Here's When You Should Really Throw Away Your Nail Polish

If you love polishing your nails, you probably have several bottles of nail polish in your collection. Unlike some beauty products that you use up quickly if you have a variety of colors, some of your polishes might be old. It can be challenging to tell when it's time to get rid of it. It's not like the colorful paints come with an expiration date printed on them. Sometimes it's obvious when it's time to let go because you've simply run out of polish, but other times it's more ambiguous. 

Annette Soboleski, a nail technician for polish maker OPI Products Inc., gave Shape some tips about how long a bottle can last, depending on the circumstance. She noted that unopened bottles of nail polish last indefinitely. However, once you've cracked the seal and started using the colorful hue to paint your nails, a polish certainly has a use-by date which may come faster depending on the paint's condition. Of course, tossing an old bottle may not be the proper way to get rid of it. "We recommend to never throw nail polish in the garbage can or pour it down the sink," Stephanie Bruno of Essie's product-development team told Martha Stewart. The EPA guidance for businesses says nail polish is considered hazardous waste (via Recycle Brevard), but some states exempt households from hazardous waste disposal regulations (via Chemwise). However, you can still recycle it or dispose of it at a Household Hazardous Waste collection site.

Here's all the signs it's time to part with your favorite polishes

While it's okay to use a polish that separated after shaking, according to Martha Stewart, there's no use in hanging onto it if it won't blend. Even if your opened polish is less than two years old, it's time to let it go if it doesn't mix when you shake it, according to Bustle. If your bottle is crumbly and dry, it's not savable even with a few drops of thinner to thin it. For bottles that aren't too crumbly, if you've used remover instead of thinner to revive it, you might need to toss it. Beauty master Michelle Phan warned, "many removers contain acetone that can break down the formula of your lacquer and actually ruin it."

If your polish contains glitter that globs, it's time to get rid of it. Likewise, if the bottle won't open, you have too many of the same shade, or it's a color you don't like. To keep your polish in top shape for two years after opening it, store it in a cool dark place. "Too much light or heat can alter the composition of the lacquer and lighten the pigments," advised Stephanie Bruno. The Essie product developer also offered a tip. She said to wipe the bottle's neck with polish remover after each use, which will allow you to more tightly close it, helping preserve the color the entire 24 months after you open.