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Why Do Acrylic Nails Turn Yellow? [And How To Get It Out]

You do so much to protect your acrylic nails. You avoid hot water, use the pads of your fingers, and do everything you can to keep them safe. Then, somehow, it happens: they turn yellow. But why does this happen, and is there anything you can do to restore your acrylics back to their glistening best? Here is what you need to know. 

So, why do acrylics turn yellow? Acrylics can turn yellow due to problems at the salon during the application or by things done while wearing the nails. Expired products, contact with dyes or items that stain, or even smoking are the most common causes. Thankfully, yellowing can be reduced or eliminated via several home remedies.

And I’ll walk you through those exact home remedies if you keep reading!

But for the most part, knowing the causes and what to look out for can help prevent yellowing or, at least, keep it from happening with every new set of nails.

So without further ado, let’s delve much more into this frustrating, manicure sabotaging dilemma. 

Why Did My Acrylic Nails Turn Yellow?

There are both external and personal causes for the yellowing of acrylics. The salon might have used products, such as monomers and polymers, that are expired or old. They may not have allowed the nails to dry, not sealed them correctly, or used products without UV protection. At home, smoking, tanning, or contact with dyes or staining foods may have caused the discoloration.

The Salon

The first place that your nails may become discolored is in the place that you’re getting them a salon. 

There are a few different ways that an application of acrylic nails can end in a yellow disaster. 

In this case, the cause is almost always one of two things: old products and a sloppy application process.

When applying acrylics, a salon should never combine old products with a new ones, even if it is the same brand. 

This is because chemicals can react not only to other chemicals but to the container, as well. 

Mixing two separate containers of monomers can cut down on nail quality. 

It becomes even worse if there’s a polymer involved with a monomer. 

Just storing one next to the other for too long can mean the product isn’t high-quality enough to use on nails anymore.

You’ll also want to make sure that all products used on your nails are compatible. 

Using incompatible products can make it more likely that your nails will end up discolored. 

While you’re doing some research into what your salon is using, make sure that it has UV protection. 

No UV protection means that your nails, like paper, will yellow in the sunlight. 

And, if you’re getting a manicure for a summer vacation, you certainly don’t want that!

Lastly, be sure that the application was done correctly. 

If a nail isn’t properly sealed, yellowing becomes much more likely. 

The same is true if the primer isn’t allowed to thoroughly dry before the addition of any enhancements. 

Read up on the process of applying acrylic nails so that you can be sure that every step is done correctly.

Personal Reasons

Of course, it might not be just the salon causing your nails to be yellow. 

There are many things that you might do that can cause this. 

The most obvious one is simple: smoking

Smoking leads to discolored nails, whether they’re acrylic or not. 

If you really want to do your nails (and body) a favor, put them down for good. 

Not quite there yet? You can protect your nails by wearing gloves every time (yes, every time) that you light up.

Another common cause? Tanning! And, yes, we mean all types of tanning. 

Prolonged sun exposure, even with UV protection, has the chance to yellow your nails. 

The same is true of exposure to tanning beds. 

If you’re out in the sun, try to remember to seek shade every once in a while. 

Thinking of a healthier faux-tan? That might stain, too. 

Applying it yourself? Wear gloves, or be ready to go from yellow nails to orange. 

The best option? Either be comfortable in the skin you’re in or do your tanning before you get your acrylics.

There is one more thing that might stain nails: food

Brightly colored foods and ingredients (turmeric is a big problem here) can stain nails as surely as a fake tanner. 

If you’re going to be hands-deep in something with a brightly colored spice or dye, wear gloves!

How Do You Get The Yellow Out Of Acrylic Nails?

There are many home remedies for yellow nails. These include using lemon juice, whitening toothpaste, hydrogen peroxide, and bleach.

Okay, now we know what causes nails to become yellowed. 

But, besides, go back in time and make changes there. Is it possible to fix yellowed acrylic nails? 

The answer: it’s possible but complicated. 

It depends upon a lot of things, including what nail look you were going for, how they became discolored in the first place, and whether or not you can get some professional help – fast!

If the yellowing isn’t too bad (or if you want to cover all bases before returning to the salon), you can try one of these various home remedies. 

They’re good at removing yellow tints to nails, though deeper stains might be a bit tougher. 

Be careful when using these: use common sense, and be sure that you’re doing this safely. 

Always work in a clean, brightly lit environment. 

For times when any chemicals might be needed, be sure that it’s ventilated.

Lemon Juice 

You can remove stains using lemon juice, either fresh or bottled. 

This is the kind to buy from Amazon.

Pour or squeeze enough into a bowl just large enough to submerge your nails. 

Allow your nails to soak for ten to fifteen minutes. 

Remove, and scrub with a toothbrush or something similar. 

You can do this daily. Results might not be immediate, but they can happen gradually. 

Here’s a tip: wash your hands and moisturize afterward – lemon juice is drying.

Hydrogen Peroxide 

Hydrogen peroxide, too, can help whiten yellow nails. 

For this, you need the standard brown-bottle stuff that you can find on Amazon. 

Mix four parts of water to one part peroxide, and soak for ten minutes. 

Alternatively, you can use a paste made of 1 tablespoon peroxide and 2.5 tablespoons of baking soda. 

Spread it over the nail, leave for three minutes, and rinse. 

Whichever method you choose, use cuticle oil and moisturize afterward.

Whitening Toothpaste

Suppose you have a whitening toothpaste lying around containing peroxide. 

In that case, you might not even need to purchase one of the other products here.

Simply apply some to a toothbrush (either old or new; toss or set aside away from brushes you use in your mouth when done), and scrub your stained nails. 

Wash your hands, and you’re done! 

Note: this is best for stains that have just occurred, not those that have set in for a while. 

It probably won’t do much for stains caused by a salon’s mistake.


Lastly, there’s the end-all stain solution: bleach. 

Before you try this, you should probably try one of the other solutions. 

And heads up: this can be rough on your skin. 

Mix 1 tablespoon of bleach (just bleach, no added ingredients) into 1 cup of water. 

Using a toothbrush dipped in the mixture, scrub your nails. It’s best not to use this too frequently, but it can get out stains. Nothing else will.

How Do I Keep My Acrylics From Turning Yellow

Make sure that your salon is following the proper protocol. Avoid letting your nails be exposed to sunlight or UV rays for long periods at a time. Don’t expose nails to cigarette smoke. Avoid exposing nails to food and dyes that bleed color.

As we’ve previously covered, there are two main times when your nails can become yellowed: at the salon and at home. 

So there are two different sets of rules to avoid yellowing, depending on where you’re most likely to see it.

In a salon, make sure that proper protocols are being followed. 

Don’t let them mix old monomers with new ones. 

Ask how old polymers are and where they were stored. 

Read up on how acrylic nails are applied, and be sure that they’re being done right. 

Most of all, take note of the hygiene of the salon and the results that others have.

At home, you must be vigilant. 

Don’t smoke, if you can help it. 

If you must smoke, always wear gloves so that your acrylic nails are protected. 

In the sun or tanning bed, wear gloves.

Even better, don’t try to tan at all! Your nails should never come in contact with self-tanners or anything that might spread its color onto your nails. 

If it stains, it will yellow your nails. Avoid, or wear gloves.

How Do I Disguise Yellowed Acrylics?

Using darker polish can help disguise the yellow look of a nail. You might also try painting over it with a pink or natural tone, and add in a French-manicure style tip in white.

Is it too late for your poor nails? If your acrylics are already yellowed, and you don’t want to get them redone so soon, you can disguise them. 

The simplest solution? Paint them! 

A nail polish that is darker is most likely to cover them. 

However, anything with adequate coverage and opaqueness will hide the yellow, at least for the time being.

Want something more natural-looking? Choose a polish color closer to your natural nail color, and make sure that it isn’t thin. 

Paint your nails with that, and you’ll look more natural. 

You can even add a faux-French tip for a finished-manicure look! 

It should last you until you can get to the salon.


Acrylics can yellow for numerous reasons. But ultimately, it is either something your salon is doing or that you are.

Thankfully, there are ways to prevent this from happening in the first place and effective strategies for removing the stains should they happen to yellow.

For the most part, visiting a reputable salon, wearing gloves, and just generally taking care of your acrylics will set you in good stead.