Beauty & the Brush

There is no word to describe the joy of purchasing the ultimate pink nail polish, the perfect red, or even a flawless black.


Maria Saadat July 08, 2010

There is no word to describe the joy of purchasing the ultimate pink nail polish, the perfect red, or even a flawless black. There is also no phrase to describe the frustration of finding stains left behind when the polish is removed from one’s fingers and toes. Some women have gone so far as to give up their beloved colours, simply because the hassle of yellowed nails was too much to handle. Others are caught up in a vicious cycle - applying more polish to hide the damage and by doing so, making matters worse.

You may have observed some of your nail polishes cause worse staining than others. This is because certain formulas contain chemicals like formaldehyde that react with the protein in your nails. More and more cosmetics companies are creating formaldehyde free nail polishes. If you can, try to get your hands on some.

Staining is further exacerbated by the fact that your nails are porous. This allows the pigment to seep through and blotch the nail. So, the deeper the colour, the faster your nails will grab colour and turn yellow. Finally, polish also causes discoloration by preventing oxygen from flowing through your nails.

The more you cover up those puppies with layers of nail polish, the more the pesky yellow stains.

(A side note: if you notice you have chronic yellow nails even without extended nail polish use, you may want to consult a doctor. This could be the result of a fungal infection, nutritional deficiency, or other medical problems.)

Luckily, there are remedies that will leave your nails looking fresh and stain-free. Utilise these and you can once more fearlessly wear whatever deeply pigmented nail polish you wish.

The most common prevention technique is to apply a clear base coat - this forms a barrier between your nail and the coloured nail polish. If you can’t find a base coat where you live, use a regular clear polish - it will prevent your nails from turning red, pink, black etc. Clear polish is not just for adding shine - it’s a great protector as well! Our recommendation - try not to have a strict budget on the clear polish - the greater the base quality, the stronger the protection.

Forgot to use a base coat or it just didn’t work for you? Cut a lemon and squeeze the juice into a bowl. First, rub the pulpy lemon skin around your nails and then place your fingertips into the bowl for a few minutes. Lemon is a bleaching agent, and it’s natural! However, lemon can be dry so don’t forget to apply olive oil to your cuticles after you’re done.

It is possible that lemons may not be strong enough for you, and if that’s the case, buy some hydrogen peroxide. It’s cheap and can be found at any pharmacy. Soak your nails into equal parts water, equal parts hydrogen peroxide and scrub with a toothbrush. If this is still not enough for you, brush your nails with whitening toothpaste.

A word of caution: some ladies are inclined to remove stains by using a nail buffer, or even worse, an emery board. Although they use this method in most salons, we cannot stress enough what a bad choice this is, as it will greatly weaken your nails! The more you buff your nails, the more prone they will be to breakage.

They will not just chip from the top; you will find splits in the middle of your nail. Trust us, skip the pain and opt for a solution that keeps your hands and toes healthy.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 9th, 2010.

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