Why do gel nail polish turn brown or black?

Getting gel manicures doesn’t only look beautiful but also lasts longer than regular manicures. They are also expensive as they are more flexible and less damaging than acrylic nails. This is why seeing your gel nails turning brown, and even black is disappointing.

Sometimes, it happens days after getting them done, or in some, the nails take weeks to change their colour. But, whenever it may be, discoloration of gel nail polish shouldn’t happen.

So, why do gel nail polish turn brown or black?

The primary reason why gel nail polish turns brown or black is either your nail technician has over-cured or under-cured during the drying process. It is known as curing when the gel nails are exposed to UV light to harden the gel. Some other reasons for discolouration of the nails include contact with harsh chemicals such as detergents, spices like turmeric, and exposure to hair-dye, makeup, or skincare products. Smoking can also be a cause of this issue.

You must get the gel nails done from a reputable nail salon as the professionals there would know the intensity of the UV light needed and for how long for drying the gels.

Plus, using inferior quality products is also another reason.

What causes gel nail polish to turn brown or black?


Curing is an essential step in gel manicure. It is done to solidify the gel nails and prolong their lasting effect.

Unfortunately, this process is either underdone or overly done in some cases, meaning the gel nails were exposed to the UV lamp for either too little time or too long.

Typically, the correct time to cure the nails is 30 seconds. Not following this rule will lead to discolouration of the nails.

Besides, it is one of the top reasons why gel nails lose their colour and shine days or weeks after application. It is also why most UV lamps now come with a timer that stops on its own after a few minutes are up.

Sunlight and self-tanners

Long exposure to sunlight is not damaging for your skin but nails as well. Various issues on skin and nails rise up after overexposure to sunlight, including discolouration of the gel nails.

Moreover, self-tanners can stain your nails if they come in contact with it.


When gel nails come in contact with strong harsh chemicals, they tend to change their colour as the chemicals react with the material of the gel. Cleaning supply products often contain aggressive chemicals, which, when touched with the gel nail polish, leave brown stains on it.

The best way to avoid this situation is to wear gloves when cleaning the dishes.

Makeup and skincare products can also contribute to this problem. If a makeup product stains your gel nail, it forms brown spots on it and becomes tough to get rid of the makeup stain due to its chemicals.

Plus, skincare products contain ingredients that can cause a reaction and result in discolouration.

Chemicals like hydroquinone used in many pigmentation targeting skincare products are observed to leave brown marks when it comes in contact with nails. Acne-treating ingredient Tretinoin also reported similar results.


If the gel nails aren’t taken care of properly, infections may rise and cause discolouration. Fungal infections are the most common type, which is caused by bacteria. Apart from nail discolouration, it also results in an increase in nail thickness and rough edges. If the infection isn’t treated, the nails may turn black and cause permanent damage to your actual nails.

Inferior quality products

Another potential cause for gel nail discolouration is using low-quality gels. Gel nails are essentially non-porous, meaning they are less likely to get stained compared to acrylic nails, which are porous.

However, if the gels are of poor quality, they can get stained easily.

This is why the cost for gel nail manicures is different from one salon to another. There are all qualities of gel nails available. It is best to get the manicure done from a well-reputed salon, as using a good quality gel is better than having them stained a few days after its application.


How do you remove stains from gel nails?

Nail polish remover

A nail polish remover is effective in removing the brown stains from nails. However, remember to use only a little bit of it as applying too much of it on the gel can damage it and peel them off.

Instead, use a nose swab, dip them in your remover, and then scrub it gently over the spot until it gets removed.

This will ensure you don’t use an excessive quantity of polish on your nail plate. You can also use rubbing alcohol as an alternative.

Lemon and Baking soda solution

To prepare this solution, take a small bowl, squeeze an entire lemon on it, and one tablespoon of baking soda. Next, soak your finger on it for 10-15 minutes. Afterward, rinse them off using only water while gently scrubbing the nails. Both lemon and baking soda are natural bleaching agents, so they won’t cause any damage to the nails, unlike any chemicals.


One can use hairspray to remove the brown spots from the gel nails. To do this, spray this product all over your nails and then grab a cotton bud to scrub the spots off of the nails. Afterward, use water and soap to wash any remaining hairspray.

This video can help as well.

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