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Miraculous Facial Oil
Miraculous Facial Oil

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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21st February, 2019

My daughter owns my nail polish collection. I go through it to chuck out all the old ones for her .

21st February, 2019

I chuck away the old ones, though I do feel sad about it that a lot went to waste.

21st February, 2019

I’m ruthless and chuck old and unloved polishes - but I make sure hubby isn’t watching so he doesn’t notice the disposal of polishes I lamely justified their worthy purchase months earlier ....

21st February, 2019

Yeah I have had a de clutter of these

21st February, 2019

I do have quite a collection of nail polishes which I keep in a drawer. I have never used a whole bottle up, ever! I tend to pass them on to my daughters

21st February, 2019

I have a ridiculous amount of nail polishes - I’m slightly obsessed!! I store my in a dark place out of the heat - because I have so many of them, it’s not often I fully use one up so it’s great to read these tips of when to bin them

21st February, 2019

I have a cute little round box full of polish. I tend to throw away when they get gluggy or the lid crusts on lol.

21st February, 2019

Love this article. I am currently reaching for my nail polish bag and I’m going to do an honest audit. It may be heartbreaking but I guess there’s always room for more.

21st February, 2019

Wow very interesting!

21st February, 2019

I tend to find them at the back of the bathroom cabinet when I'm moving house!