How to Store Nail Polish

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You spend your money and time curating a vast collection of nail polish trying to ensure you have the perfect color for every occasion. But when it comes time to use that particular color you had the foresight to get for a particular outfit that you’re finally going to wear, you find your nail polish separated, chunky or the lid is glued shut and you can’t even open it!

Okay maybe a first-world problem, but at the end of the day, we all work hard for our money.

No sense in wasting it!

Just like other beauty products, nail polish does have an expiry date and there is a proper way to store it to ensure you get the maximum shelf life.

In this article, we are going to talk about how to store nail polish properly, figure out the expiry date and give you some other tips along the way to make sure your nail polish lasts as long as possible.


How Long Can Nail Polish Be Kept?

Unopened nail polish can last 4-7 years. But after you open it, you’re looking at an 18-24 month shelf life for regular nail polish and 24-36 months for gel polishes.

Now the FDA does not regulate expiry dates for nail polish but instead leaves it up to the manufacturer to set the expiry date.

The expiry date will be on the label and will usually look like a little opened jar with a number and an ‘M’ indicating how many months the product should be used after opening.

How Can You Tell If Nail Polish Has Gone Bad?

Whether it’s past the expiry date, or you’ve found a bottle of nail polish you haven’t used in a while and the label’s worn off and can’t remember when you opened it, the easiest way to tell if nail polish has gone bad is the consistency.

If it has separated, there are particles floating around, it’s partially dried out or it has a gooey, thick, or stringy texture, then it’s most likely gone bad and it’s time to toss it.

That said, older nail polish can separate or get a little thicker if it hasn’t been used in a while. If it’s just separated or thickened, it doesn’t necessarily mean it has gone bad.

How To Revive Separated/Thickened Nail Polish

Nail Polish Thinner

Especially if it’s an expensive nail polish you’ve splurged on, you may want to try to see if you can revive it, if it has become thicker and/or has separated because you may still be able to use it.

First, try shaking the bottle vigorously. If that doesn’t work, you can try using a nail polish thinner .

Add a few drops of the nail polish thinner to your nail polish bottle, then screw the cap back on. Roll the bottle back and forth between your hands. If the nail polish blends back together again, then there should be no problem using it.

Here’s a more detailed explainer of how to thin out nail polish.

If, on the other hand, it doesn’t blend together, or has a stringy consistency, it’s clumpy, or it’s thick and gooey, you’ve tried your best, but it’s time to let go.

How To Store Nail Polish

Nail Polish Organizer

Nail polish should be stored in a cool, dark, non-humid place with a consistent temperature, away from heat and direct sunlight.

Avoid storing your nail polish in the bathroom! The constant changes in temperature and humidity will cause your nail polish to separate and break down much more quickly.

Nail polish should always be stored in an upright position. The easiest way to ensure the bottles stay upright, is to use a nail polish organizer .

You may not think you need one, but once you have one, you’ll be happy you got it!

Can Nail Polish Be Stored Lying Down?

If you are like most people, you probably have a shoebox in the bathroom cabinet or a vanity drawer full of nail polish bottles.

While it’s not like your nail polish will explode or anything catastrophic will happen if the bottle is lying down, poor storage will definitely shorten its shelf life.

Nail polish will start to separate much faster when it’s lying on its side or is upside down. And it’s harder to shake the pigments back together in a bottle that hasn’t been stored upright.

If the bottles are not stored in an upright position, you’re also more likely to end up with a bunch of bottles that you can’t even open because the polish leaks into the lids and dries up, and subsequently cements them shut.

How Do You Keep Nail Polish From Drying Out?

Apart from the proper storage that we’ve mentioned above, you want to make sure that your caps are fully screwed on.

Air is your nail polish’s worst enemy. When it comes to drying out, make sure you don’t leave it open for extended periods of time. And keep the lid on when you are not using the brush!

How Do You Keep Nail Polish From Getting Thick?

All nail polish will thicken over time. But knowing how to store nail polish properly is key to preventing them from thickening more quickly.  

Shake your polish bottles every few days, or at least every week.

If you find your nail polish has thickened, you can try using a nail polish thinner, as we’ve mentioned above.

Is It Good To Keep Nail Polish In The Fridge?

So there are lots of beauty hacks out there running the gamut from literally life-changing to false and dangerous. One of these beauty hacks is to keep nail polish in the fridge.

If you are supposed to store your nail polish in a “cool, dry place, away from sunlight”, then the fridge fits the bill, right?

Keeping nail polish in the fridge actually helps to maintain the vibrancy of the pigmentation and solvent evaporation of nail polish. It also helps to prevent pigment caking and settling, which is what causes polish to thicken and separate.

Now there are a few things you need to remember if you are thinking about storing your nail polish in the fridge…

Stand Bottles Upright.

Much like your bottles laying all willy nilly in a shoebox in your bathroom cabinet is not good, don’t go tossing your nail polish in the fridge in the vegetable drawer.

Make sure they are standing upright.

This will likely require an organizer if you don’t want to be knocking them over every time you go reaching for the milk.

Allow Polish To Warm Up To Room Temperature Before Use.

Your fridge is colder than room temperature, so this will cause your nail polish to thicken. You should remove the nail polish from the fridge 30 minutes before use to allow it to return to room temperature.

NEVER apply heat to your nail polish.

Extreme Temperature Changes Can Cause Nail Polish To Thicken.

Repeated opening and closing of the refrigerator doors can cause a change in the consistency of the nail polish and cause it to break down faster.

Is Keeping Nail Polish In The Fridge Practical?

Do you live in a family with kids or teens that are constantly in the fridge, opening and closing the door? Does your fridge have enough room to house your nail polish collection? Do you really want to wait 30 minutes for your nail polish to get to room temperature only to realize you’ve changed your mind about which color you want to wear?

If you’ve gone out and spent the big bucks to splurge on that one bottle of No products found. in the most fantastic color… it’s understandable how you might find some room in the back of the fridge for just that one.

Technically, keeping nail polish in the fridge can lengthen its shelf life by keeping color pigments vibrant and preventing settling and caking. But the practicality of storing your entire nail polish collection in the fridge, for most people, just isn’t feasible.

Storing your nail polish in a cool, dry cupboard (don’t forget to keep them upright!) works just as well and won’t take up valuable real estate in the fridge.

Take Away

Nail polish storage Tips in a nutshell:

  • Store nail polish in a cool, dry place.
  • Keep nail polish away from sunlight and heat.
  • Don’t store nail polish in the bathroom.
  • Store nail polish bottles upright.
  • Screw the caps on tightly.
  • Shake your polish bottles every few days.
  • If you have a large collection of nail polish, a nail polish organizer is a great investment as it will keep your bottles upright, and take up less space.

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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).