Why Acrylics Turn Yellow
A simple explanation on why acrylic nails yellow and how to prevent it.
As a professional nail tech, you dread seeing a recent client coming back too soon to need a fill. Something must have gone wrong, and judging by the none-too-thrilled look on their face they’re sure it’s your fault. Oh no… their new acrylic nails are yellow!
Sometimes these moments are unavoidable, but knowing the hows and whys of their complaints can be useful in your arsenal of customer service. This information will not only help your end product; it will also prepare you to explain to your customers how or why yellowing may have occurred and help them understand how to better care for your intricate work after going home. Taking the extra minute to educate your customers on proper care for their enhancements adds a distinguished value to your service and begins to build a trusting bond stronger than the bond between their nail and the acrylic.
There are several factors that can lead to acrylics turning yellow. Some can begin in your salon and others can be caused entirely by the customers themselves. It is important to be able to identify if the enhancement itself really is to blame or if the customer did something on their own.
(Important note – NONE of our products cause yellowing, or your money back!)
Why Acrylics Turn Yellow:
Dangers Within Your Salon
Prolonged storage of an acrylic polymer next to a monomer
Monomers should always be safely stored in a sealed container in a cool, dark place well away from polymers. Simply storing monomers and polymers too close in proximity, even on the same shelf at opposite ends, can result in contamination.
Mixing old monomers with new monomers
Finish the old before using the new. Even though two products may be the same, chemicals continue to react in their containers over time. If you combine monomers of different ages it may reduce the reliability of the product, become impossible to predict any kind of shelf-life or determine when the product just needs to be replaced. Just use one complete container of product at a time and leave the chemistry and mixing of chemicals to us – the professionals.
Not properly sealing the nail
If the nail is not properly sealed moisture can get caught under the enhancement. Moisture under an enhancement can cause yellowing and even cause the acrylic nail to lift (more about lifting acrylics here). All in all, moisture underneath the enhancement never leads to positive results. PH Plus is a quality product that increases the pH levels of the natural nail to promote optimal adhesion of nail products.
Not allowing the primer to dry before applying nail enhancements
Not allowing the primer to completely dry before applying nail enhancements defeats the purpose of increasing adhesion to the natural nail. The moisture of the primer stays underneath the enhancement and yellowing, and most likely lifting can occur. Magic Bond is a non-burning, non-etching, non-acid primer that dries quickly so you can move on to application.
Using a low-quality monomer
Lesser-quality liquids tend to have undesired effects on the natural nail and when mixing with any type of applied enhancement. Methyl Methacrylate (MMA) monomers also will turn yellow, requiring the clients to return to get a new set of enhancements periodically. (MMA Liquids: Why to avoid using them)
Using old or incompatible products
Cheaply made products come with unpredictable results, and that’s never good for business. Using a high-quality sealer compatible with your powder is always important. It’s easily recommended to always use a fresh, high-quality sealer. If the sealer is too old, it by itself may turn the acrylic yellow.
Using a product that does not have UV protection
Regardless the source (natural/artificial), UV rays pose a potential hazard to the life and look of acrylic nails. UV rays have the ability and the strength to turn acrylics yellow, and the effects can be subtle or drastic depending on the duration and intensity of the exposure. Application of a clear Dual Sealer will provide enough protection to prevent yellowing from UV damage.
Using a contaminated brush or brush cleaner
Contamination is an avoidable catalyst for yellowing acrylics. It is important to always use clean brushes, and to avoid letting used brushes or materials defect other products.
Primer on top of acrylic
When doing infills, it isn’t unheard of to get a little primer on the original acrylic enhancement. It is rare that it would happen, but it can have an effect of making the acrylic sticky and yellow. A quick wipe of the excess primer does take care of this concern; sloppy work isn’t good work.
Why Acrylics Turn Yellow:
Hazards Beyond Your Control
Smoking, smoking, smoking
Nicotine stains from cigarette smoking is among the biggest influencing factors in turning natural nails yellow. Naturally, Nicotine can stain the acrylic enhancement as well. There are many smokers in the world that enjoy acrylic enhancements, and most still manage to not have a yellowing problem. Mentioning changes to your client’s habits, as simple as recommending they hold their cigarette to direct the smoke away from the nails can help mitigate the discoloration.
Tanning in natural sunlight or in a tanning salon
If a client is tanning, especially in tanning beds, the best thing to do is suggest covering their nails with a towel or another type of product for protecting their enhancements against harmful UV rays. There are also many variations of sun tan lotions and oils that can cause discoloration of acrylic enhancements.
This is more of a yellowed stain than the enhancements actually turning color. Mangoes and foods heavily spiced with turmeric and curries are prime culprits of leaving their pigment behind, making you wonder if something else may have happened. People who work in fast food also experience this type of staining from getting mustard on their hands and nails. This is a simple fix – to prevent the staining from occurring in the first place, recommend your client wears food service gloves to avoid contact with such foods and condiments, and have your client wash their hands and nails thoroughly with soap and water using a nail brush. The discoloration should actually wash away.
Now that you know the different ways in which acrylic nails can turn yellow, it is important to remember the theme here is quality: using quality products, with quality technique produces quality results. Ensuring that you are doing your due diligence in your salon will provide you with a sense of assurance that when you have a customer come in with yellowed acrylics, it wasn’t your fault. Yellowing nails is just bad for business, so investing in yourself and going for quality is always our top recommendation.
We have prioritized quality in manufacturing our products for over 32 years. We stand behind every product we sell, 100% – and you should too!
By Joe Pedersen, Content Strategist at DeEnterprises Inc., a Chemical Manufacturer of Manicure and Pedicure Products.