Nails often stain and turn slightly yellow because of dark nail polishes, highly pigmented shades left on too long or too many manicures in a row. But lemons are chock full of alpha-hydroxy acid, which lightens and brightens nail fibers while also breaking down any leftover gunk on the nail. This pantry essential can be used a few ways to heal and whiten your nails.

This soak works wonders right before you begin a manicure. Mix the juice of 1/2 a lemon with 1 cup of warm water. Be sure not to use hot water, which can scald your skin.

Dip your fingers in this warm mixture for about five minutes to soften your cuticles and brighten your nails. This soak also removes unwanted oils and old stains before you begin a manicure. Once you have soaked your nails you can gently push back your cuticles with a cuticle pusher.

Tips

If you don’t have time for a soak, sweep a lemon peel over your nails and focus extra attention on your cuticle right before you begin a new manicure. The acids remove any leftover products and give your nails a quick refresher.

Lemon and baking soda make a gentle, bubbly concoction. Mix together a few teaspoons of water with an equal part of baking soda. Squeeze in about 10 drops of lemon juice into the solution and mix. The solution will bubble up at this point.

Soak your nails in the mixture for about 10 minutes to get the full effect. The baking soda works with the lemon acids to lift stains. Once you have soaked your nails, you can use the solution to gently rub across your nails with a soft toothbrush. The baking soda works as a gentle exfoliator for added cleaning and whitening power.

If you need whitening power mixed with a little healing joy, then this mixture provides both. Mix together 1/4 cup of olive oil with the juice of half a lemon.

Remove any residual nail polish or false nails before you begin. Dip your nails into the mixture for about 10 minutes. The natural vitamins and moisture from olive oil help to strengthen dried out nails while the lemon juice gently whitens nails. Wash your nails with gentle soap after soaking. This soak can be repeated for a few days in a row if your nails need some extra whitening action.

Tips

Try coconut oil instead of olive oil for a sweet smelling, moisturizing mixture.