Dark Nail Polish - does it stop nails falling off?

Hi Ladies,

I have had 3 FECs and am due to start my first of 3 TAX next Wednesday. I’ve read that wearing dark nail polish helps to stop the finger nails breaking and falling off because it prevents light getting at the nails.
Has anyone tried this and did it work? I don’t usually like wearing nail polish on my fingernails (use it on toe nails) but I will try it if I think it might work.


Hi Mabeline,
I think the jury is out on this one. It seemed to work for me, I kept all 20 nails! I also followed the instructions of my BCN to the letter! My own view is partly that it acts as a UV block and partly it acts as glue provided you go right to the very edges and down to, even just over, the cuticle. I was told to keep the painting up and redid it every few days. Some people use clear varnish if they don’t mind the discoloration.

Towards the end my nails became very thick, yellowed and ugly and began to split ‘vertically’ where they lost contact with my finger. Eventually they started to ‘peel’ as the damaged parts reached the tip, leaving thin new nail underneath. I kept my nails very short throughout treatment too.

It took a few months for my finger nails to grow through, and almost a year for my big toes nails to do so.

A few people have used gel nails too, which you might want to try if you don’t fancy dark varnish?

I don’t usually paint my nails, but thought I had nothing to lose by trying. Now I enjoy my normal nails free of any weird colours!

Hi Mabeline

I am on TAC and have now had 5 lots, my nails are intact but I can see a line in my nails, one for each dose! I haven’t used any nail varnish and don’t normally do much to my nails at all. The do seem thicker now where the rings are starting to get to the end of my nails but I havent had any discolouration so I guess the jury is still out.


I had 4 sessions of Paclitaxol at the beginning of last year and kept my nails polished throughout the treatment, mainly in dark red or burgundy because I couldn’t stand the discolouration and how they looked in terms of ridges. My onc told me that using some sort of polish would help keep some strength in them, she never mentioned the light aspect.

I didn’t lose any nails, but as I say they went a horrible yellow colour with ridges. And because I am having a year’s worth of Herceptin they are still quite weak, brittle and prone to splitting, although not yellow anymore. So I am still keeping them polished, and I have kept them quite short too.

I couldn’t be bothered with my toe nails as my treatment was mainly during last winter, and interestingly lost 3 nails, but only recently. The new nails have started to grow underneath and look healthy and normal so hopefully by the time it is flip flop weather they will be ok to paint as I always tend to have painted toenails.

Some people did find it quite strange that whilst being dead on my feet with chemo I still found the energy to bother about my nails.


Is it sore loosing nails? I start Docetaxel next Thursday.

Christine xx

Hi Maybeline, I used burgundy nail varnish on finger and toe nails, kept this up throughout 3 Fec and 3 Tax but wasn’t as fortunate and lost six nails, on fingers, not completly down to the cuticle but just above.I finished chemo in Nov and thought I’d got away with it until they started ‘lifting’ and then breaking off.This started about 4 weeks after chemo finished. Apart from a bit of soreness I managed to use little finger bandages from superdrug until soreness wore off. They’re not too bad now and the new nails are starting to grow again as described by Rev Cat. Good luck to everyone starting Taxotare.


I used it all the time kept them covered it worked for me just some sensitivity is all when I take it off now I always still re do. If I don’t they start to hurt and feel weak. Hope whatever you decide works for you.

Silver x

I am about to do 3rd and final TAX and i have painted my nails with sally hansen hard as nails and dark nail varnish (with another layer of sally hansen over the top) so far i have only lost one toenail on my lil toe but i think that was due to having a huge blood blister that didnt heal properly on chemo that i got from partying hard in stillettos at my christmas do ;o)

Not sure that helps much as nails can lift long after tax has ended so i dont really know but it cant hurt? i thought the sally hansen may help to keep them strong but who knows i could still lose them

Best of luck x

Hi Mabeline,

I had 3x FEC and 3x Docetaxel last spring/summer.
The day before I started my TAX I painted my finger and toenails with a dark aubergine nail varnish. I put a strengthening varnish on under the dark one on my fingernails. I kept this up until one month or so after my last dose.
During my TAX infusions I dipped my fingertips in and out of little bowls of iced water.
I’m very happy to say that my nails have been absolutely fine other than very faint whitish lines on my fingernails and very slight ridges on my toenails.
Of course, I don’t know if my nails would have been okay anyway but I’m glad I did it.

Wishing you all the best, Kate x

Thanks ladies for your help. I have decided I will give the Sally Hanson’s Hard as Nails in a very dark colour a go. God, what with the lacquered nails and stylish wig, I’m like a different woman!!! I kind of miss the wrinkly, old-fashioned me with wayward hair!!!