12 Common Reasons Your Nail Polish Turns Dark (and How to Prevent It)

Compared to regular manicures, getting gel manicures doesn’t only look more adorable but also lasts longer. Expensive as they are, they are more pliable and less damaging compared to acrylic nails.

So, why does my nail polish turn dark? The basic reason why nail polish turns dark is either because your technician has under-cured or over-cured during the drying process. Curing occurs when the gel nails are exposed to UV light to harden the gel.

Other reasons for the discolouration of your nails could be that you have come in contact with harsh chemicals that are not nail-friendly, such as detergents, hair dye, spices such as turmeric, makeup, or skincare products.

You should get your nails done in a reputable nail salon with highly-trained professionals. This is because they can ascertain the intensity of the UV light required and the time limit for drying the nails.

Additionally, using inferior-quality nail products could be another reason for nail discolouration. We will discuss other reasons why your nail polish turns dark in this article.

12 Common Causes of Nail Polish Turning Black

1. Medical Conditions

The colour of your nail polish can change if you have a medical condition. The main cause of this change is a skin disorder called Porphyria. It causes your body not to create heme, which is a part of red blood cells. If there isn’t enough heme in your body, your nail polish will turn black.

2. Contact With Hair Dye

When nail polish is exposed to certain chemicals, it reacts with them and changes colour. In the case of hair dye, the dye combines with the nail polish to form a new substance one that’s darker in colour.

3. Exposure To Sunlight

One of the main causes of black nail polish is exposure to sunlight. Because sunlight contains ultraviolet radiation, it can cause harm to the nails. The UV rays from the sun can alter the ingredients in nail polish, resulting in discolouration. When you go outside with black nail polish on your nails, your hands are exposed to harmful UV rays that may make your nails look black.

4. Self-Tanners

The first thing that may be causing your nail polish to turn black is self-tanners. Self-tanners can change your nails’ colour when applying them to your skin. Also, if you’re tanning with a spray-on type lotion, the excess spray might get onto your hands and could then get onto your nails leaving them with a darker colour than normal. The same goes for any other type of spray tan that gets on your hands and then gets onto your nails.

5. Infections Around Your Nails

The most likely cause of your blackened polish is an infection. When you have an infection, either bacterial or fungal, the bacteria or fungus can cause your nail plate to turn black. This happens because it’s a response to the irritation caused by the microorganism in order to stop it from spreading.

6. Cigarette Smoke

Nail polish becomes discoloured when it comes into contact with things like cigarettes, nail polish remover, bleach, and other chemicals. This happens because of the chemical composition of those items. Nail polish contains dibutyl phthalate and toluene; these are responsible for protecting the polish from turning into a clumpy mess.

The smoke from cigarettes has tar in it. Tar is a mixture of hydrogen, carbon and oxygen that can be used to make asphalt. When this tar gets into your nail polish, it will react with the dibutyl phthalate and toluene, causing it to turn a blackish colour.

7. Spices

When you’ve applied a beautiful coat of red-orange nail polish, you may notice the next day that it’s turned a darker shade of brown or a muted orange. You might even see hints of black. The likely culprit? Spices on your hands or food you’ve been eating.

When the two come into contact, they combine to form pigments that can change the colour of your polish. Since the chemicals in your body are already saturated with oil, spices can make them more reactive, so those spices are prime candidates for changing the colour of your polish.

Possible culprits include turmeric, cloves, saffron, paprika, cumin, chilis (a milder version), ginger, peppermint basically anything that contains oils that could potentially seep into your nails and react with them.

8. Air bubbles

One of the most common reasons for nail polish to turn black is air bubbles getting trapped underneath the polish, which then oxidizes when exposed to air. To avoid this, take your time applying the polish and ensure that you don’t have any air bubbles before you apply a top coat. If you use a fast-drying top coat, it can prevent air bubbles from forming in the first place.

9. Chemical Reaction

Some types of nail polish contain chemicals that react with one another when in contact with one another. This is what happens when the clear top coat turns yellowish or greenish, or if two different brands of polishes have been mixed together. To avoid this, ensure that all ingredients are compatible with each other before they are combined.

10. Skincare Products

One common reason why nail polish turns black is due to skin care products you might use. If you use acne medication or retinol (a vitamin A derivative) on a regular basis, you’re exposing your nails and cuticles to harsh chemicals that can cause your nail polish to change colours prematurely. These products tend to be drying as well, which is another factor that makes the polish darken faster than normal.

11. Low-quality Nail Products

There are many reasons why nail polish might turn your nails black, but the most common culprit is using low-quality nail polishes. When you use a product that has been made with poor formulation, for example, it can leave pigment on your nails and cause them to turn black. Even if you don’t use low-quality nail polish, an improper application could also lead to discolouration on your nails.

12. Improper Curing

The most common way for nail polish to turn black is from improper curing. This can happen if the polish is cured in the wrong kind of light or for too long a period of time. In the case of incorrect curing length, the UV lamp used to cure the polish may be too strong, causing the polish to cure too quickly, without enough time for it to dry properly and harden.

5 Ways To Prevent Nail Polish From Turning Dark

There are five easy ways to help you prevent your nail polish from discolouring:

  1. When polishing ensures you apply a base coat to your nail, this will act as a barrier between the coloured polish and your nail.
  2. Apply a non-acetone polish remover when you are removing the polish. Conventionally, acetone can aggravate discolouration.
  3. Keep off nicotine. Don’t want to quit smoking? Why not use a cigarette holder or vaporizer?
  4. Always keep your nails clean and dry. This will help prevent toenail fungus, which discolouration is a common symptom of.
  5. Give’em some time out! If you like painting your nails all the time, try giving your nails a break sometimes. Traditional nail polish tends to absorb moisture from our nails resulting in them to brittle. If you must paint always, consider making use of a polish that assists in keeping moisture in the nail.

Tips for Removing Black Stains from Nail Polish

It is very much possible to remove unwanted stains from your gel nails. Just try one of the remedies provided below.

1. Use nail polish remover

A nail polish remover is an effective tool for removing black or brown stains from your nails. However, be mindful of the usage as it only requires a little bit of its application. Too much nail polish remover is capable of damaging and peeling them off.

Better still, use a nose swab, and carefully dip them into your polish remover before you scrub it gently over the stain until it gets removed.

This will assist you in measuring, so you don’t use an excessive amount of polish on your nail plate. You can also rub alcohol as an alternative.

2. Lemon and baking soda remedy

Lemon and baking soda are natural bleaching agents, so they don’t cause any damage to nails, unlike chemicals.

To prepare this solution, get a small bowl, squeeze in the whole lemon on it, and then soak your fingers in the solution for 10-15 minutes. After that, rinse them off using clean running water while gently rubbing the nails.

3. Use hairspray

You can use hairspray to remove dark spots from gel nails. To achieve, this, spray the product on your nails, then use a cotton bud to scrub off the stain on the nails. Afterwards, use soap and water to wash off any remaining hairspray.

What can I do if my nail polish turns dark after I apply it?

If your nail polish turns dark after application, you may be able to fix it by applying a clear top coat to help seal in the colour and prevent further darkening. However, if the polish has already become too dark, it may be best to remove it and start over with a fresh coat.

Is it normal for nail polish to turn dark over time?

It is normal for some nail polishes to change colour or become darker over time, especially if they are exposed to UV light or other sources of oxidation. This is more likely to happen with dark or highly pigmented polishes and can be prevented by using a top coat or applying a layer of clear polish over the top of the color.

Can using a base coat helps prevent my nail polish from turning dark?

Using a base coat can help prevent your nail polish from turning dark by providing a barrier between your nails and the polish. Look for a base coat that is specifically designed for use with dark or highly pigmented polishes, as these can provide extra protection against fading or darkening.

Is it better to use a quick-drying top coat or a regular top coat to prevent my nail polish from turning dark?

Both quick-drying top coats and regular top coats can help prevent your nail polish from turning dark. Quick-drying top coats tend to dry faster and may be more convenient if you are in a rush, but regular top coats can provide extra protection and may be more effective at sealing in the colour of your polish. Ultimately, the best choice will depend on your personal preferences and needs.


Dark spots rather than complete discolouration of the nails could be a result of bruising, melanoma, psoriasis or regular infection. In essence, the discolouration of your nails could be health-related.

So after trying the remedies provided in this article and still experiencing the same problems, then we advise you to consult a doctor.