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!