Wanna know the best way to store and organise your nail polishes?
You’re in the right place.
Say goodbye to clumpy, cloggy formulas, dried out polishes and fading colours and get ready to cringe because the pun is coming…
In this article, we’re gonna “nail” nail polish storage and organisation.
There is lots of useful information in this article, but if you just popped by to find out what’s my number 1 recommended product for storing nail polish, I’ll save you the time and trouble of reading the whole thing.
Back to the article.
If you are anything like me, (and I’m willing to bet that we have a least 1 or 2 nail-related things in common) you have probably invested a lot of time and money into curating the perfect polish collection.
I wanted to protect that investment. So, I went ahead and did a ton of research on the best way to store nail polish.
Turns out, proper storage is pretty important as it can save you a lot of money, time and stress.
Here’s what I discovered about how to store nail polish in a nutshell:
Nail polish should be stored in a cool, dark, non-humid place with a consistent temperature. It should not be exposed to heat or direct sunlight, as this causes thickening of the formula and discolouration. Nail polish bottles should always be stored in an upright position. Keeping nail polish in a refrigerator will help to maintain the vibrancy of the pigmentation, however, it can also cause thickening of the formula due to light exposure and temperature changes.
Ok, let’s delve into this in a little bit more detail and look at some possible storage solutions you can try at home to keep your polish collection accessible, organised and in the best possible condition.
Should I keep my nail polish in the fridge?
We’ve all heard about keeping nail polish in the refrigerator. But is it a good idea or an old wife’s tale?
Well, it seems to be a bit of a grey area.
According to the smart folks over at OPI, keeping your polish in the fridge slows down the natural discolouration that happens to all polishes over time.
As OPI’s cosmetic chemist Mort Westman explains, refrigeration not only reduces solvent evaporation (what makes colours fade) but also helps to prevent pigment caking and settling, which is what causes polish to thicken and clog up.
However, if your store your nail polishes in the fridge, it’s recommended that you allow them to return to room temperature first before you use them.
It also means that you are exposing your nail polishes to extreme temperature changes, and this can also cause the polish to thicken, which defeats the purpose of storing them in the fridge in the first place!
Storing polishes in the fridge is fine if you only have a small collection and you don’t mind waiting for your polish to return to room temperature before each mani.
For me personally, keeping polishes in the fridge just isn’t practical.
My refrigerator isn’t big enough to house my whole collection for a start, and I don’t have anywhere near enough patience to wait for polishes to get to the right temperature.
Plus, I tend to change my mind a lot, so I’d probably get a polish or 2 out of the fridge and then have to wait twice as long when I have a better idea 30 or 40 minutes later!
From a scientific point of view, there’s also a very small chance that your refrigerator’s motor could spark, in which case having a flammable substance in there is a very bad idea.
It’s the cool temperature that helps to keep your polish in the best shape, so you can prolong the life of your polish and minimise discolouration just as well by simply keeping your polishes in a cool, dark place like a cupboard.
How to store nail polish correctly so that it doesn’t dry out.
Ever planned the perfect mani only to find that your chosen colour has dried out?
It’s so annoying!
Not to mention costly.
It usually happens to your favourite, most often used shades, which means that not only can you not do the awesome manicure you had planned, but now you have to shell out for another bottle.
So not cool.
Here are my top tips to stop polish from drying out.
Tip number 1 – Screw it!
Gel polish is not going to dry out no matter how much air gets to it, but if you are using regular polish, it’s particularly important to screw on the cap whenever you’re not using the brush.
Popping it back in the bottle isn’t enough, as the air can still get to it, and the air is your enemy when it comes to polishes drying out.
If you want to stop polishes from drying out, you need to screw the cap back on tightly.
Remember, nail polish is designed to dry in the air, so keep the cap screwed on tight in-between colour changes.
Tip number 2 – Clean the caps.
Another major cause of drying out is when the cap screws on the outside of the rim get clogged up with crusty polish.
This gunk can affect the seal of your polish, letting air seep in and ruin it.
To avoid drying out caused by compromised seals, it’s important that you keep the outer rims of the bottles (where the lid screws on) clean and free of gunk.
Here’s how to do it.
- Take a cue tip, cotton ball or pad and soak it in nail polish remover.
- Squeeze it out a little, you only want it damp not dripping.
- Gently rub the outside of the rim where the cap screws on, taking care not to get any nail polish remover inside the bottle.
- The polish should dissolve. You may need to repeat the process a few times to get it properly clean.
- Gently clean the inside of the lid with a cue tip or cotton ball.
- Put the lid back on, screwing it tightly.
Don’t store polishes upside down, they seep into the handle and dry and crust making them really hard to open.
If you have a particularly stubborn cap that refuses to open, you can try running it under a hot tap for a few minutes or putting on a rubber glove to give you a better grip while you attempt to unscrew it.
Tip number 3 – Agitate your polish every few days.
The longer you let your polish sit, the more likely it will be to set.
To stop polish from setting and drying out, you need to move the bottles around a bit every few days.
This is called agitating the polish.
Ideally, it should be done every 2 to 4 days.
You need to be gentle, no shaking as that causes bubbles which will wreck your next manicure.
Just take each bottle in your hands and move it around a little, rolling it over in your hands or turning the bottle over a few times.
Tip number 4 – Rescue dried out polish with a thinner.
If your favourite polish has dried up and thickened a bit, you may still be able to rescue it.
Most nail polish thinners come with a dropper, so use that to add one or two drops at a time until the consistency improves.
Roll the bottle in your hands gently to mix in the thinner.
You won’t need much. Less is more.
Be careful. Thinners are pretty strong, so you’ll want to do this in a well-ventilated area well away from children and don’t overdo it or you will ruin your polish.
If you don’t have any thinner, you can use clear nail polish to improve the consistency but note that this will also “water down” the colour so to speak.
Never use nail polish remover to thin out the polish. While it will certainly restore it to a liquidy state, what you’ll end up with is a watery mixture that won’t stick to your nails.
What’s the best way to store and organise your nail polish?
How you choose to store and organise your polish will depend on how many polishes you have, whether you want them on display, how often you use them and how accessible you need them to be.
I recently organised my own nail polish collection (of around 50 bottles).
The main priority for me was finding something that would fit all of my different sized bottles.
I have several brands (Opi, Essie, Bluesky, Orly etc) and I wanted to be able to store them all in the same container.
Since it’s a bad idea to store nail polish upside down (the polish leaks into the lids and cakes) my bottles I also wanted a storage solution that would allow me to store all the bottles in an upright position.
I wasn’t concerned about creating a display, but I did come across some great products for displaying larger polish collections,
Even though I didn’t want a fancy display, I still wanted to be able to see what I had at a glance, so a clear container made the best sense for me.
I also wanted something portable so that I could do nails for friends and family occasionally.
I eventually decided on a clear case which I bought from Amazon .
It holds 48 bottles which was just enough for me once I’d ditched a couple of topcoats with hardly anything left.
It easily fits all of my OPI, Essie, Orly and Bluesky gel polishes and even though the dividers are adjustable, I found that I didn’t need to move them at all to fit everything in.
The case is very good quality. It’s double-sided, so both sides open up separately, and each side has a plastic fastening that feels very secure. It also has a handle, so it’s very easy to just grab and go when I’m ready to do my nails.
I ended up standing it upright (landscape) on a bookcase in a cool corner of the room, away from direct sunlight, and I’ve found that that works very well and takes up very little space.
The only negative thing I’ve noticed is that after a while, it started to get a few scratches on the outside which made it a bit more difficult to see through, something and nothing really.
Ok, so now I had found the perfect case, it was time to organise.
Organising your polish collection by colour:
I try to keep things minimal, so I have a modest collection of around 50 bottles.
I have a lot of neutrals, just because they go with everything, but I also have quite a few colours for doing nail art.
I decided to start by grouping colours together. I put all the neutrals together first, including greys, nudes, black and white, and navy.
Then I put all the pinks, blues, greens, reds, purples etc into little groups.
I put the top and base coats into the top right of the case first, since I use those every time.
Next, I put in each of the colours in no particular order, starting with the darkest shades and working my way up to the lightest before introducing the next colour.
I was really pleased with how the polishes looked inside the case once I’d finished.
When I placed the container upright on my bookcase, I could see all of my beautiful polishes, so even though I hadn’t attempted to get a display, I ended up with a display of sorts after all!
If you follow the advice in this article and store your polishes well, they will last longer, and be far less likely to go crusty, dry out, thicken or fade.
The average shelf life of nail polish is approximately 2 years, but with proper storage and care, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to almost double that.
It’s a good idea to organise your polishes because it just makes life a little easier.
Good organisation can save you time and make the experience of choosing your next mani easier and so much more fun.
I hope that you have found this post useful and I wish you the best of luck with your project.
Happy polishing 🙂