How to Lighten Dark Toenails: 9 Easy Ways!

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The nails are the hard protective coverings over the end of fingers and toes. They are made up of keratin, a protein that also makes up hair and skin. Nails are also considered to enhance beauty by changing their color, shape, or length. 

But sometimes they become discolored, potentially from bruising, fungus, or other conditions. In this article, we’re going to look at how to lighten dark toenails.

Depending on what is at issue with your toenails, you may simply be able to paint them and let them recover. But if they are infected with toenail fungus, you’ll need to deal with the fungus in order to restore your nail color.


Appearance of Nails

The dark appearance of the nails can be an indication of health conditions, which can be detected by the signs of discoloration or other abnormalities. Discoloration of toenails can be a sign of some serious underlying medical condition such as psoriasis, diabetes, or circulation problems.

Some more serious causes also need to be addressed immediately, such as skin cancer, melanoma, or even an athlete’s foot or fungal infection.

Moreover, the color of your nails can change due to some other factors like aging, wearing tight shoes, applying harsh nail polish remover, and hormonal changes. 

However, the discoloration of toenails can be easily treated with proper care and attention.

9 Ways to Lighten Dark Toenails

Dark toenails can be a problem for many people. Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions about lightening dark toenails. For example, some people think it’s not possible to lighten dark toenails at all, while others believe that it’s only possible with nail polish or a professional pedicure. 

There are many misconceptions about lightening dark toenails.

The good news is that there are many ways to lighten dark nails. Here are some of them:

1. Commercial Products

You can find commercial products at the store that will help lighten dark nails. These include nail polish removers, nail whiteners, and other products that are specifically designed for this purpose. Some nail polishes have whitening agents in them, and there are also some creams on the market which contain bleach.

Commercial products are the most effective and fastest way to lighten dark nails, but they also come with their own set of side effects.

Nail Bright  is a popular product that can ligthen discolored nails.

Gena Nail Brite Whitening Scrub with Brush, Cleans Conditions & Brightens Nails, 4 oz

2. Hydrogen Peroxide

Mix one part hydrogen peroxide with two parts water in a bowl and soak your toes in it for 10 minutes or so each day until your nails return to their natural color.

Some people prefer applying Hydrogen peroxide directly to the affected areas without rinsing it off later.

See Hydrogen Peroxide for Toenail Fungus for more information.

3. Lemon Juice & Baking Soda

Mix one tablespoon of lemon juice with two tablespoons of baking soda in a bowl and apply it to the affected area with a cotton ball or cotton swab each day until the color returns to normal.

Home remedies are less effective than commercial products, but they are more gentle on the skin and have fewer side effects.

4. White Vinegar

White vinegar is a great way to lighten dark toenails. The acidity in the vinegar will remove the stains on your nails and make them whiter.

Mix 1/4 cup of white vinegar with 1/4 cup of water in a bowl and soak your feet for 15 minutes. Then, rinse off the mixture with warm water and dry them before putting on clean socks. Repeat this process every day until you see results.

5. Denture Cleaner

Denture cleaner is another effective way to lighten dark toenails. It contains hydrogen peroxide, which is a bleaching agent that will help whiten your nails. Use the same procedure as the one before but substitute white vinegar for denture cleaner instead.

This will lighten dark toenails more quickly than just using white vinegar alone.

6. Whitening Toothpaste

Whitening toothpaste contains the same bleaching agent as denture cleaner, but it also has some abrasive ingredients that will scrub off any stains on your nails.

It is applied on the nail plate by using a toothbrush or cotton swab, and it can help lighten your nails if you have not had success with the other methods mentioned above.

7. Dietary Supplements

Some people found that dietary supplements can help them lighten dark toenails. For example, one study found that vitamin E and selenium could help improve the condition of toenails. In addition, it is advisable for people with this condition to take vitamin B12 and iron supplements.

The body needs these nutrients to produce enough melanin, a pigment that gives skin its color.

8. Laser Therapy

Laser toenail therapy is a type of treatment that can be done at home or in a doctor’s office, which uses laser light to penetrate the nail bed and stimulate the growth of healthy tissue. This treatment involves flashing light on the affected area to kill the fungus causing the nail discoloration.

It is not a cure-all, but it may work for some people with mild cases of black nails.

9. Comfortable Footwear

Wearing comfortable footwear will reduce the pressure on your toes, which may also help lighten your dark toenails.

Try wearing shoes that are more comfortable and supportive than your old ones, such as those with arch support or insoles that cushion your feet from shock when you walk.

How to Identify the Cause of Toenails Darkening?

The first step in lightening dark toenails is identifying the cause. There are many reasons why nails might turn dark, including exposure to chemicals, injury, and even genetics.

If you smashed your toe against the leg of your bed, well that’s a pretty obvious reason your toenail may be discolored. If you’re seeing cloudy discoloration under the nails, you probably have toenail fungus.

Beyond that, it becomes more difficult. In order to determine the cause of your dark nails, you should consult a physician or podiatrist.

The first step in lightening dark toenails is identifying the cause.

Factors that Change the Color of Toenails

It is common for toenails to become discolored and dark due to various factors. This article will outline some of the more common causes of dark nails and some tips for lightening them.

1. Fungal Infection

Nail fungus infection can cause discoloration of the nails, such as yellowing and thickening. A nail fungal infection is caused by fungi that grow under the nails and can be difficult to treat. It can also be caused by a lack of hygiene or tight shoes that don’t allow air circulation.

2. Bruising

Bruising on your feet or toes can also change the color of your toenails, usually turning them blue or purple in appearance. Bruises are caused when blood vessels are damaged and bleeding underneath the skin occurs, which causes a dark discoloration on top of it.

3. Application of Nail polish

Nail polish is a common cause of discoloration of toenails. In addition, harsh nail polish can change the color of your toenails if you wear it for an extended period.

4. Aging

Aging is a natural process that affects the skin and nails. As we get older, our nails become thinner and more brittle. Furthermore, the toenails darken because of the accumulation of dead cells on the nail bed. This can be a result of chronic inflammation from an injury or infection as well as from aging.

Prevention from Darkening of Toenails

Following are some ways to prevent nail darkening from happening.

1. Wear Socks

Wear clean socks or stockings to keep your feet dry and prevent the nail from being exposed to the air. In addition, the moisture within the shoes creates a favorable condition for bacteria to grow.

It’s important to wear socks while wearing closed shoes.

2. Wash Your Feet Frequently

Wash your feet often with hot water to remove dirt, sweat, and other contaminants that can cause discoloration. You may also apply moisturizer for healthy skin. The fungus tends to grow under the nails, which can lead to discoloration.

To prevent this, you should wash your feet at least twice daily and dry them thoroughly.

3. Dry Your Feet

Keep your feet dry after swimming or taking a shower. If you have no option but to go barefoot, then make sure you walk on a dry surface.

Avoid wearing shoes while your feet are wet. Instead, you can use foot powder to absorb moisture between the toes and on the soles of the feet.

4. Base Coat Application

Apply a base coat before painting your nails, which will create a barrier that prevents discoloration as well as help with the chipping, peeling, and cracking of nail polish. Also, prevent wearing nail polish for no longer than a week.

The base coat also helps prevent the nail surface from becoming too dry or brittle because it seals in moisture.

5. Trim Nails

Keeping your nails trimmed and filed allows oxygen to reach the nail bed, which can help prevent darkening.


If you have tried all the methods mentioned above to lighten your dark toenails and still have no positive effect, it’s time to reach out to your doctor. There might be some serious cause that has been hidden. Therefore, getting professional assistance is key.

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).