When should you throw out that nail polish?

OPI nail polish

I have a question.  How long can we keep our nail polishes for?  I’m asking because I just cleaned my nail polish drawer and noticed that I have some nail polishes that are at least 5 years old!  OMG!  But the funny thing is, they’re still fine and I’m able to wear them.  I don’t know if it’s because these are OPI nail polishes and that’s why they last longer since the only thing I do is to keep them in a drawer away from direct sunlight.

Shelf life of two years or longer
I’ve read that nail polishes should be thrown out after two years but I don’t know.  I mean, if they still work well, surely we can still continue to use them since the polish won’t come into contact with our skin?  And in relation to this, while some nail polishes can last longer but some can turn bad quite quickly.  So is there a way to extend the shelf life of that bottle of nail polish? 

Warm weather ruins nail polishes
In fact, a reader by the name of Vartika who lives in India with relatively warm weather wanted to know if she should be refrigerating her nail polishes so that they can last longer.   I only know that the high temperatures can cause polish to separate and the color to change.  But to keep them in the fridge?  Some said no, but a lot seem to be in favor.

Refrigerate for longer shelf life
But it seems that the experts are agreeing that nail polishes should be kept in the fridge for them to last longer.  According to Oprah.com, Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, executive vice president of OPI, claims that storing polish in the fridge will slow down the discoloration that happens as polish gets older.  In addition, she suggested keeping the bottles upright, because if a bottle falls on its side it’s harder to shake the pigments back together. Even the cosmetic chemist Mort Westman explains that refrigeration reduces solvent evaporation and pigment caking and settling.

Additional tips to keep nail polishes from drying
Well, I have never kept any of my nail polishes in the fridge.  Like I mentioned, they’re just kept in a cool dark place.  But I do make an effort to ensure that I wipe the edge of the bottle opening so that it’s easier to tighten the cap after each use.  In addition, I never shake my nail polishes to prevent bubbling but instead roll the bottle in between my palms to blend the color with the thinner.

Maybe I should keep my current faves, I’m Not Really A Waitress and Lincoln Park After Dark in the fridge so that they can last me longer?


  1. flym says:

    Hmm..even my Maybelline nail polish is pretty much wearable after a few years kept in a dark and cool, but unrefrigerated, environment. I hesitate to keep nail polish in the fridge cos although it certainly prolongs their shelf life, the change in humidity and temperature is pretty drastic when you take it out and apply it. It takes me at least 15 min to do a decent paint job so that might compromise the condition of polish while it is subjected to ‘extreme’ room condition..or maybe I’m just paranoid.

    flym: I have that concern too. Cos I imagine that if you remove the nail polish from the fridge, it would become too thick to apply. I’m not sure but I guess I’ve got to try to know.

  2. Jamila says:

    I have seen pictures of a 20 year old bottle that applied beautifully. I think that refrigeration may only be needed if you live in a very hot place. I have revived polish that went all thick and gloopy by adding some thinner and TA DA! It was good as new!

    Also… What if you have a large collection? Can you imagine 100+ bottles of polish in the frige? Lol.

    Jamila: It makes a pretty sight when you open the fridge but I think about the hygiene factor unless of course it’s a special cosmetic fridge. ?

  3. prettybeautiful says:

    for the first time i heard about storing nail polishes in the fridge. wouldn’t it be too cold/freeze in the fridge? usually my nail polishes last for years too, even the cheap ones.

    prettybeautiful: Not sure…but some girls swear by it though. I guess it shouldn’t be stored in the coldest part of the fridge. Maybe safe at the door.

  4. parisb says:

    Am I glad I don’t wear polish! One less thing to worry about ?

    parisb: I have to wear them on my toenails. I can’t leave home without them. ?

  5. Stephanie says:

    I have noticed the older top coats that I have sometimes turn a little yellow.

    Stephanie: Yes, I noticed that about top coats and they don’t work so well after a long time. Their shelf life is probably more limited than the lacquer.

  6. cowsandlemonade says:

    You might want to rethink wearing one of the worst toxic substances, there is way too much information about their toxic ingredients in the paint, as well as the paint remover. Here is one article you may want to readhttp://latimesblogs.latimes.com/emeraldcity/2008/06/acquarella-a-cl.html

    In the end, it’s hard to resist bare nails and naked toenails in sandals. The healthiest option is to use henna, or at least get someone to professionally put henna design on your hands and nails, it takes awhile for the henna to make your nails a deep burgundy red, but it lasts a lot longer and with a henna design on your hand, it’s a lot prettier.

    cowsandlemonade: Thanks for the info! I’m aware of the toxic ingredients in nail polishes but I didn’t know there is a natural alternative. Interesting! Shall go and find out more.

  7. Ian says:

    Wow, that’s really a cool. Most of my nail polishes tend to thicken and dried up even though I store them in cold dry place. OPI is a good quality products, where do you normally get them from? and how much does it cost? It’s pretty costly in Malaysia.

    Ian: OPI is expensive in Singapore too. I get my supplies from States when my hub travels or through sprees. Cost me less than S$9 each.

  8. Isabel says:

    I keep all my nail polish in the fridge. Some are nearly a decade old and still apply perfectly … only a very slight thickening has occurred.
    I don’t know what that says about me though … having 10 year old nail polish! =/

  9. sesame says:

    Haha…I think I have 10-year-old nail polish too. ?

  10. crystaliciousss says:

    never ever throw them away, there will always be a moment when you will regret it ?

  11. Lee says:

    Me too! I got some really cool dark purple (Maybelline I think) about ten years ago and now it is really in style! Glad I kept it. And, yeah, I have always kept all of it in the fridge. Occasionally one will react and thicken and bubble when I take them out, and those are the ones I toss. There doesn’t seem to be a big diff between expensive and cheap; it’s kinda random. I had some expensive stuff that I got for free at a store that was closing and it was very gloppy and bubbly. I think the store had had it on the shelf a long time and that’s why they were giving it away.

  12. pnalley says:

    I was going through my really old nail polish and I found some L’orial that is at least 15 years old. 3 bottles are still the proper consistancy for applying. One bottle, my favorite of course got thinck & goopy. I just thinned it down a little with acetone. I did a test application and it went on fine, but it is very slow to dry. Too bad the don’t make the shade “sealily” anymore

  13. sesame says:

    Yes…I realized that many nail polishes can outlast 5 years! I have some around 10 years old and I believe they can still be used.

  14. Angela says:

    I highly discourage putting nail polish in the fridge! The change in temperature becomes too extreme, and the bottle contents will always separate when it reaches room temperature. I wish I knew that would happen before I put my very hard to find OPI Absolutely Alice in the fridge. There was nothing wrong with it to begin with, but if it’s out of the fridge only for a day, I always get that layer of oil on top now. All my polishes which I kept out at room temperature have not separated at all, so I am pretty sure my putting polish in the fridge is what has wrecked my beautiful Alice. It’s still useable with a shake to mix it up again, but the bottle is so sad to look at, at all other times. ? DON’T DO IT!

  15. Mary Lou Cummings says:

    I used Sally Hansen nail polish for many years. Kept it in the fridge. However, that isn’t my problem. I got hooked on Tutti Fruiti shade of polish and now am unable to find it anywhere. Even would consider any brand if I could find the same shade!

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