Why Does Suntan Lotion Ruin Nail Polish?

close-up of a woman's hand with pink nail polish and sun tan lotion on the back of the hand

Why does suntan lotion ruin nail polish? This is a good question for anyone who’s had their nails done in the summer, but they have found that their nails get ruined quicker than normal. Overall suntan lotion’s ingredients are able to ruin your nail polish but this isn’t always the case.

Some polishes and some suntan lotions don’t cause this reaction, but a lot of them will. We’re going to go over if sunscreen ruins your nails, why and how you can prevent this from happening. Let’s dive right into this.

Does Sunscreen Ruin Nail Polish?

Sunscreen can in fact ruin your manicure. This isn’t something that many people know about but it is definitely the culprit of many manicures dissolving away during the summer time. Sunscreen can actually dissolve nail polish and this is a common problem in the summer time.

Sunscreen ingredients are quite difficult to dissolve and the same ingredients used to dissolve the sunscreen can also dissolve nail polish and gel manicures. Long story short, the reason that this happens is because a lot of the same ingredients are used in sunscreens as nail polish remover, which causes them to behave in a similar manner.

Should I Wear Sunscreen When I Get Gel Nails?

Getting gel nails is the process of applying the gel to your nails and then sitting under a UV lamp in order to cure the gel to your nails. This is of course some exposure to UV light so it may be in your best interests to apply sunscreen to your hands. But wait, we just said that sunscreen can ruin your nails?

This is true, however, gel manicures don’t seem to be affected by sunscreen like regular nail polish or even acrylics. Gel manicures are safe from the sunscreen you’d apply to your hands and it will not affect anything. It is recommended to wear sunscreen on your hands when getting a gel manicure.

Why Does Nail Polish Fade In The Sun?

If you’ve ever gotten your nails done for the summer time and experienced some fading on the color then you might be wondering why this happens. The sun is very strong and we know that it fades many things such as hair color and even just papers left out in the sun.

This is no different for your nail polish. Nail colors such as pink shades tend to fade quicker in the sunlight. UV rays are extremely potent and can cause a chemical reaction within your nail polish which causes it to fade.

How Do I Keep My Nail Polish From Fading?

Nail polish, like many other things, will fade in the sunlight just because the UV rays are very potent. If you’ve ever experienced this then you might be wondering what solution there is for it so you don’t ruin another manicure.

There are many things that you can do to help the fading of your nail polish in the summer months. Nail polishes fade typically in the sun due to chemical reactions that make the color fade. This is the same scenario that happens with your hair in the sunlight as well.

To start off you can keep your nail polish from fading by applying a top coat. Top coats should always be applied in order to protect your nail color, but a UV light protection top coat is the best option for anyone concerned about their color fading or if they know they will be out in the sun for an extended amount of time.

Nail polish can fade also due to exposure to pools and salt water which is something that also happens more often in the summer time. Try to stay out of pools, especially if you don’t have a top coat of protection, and sunlight as much as possible if you just got your nails done.

It’s also important to note that pink shades of nail polish are more prone to fading and these shades will show the most drastic difference.

Does Sunscreen Stain White Nails?

White nails can actually get stains or change color due to a lot of different chemical reactions whether they be brought on by sunlight, sunscreen or other chemical exposure. Sunscreen is known to break down and dissolve nail polish and white nail polish is no different.

Instead of fading the white polish away, typically exposure to sunscreen will cause white nail polish to become yellow stained. These stains are present due to the chemical reactions which result in the change from white to a yellow color.

How Do You Get Stains Out Of White Nails?

If you’ve exposed your nails too much to the sun or sunscreen or another equivalent that will cause a reaction, then you might be left with yellow stained nails. This is common for those that use white polish and then expose themselves to the sun and sunscreen.

These stains are common and there are a few ways to get the stains out. Nail polish remover or rubbing alcohol are great to use for stains that just appeared.

Make sure you are not using acetone, but you can rub these on your nails to get them back to the bright white color. You want to use just a small amount with a Q-tip to apply on the top of your nails until the staining is removed and the white color is back to normal.

A homemade and more natural option for this is to use lemon juice and baking soda. Lemon and baking soda are both natural bleaching agents and cleansers. You can squeeze a lemon into a bowl and add a tablespoon of baking soda into it.

Soak your fingers in the mixture for about 10 to 15 minutes. You should try to check them every few minutes to make sure it’s working, but not working too well by taking off any of the white polish.

Suntan Lotion And Nail Polish: Final Thoughts

Suntan lotion, like sunlight, can ruin your nail polish. This is something that many people don’t know about. If you’ve ever noticed your polish fading away then it could be because of the use of sunscreen, exposure to UV rays or other agents that might dissolve your polish.

Using top coats will help to protect your nail polish from the elements and keep them looking fresher longer. Chemical reactions can happen with many things like chlorine, saltwater or sunlight, so preventing this is essential for those that want to keep their nails in top top shape over the summer.

There are many ways you can help prevent fading of your polish and there are ways to fix reactions caused by sunscreen and your nails. Overall, don’t stress if your nail polish is fading. It’s normal but there are ways to help prevent this from happening.

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By Daphnie Bachmann

Daphnie Bachmann is an esthetician and beauty writer at Kintegra Research. She loves beauty and skincare. She always has her eyes open for the next new beauty or skincare product to test out and review. She's inspired by the beauty world and is always willing to share her beauty secrets!