skin!) but it could work - please let me know in the comments if you try it.
  • Always wear a base coat.
  • Throw out polishes that stain your nails. Google polish names to find out if they've stained other people's nails before you buy them; you're much less likely to waste your money then.
  • The nail polishes that are more likely to stain your nails are dark, deep colours like red, purple and green. Glitter & rhinestones may also leave a little stain underneath where they were. I haven't quite figured out why yet!
  • The only nail/hand care products I believe in are cuticle oil and moisturizer. Cuticle oil is amazing, and a must if you paint your nails a lot. You should apply cuticle oil as often as you use nail polish remover, as it's nail polish remover that makes your nails dry, not the polish. Moisturizer is just good for keeping your hands nice :).
  • Water is bad for your nails. It gets into them, makes them feel healthy for a little while but when it dries out it leaves them in a worse condition. Of course, you don't need to be too pedantic about avoiding water, but don't go around soaking your nails in water regularly.
  • Your nails are dead. Dead dead dead. Which means that they can't magically be fixed by the latest nail care fad that's advertised in store. What you can do is look after them so that as they grow, they'll grow healthy and strong.
I hope this helps you guys, and feel free to go give my Facebook page a like to keep up with what I'm doing on my nail journey! I also have a YouTube channel where I do tutorials and give you tips - hope to see you there ☺.

Comments

  1. They may be additionally inflamed because you picked the glitter off - always a bad idea. It doesn't really harm your nails to get staining, they are already dead cells, so it's like hair colour in a way. Don't try to rub or soak it off, you'll just damage them more. Try slightly buffing or a bit of lemon. They will grow out)))

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    1. Yeah, I really have to stop that. I know it's bad... but I just hate glitter polish and the tin foil method takes ages! But yes. I will stop. I've tried lemon before and it didn't seem to do much but I have heard a lot about that so I'll try again! Thanks for your advice!

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  2. This happened to me too! It happened after I wore Essie Navigate Her :( For me I think it happened because I left that mani on for ages :( I was shocked too, but I managed to get it to fade just by not wearing polish for a while and moisturizing my nails heaps! I hope your nails are okay soon xx

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    1. It's so annoying eh? Green With Envy by Orly has had lots of bad reviews regarding staining too. I just never imagined it would be this bad, I was so gutted! And thanks for the tips, I'll keep them 'naked' a bit more - at night-time anyway - I'm not going out in public with these!! And plenty of moisturiser!

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  3. Wow. Your NAILS had a heart attack?

    I can't believe those sweet looking hearts attacked your nails. Who would have believed this would happen to you?

    I am sorry to hear your medical tests were showing things wrong with your body. Maybe it is the tests that are wrong? I really hope you are ok!

    I just started using basecoat again (shame!), ironically,I am using Jordana garlic basecoat. My bare nails are pretty colorful, I, like you am hoping they grow out.

    Thanks for the PSA!

    lovenailpolish

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    1. Haha, my old flat mate would love that pun. But yes, I'm very disappointed! Medical tests will be right, but it's kind of cool because one of the problems was low thyroid... which I think means that once I go on special pills I'll actually be able to lose a little weight which would be great! Oh wow! I've been thinking of trying that one. I have Jordana's Calcium Growth one, and a QVS hardening one. Thanks for your comment!

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  4. Oh no! Thats not good, Never thought a polish colour do that to your nails!

    JAzz x

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    1. I knew red and strong colours could - but didn't think a clear one would ever do it! Crazy stuff!

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  5. Wow, that's strange! You can totally see the red spots where the hearts were placed. Having had both the red and yellow staining on my nails, I know how you feel, hope they get better soon :)

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    1. Weird, right? It sucks! Thanks, I hope so too!

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  6. I used to get yellowing due to painting and repainting my nails all the time when I first really got into nail polish. I hated the fact that I couldn't go out without polish and not be embarrassed about them so I buffed them out, which was fine because my nails are healthy and have a good thickness, and started wearing basecoat. I tried a few before I started using LA. Colors Strengthener, and I must say, it is amazing. I bought it in a whim at the Dollar Store, but have since gone back to purchase bunches more because it does strengthen and protect against yellowing. Now, if I want to take a break from colors or just need a palette cleanser, it's not a problem.

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    1. Same here - I hate going out in public with them! Even though I'm sure no one would even notice. I've buffed mine heaps in the past but it hasn't changed them much. My buffer is quite worn out now though, so I'll get another one soon. Oh yay, a nail polish brand I can actually get in New Zealand! I'll pop down to the Warehouse and grab one to try out, thanks!

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    2. No problem, I really hope it works for you :)

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  7. I have Jordana's polish with pink hearts (forgot the name) but it didn't stain. Try 2 coats of your basecoat. Mine don't stain most of the time except red even with 2 coats of bc .. what I do is mix baking soda with peroxide and gently rub on your clean nails, let it sit for a couple of minutes and it should help but it wouldn't completely remove the stains. Repeat once again in a week, it should help :)

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    1. Yeah, I had the pink one too (but gave it to my sister) and it didn't seem to hurt them. But maybe it was just because there was so many coats - seriously was probably 8 or so just of "lilac hearts." Red's a pretty nasty colour for staining! Thanks for the tip, I'll try it out this week!

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  8. China Glaze Ahoy! turned my nails red a couple of months ago, even though I religiously use base coat. I generally change my nails every day but I wore that mani for a week as I was ill, maybe that had something to do with it. I've tried heaps to get rid of the staining but all that's happened is that it has gone yellow and is taking forever to grow out ><
    They'll go away eventually :3

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    1. It's so annoying eh!? Especially when you always wear a base coat, which you expect to protect your nails! And yeah, I've heard that keeping polish on longer can stain them easier - which made my experience even weirder! Ahhh... stupid nail polish, I have such a love-hate relationship with it!

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  9. My nails have gone like this before with an Orly I have but it usually fades. Also what did you use to remove it with? Normal remover or pure acetone?

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    1. I'm hoping it'll fade - I might post another photo in a week or two as they're looking better already. Normal nail polish remover. I don't have any pure acetone - haven't been able to find it anywhere!

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  10. This happened to me once with a crackle polish, normally I would advice people to use a good base coat, but you would think that the lilac polish would prevent something like this from happening. Maybe some kind of reaction between the two polishes? I'm a new follower by the way. Great blog you have.

    http://loevensmakeuprambles.blogspot.dk/

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    1. Yeah, it just made no sense to me! I wonder if I'll ever find out. They've dulled down a bit now, yellow not red. But I still refuse to wear them out in public - they're always covered! And thanks, I followed you back.

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  11. I last got a green/ blue stain from Orly Space Cadet, I ended up trying to apply science and deliberately used a red without any base to try and clear it. It didn't work, so I buffed a little and waited for it to grow out.

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    1. I thought about that too - you naturally think they'd cancel each other out eh? I think I've given up on a cure. I got a new buffer but the only way the staining is going to completely go is if I either buff them until they're super thin or wait for them to grow out. Think the latter is a better idea!

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  12. I got the same thing from another purple polish. Maybe it's something about purple pigments... For me it was a Julep shimmery deep violet called Morgan. My nails are also badly stained now, what a bummer!

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    1. It's annoying eh? I don't really know what it is, just something to do with the pigments. I used a yellow the other day (over a base coat) and it stained them some more! You can tell because I only used it on three nails and the other two are a lot better.

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  13. Hydrogen peroxide with baking soda always works for me with polish stains. Scrub 30 seconds with a spare soft toothbrush. Be sure to follow up with a good oil and moisturizer.

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    1. Oh, that's something I haven't tried! Thanks for the tip, I'll add it in :)

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    2. Yup, that treatment also works for me, especially when I use shades of red. I agree with you in thinking that it was most likely the number of coats you applied to your nails that did it in. It kinda soaked your nails with the pigments, causing the staining. What I don’t understand is how they seem to concentrate on the heart shapes. @_@

      Lakisha Gelb

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    3. Oh, thanks for your input! I don't understand either, it's the same with Rhinestones and studs sometimes too. Maybe one day we'll all figure it out... I really must try this hydrogen peroxide!

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  14. Confetti polishes often have a chemical called xylene in them- that can do all kinds of weird things to natural nails. I've seen all kinds of weird staining and inflammation from them. Hope your nails are feeling better-try a nail strengther and maybe some biotin supplements while you're waiting for them to grow out if your doctor OKs it.

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    1. Oh that's interesting!! Thanks for the info. My nails have now grown out and are no longer yellow, thanks to giving them a few days break between changing nail polish. Hopefully I'll learn more about this when I do my nail course next year!

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  15. I left a lighter shade of purple almost like a lavender color on my toe nails for about 4 months. I didn't have nail polish remover at the time and kept seeing my toe nails grow out and thought for sure that the nail polish would come off as they grew. Well now I have taken off the remaining nail polish that was left on both my big toes and now both nails have a white color looking stain on them. Any ideas as to how to take out the stain?

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    1. I'd say just leave your toenails bare for a month or so :).

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