Why Does Gel Nail Polish Change Color? – Top 7 Reasons + Tips

Why does gel nail polish change color? Have you ever wondered? Let’s dive into a colorful journey into nail art chemistry to discover what makes gel nail polish change colors, how to bring back the original shade, and ways to stop color changes in the future.

Why Does Gel Nail Polish Change Color

Gel polish manicures are exceptional! Personally, I love them because they last fairly long (for as long as a good 15 days). As compared to regular nail polish, gel nail polish does not chip as easily.

If you’re a hands-on person like me, who’s always got tough tasks like dishwashing, laundry, and other house chores on hand, a gel polish manicure is the way to go. Not just economic in the long run, gel top coat reduces the number of trips you make to your nail salon! 

Like every story, there are two sides to gel nail polish too – pros and cons. Benefits and drawbacks. Let me correct this, not drawbacks, drawback only. What I mean by this is, there is just one bold drawback to gel nail polish, and it is the gel polish color change. 

It is a key issue most gel polish users face. Hence, I am shedding light on this by explaining the causes, the solutions, my go-to hacks, and ways you prevent gel nail polish from changing color.

Why Does Gel Nail Polish Change Color?

Before diving into the color change, let’s discuss what exactly gel nail polish is and how it differs from regular nail polish.

Why Does Gel Nail Polish Change Color

While a regular (read: budget-friendly manicure) uses regular, quick-drying nail polish, top coat, and base coat, the equipment and tools used for a gel manicure are a little more unique (read: it is evidently more costly than a regular manicure).

A UV or LED light lamp, different types of polishes, gel base coat, and gel top coat are needed. What makes gel manicures so versatile is the fact that absolutely anyone can get them done, whether they have short nails or super long nails. 

Gel nail polish changing color is pretty inevitable. There are multiple reasons that cause a gel nail polish to change color. Here are the most common reasons why gel nail polish changes color:

Reason – 1: Poor quality product.

It is crucial to check the brand, the value, and the shelf life of nail care products you use, regardless of doing a manicure yourself or get one at a salon.

Keep an eye out for certifications like qualification, and check the ingredients used, among other parameters. If the product quality is average, the durability of the manicure will be average too. Subsequently, causing your gel polish to change color.

Reason – 2: Skipping UV curing.

Curing all layers of a gel manicure, from gel base coat, and gel nail polish, to gel top coat, is crucial. Each layer needs to be cured under an LED lamp or UV light for a minimum of 30 seconds before moving to the next layer of nail polish.

If this step is skipped, it results in a lumpy, uneven, unprofessional-looking set of nails, leading to a color change in your gel polish next.

Reason – 3: Improper drying of layers.

Reconnecting to the above-mentioned point; ensures the previous layer is dried and set is the essence of a long-lasting manicure.

Curing the polish under a UV light is necessary, but also letting the nails air dry for a few seconds is a practice that must be incorporated. It gives the certainty of a dried layer that creates a smooth surface for the upcoming layer of gel nail polish. 

Reason – 4: Ingredients of the gel polish.

Gel nail polish comprises ingredients like methacrylate compounds, photoinitiator compounds like benzoyl peroxide, and plasticizers. While UV light works in curing these, plasticizers add strength and flexibility to the polish. 

Sometimes, using gel nail polish from an unknown brand with low-quality ingredients can cause color changes in the gel polish. In my opinion, O.P.I, Modelones, Essie, Bettles Gel Polish, and Sally Hansen are a few of the brands in this sector that make the best quality gel nail polishes.

Reason – 5: Heavy sunlight exposure.

Not just nails, too much sunlight exposure causes skin tanning too. In a similar manner, sun exposure can result in changes in gel nail polish color, and discoloration, among other effects. 

The intensity of discoloration will vary from person to person, depending on the duration and impact of sunlight. 

Reason – 6: Tanning treatments.

Tanning treatments include materials like tanning beds, tanning sprays, tanning gels, or creams. All of these items contain an ingredient called DHA. DHA reacts with the skin and leaves a yellow-orange shade that is an artificial recreation of a tan.

Sometimes, self-tanning processes leave too much product on the fingers, for too long. This causes major discoloration of gel nails. 

Reason – 7: Cleaning substances.

If you are someone who prefers doing household chores by themselves, chances are you get too close to cleaning agents like dishwashing liquid, laundry soap, and other strong but harmful cleaners.

Sure they add a shine to your dishes, and get rid of stains from clothes, but when it comes to nails and gel nail polish, these harsh substances are not exactly their best friends. They cause gel nail polish discoloration too. 

I would advise investing in a pair of gloves to keep your hands and nails covered. Alternatively, use a stick broom or add detergent using cutlery like a cap or cup.

How to Get the Old Gel Nail Polish Color Back?

‘Why is my nail polish changing color?’ Did you find yourself pondering over this? Well, I got answers to stop color-changing in nail polish, or better yet revive your manicure after nail polish discoloration.

Why Does Gel Nail Polish Change Color

You will need a few household items like rubbing alcohol, hairspray, or tea tree essential oil to get the old gel nail polish color back. Let’s see how you can use them to restore the original color.

Tip – 1: Tea tree oil soak.

While tea tree essential oil is commonly used to treat dandruff on the scalp, it has another amazing use. Tea tree oil is gentle in nature. It is used as a plant-based stain remover.

  • To revive your gel polish from discoloration, simply fill a big bowl with some warm water. Ensure it is not boiling hot or you may burn your skin.
  • Next, add two tablespoons (approximately 7-8 drops) of the essential oil. Then dip your hands in this concoction for around 10 minutes.

Of course, you will not see instant results. The changes are mild but effective. You can repeat this water bath once every day until the original shade is back. 

Tip – 2: Hairspray.

Who knew skin and hair were related this much? I did, yes, I did! 

No, not just keratin and collagen, there is one other hair-specific product that can be used to prevent or revive gel polish discoloration. It’s hairspray!

Owing to the composition of hairspray, it works towards old stains and uneven color tones of a gel nail polish. 

To start,

  • Place an old towel or T-shirt on your hand. Keep your nails uncovered.
  • Next, spray the hairspray generously. Your nails should be dripping with hairspray (yes, that much!)
  • Then take a Q-tip, or the back of a pencil covered in cotton and gently scrub the stained areas.

This is an instant fix, so once you are satisfied with the recovery of your gel nail color change, wash your hands with water and soap. Quickly moisturize to regain all the hydration, and that’s it. Your gel manicure is back to looking as good as the original. 

Tip – 3: Nail polish remover.

Surprised? Shocked? So was I when a nail polish remover worked to revive my discolored gel manicure. I use this hack for times when my gel nail polish discoloration is mild. 

  • Dip a Q tip in some nail polish remover. You can also use rubbing alcohol, whichever option is available.
  • Then, slightly scrub the affected areas. I cannot emphasize this enough but it is critical to be super gentle. Otherwise, you might ruin the manicure from the base coat.

My personal tip is to stay away from using an acetone-based product. 

How to Stop Gel Nail Polish from Changing Color?

Nail polish, be it regular or gel nail polish, fading and discoloration is inevitable. However, here are my favorite ways to limit them, as much as possible. This section of the article is essentially full of answers and solutions to section two- Why does gel nail polish change color?

  • You must use a good to premium quality gel nail polish. I have recommended a few brands. Here are some more – ella+mila, Beetles Gel Polish, and Born Pretty. Not just quality, the range of shades these offer deserves a try. 
  • Next, make sure you cure the nails for only as long as needed, not too little, not too much. An average of 30-60 seconds is sufficient to dry the gel nail polish, but also not dehydrate the skin. 
  • To ensure limited discoloration, keep reapplying the gel top coat. This helps with creating a strong barrier between the environment and the nail color, thus enhancing the lifetime of your manicure. 
  • Lastly, keep your hands and nails (cuticles) hydrated. You can use moisturizers, and oils, or switch to hand wash and soaps that are milder. They will not strip your skin of the natural moisture. 

An extra tip, wash your hands immediately after you have worked with ingredients that may cause discoloration. Some examples are red chili powder, turmeric, henna, etc. 

Wrapping up:

And that’s a wrap from my end. These are all possible causes of gel polish discoloration. As a nail enthusiast, I have been through enough of these instances which led me to share my go-to fixes. I love gel polish more than regular nail polish. But the aftercare can be a hassle at times. 

My last tip, for those creating gel manicures at home, is always to ensure you seal the lid tightly shut. It will enhance the shelf life of your nail polish. Hope you have a therapeutic time giving yourself a manicure with gel nail polish! For queries related to nail polish change color, feel free to reach out in the comment section below. 

Also, I would love to see your gel manicures retrieved. If either of the hacks helped you, share them with me!


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