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Glam Pro Lash
Glam Pro Lash

Five Signs Your Nail Polish Needs To Be Binned

21 February, 2019 - 07:05pm by - Head Pixie | 25 Comments

By BR Kellie

Does nail polish go bad? Can it go off? When should we chuck it? 

Never have I ever had cause to think about any of this. Not in my twenty odd years of applying nail polish, but the other day I sat down to refresh my polish and after applying a new polish I kept smelling... CAT PEE. 

It was horrible. I couldn't figure out where it was coming from, but then I realised every time my nails went towards my face that this astringent stench would waft its way up my nostrils.

All I could think was 'my nail polish has gone bad'! But had it? 

Well... I took a deep dive into research mode to find out...

So, what are the signs your nail polish has gone bad? Check these out...

1. If it's thick and gluggy then it's on its way out. ALTHOUGH - you can save it with a little nail polish thinner (such as the Orly Nail Lacquer Thinner). But if it doesn't work, or you have to add thinner more than a few times to the point that the thinner is interfering with the polish's ability to apply properly, then it's time for it to go to the nail polish heaven in the sky.

2. What if the polish has separated? Give it a good shake. If it becomes one and stays like that it's good to use. If it separates quickly? Thank the polish for its service then say goodbye.

3. When the top's so crusted you can't get it open. Sure, the product inside might be fiiiiiine, but if you need to break out the pliers or pop the top in the door jamb area then twist the bottle really hard to open it then you're on the way to a potential glass shattering injury (and let's not talk about how hard it is to get nail polish off floors and walls...). Just do an Elsa and let it go.

4. What about if it's old? On closer evaluation of my nail polish collection I've noticed some of the polishes have a wee sign on them saying that once opened you've got two to two and a half years to use it before binning it. EXCEPT... here's the thing. I couldn't understand this. Nail polish is filled with solvents that are the enemies of bacteria, so how could it go off that quickly? Turns out certain countries demand an expiry date in order for a product to be released into the wild. So that's why it's there - it also explains why after over a decade one of my nail polishes still looks great, smells great and applies great. That cutie tootie isn't going anywhere!

5. When it smells or has changed colour? If there's an obvious change of smell or has significantly become discoloured, then yes - get rid of it, just in case. Why risk it? 

So was any of the above causing my fingery stench? Nope. On further investigation (basically me sniffing everything I'd put on my hands and fingernails that day) I realised it was the combination of the nail polish scent and the scent of my nail polish remover pads... which are meant to be used within twelve months and are now three years old and no longer smell quite so fresh. Whoops. My bad. 

So how can we ensure the longevity of our polishes?

If you are wanting to get a long life out of your polish your best bet is to store it upright in a cool, dark spot. Easy peasy!

There you have it! Deciding on whether to toss out nail polish is a bit like deciding on whether to toss deli ham - if it looks good and smells good, you're (most likely) good. And if in doubt? Toss it out! (Or repurpose it with the ideas in this article.)

Now... do tell... do you regularly remove nail polishes from your collection due to age? Or do you hold onto them no matter their state? Chat away!


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18th April, 2019

I only keep my nail polish collection to minimal - approx 5 colours. My strict rules are that I need to finish the bottle before I buy another colour - same policy as my other makeup collections. My mum on the other hand has about 60 colours and her secret is to ensure that she turns the bottle half way when she puts it back for her to know that she has used at least once in that year. If the bottle hasn't been turned for a while - she reckons that it doesn't deserve a space in her collection (and time for more!)

9th April, 2019

Oh my whoops I'd better chuck some out I've had for years like I mean years

4th April, 2019

I just found a few that needed to be binned!

28th February, 2019

I have to get rid of my multitude of nail polish every time I have to relocate to other city/country. Household movers don't like to move flammable things. My lucky friends ended up inheriting them. I used to always have 50 nail polish in my collection. Nowadays I try not to go over 10 as I get upset when I have to part with them.

28th February, 2019

I try to hold on to them as much as I can. I usually throw them away when I'm unable to paint my thumbnails decently, that's my usual gauge. LOL

28th February, 2019

I rarely use nail polish - I do have a couple in the cupboard and when I last checked they seemed fine eg not gluggy and not stinky!

27th February, 2019

I have a lot of nail polish. I don't even want to look in that box. I always take only coral nail polish.

22nd February, 2019

I have just ditched a load of nail polishes, so am feeling rather chuffed with myself. I didn't really need 4 different 'coral' colours!

22nd February, 2019

Man some of my nail polishes get real old. I've always been a shocker for moving to newer more interesting shades before I finish the old ones.

22nd February, 2019

Mine keep pretty well and must admit I do have quite a few :-) I have a beautiful cherry red which is nearly finished and I wished this shade could be produced again.

22nd February, 2019

This has actually made me think i should really clean out my nail polish container, I've probably got 30 odd so its def time for a overhaul.

22nd February, 2019

I would love to keep them all- but need to cull. Solution is to take may absolute favourites out and then let the kids go wild. Then once they are done I go through and get rid of the ones that they have trashed and destroyed. It takes the decision work out of the equation for me which makes chucking so much easier.

22nd February, 2019

I usually end up culling them back because I don't like the formula or the colour is not my fav. Not because it has expired as such. I did know about the nail polish remover hack and have used it a couple of times. I tend to just keep absolutely adored shades. Mostly purples!

22nd February, 2019

Yeah, i end up chucking mine when the top is so crusty and hard, and when it gets so thick that it doesn’t brush on smoothly anymore. Usually this happens when the polish is getting close to the finish line. I have tried nail polish solvent.. but most of the time it just doesn’t feel right.

22nd February, 2019

After reading this I'd better go through mine I'm sure I have several that are wll over ten years old eeek