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How To Remove Nicotine Stains From Fingers [The How-To Guide]

One of the major downsides of smoking is the impact that it can have on your nails and your teeth, particularly in regards to staining. But how do you go about removing these stains? Here is what you need to know.

So, how do you remove nicotine stains from your fingers? Removing nicotine stains permanently from fingers requires a combination of exfoliating and the use of a skin-safe bleaching agent. Disguising the staining is an effective immediate solution and can be done with products such as foundation makeup and fake tan.

Of course, if you are worried about your smoking or have severe stains, you should always seek the advice of a medical professional.

Besides, we can never be too careful.

Nevertheless, if you’re looking for some help in removing the stains, don’t worry: there are many ways to get them off. 

Thankfully, nicotine stains are not permanent.

All it takes is a little know-how and some normal, around-the-house items.

Let us find out how!

What Causes Nicotine Stains On Fingers?

The chemical components of nicotine stain fingers, nails, hair, and teeth that come into contact with it often. Fingers are stained, especially when smokers consume unfiltered cigarettes or have begun smoking at a young age.

Almost every smoker can tell you that nicotine leaves a yellow stain. 

The most common area on the body to find these stains is actually the teeth, since smoke, with the nicotine, is inhaled.  

And these are true stains, not just an outer layer of nicotine. 

It is absorbed into your skin, hair, and nails to create a yellow that just doesn’t want to go away.

There are cases more likely to give you these unsightly yellow stains. 

The first thing to avoid doing (or stop doing, if you’re already doing it) is smoking unfiltered cigarettes. 

Your fingers will spend more time directly in contact with tobacco smoke and even plain tobacco, making it more likely that you’ll get the stains. 

No smoking is good, but if you must smoke, make sure you’re using a filter or some other device that keeps your fingers away from the cigarette itself.

The last suggestion is one that, without a time machine, you probably won’t be able to employ. 

It is a good warning that you might want to quit or switch to something that is less likely to cause stains. 

It’s also a good message to put out for young people because those that begin smoking at seventeen years old or younger are far more likely to get stains. 

This is likely because of the extra years that fingers spend in close proximity to nicotine.

So, if you started smoking young and stains are only just beginning to show, start trying to prevent them now!

Are Nicotine Stains Permanent?

Thankfully, nicotine stains are not permanent. If you stop smoking or transition to e-cigarettes, they will likely go away on their own. Just consider that removing stains can be difficult, and they will come back if you don’t change your habits.

Here’s the good news: nicotine-stained fingers and nails are not permanent. 

Because your skin cells die and are replaced, any stains will eventually go away on their own. 

The same can be said for your nails. 

It might take a while, but it’s perfectly possible that your fingers will go back to normal with no real effort to remove the stains on your part.

Here’s the bad news: for stains to go away on their own, you have to put the cigarettes down. 

At the very least, you have to be willing to stop putting your fingers so close to a source of nicotine. 

Either choice can make it easier to ditch the yellow stains but will require some effort on your part to change up your routines and maybe quite a big one altogether.

So, the answer to the question is ultimately down to you.

It will require some willpower on your behalf, I’m afraid. Otherwise, they’ll likely remain.

Not because of the stains themselves, but because your skin and nails will never get a chance to regrow without the nicotine there to stain them.

If you can manage to stop the exposure, either through quitting or one of the methods we’ll discuss later, then you can be happy in the knowledge that the stains are gone.

How Do I Get Rid Of Nicotine Stains On My Fingers?

There are many home remedies that get rid of nicotine stains. In general, exfoliating the skin and using a bleaching agent on your nails helps.

Your skin and nails will eventually lose the stains themselves. 

But, if you’re not keen on waiting the months that it would take, that’s okay. There are other ways to get rid of the yellow!


For your skin, you can begin by exfoliating. All you need here is what you would use for exfoliating anywhere else, such as a pumice stone, nail file, or nail brush.

Do you light your cigarettes with matches?

You can use the striker from that, too! 

If you like exfoliating scrubs, then you can bring those into the mix, too.

Just be careful, as your fingers are more sensitive than your feet. 

Start by soaking your fingers in warm water, but not until they’re pruned. 

Then, simply exfoliate as normal. This will make the stain much less noticeable.

Whitening Toothpaste

You can follow the previous tip up with this, or you can try this on its own: Whitening toothpaste! 

Toothpaste made to whiten teeth often has a gentle bleaching agent in them, which will help to get rid of the yellow staining. 

Simply apply a bit to your fingers, then scrub with a toothbrush. When you’re done, rinse. 

Be gentle if using this after the previous method.

Cali White Natural Whitening Toothpaste, Activated Charcoal Toothpaste, Vegan and Organic Toothpaste, Fluoride/Sulfate/Peroxide Free, SLS Free, Pacific Mint 4 oz, 1 Pack
  • CHARCOAL ACTIVATED TOOTHPASTE: Certified Organic Coconut Oil, and Baking Soda this flouride-free whitening toothpaste binds to stains and eliminates plaque like a pro.
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  • MINTY FRESH BREATH: This organic toothpaste is specially crafted to leave your breath fresh and your mouth feeling clean
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  • INCLUSION: Contains one (1) 4 oz. tube of Cali White, Charcoal Teeth Whitening Toothpaste


There’s one other bleaching trick that you can try – a lemon! 

Simply cut a fresh lemon in half, apply the juice to the area by rubbing the halved lemon against your skin, and wait. 

After about five or ten minutes, rinse it off. 

This isn’t as fast-acting as the ones mentioned above, but you can do it up to five times a day.

How Can I Hide Nicotine Stains On My Fingers?

Start by lessening the stain as much as possible, then consider concealing any stains with makeup, fake tan, and nail polish.

If you have a big occasion coming up, such as a wedding or engagement, and you don’t have enough time to wait out your nicotine stains, don’t panic. 

There are ways to cover them up without it being too noticeable. You likely won’t even be able to tell in pictures at all!

First, start out by making the stain as unnoticeable as possible using the tips we provided above. 

Exfoliating and using whitening toothpaste can really help reduce the yellowing of your skin. 

It’s best to start this early, as you’ll be able to get it as faint as possible.

For nails, use three tbs. of 3% hydrogen peroxide to one mixed into a half cup of water. 

McKesson Hydrogen Peroxide 3%, Topical Solution USP, First Aid Antiseptic, 1 gal, 1 count
  • Antiseptic hydrogen peroxide is ideal for minor cuts and abrasions (do not use on deep wounds, animal bites or serious burns)
  • 3% hydrogen peroxide solution; hydrogen peroxide releases oxygen when applied to the affected area
  • The release of oxygen causes foaming, which helps to remove dead skin and clean the area
  • Mixed with water, hydrogen peroxide is suitable as a gargle or mouth rinse; could be helpful for canker sores or oral injuries
  • Hydrogen peroxide topical solution comes in a gallon jug with a twist-off cap

Stir well, and soak fingers for up to 15 minutes. 

Be careful, as you can only do this once per week, and no more than three months straight. 

It can also sting if you have any cuts on your hands or open areas around your nails. 

As with your skin, it’s best to start this as soon as possible to lighten the staining.

From there, you can disguise the stained skin with makeup. 

Use a waterproof or otherwise long-lasting foundation (preferably liquid or similar) that matches the tone of your hands. 

Apply carefully, making sure to keep it from looking too conspicuous. 

Afterward, apply a little bit of face powder in the same color as above to make it look even. 

You can reapply the powder throughout an entire evening, if necessary. For best results, use kits for hiding tattoos.

As for your nails, it’s simple: paint them! A darker color will be more likely to hide the stain than a lighter one.

How Can I Prevent Nicotine Stains On My Fingers?

Stop smoking. If you can’t, try to keep your hands away from the cigarette smoke and tobacco.

The surest way is to quit smoking. If you don’t want to do that, there are ways that you can keep smoking while cutting back on the yellow stains.

First, try to only smoke filtered cigarettes. This may keep your hands far enough away to reduce the chances of yellowing. 

You can also use other devices that keep you at a distance from the smoke and tobacco, such as a pipe or 50’s-era cigarette holder.

Extra points for fashion, if you choose the last two.

You can also try non-smoking options for your nicotine fix. 

Electronic cigarettes won’t stain your fingers while you use them. 

Perfect for people hooked on the motion of smoking as much as the chemicals. 

For those that don’t mind changing up the method of ingestion, try a nicotine patch or a gum. They won’t stain, either.

If you don’t want to change what and how you smoke, then wearing gloves every time you smoke is your best chance at keeping your fingers stain-free. 

Make sure that you’re using gloves that won’t let the chemicals through. 

Latex gloves are a good choice, though standard cleaning gloves should work just fine. 

Cloth gloves are more likely to trap the chemicals so that you may end up with yellow hands instead of just yellow fingers.


Nicotine stains. That’s just how it is.

Thankfully, nicotine stains are not permanent, and there are several cheap, effective, and practical solutions to the problem.

Just be sure to contact a medical professional if you are concerned; they should always be your first port of call for any health-related concern. 

Related Questions

Does Baking Soda Remove Nicotine Stains?

Baking soda can be used to help remove nicotine stains. This is due to the fact that baking soda is a mild alkali, making it an effective and versatile cleaning agent. Combining baking soda with vinegar is a particularly effective solution.

Does Toothpaste Get Rid Of Nicotine Stains?

Whitening toothpaste can help to remove nicotine stains with consistent and regular use. While regular toothpaste may help, it will not be as effective as those designed to reduce staining.