How to Improve the Shelf Life of Gel Nail Polish
First, do you know how to determine what the shelf life of your polish is? Most companies print it right on the label. Look for a little symbol of an open container… it will say something like 12m, 24m or 36m inside of the container. That’s the manufacturer’s recommendation regarding how long the product should be used once it’s been opened. I took a peek through my gel polish stash and found varying info on the bottles. Here’s a sampling of what I found:
- LeChat, Pink Gellac – 12 months
- Gelish, Gelish MINI, RCM – 18 months
- ibd, Gelaze, ProGel – 24 months
- Kiara Sky, INK, Couture – 36 months
- and some are non-existent or so small they’re impossible to read!
I try not to worry too much about the shelf life though. I’ve had many of the polishes in my collection for several years and they’re still usable because I care for them properly. Here are some helpful tips on how to care for your gel polishes to help extend their usable life.
Gel polish bottles should be stored away from exposure to natural sunlight. Don’t leave them sitting out in front of a window or in a bright room that gets a lot of light. Ideally they should be stored somewhere dark like in a closet, box or drawer. I personally like to see my polishes so I have them prominently displayed on shelves, but they’re in a room on the back of my house that gets very little light. I usually have the blinds drawn in that room as well and the wall that my polishes are on never gets direct sunlight.
UV light is what causes gel polishes to cure/harden. Most gel polish bottles are opaque, but some may allow small amounts of light in which will ruin your polish over time. Gelish, for example, has the tiny little window that allows you to see the color (horrible design if you ask me). And some bottles are heavily tinted, but don’t block 100% of the light.
You should also avoid storing your polishes in locations that are exposed to extreme temperatures, hot or cold. An even, mild temperature is best. I’ve heard some people say they store their polish in the refrigerator. I can’t personally vouch for that though… if I put my polish in the fridge, there wouldn’t be any room for food. :)
Also be sure to close your bottles properly after using them. Clean any excess polish off of the neck of the bottle with a lint-free wipe or cloth and some alcohol to ensure a tight seal.
SHAKING / MIXING
When polishes sit for a long period of time the ingredients can start to separate. It’s a good idea to shake them up once in a while. I used to hand-shake my bottles, but I’ve been spoiled since buying my Robart Shaker. I always give my polishes a good shake before using them, and sometimes I just randomly shake polishes that I know have been sitting for too long.
Shaking helps improve the consistency of your polish. It prevents them from thickening, and it also helps with things like the opacity and shrinkage when applying. A well shaken polish will always apply better than one that’s not. There are a few different electric polish shakers available. Check out some of these:
- Robart Shaker ($34.99)
- For Pro Shaker ($35.99) – this one is quieter than the Robart and doesn’t move around as much.
- OPI ProShaker ($99.99) – the mother of all polish shakers. I want this one, but haven’t taken the plunge yet.
If your gel polishes do start to thicken, try using a few drops of gel polish thinner to improve the consistency. Use a shaker to mix the polish well after adding the thinner. I’ve rescued a few bottles that were on the edge of going bad this way. Don’t try using acetone or remover to thin your polishes though. Check out some of these options:
What tips and tricks do you have regarding the proper care of gel polish? Leave your feedback in the comments below!