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How To Make Nail Polish Last Longer In The Bottle

When you’ve finally found that perfect shade, it’s only natural that you’d want it to last for years and years (or maybe forever?). Of course, every nail polish has a shelf life, and, unfortunately, some last longer than others. Sometimes, you get unlucky, and your latest acquisition starts to expire well before its actual expiry date if one is even listed on the bottle. 

So, how do you make nail polish last longer in the bottle? The best way to make nail polish last longer in the bottle is to ensure that it is stored properly. Storing nail polish properly includes tightening the cap, keeping the bottle upright, and storing it in a dark, cool, and dry place while it is not in use.

Adopting proper storage techniques can help not only keep your nail polish’s original consistency for the duration of its shelf life but can also keep it looking fresh for years after.

Let us now look at what you should expect in terms of shelf life before turning to potential causes of spoiling.

We will then turn to making your nail polish bottle go further, so keep reading.

These tips and suggestions could save you a fortune! 

How Long Does Nail Polish Last In The Bottle?

The average bottle of nail polish should last around two years. However, inadequate storage or poor quality polish may not even reach a year. On the contrary, high-quality polish stored properly may last indefinitely. 

A lot has to do with the polish you buy, the state it is in, and where it is from. How has it been stored up until now?

So, when acquiring a new bottle of nail polish, except that it fills most of the bottle and that the bottle itself opens fairly easily and closes tightly.

The nail polish itself should not be runny but should spread easily over the surface of the nail.

At this point, your nail polish shouldn’t be thick, sticky, or dry.

Once opened, it is important to know how to care for your nail polish properly so that it lasts longer than a few coats.

The ingredients in nail polish make it sensitive to air, heat, and light, but with proper care, nail polish can last much longer than its anticipated shelf life.

What Can Cause Nail Polish To Spoil?

Nail polish can spoil for many reasons, the most common being that it wasn’t stored properly. A lot of direct sunlight, exposure to heat or humidity can all negatively impact the quality of the polish.

In many cases, nail polish does not come with a specific expiry date, but there are a few situations to avoid and signs to look out for if you want to maximize the shelf life of your nail polish. 

Your nail polish may not last as long as you’d hoped if it was stored in a place that receives a lot of direct sunlight, regular exposure to heat, and even regular exposure to excessive humidity.

Nail polish can also begin to spoil when the cap isn’t closed tightly between uses.

Being exposed to air for longer than necessary will cause your nail polish to thicken, losing its original consistency and eventually drying out completely.

Over time, a bit of dryness is a natural part of the nail polish life cycle, and taking care to ensure the cap is screwed on tightly will help extend the life of your favorite shade.

How Can I Make My Nail Polish Last Longer?

To make your nail polish last longer, it needs to be stored correctly. Storing your nail polish correctly includes tucking it away in a cool, dark, and dry place. 

Bathrooms should be avoided, as they experience frequent changes in temperature and humidity due to hot showers.

These frequent variations could affect the consistency of your nail polish, causing it to last for much less time than you’d hoped.

Beware of storing your nail polish in kitchen drawers or cabinets; nail polish is flammable and could present a fire hazard when exposed to direct heat.

This is why storing nail polish anywhere near the stove or other heat-producing appliances should be avoided.

Try storing your nail polish in an area that maintains a consistent temperature and has relatively low exposure to direct light.

Be sure to store nail polish bottles upright, which avoids any unwanted leaks.

While it seems like the less you handle your nail polish, the longer it will last, this is not always the case.

Checking in on your nail polish frequently and giving the bottle a gentle roll, even if you don’t plan to use it just yet, can help keep it from separating and producing clumps.

If you’re looking for some serious longevity, consider investing in a nail lacquer thinner.

Thinners are readily available and easy to use but should be treated as more of a last resort.

If your nail polish is starting to get a little bit thick, sticky or dry, a drop of nail polish thinner and a quick roll between your hands will help restore its original consistency.

What Is The Proper Way To Store Nail Polish?

Storing your nail polish properly is the best way to make sure it lasts for more than just a few applications. Here are a few of the best ways to store nail polish properly: 

Clean Up Messy Edges

Whether it’s maintaining nail polish bottles or washing makeup brushes, every cosmetics user knows that you need to give your cosmetics a little bit of extra care to keep them fresh and long-lasting.

The neck of the bottle and threads inside of the cap of a nail polish bottle are optimal gunk collectors, meaning that nail polish settles there easily and dries quickly.

This can make it difficult to close the cap properly.

It could also present quite the struggle when, a few days or weeks later, you reach for the same nail polish bottle only to find that you’re wrestling to get it open.

To clean up messy nail polish bottle necks and caps, dip a cotton swab into some acetone and gently scrub the dried-up nail polish until it dissolves completely.

This technique may take a few tries, but it is well worth it.

Be careful not to get any acetone in the bottle itself, as this could end up diluting your nail polish, leaving it runny and, ironically, spoiling it well before its time. 

Be Sure To Close The Cap Tightly After Each Use

Closing the cap tightly is the easiest way to maintain the shelf life of your nail polish.

Tightening the cap prevents air from entering the bottle when you are least expecting it, which could speed up the eventual thickening and overall dryness of your nail polish.

Closing the bottle’s cap between coats is also an important part of this storage habit.

You may think that it’ll only be a moment for the previous coat of nail polish to dry, but all of those seconds will eventually add up.

Keeping a tight cap as often as possible keeps air out and saves you the disappointment of a nail polish formula that’s dry beyond repair.

Keep Your Nail Polish Away From Direct Light

Sunlight is a wonderful thing, and we absolutely love it – just not for storing nail polish.

The same properties of nail polish that make it dry quickly when applied to the surface of the nail are the exact same ones that will speed up the drying process inside the bottle itself.

Prolonged exposure to direct light also heats up the nail polish bottle, which is usually made of glass.

This heat will transfer to the nail polish itself and begin to dry it out.

Storing your nail polish in a dark place is the best way to go.

Keep Your Nail Polish Away From Sources Of Excessive Heat

Just like light, excessive exposure to heat can cut the shelf life of your nail polish dramatically.

Heat exposure can also present other issues, as nail polish contains alcohol and other flammable ingredients that, when exposed to excessive heat, can present a fire hazard.

Keep your nail polish far away from open flames, appliances, and other common sources of heat.

Store Your Nail Polish Upright

Sometimes nail polish bottles will topple over as you move things around, which is totally normal.

However, leaving the bottles resting on their sides is not an ideal position, as it could facilitate nail polish leaks and spoil whatever nail polish is left in the bottle.

Keeping nail polish bottles stored upright, perhaps on a shelf of their own or in a small box, will prevent unwanted messes and help your nail polish last longer than you’d expected.

Avoid Storing Your Nail Polish In The Refrigerator

Dark, dry, and consistently cool, the fridge seems like it would be the perfect place to store nail polish.

However, this method has always received very mixed reviews. Some found that their nail polish actually got thicker faster than when stored at room temperature.

Some found this to be the perfect method for helping their nail polish last longer.

Some opened the fridge only to find that their nail polish had leaked and contaminated their groceries.

Wherever you stand on this controversial method, a more cautious approach is usually the best one, so stick to room temperature storage solutions.

Lightly Agitate Your Nail Polish Bottle Before Using It

Nail polish that has been sitting for a few weeks will have started to set, which means that the ingredients started to separate.

This separation may result in worrisome-looking nail polish, but it’s simply a sign of nail polish that hasn’t been used recently.

Rolling the bottle between your hands to warm it up usually works well to get your nail polish ready for application.

Shaking vigorously will only add air bubbles to the nail polish in the bottle, so avoid this technique.

You should try to give your nail polish bottles a quick turn sideways or upside down every week or so and then return them to their original upright position until you’re ready for your next manicure or pedicure.


Good news for all the nail polish lovers out there: There are so many ways to take good care of your nail polish and help it last longer in the bottle.

While the average nail polish can last around two years, proper care and storage can help it last much longer than that.

And if you are looking for other tips and techniques to restore nail polish, then check out my following guides: