Thursday, December 18, 2008

Restoring Polish: Quite Possibly The Most Important Post Ever

I want to talk to you guys about the shelf life of polish. How long does polish last? Do I have to throw it out after a certain amount of time?

To put it bluntly, the polish will outlive you. Seriously. There is no reason to ever throw away polish. It doesn't spoil, it doesn't get moldy, it can't 'go bad.' It can separate, but that is fixed by shaking before use. It can thicken or, in some strange cases, thin. That doesn't mean you have to throw out your polish.

I want to show you how to fix a completely dried polish. This will come in handy some day.

I saw this poor bottle of L'Oreal Bijou Crystals in B.Shocking on a store shelf and thought it would be the perfect chance for me to demonstrate this point. Look at it. It's completely dry. People would never buy this because they think it's garbage, but it's not! It's just a wilted flower, waiting to be watered.

Tip it over- it's so dry, it stays put. That's a solid mass of dried polish in the bottom. The brush is embedded in the dried polish. Tug gently to remove it.

My secret weapon: Seche Restore. I am in love with Seche Restore. I've gone through bottles and bottles of this stuff. Most people will tell you that it doesn't make a difference which polish thinner you use. While all polish thinners will thin polish, Seche Restore contains Toluene- a wonderful, magical substance that turns finicky polish into smooth, quick-drying chemical loveliness. This is especially handy for restoring older polishes because it's the toluene that has evaporated from them. Adding Seche Restore can also improve the texture of gooey three-free polishes. No, I don't work for Seche- I just freakin' love this stuff.

All you have to do is pour in some Seche Restore. I don't bother with a dropper when I'm using this much, but if you have some disposable pipettes, those work quite well. I try to add as much Restore to the bottle as I can- I try to picture where the polish would be in a full bottle and I add Restore to create that amount of liquid. Place the cap back on the polish.

You can see that the the Restore starts to dissolve the dried polish immediately. Once the cap is on tightly, shake the polish vigorously. Don't be alarmed if some Restore leaks out of the bottle. It's much thinner than polish and can sometimes make it out of the bottle. And to all of you out there who are gasping in horror when I say to shake your polish: Don't worry. It's okay to shake your polish. It absolutely WILL NOT HARM your polish. The worst it can do is cause bubbles, which settle on their own within five to ten minutes of shaking. So please, be kind, shake your polish. Much safer than rolling, because without a firm grip on the bottle, you could potentially drop the bottle and break it. I speak from experience.

If the polish is completely dried, like this one was, you may have to loosen the dried polish from the bottom of the bottle. I use a toothpick to pry the dry polish lump away from the bottom and sides, and then I stir it a for a little while to break up the dried lump.

After a little while of stirring and shaking, voila! Good as new. The texture is perfectly smooth- or it would be if it didn't have so much glitter in it!- and all of the dried polish has dissolved. You would never know that this was a reconstituted polish. It goes on smoothly and dries quickly. Now you have a full bottle of amazing polish that someone would have thrown in the garbage!

Here's the polish on my nails. It applied like a dream. However, I can't say I really like the color that much- streaky silver metallic and loads holographic glitter don't play well together. If you want a holographic silver metallic, it's best to use a holo topcoat, like China Glaze Fairy Dust or Piggy Polish Sunshine On Snowflakes on top of a silver polish to avoid the lumpy look that mixed-in glitter causes.

Here's another bottle that I revived from a dried clump of polish. It's CND Pucker Up. I ordered it online and when it arrived, the bottle was actually open and the polish was completely dried. I don't know how they didn't notice that when they packed my order, but somehow it did. I wasn't worried, I knew how to fix it and now I have a perfect polish that would have otherwise been trash!

Here's my message to you: DON'T THROW OUT YOUR POLISH! It can be fixed. I wonder how many old, rare, wonderful polishes have been chucked in the bin because they had thickened, separated or dried. The thought of it breaks my heart! To me, the older the polish, the better.

I hope this was helpful for you. I consider this to be very valuable and useful information. When I was younger, I never knew that polish could be fixed and I threw away so many bottles of gorgeous polish that I really regret getting rid of now. I wish I had them. Beautiful, unique, irreplaceable polishes that had separated or thickened. I am positively kicking myself for not holding onto them. Don't be like me!


  1. But we want to be just like you, Scrangie!!! Most of all we want our nails to be like yours!


  2. This is *so* helpful! I have just gotten into three-free polishes, and have noticed how sticky they can get. I didn't even know this existed!

    Thanks so much!

  3. Definately helpful! My question is; How do you know how much of the thinner you have to apply? What happens if you put too much in a bottle of dried or gooey polish?

    At least I'm happy that I've only thrown away really ugly nail polishes from the past. And the bottles which I completely drained of polish with my greedy little fingers from when I was 14. :D

  4. Yes, Scrangie, a really helpful post! I'll get some thinner ASAP.
    Do you have any insider tips on how to unscrew bottle lids that are screwed so tight you can't get them open? I have a red polish that's gasping for some christmas attention, but neither my farrier friend or my husband could get it open.

    1. Hey, I know this comment is REALLY old now, but in case you're still wondering, wrapping elastic bands nice and tight around the bottle and lid gives you much better grip. Or putting the bottle in warm water or polish remover should make the polish holding it shut get all gooey if that's why it won't open : )

  5. Yay! Thank you for this. I used OPI's thinner on my collection of original Urban Decay, but the polishes are back to being dried out. I'm going to grab some Seche post haste!

  6. How does the Seche Restore compare with Poshe Polish Reviver?

  7. I love my Seche Restore. Can't live without it!!

  8. i just threw away a few bottles of polish last weeks. :( But it's alright, now i know this, i won't need to throw away anymore polishes.

  9. Should I periodically go through my collection and freshen up the polishes that need it with the thinner, or should I just wait until I'm ready to actually use the polish?

  10. Thank you for this info. And perfect timing, because I have some old polishes that I loved but I thought they were "dead". Good to know they aren't!

  11. Hello Scrangie Dear!
    Thanks for the thoughtful post on restoring dessicated polishes. I hate to throw out my polishes, especially my older OPI collection which still have the most despised Big 3... but perform so beautifully, and really, I do not appreciate them 'reformulating' some colors.. It's not fair.
    But keep up your wonderful blog, and your polish samples.
    You are are dear! So creative, and so inspiring, and you make me laugh!
    Say "hi!" to your Mom!
    From another Mom!

  12. I never knew about Seche Restore. I am going to try it!

  13. This is my favorite post ever! Now all my polishes are immortal!

  14. Excellent tutorial!

  15. Great post! I lurve polish thinner. Fantastic invention!

  16. Fab tutorial Scrangie - and I have to ask what polish you're wearing in the toothpick stirring photo - I love it! Merry Christmas x

  17. Ugh...*painful memories.* I threw away BOXES of old Sinfuls and Street Wears and I used to own ALL of the CG Crackles....:( And I threw them away years ago b/c I figured there was no way to save them. GAH.

  18. I threw so many polishes back in the day, before I knew about thinner. But I revived a dried-out Lippman Vinyl a few months ago and it worked beautifully!

  19. Awesome! That was like a Science Lesson! I think I might use this idea with my second graders for their upcoming science fair project.With your permission of course!

    You are too much Scrangie!

    Thanks and Happy Holidays!!!!

  20. Thank you very much for showing it! Now I will buy my OPI and not worry that I bought too many bottles and they will dry out before I used it :)

  21. Lynn, hehehe, well be like the present me and not the past me :D <3

    KimmyDarling, thanks! It's a lifesaver for sure!

    Chaosiphia, I kinda just guess. You can always add more, but even adding too much doesn't ruin it. If you add too much, just leave the cap off the polish for a while, maybe an hour, and the extra thinner will evaporate :)

    Marie, ooh I hate it when that happens! First, I try the rubberband- wrap a rubberband around the handle and use that as a grip.
    If that doesn't work, I hold the handle/cap area under warm water for a few seconds. This usualyl works.
    And if that doesn't work, try dripping some thinner or polish remover under the cap, onto the screw threads and let it sit for a few minutes. :)

    Kerri, good job! I'm so happy you didn't throw out those precious Urban Decay polishes! Those are like gold to me now :)

    Nikkiz, hmm, you know what, I'm not sure! I have a bottle of Poshe Reviver, but truthfully, I've never used it! I don't think I've even opened it... I will use it and compare :)

    Katee, woohoo! Isn't it the best?!

    Anonymous, oh no! Well, now you know how to rescue them :D

    Jaime, I would wait until you think you're going to use it. You can thin it as little as ten minutes before you want to use it and it will be just fine. Just let the bubbles settle before you apply it :)

    Christina, yesss I am so happy to hear that! Save those lovely polishes! :D

    Sage1, wow, thank you! I don't even know what to say :) That's so sweet of you, it just warms my heart <3 Thank you so much!

    Aziajs, ooh do try it, I think it will come in handy quite often!

    mua_wiltedlettuce, thank you!! I love the way you phrased that, hehehe :D Immortal polish rocks!!

    Sara, thank you!

    Pixie, thank you! I agree, best thing since... nail polish. LOL I <3 thinner!

    Evie, thank you! On the left hand it's Essie Russian Roulette, and the right hand is Essie Russian Roulette with Nfu Oh 49 on top :D Merry Christmas to you too <3

    J, AHH ME TOO! All the same polishes! And I had these really cool matte finish maybellines and all kinds of cool stuff :(

    Sybelle, yes that is awesome! *high five* :D

    Stubby, hehehe thank you! Go right ahead! I loooove science! <3

    Anna, exactly :) It saves money too, because you can use your polishes until they're completely empty :D

  22. Thank for the tips, I'll see how it works!

  23. Okay, I have a question for ya! :) I have three or four really old CND enamel polishes that have turned thin as water. Any ideas?

  24. Marie, I hope it works for you :)

    Melanie, ahh I have a bunch like that too! One solution is to open the bottle and leave it open for a while. This causes the polish to thicken. I've had it work for a China Glaze but I haven't tried it with a CND.

    Another thing that might work is to put it in the fridge before you use it! The colder the polish gets, the thicker it gets, so it might help with those really runny polishes!

    I'm gonna go experiment with one of my watery CNDs and see what works best :D

  25. Thank you SO much for such a useful post! I didn't know a totally dried up polish could be revived! :)

  26. Great ideas! I'll try them both! Thanks, Scrangie.

  27. Great ideas! I'll try them both! Thanks, Scrangie.

  28. I just learned about Seche Restore recently and have been absolutely excited about using some on my old polishes. One question though: I thought toluene was supposed to be bad in nail polish. Isn't that why so many polishes are free of toluene as well as DBP and formaldehyde?

  29. Fauxfun, yay, happy I could enlighten you! I hope my post has saved many polishes from being discarded :D

    Melanie, anytime <3

    Anonymous, I have a pretty strong opinion on the subject of 3-free polishes...Toluene is "supposed" to be bad, but there's just not enough proof to show that it is- and in the amount you're exposing yourself to it's negligible. If you were drinking it, or covering your whole body in it, that's one thing, but applying it to nails, where it then evaporates within minutes? Sorry, I'll keep my toluene :)

  30. Wow, I didn't know SR could restore completely dry NP! A retailer wouldn't sell me their Moonpool overstock once because it was dried out.

    That being said, I think it is possible to have ruined NP-- I once received polish that had separated such that it was milky with chunks floating in it (it was supposed to be a jelly/creme). No amount of shaking or thinning would help it. :(

  31. !!!

    Scrangie! You're telling me that I can fix my $$$ Butter London polish that completely dried out after one mani due to their craptastic bottles???

    You're my hero!

  32. Scrangie - I (Squeezeweasel on MUA - I'm taking a break because the nail board has made me spend *way* too much money this year) think I love you. I've just resurrected what I thought was a DED bottle of Rimmel Zeitgeist. A perfect Christmas present - thank you!

  33. Scrangie, thank you very much for the detailed and valuable information. I think you have set many of us strsight who had heard from others that you coul duse acetone to thin polish.

    Your 'experiment' was very helpful!

    BTW, I love that silver color!

  34. thanks Scrangie,

    I didn't know you could restore a polish that was *that* far gone! I would never have even tried.

    Where do you buy Seche Restore?

  35. My wife had OPI Opal from a long time ago, it was one of my favorites. A gorgeous iridescent gray. She shit canned it because it was too thick. Bummer. Can you buy this thinner or something like it at local stores, drug store, Sally, etc. I'll re-read your post, it probably said...


  36. awwweesoommeee tips!! thank you!!!

  37. Thank you so much for this tip. Won't have to throw away any old polish. Yippee!!

    I bought the Seche dry fast top coat from Sally's. I don't think they have the Seche restore. Do you know where I can purchase this product?

  38. Ladyslattetnly, that sounds icky, lol. Actually, I have a jelly polish with yellow chunks too, but it looks to me like the pigment has just fallen out of the polish. Applies fine, looks gross lol

    Samhainophobia, yes! Don't throw it away! :D Seche Restore to the rescue! <3

    Liz, oh, I'm so happy! Zeitgeist is *awesome*! :)

    Jason, thank you :) And thinner good - acetone BAD, just keep repeating it :) lol

    Aprilrobin, isn't it wonderful? I get my seche from the online places, 8ty8beauty, head2toebeauty, the usual. I think they carry it at Ulta as well :)

    Scott, oh no! That's so sad! I think that's a pretty rare one, too! You can buy thinner at beauty supply stores like Sally, but Restore can be found online and at Ulta :)

    Yummy411, thank you! No more polish in the trash, yay! :D

    Rmcandlelight, you can buy it online at or at Ulta :)

  39. I wish I saw this post before I threw away my three loved to death Sally Hansen nail polishes :) I just stumbled onto your blog as I was trying to find out OPI nailcolours looks like. My friend is trying to get me addicted to OPI and it's working. Thank you so much for all your swatches!!! I have found new colors I love! And I love how they look on your nails! So perfect! BTW, I was also trying to find out if Lancome Le Magnetique nail polishes were being sold in my country and found that Loreal came out with magnetic polishes too! Have you tried them?

  40. I'm a bad bunny, I probably tossed a few a while ago :( but I've learned, and any more of my old polishes I find won't be chucked no-more!

  41. Just a girl, oh no! :( But thank you! I have not tried the Star Magnet ones but they seem to be the same thing, so I bet they're awesome!

    Arrowsflight, good! I really regret throwing out my old polishes, now I'm spending even more money trying to find and purchase the ancient polish I threw away!

  42. So helpful. Long ago, I read in a magazine that you should throw away polish after 5 years. So, like an idoit - I did. Out went my Nars zulu, old hard candy etc. Ugh!

  43. Look at that rock! Oh, thanks for this Scrangie, it helped me a s-load.

  44. Isn't Toluene one of the "Big 3" chemicals that are not all that good for you, though? I know OPI and Essie both stopped using it in their polishes.

  45. I'm mad at myself now for throwing away nail polish!! :(
    It won't happen again!

  46. Happened upon this post while searching for pics of L'oreal Bijou polishes, actually. I wasn't into polish (not drugstore brands at least) when the L'oreal Bijou were around but recently have seen a couple pics of them that have got me wondering if I need to start searching eBay to find some for my collection - LOL! Some of them appear REALLY gorgeous!! Anyway, so I ended up here - and I want to thank you for this GREAT post!

    I just read through it from beginning to end and it was VERY educational and helpful!

    I only recently learned about thinner and actually do own a nice big bottle of it (a cheaper brand from Sally Beauty - Beauty Secrets, maybe? but not Seche Restore) and have used it to successfully thin out a few polishes that have gotten thick on me but had NO idea that you could actually totally REVIVE a "dead" old polish! How AWESOME is that??!

    Thanks so much, Scrangie - love your blog - your pics are the best, your reviews and commentary are uber-helpful and informative, AND (most importantly) your sense of humor CRACKS ME UP! :)



  47. Obviously you are not eating the toluene, but you inhale it every time you apply, even if you a have a great ventilation system. I've worked in a organic chemistry lab and these chemicals (suspected carcinogens) work their magic over repeated chronic. If I were you, I would do more research or talk to a professional, because if anyone were to have exposure effects it would be someone like you that watches on a daily basis. You can never be too careful.

  48. Hi,
    Does this method of using seche restore work with matte top coats and polishes? Does it alter the finish or colour of them in any way?

  49. Hi,
    Does this method of using seche restore work with matte polishes and top coats. I would really like to try it but I'm afraid I will ruin the polish of the matte finish it gives. Will it alter the colour or mattifying-ness of the polish?

    1. Hi Tashi! I'm really not sure if it will change the matte finish. My guess is it wouldn't have any effect on it, but I haven't tried it to be sure. Sorry!

  50. hi does this work with glitter polish? I was just about to put some OPI Thinner into a burleqsue glitter thats thickened up.. is it safe to do so?? x

    1. Yes, definitely! I've thinned lots of different brands of glitter polishes with Restore (OPI included) and it has never had an adverse effect on the polish :)

  51. Did you ever try the poshe revive to see how it works for this?

  52. Thank you for this post!!! I need to get some of this - was worried i was going to have to throw out some beautiful polishes that have started to clog up. woop woop!

  53. I'm so glad I found this post. x_x I just bought some of this because my base and top coats kept getting goopy before I could use them up, but now I'm even more excited because I can fix up some of my favorite polishes good as new :D

  54. I'm so glad I found this post. x_x I just bought some of this because my base and top coats kept getting goopy before I could use them up, but now I'm even more excited because I can fix up some of my favorite polishes good as new :D

  55. Hi Scrangie -- I know this is an old post for you, but I saw one other about Zoya's Color Lock system. I was wondering what you thought of Seche Restore vs. Zoya's Renew.

    And -- have you had an issues w/polish thinners causing polishes to become cloudy, hazy or somewhat mattified? I didn't have this problem w/Zoya's (and haven't tried Seche's Restore, since your post just informed me about it's existence!), but have noticed it w/others....



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