Saturday, March 24, 2012

Let's Talk About: Vintage Nail Polish!

Hi everyone, hope your weekend is off to a fabulous start! I wanted to do this post today because I am an avid vintage nail polish collector. I know there are many ladies out there like myself who crave the retro polishes, but I think a lot of people are unsure of why old polishes have so much appeal and wonder if they are safe to use. When I tell my real-life friends and family about my obsession with vintage polish, I often get blank stares or even looks of "WTF," and pondering of why I would want old, crusty polishes. So today I have compiled a list of FAQ about vintage polish, so that perhaps one day when you stumble across an old, dried up nail polish from your childhood, you won't be so quick to toss it out!


Why would you want an old bottle of nail polish when there is so much new and exciting polish on the market today?
The answer to this question will always be different for everyone, but a lot of why I collect vintage polish is for the nostalgia. I have always been a beauty products connoisseur, so even back when I was barely old enough to paint my own nails, I had a nail polish collection. In elementary school, I had tons of Cover Girl Nail Slicks and Sally Hansen Hard as Nails polishes. When I got a bit older, the nail polish industry hit big time with edgy brands like Hard Candy, Urban Decay and Revlon Streetwear.  Sadly, I got rid of all these polishes over the years and upon re-discovering my love for polish, I wanted to find some of my beloved shades again. And so began my obsession with vintage polish. Well, that and I stumbled across Pretty Random, an amazing blog by Kaz. She has the most epic vintage polish collection I have ever seen!

Doesn't the polish go bad?
The short answer to this is NO. Nail polish (especially old polishes) contain so many chemicals that it is extremely unlikely, if not nearly impossible, for the polish to ever grow mold or bacteria. Out of all the vintage polishes that I own (and I have TONS) I have never experienced anything of the sort. There is an article floating around the interwebs that recommends you to throw out polish after one year, which is absolutely utterly absurd. The worst thing I have experienced with a vintage polish is that was completely dried up - and that brings me to my next point...

Isn't old polish all dried up and unusable anyways?
A lot of times a polish will dry up over the years. This is where POLISH THINNER comes into play. Thinner is probably my number one favorite nail polish related product, and I have gone through several bottles of the stuff since my vintage polish collecting has started. It is magical juice. I have had several completely dried up bottles of polish that I have saved by using thinner. And by completely dried up, I mean there was not one single drop of liquid in the bottle, just dried up pigment stuck to the sides and clumped at the bottom of the bottle. Scrangie has an amazing tutorial about how to revive dried up polish, definitely check it out!

Thinner? You mean nail polish remover, right?
NO! Nail polish remover is meant to remove pigment from your nails and if added to a bottle of nail polish will break down the pigment and chemical bonds and ruin the polish. Nail polish thinner is specifically formulated to be added to a bottle of polish to restore the chemicals that have evaporated. I usually use Seche Restore for old polishes because it contains toulene, one of the big-3 chemicals that most old polishes have. Besides Seche, OPI, Orly, and Beauty Secrets brand found at Sally Beauty Supply all have nail polish thinner. Get yourself a bottle. You won't regret it.

Aren't the chemicals found in old polish unsafe?
This is definitely a topic that each person has to decide for themselves, so I will keep it short for you all here. The majority of old polishes contain the so called "big 3" chemicals, which are formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate (DBP) and toulene. These chemicals have been touted as the "toxic" ingredients in nail polish, and many companies have removed these chemicals from their products in recent years. However, the exposure to these chemicals that we get from nail polish may not be nearly as harmful as one may think. We are all exposed to many so-called "toxic" chemicals in our day-to-day lives, whether it be cleaning products or pesticides on our food. It is up to you to decide how you want to limit your exposure to these type of chemicals. Personally, I have never had any adverse reactions to vintage polish that contains these chemicals, but I don't wear it all the time, either. As in anything in life, I think moderation is key. For more info, check out All Lacquered Up's post about The Big 3.

When you say 'vintage,' how old are you talking? Is there ever a point where a polish is just too old?
When I talk about "vintage nail polish," generally I am talking about nail polish that is older than 5 years old. I have several bottles of nail polish that were made in the late 80's and are probably just about as old as I am. And you know what? They are still absolutely gorgeous and unique colors that I will continue using until I have used every last drop. So the fact that I have bottles of polish that are nearing 30 years of age and are still absolutely perfect goes to show the longevity a polish can have. I probably would not use a polishes from the 40's, 50's, 60's or even 70's, but I see them on eBay all the time, and a lot of times they look like they would be good as new with a bit of thinner and a good shake.

The moral of the story today folks is: DON'T TOSS OUT OLD POLISH! Forget about what you read in poorly researched magazine articles that tell you to throw out polishes after a year! Get yourself a bottle of thinner and have at it. There are so many vintage gems out there, so don't be afraid to dig out your old polishes and try them out!

So I want to hear your thoughts on this! Do you own any vintage polish? Have you ever revived a completely dried up polish with thinner? Do tell!

39 comments:

  1. whenever i hear/read the word "vintage nail polish" i always think of you & Dana .. lol i dont own any :(

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    1. Haha yes, Dana and I share the love for vintage polish!! We are working on something special for you guys involving vintage polish, so stay tuned! If you are interested in retro polish, ebay and blog sales are a great place to start!

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  2. I've never revived a completely dried nail polish, but of course I've added thinner to some "thickened" polishes. I don't have any vintage nail polish (my oldest nail polish is probably Kaleidoscope Him Out by China Glaze :) ).

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    1. Isn't thinner wonderful? I actually would consider Kaleidoscope Him Out to be vintage, since it was released in 2006 (making it 6 years old) and that it has the old ChG formula!

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    2. Yes, I agree thinner is the wonderful thing. Oh, then I own one vintage nail polish, cool :).

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  3. You know I love me some vintage polish. I was really young at the time of Streetwears/Hard Candy/Urban Decay so I don't have any polishes that I've saved from my childhood, but I do have Hard Candy Frigid, from right before they changed over to being a Walmart brand, a bunch of the Maybelline Denim collection (my babiesssssssssss) and old Sally Hansens in that annoyingly tall bottle and I love them all! I'm constantly trawling the depths of Ebay to see if I can find anything good but now it's mostly the new Hard Candy stuff. :/

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    1. Ebay is definitely hit or miss sometimes. Sometimes I can go for quite a long time without finding anything good on there, then all of a sudden a million vintage polishes will pop up at once. I recently found some amazing vintage HC lots on there, but that was extremely lucky. Sounds like you have a great vintage collection going, I hear ya on those dang Sally Hansen bottles. They're too tall for my Helmers, I'm going to need to get a melmer to fit those bad boys. Also, yay on the Maybelline Denims! Those are some of my favorite vintage polishes ever!

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  4. I agree! I love the old Sally Hansen's! I recently found some that had been stored in a box from when I was maybe 15, and all but a few that needed some thinner were as great as always and they proudly re-became a part of my collection! ^.^ I don't think I've EVER thrown out a polish, unless the bottle was broken, because even if it's empty, I just clean it out and use the bottle for frankening! =P

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    1. Wow, that is amazing that you still have some of your old Sally Hansens. I regret so much not knowing that I could keep my polishes and thin them out. I threw away so many old, dried up Urban Decay polishes that would have been amazing to have today. That is great that you never throw out a polish and repurpose them for frankening! I do that with a lot of my polishes too =)

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  5. Very interesting!!! Thank you for sharing!

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    1. Thanks so much, glad you liked my post =)

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  6. altough i don't have vintage nail polishes cause i just star using nail polish last year (and i'm just in high_school) this is really interesting!

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    1. Awww you're still a young'n! Perhaps if you hang on to the polishes that you have now, one day they will be considered vintage =)

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  7. This is a fantastic blog post! What a load of useful information from start to end! :)
    I do own some old polishes. Some in some horrible colours too - I've removed them from my stash to make frankenpolishes of them, but perhaps I should see if I can revitalize them in a different way.

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    1. So glad you enjoyed this post!! I have stumbled across a lot of less-than-exciting vintage polish shades since I've been collecting as well. Usually I only keep the really unique ones and then find new homes for the others or franken them like you do =) But yeah, most vintage polishes tend to be of the red-pink-mauve-brown-frosty-nude variety, so that's why it's so exciting when I find one that is unique and fun!

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  8. Awwwww shiiiit!!!! Love this post girl!!! Not everyone shares our passion so it's wonderful to let others in on it! Very I formative:))) and yes- the pic is totally freakin awesome! What's that SW on the right? Cant wait for our posts tomorrow!<3

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    1. I knew you would get a kick out of this post! I figured it would be a great precursor to our first Retro Sunday post!!! The blue Streetwear is the blue version of FX Flash and then the gold one is called Imagination, a gold microglitter topcoat =)

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  9. This was such a fun, interesting post to read! It brought back so many memories! I think my oldest nail polish is a Sally Hansen Chrome polish in this puke green. It's awesome.

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    1. Yay, I'm so glad you enjoyed it!!! Vintage polish is so much fun! Puke green Sally Hansen chrome?!?? That sounds right up my alley! I have been looking for green chromes, but the closest one I found was aquamarine which is mostly blue. Care to share the name?

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  10. such great info, sadly I don't own any vintage polish, I didn't know and threw out a bunch of old polish before blogging, it's so upsetting.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed! Yeah, I hear ya, it breaks my heart everytime I think about all the awesome polish I have gotten rid of over the years. At least we have eBay and blog sales though!

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  11. You and Dana have inspired me to get some Vintage polishes. Unfortunately, I never see any where I am. I've never revived a bottle of polish before. I'm amazed that you were able to do that with a completely dried up one.

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    1. Yay, that is awesome!!!! I don't really see too many vintage polishes where I am either besides when I'm dusty hunting in old salons. I only find OPIs and China Glazes there, mostly. The rest I find on blog sales and eBay, and mostly at very reasonable prices! Those are two great places to start hunting for vintage polishes =)

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  12. hey dear,

    I have just discovere ur blog. Nice blog btw:)
    Wanna follow each other dear? Will be sure followed you back as well.

    LOVE YOU
    miss-monaa.blogspot.com

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    1. Glad you like, will check out your blog =)

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  13. So cool to find another blogger who loves the hunt for vintage polishes. I have at at least 30 that I've gotten at garage sales and thrift stores. My favorite experience was a garage sale where I picked up 7 OPI and 3 other polishes for $1 a piece. :)

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    1. Yay so glad to see another vintage polish lover!!! I need to start checking out thrift stores for polishes. There's one right by my school, I'm going to go after class tomorrow!

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  14. Thank you so much for this post!!!
    Lots of real important info!!

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    1. Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

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  15. Very well written with awesome information, and thanks so much for the shoutout! :D

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    1. You're welcome! And thank YOU for being my gateway drug into the world of vintage polish! <3

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  16. Thank you for the post! I think vintage polish is cool because there was a lot of good stuff back in the days. I don't have much, but I have a good handful of the old Revlon Street Wear and two Maybelline Colorama polishes. They're practically unused for the most part, but they bring back a lot of memories. I'll have to check out garage sales or thrift stores to see if I can find anything.

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  17. I am guessing that I have a few bottles of polish that are older than you. *wink, wink*

    I think this is such a great post and there are so many people who apply the general cosmetics rule of tossing once they think it's too old because it must be "spoiled". Thanks for pointing these things out.

    I would kill to have just one more bottle of Cutex Raspberry Sherbet. I think I went through at least 3 bottles of that during my high school years. It was one fabulous "pretty in pick" color! Plus I loved the shape of the bottles and handle!

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  18. I found some vintage nail polish at a NYC street fair recently. Two of them were flakies. I think it's fun to find vintage nail polish, there's a lot of great older polish.

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  19. What a great post! Thanks, I'm going to check out some vintage polish!

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  20. One of my fondest memories of "playing in my grandmother's makeup drawer" was back in the 70s, when smy grandmother gave me a bottle of red Cutex nail polish from the 50s. It was in a beautiful art-deco-type bottle with these ridged shoulders and a tall, plastic "crystal" top that you could detach. (Her drawer was full of Evening in Paris colognes and those Coty "indelible" lipsticks too.) That was so many years ago, but the memory of the bottle with that beautiful red in it is still fresh. I wish I still had the bottle. That's the problem when you give a cool thing to a kid...I was 14 or so at the time, and I probably used it and then threw it out. Sigh. I can see it plain as if it stood in front of me today. Well, at least I have the memory!

    I love playing with vintage vanity items. Luckily, I am old enough to remember women having them,---at least, my grandmother had them. She had powder boxes of celluloid and face powder called "Rachel" (the color that brunettes were supposed to use back then!). Such fun, and everything ladies used and put in their purses smelled lovely! You could even get perfumed ink pens.

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  21. I love vintage nail polish bottles.
    I have a few 1950s Cutex & Revlon nail polish bottles. I've even got some older unique shaped nail polish bottles too. I love the unique shapes of the old nail polish bottles with the long tops/lids/caps. All the newer nail polish bottles of today look so plain to me.
    Thanks for having this blog. I think it is very cool.

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  22. I just stumbled upon your blog yesterday and have been looking through your previous posts. I love vintage polishes and I myself have some retro hard to finds as well. Your collection of Street Wears is awesome I am so jellies! I remember have two growing up and right now I can only find one of them! I think I may have given the other away at some point.

    Anyways, awesome blog, I have a blog too, as well as some Sally Hansen Nail prisms I wouldn't mind selling or swapping for, let me know if you are interested :)

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  23. Love the blog post! I am probably the biggest "retro" polish collector going...only OPI though. I have been collecting for 20 years. Yep, 20! I'm not telling how old that makes me...;) I have OPI polish that some of you may not have even heard of LOL. I was an OPI educator for 2 years and that was where my passion began. Thank god for polish thinner and blogs that tell us how to save our dried up favorites!

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