How Long Does Nail Polish Last - Côte

How Long Does Nail Polish Last? A Guide To Nail Polish Shelf Life

Nail polishes seem to last for years. In fact, we bet you have a few nail varnishes around that are more than a few years old. But, have you ever questioned whether nail polish can expire or go out of date? These are important questions to consider, as our fingers often touch our faces and mouths. Distributing out-of-date chemicals or unsafe products can be detrimental to our health, so it is essential to know the safety regulations about nail polish!

Though amazing non-toxic nail polish does exist, knowing how to store nail polish for longer shelf life is always beneficial. Like most beauty products, nail polish does come with its own shelf life which is often documented on the packaging. However, this shelf life is not as strictly mandated as other beauty products are, such as powders, glosses, and blushes, so it can be difficult to know for sure when it has expired. Despite this, there are some key telltale signs that it is time to bin your old nail polish and replace it with something new.

In this blog post, we will be covering everything you need to know about how long nail polishes last, detailing their average shelf life as well as common signs that it is time to get rid of one.


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Does Nail Polish Expire?  

Generally speaking, nail polish does not expire or go bad. Despite this, nail polish can spoil if not used for a long time, and this will affect the way the polish applies to the nails, as well as the overall aesthetics of the nail look.

Nail Polish comes in various types and each type is made up of a different complex formula. Due to this, it’s difficult to make a definitive statement about an expiration date.


Estimated Shelf Life Of Nail Polish

Typically, nail polish is said to last around 2 years from the date of opening if used regularly and stored properly. To maintain your nail polish longer and preserve its shelf life, you will need to store it in a cool place away from any sources of heat. You also want to avoid storage places where the temperature fluctuates greatly - read: don’t store it in your bathroom! If improperly cared for or stored, nail polish can become goopy, thick, or even discolored. But with proper storage, you can enjoy your nail polish with an even coat for years to come.


Signs Your Nail Polish Has Gone Bad

There are several key indicators that you will need to look out for if you are concerned that your nail polish has either spoiled or gone bad. The following signs are the most common, so make sure that you are regularly checking your nail polishes.


1) Check Your Period After Opening (PAO) Labels

On the bottle of your nail polish or gel nail polish, there is usually a period after opening the label. It’s generally a small bottle with some writing on it, like 24M or 36M. This indicates the average shelf life your polish has once it’s been opened. This is a great general rule of thumb for knowing whether your nail polish is ok to use or not. (Of course, it takes remembering when you opened it!) It's important to note that improper care and storage do have the potential to decrease this time period.


2) Texture And Consistency

The texture and consistency of your nail polish will change depending on whether the polish formula is spoiled or not. A goopy texture or a dramatic change in thickness and consistency will not paint smoothly and could result in a less-than-perfect look.


3) Nail Polish Has Become “Crumbly”

Due to the chemical makeup of nail polish, if the polish is exposed to vast amounts of oxygen or heat sources, then the nail polish can become "crumbly." This is when the texture of the nail polish is no longer smooth or like a thick liquid. Instead, it is clumpy and does not sit well on the nail surface once painted. Nail polish becomes this way due to solvents in the polish mixture evaporating, which is mainly caused by exposure to air. As a result, this usually occurs when nail polish bottles have not been closed tightly enough or stored properly.


4) Discoloration

Discoloration of the nail polish can also occur due to improper storage. If exposed to too much heat or light, or any wide fluctuations in temperature, the color of your nail polish can fade. While your polish is still safe to use, you will have yourself a whole new color.

5) The Bottle Won’t Open

Well, this one is obvious! If you can’t open it, you can’t use it! If your cap has glued itself to the bottle, chances are it wasn’t closed tightly enough, or there was too much excess polish left on the neck of the bottle. Occasionally, this can occur because the plastic of the cap has decayed or expanded over a period of time. This, again, is usually due to improper (read: heat) storage. 


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Methods Of Storing Your Nail Polish

We have compiled the best tips and tricks on how you should store your nail polish in order to make it last!


You should try to store your nail polish away from direct sunlight and sources of heat to keep the nail polish fresh and fluid longer. Though storage is key to lengthening the shelf life, it is also very important to keep using nail polish. Apply thin coats of different nail polishes to your nails every few months to keep the formula mixed well and in use.

Make sure your nail polish bottle is always shut properly with the cap fully twisted before storing. Opened bottles of polish will dry out and thicken due to evaporation.


Store In Cool, Dark Place

You should store your nail polish in a cool and dark place. A consistent cool temperature will prevent any discoloration to the polish and maintain the proper viscosity of the varnish. 


Clean Bottles With Nail Polish Remover

Cleaning the neck of the bottles can help prevent clumps of dried polish from forming - meaning you will always be able to open the bottle! Cleaning your nail polish bottles with non-acetone nail polish remover will easily get rid of excess or spilled polish at the neck. A few drops on a cotton ball or wipe will get rid of any dry or spilled polish, ensuring a clean neck for easy and thorough capping. Cuticle oil may also help removing any polish excess in your varnish bottle.



In summary, nail polish can last for up to (and even longer than) 2 years if properly maintained and well stored. To ensure a smooth application, whether that be just a base coat or a top coat, a bold color, glitter polish, or even some nail art you will want to make sure that your nail polish is in the best condition possible.

Keeping your nail polish bottles stored in a cool and dark place will prevent discoloration, texture inconsistencies, and any evaporating from occurring! By following our trusted tips and tricks for the safekeeping of your nail polish, you will always have fresh and healthy polish ready for your next pedicure or manicure.



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