Can You Use Expired Nail Polish?

Although a fashion accessory that is used by both males and females, nail polish or nail paint is mostly associated with ladies, especially as female folks tend to store up different shades of nail polish in specialized makeup bags.

In some cases, some of these nail polishes are rarely used, and a time comes when they are stored beyond their shelf life. Sadly, once this happens, the next question you may be eager to find answers to may be “can you use expired nail polish?

Sure, you can use expired nail polish in case you find yourself having a couple of them that have stayed beyond their validity period.

So, what this means is that, if you find yourself losing out on some favorite nail polish, there is absolutely nothing to fret about since this post is designed to walk you through some important tips you need to know in order to get your expired nail polish back to life and usefulness.

Does Nail Polish Expire?

Nail polish generally has a shelf life of about a year, but that’s not necessarily the case for every single nail polish out there. Some have ingredients that can cause them to expire faster than others, and some of the factors that affect the shelf life are things you might not even think about, like where it’s stored and how often you use it.

The majority of nail polishes that have a shelf life say somewhere on their packaging that they’re good for 18 months to 3 years. The more expensive brands are usually longer lasting, but even then, they still don’t last forever.

The ingredients contained in your favorite color could be the culprit behind its short shelf life. Some brands use silicone-based pigments in their nail polish, which may cause the polish to harden or get grainy over time, so if you notice your bottle getting hard or lumpy after a while, toss it out.

Other brands use peroxide to help speed up the drying process. Unfortunately, this can also start to break down the ingredients in your nail polish when it’s left unused for too long.

How to Know if Nail Polish is Expired

In case you may wonder “how do I know or tell whether or not my nail polish is expired”. For quick clarification, here are some things to look out for in order to tell whether your nail polish is still in the right form or not;

1. The nail polish does not blend easily

If you discover that the nail polish cannot blend easily, this simply means that it is expired. So, when you observe this, you can use the different methods above to restore your expired nail polish so that you can reuse them.

2. An unattractive smell with a hard texture.

Usually, nail polishes are made from very stable compounds. However, nail polish has some resemblance with paints in the sense that if it is not stirred or used, it will become hardened and might tend to break and separate. As this happens it gradually starts effusing bad smell.

So, a very easy way to know if your nail polish has expired is to check for the texture of the nail polish as well as the smell it produces.

3. A change in color

Another way to tell if a nail polish is expired or not is by its color. When you keep your nail polish for a long period of time, the dyes in the nail paint varnishes and separates out from the mixture and thus results in variation in the color.

If you discovered that the color of your nail polish has sharp contrast to the color it originally had on purchased, then it implies that the expiry date is due or long overdue.

More so, you should also observe the smell for an unpleasant smell, and if it smells bad, it then means that such nail polish is due for disposal.

Temporary and Quick Ways of Restoring an Expired Nail Polish

1. Shake gently

The first and probably the quickest way to reuse your expired nail polish is by shaking it. In this case, you need to shake the expired nail polish bottle, then turn it bottom up. This will help your nail polish to mix properly, and it will also refresh the smoothness of your nail polish tentatively or for a short while.

2. Roll It

Alternatively, you can employ the heat from your hands to perform the trick of restoring your expired nail polish back to life. You can roll the nail polish gently between your hands, and this will temporarily do the job of thinning the nail polish and you can reuse it immediately.

3. Gently warm It

This option is simply the best when your nail polish is old and expired. You can place your nail polish bottle in a bowl of hot water. While carrying out this step, ensure the cap of the nail polish is out of the water.

4. Clear It

This step involves the addition of clear or colorless nail polish to the expired dried nail paint. When you do this, it will give you a different and new shade.

On the other hand, you can use outstandingly high-quality nail paint without adulterations to clear the expired ones.

5. Test It

Yes, this is the last step of the process of using your expired nail polish. To ascertain the level of smoothness of the nail polish, you can test it by applying it to your nail.

While you carry out these quick processes for nail polish reuse, you can as well check them regularly as this will allow you to have a smooth texture at all times.

Some Permanent Tricks Reusing Expired Nail Polish

1. Thin it

Interestingly, the use of a nail polish thinner can help smoothen your expired nail polish texture.

The required quantity of the thinner for a single bottle of nail polish is three drops of the nail polish thinner and this should be sufficient to renew the consistency of your expired nail polish. However, you may have to confirm this and add to it if there is a need for such.

2. Slim it

Another good way of reviving your expired nail polish is by slimming it. In this process, you can make use of acetone or a nail polish remover to slim the dried texture of the expired nail polish.

A few drops of acetone or nail polish remover will do the job. However, this will not achieve slimness in a thin gel nail polish.

3. Mix it

After slimming the expired nail polish, the next thing to do is to thoroughly mix it by placing the bottle in between your warm palm and then rolling it back and forth.

You must do this each time you want to use it because when you apply a nail polish thinner initially, it may not give you the same result during the second use.

Hence to ensure consistency in the texture of the nail polish, the process must be carried out before the use

4. Repeat It

Although whenever you use nail polish thinner, your nail polish always retains texture for a very long time. However, if it becomes thick or dry; you can carry out the process again.

The only caution is to make sure that you do not shake your nail polish bottle vigorously, but, roll it gently between your warm palms.

5. Dry It

If in the process of slimming the expired nail polish, you added too much of the slimming agent such as the nail polish remover or acetone, the result will be that the nail polish will be too thin.

Well, you need not worry as you can allow the bottle to be open for a few seconds and then check the texture of the nail polish again until you get the desired texture of your choice.

How to Store an Expired Nail Polish After Revamping It

After the process of renewing or refreshing the expired nail polish, the next question that comes to mind is how do you store it at home?

1. Store at the right temperature and condition

The condition of storage is very important in ensuring that your nail polish lasts longer, and as such the revamped expired nail polish should be stored in a cool, and dry environment.

More so, always ensure that the nail polish bottle is kept in a standing position and should not be allowed to roll around.

2. Use It

Whenever the nail polish is not in use, it is important to keep the lids or caps close to prevent the content from drying up. Even while using it, always ensure that you replace the cap immediately after each application.

3. Clean the bottle opening properly after use

When you are not using the nail polish bottle, ensure that the bottles are clean by using acetone-soaked cotton. Always remove any leftover nail paint on the neck of the bottle and its body to ensure that it is airtight.

How to Check if a Revamped Nail Polish Is Harmful or Not

Finally, you may want to check if renewed expired nail polish is not harmful to your nail or not. However, precautions should be taken while carrying this out.

Do not apply the nail polish directly to your nails; it is not good for the health of your nails. The following procedures are used to ascertain whether the nail polish is harmful or not:

  1. Take two pieces of polystyrene sheet.
  2. Apply the renewed expired nail polish on it.
  3. If the sheet is burnt, it implies that the nail polish is not good to use. However, if it is fine, then it is safe for your nail.

Is It Bad to Use Expired Nail Polish?

We’ve all been there, you’ve found the perfect color of nail polish, but you can’t remember if it’s the right time to use it. Is it bad to use nail polish that has passed its expiration date? Yes, it is.

In some cases, using expired nail polish is definitely bad, especially if the polish has changed color or texture. In these situations, the risk of getting an infection from fungus or bacteria that can grow in old products is too great.

If you’re unsure whether your nail polish has expired, try to check out the ingredients list to find the product’s shelf life. Just be sure to only buy new products that haven’t expired yet.

What Happens if You Use Expired Nail Polish?

Nail polish doesn’t last forever. But that doesn’t make it okay to use expired nail polish.

In some cases, it’s not even safe to use nail polish after the expiration date has passed. Some brands have been known to produce batches of polish that harden quickly, which puts your health at risk if you’re still using them.

Expired nail polish isn’t going to ruin your nails or weaken them, but it could contain chemicals that are harmful to your body.

It’s not worth taking the risk when there are so many other products on the market that are completely safe and won’t damage your nails or health.

What to Do With Expired Nail Polish

Many of us have been there, you open a bottle of nail polish, only to find that it’s dried out and unusable. You could throw the bottle away in frustration, but did you know that the contents of an expired bottle can be reused? It’s true! You can make your own custom nail polish colors by mixing a couple of polishes you already have or by taking advantage of the leftover bits in some bottles.

To do so, all you need are two or more nail polishes of different colors and a mixing bowl. Pour out a little bit of one of the polishes into one side of the bowl and add a few drops of another color on top. Mix them together until they form your desired shade. If you want to make even more shades, simply repeat these steps with different combinations.

Does Nail Polish Remover Expire?

Well, the answer with regard to the expiration date is that there really isn't one. Nail polish remover is made up of ethanol and other ingredients that basically act as solvents to dissolve the acetone-based nail polish. So, they don't really expire.

Can You Use Expired Nail Polish Remover?

Yes, you can. The active ingredient in most nail polish removers is acetone, and it's a solvent that can separate the pigment from the nail. It may also contain other ingredients to enhance its effectiveness on certain polishes, but there aren't many other ingredients found in most that are actually harmful. So as long as you use it for its intended purpose, it should be okay to use even if it has expired.


Nail polish makes good and nice-looking nails. But in case you have your favorite nail polish staying past its expiry date, it is not the end of the world.

Whenever you have an expired nail polish that happens to be on your favorite list of nail paint, you don’t need to throw them away.

With the few tips and options given in this post, you can use expired nail polish, and still make them look as beautiful as the new ones.

Leave a Comment