Why Your Gel Nails Are Turning Brown?

Why Your Gel Nails Are Turning Brown? The phenomenon of gel nails turning brown or yellowish can be both puzzling and frustrating for those who adore the long-lasting and chip-resistant benefits of gel manicures. However, there’s no need to despair, as there are several reasons why this discoloration may occur.

In this article, we will delve into the common causes behind why your gel nails are turning brown, shedding light on both external factors and potential health-related contributors. Additionally, we’ll explore effective preventive measures and remedies to help you maintain flawless and vibrant gel nails.

Why Your Gel Nails Are Turning Brown?

Why Your Gel Nails Are Turning Brown?

Gel nails may turn brown due to factors such as prolonged UV exposure during the curing process, poor-quality gel products, natural nail discoloration, external pigments from hair dyes or skincare products, exposure to spices, cleaning agents, and color transfer from fabrics. In some cases, browning can also be a sign of underlying health issues or infections. Preventive measures and proper nail care can help avoid discoloration.

UV Exposure

One of the primary culprits behind brown gel nails is prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light during the curing process. UV or LED lamps are essential for hardening the gel polish, providing that long-lasting shine and durability gel nails are known for.

However, excessive exposure to UV light can have adverse effects on the gel and the natural nail plate. The UV rays break down the chemical bonds within the gel, releasing certain compounds that interact with the nail, leading to discoloration.

As a result, gel nails may start to exhibit brownish or yellowish tints, which can be particularly noticeable on lighter-colored gel polishes.

Poor Quality Gel Products

The quality of gel products used during the application process plays a significant role in determining the overall outcome and longevity of gel nails.

Low-quality or expired gel polishes may contain ingredients that react unfavorably with the natural nail plate, leading to unwanted color changes. When the gel interacts with the nail’s surface, it may cause discoloration or yellowing over time.

To ensure a flawless and lasting manicure, it is essential to invest in high-quality gel products from reputable brands and verify the expiration date before use.

Natural Nail Discoloration

In some cases, the browning or yellowing of gel nails might not be solely due to the gel polish itself but rather a result of the natural color of the nail plate.

Some individuals have thinner or more porous nails, which can make them more susceptible to absorbing pigments from the gel polish.

As a result, the gel may take on a slightly different hue once cured on the nail bed. Proper nail preparation is essential to minimize this effect. By buffing and cleansing the nail surface, and using a base coat before applying gel polish, the chances of natural nail discoloration can be significantly reduced.

Additional Factors Contributing to Brown Gel Nails

Additional Factors Contributing to Brown Gel Nails

Hair Dye or Skincare Beauty Products

Surprisingly, certain hair dyes and skincare products can contribute to the browning of gel nails. Hair dyes, particularly darker shades, may contain pigments that can leach onto the nail surface when hands come into contact with the hair.

Similarly, certain skincare products, such as self-tanners or lotions, might contain reactive ingredients that lead to discoloration when they come into contact with the gel nails.

To prevent this, it is essential to be mindful of the products used on the skin and ensure that they do not transfer onto the nails during application.

Exposure to Spices

The use of spices in cooking can add delightful flavors to dishes, but they can also inadvertently contribute to the discoloration of gel nails. Spices with strong pigments, such as turmeric or curry, can stain the nails when they come into direct contact with wet gel polish.

Avoiding prolonged exposure to such spices while cooking or wearing gloves can help prevent any potential staining of the gel nails.

Cleaning Agents or Harsh Chemicals

Frequent exposure to cleaning agents and harsh chemicals without wearing protective gloves can also lead to discoloration of gel nails. The chemicals present in household cleaning products and other substances can react with the gel polish, altering its color over time.

To avoid this issue, always wear gloves when using harsh chemicals and avoid direct contact with the gel nails.

Color Leaking From Fabric

In some instances, the discoloration of gel nails might be a result of the color bleeding from certain fabrics. Dark-colored fabrics, particularly those that are prone to bleeding, can transfer their pigments onto the nail surface, leading to unsightly brown stains on the gel polish. Taking care to avoid prolonged contact with such fabrics and using protective measures, such as gloves, can help prevent color transfer and maintain the nail’s original appearance.

Potential Health and Medical Conditions

Potential Health and Medical Conditions

Infections (Bacterial or Fungal)

While most cases of brown gel nails can be attributed to external factors, there are instances where discoloration may be a symptom of an underlying health issue.

Bacterial or fungal infections of the nails, known as onychomycosis, can cause changes in nail color and texture. When the nails become infected, they may exhibit brownish or yellowish discoloration, along with other symptoms like thickening, brittleness, or crumbling of the nail.

If an individual notices such signs in combination with the browning of their gel nails, seeking professional advice from a dermatologist or nail technician is essential for accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Medical Conditions Affecting Nail Health

In some cases, brown discoloration of gel nails might be an indicator of an underlying medical condition. Various health issues can manifest in changes to the nails’ appearance, including discoloration.

Conditions such as circulatory disorders, liver problems, or thyroid abnormalities can all potentially affect the health of the nails and lead to alterations in their color.

If an individual observes persistent discoloration, along with other symptoms or concerns related to their overall health, consulting with a healthcare provider is recommended to explore potential medical causes.

Removing Brown Discoloration from Gel Nails

Using Nail Polish Remover or Hydrogen Peroxide

For mild cases of discoloration, gently rubbing the nails with nail polish remover or a cotton pad soaked in hydrogen peroxide can help lift the stains. Both nail polish removers and hydrogen peroxide have properties that aid in breaking down and lifting surface stains from the nails.

However, it is essential to exercise caution and use these products in moderation to prevent excessive drying or damage to the nails. After applying the nail polish remover or hydrogen peroxide, it is advisable to rinse the nails thoroughly with water and apply a nourishing cuticle oil to restore moisture.

Baking Soda Concoction

An effective and gentle remedy for removing brown discoloration from gel nails involves creating a paste with baking soda and water.

Baking soda’s mild abrasive properties help in lifting stains without causing harm to the nails.

To use this remedy, mix a small amount of baking soda with water to create a paste, then gently scrub the paste onto the affected nails using a soft nail brush.

Afterward, rinse the nails thoroughly with water and apply a moisturizing nail oil to prevent dryness.


Surprisingly, hairspray can be a handy solution for tackling stubborn nail stains. The alcohol content in hairspray aids in breaking down the discoloration, making it easier to remove.

To use this method, spray a small amount of hairspray onto a cotton pad and gently wipe the nails. Be sure to rinse the nails afterward to remove any residue and follow up with a nourishing nail oil or moisturizer.

Preventing Brown Gel Nails

Preventing Brown Gel Nails

Limiting UV Exposure

Since UV exposure is a leading cause of gel nail discoloration, taking measures to limit exposure during the curing process is essential.

Adhere to the recommended curing time provided by the gel product manufacturer and avoid overexposure to UV or LED lamps.

Additionally, consider using nail shields or gloves that have UV protection during the curing process to minimize the impact of UV rays on the nails.

Using High-Quality Gel Products

To maintain the vibrancy and longevity of gel nails, invest in high-quality gel products from reputable brands.

Quality gel polishes contain fewer impurities and are less likely to cause adverse reactions with the natural nail plate.

Check the expiration date of the gel products before use, as using expired products may lead to unwanted discoloration.

Proper Nail Hygiene

Maintaining good nail hygiene is crucial for preventing discoloration and promoting overall nail health.

Regularly cleanse and moisturize the nails and cuticles to prevent dryness and brittleness.

Avoid aggressive filing or buffing, as this can weaken the nails and make them more susceptible to staining.

Regular Nail Maintenance

Keeping the gel nails at an appropriate length can also aid in preventing discoloration.

Longer nails may be more prone to coming into contact with external pigments, leading to staining.

Maintaining shorter nails reduces the surface area that is exposed to potential staining agents, helping to preserve the nail’s original appearance.

Adopting a Healthy Lifestyle

Making healthy lifestyle choices can have a positive impact on nail health and appearance. Quitting smoking is particularly beneficial, as tobacco stains can cause unsightly yellowing or browning of the nails.

Additionally, minimizing exposure to harsh chemicals and wearing gloves when handling such substances can protect the nails from external factors that may lead to discoloration.

Home Remedies for Preventing Discolored Gel Nails

Home Remedies for Preventing Discolored Gel Nails

Nail Care Routine with Lemon and Baking Soda Soak

Incorporating a nail care routine that includes a lemon and baking soda soak can help maintain the nails’ natural appearance and prevent staining. Lemon juice, with its natural acidic properties, can act as a gentle exfoliant, while baking soda can help neutralize and lift surface stains.

To create the soak, mix equal parts lemon juice and water, and add a tablespoon of baking soda. Soak the nails in this mixture for a few minutes, then gently scrub the nails using a soft nail brush. Rinse thoroughly with water and moisturize the nails afterward.

Tea Tree Oil Soak

Tea tree oil is renowned for its natural antibacterial and antifungal properties, making it an excellent addition to a nail care routine.

A tea tree oil soak can help maintain nail health, prevent infections, and, in turn, reduce the risk of discoloration. Add a few drops of tea tree oil to warm water and soak the nails for about 10 minutes.

Gently pat the nails dry and apply a nourishing cuticle oil to lock in moisture.

Using Acetone-based Nail Polish Remover

When removing gel nail polish, opting for an acetone-based nail polish remover can be more effective in thoroughly cleansing the nails.

Acetone is a powerful solvent that can efficiently break down and dissolve gel polish, leaving the nails clean and ready for a fresh application.

After using acetone-based nail polish remover, be sure to moisturize the nails and cuticles to counteract any drying effects.

Best Practices After a Gel Manicure

Taking proper care of gel nails after a manicure can contribute to maintaining their appearance and preventing discoloration.

Avoid exposing the nails to hot water or steam immediately after a gel manicure, as this can lead to premature lifting or peeling of the gel polish. When engaging in activities that involve harsh chemicals or potential staining agents, consider wearing gloves to protect the nails.

Additionally, regular application of a nourishing nail oil or cuticle cream can help keep the nails healthy and hydrated.

Knowing When to Seek Professional Help

Identifying Persistent or Severe Discoloration

If discoloration persists despite trying home remedies and preventive measures, it may be indicative of a more significant underlying issue. In such cases, seeking professional advice from a qualified nail technician or dermatologist is essential for accurate assessment and appropriate treatment. A nail professional can examine the nails and recommend the best course of action to address the discoloration effectively.

Recognizing Signs of Infections or Abnormal Nail Changes

When dealing with nail discoloration, it is crucial to pay attention to accompanying symptoms that might indicate an infection or other medical condition. Signs of infection may include pain, swelling, pus, or unusual nail growth. If any of these symptoms are present in conjunction with discoloration, seeking immediate professional help is paramount for proper diagnosis and treatment.


In conclusion, understanding the reasons behind the discoloration of gel nails is vital for maintaining beautiful and long-lasting manicures. Brown or yellowish stains on gel nails can be attributed to various factors, including UV exposure, poor-quality gel products, natural nail discoloration, and external pigments. Taking preventive measures, such as limiting UV exposure, using high-quality gel products, and adopting a healthy nail care routine, can help prevent unwanted discoloration.

For those seeking more information on gel nail care and other beauty-related topics, we encourage you to read more on Villa Nail Salon‘s blog. Stay informed, follow our expert tips, and achieve flawless and vibrant gel nails for a polished and confident look.

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