Does Nail Polish Expire?

By Emily Walker


If your nail polish has been sitting in your drawer for months (or even years), it’s time to take a closer look at it! 

Here are some signs that your beloved lacquer has gone bad: 

The color has changed

If your nail polish used to be a deep, rich hue but is now lighter or more translucent, it might be time to toss it. This is often a sign that the polish has expired or has been exposed to too much sunlight, both of which can cause the color to fade. 

The polish is thick and lumpy

A good indication that your nail polish has gone bad is if it’s become thick and lumpy. This is usually caused by the polish drying out, so it’s best to just get rid of it. 

It doesn’t apply smoothly

If your nail polish used to go on smoothly but now seems to be streaky or uneven, this is another sign that it’s time to say goodbye. This can happen when the ingredients separate or the polish itself dries out. 

The smell is off

Believe it or not, nail polish can go bad for other reasons than just being old. If your polish has a weird smell, it might be contaminated and you should get rid of it immediately. 

If your nail polish meets any of these criteria, it’s definitely time to trash it and invest in a new bottle. If you’re having issues with nail polish going bad, it may be time to change up how you store your lacquer. The #1 tip to prolong the life of your polish is to store it in a cool, dark place away from any sunlight. By doing so, you shouldn’t have to deal with iffy polish as often. Happy polishing!