The Shelf Life Of Shellac And How To Improve It




Affiliate Disclaimer

As an affiliate, we may earn a commission from qualifying purchases. We get commissions for purchases made through links on this website from Amazon and other third parties.

Each season brings a variety of shellac colors that suits the fashion trend at the time. With that being said, by the time summer comes around again, you may still have a nearly full bottle of bright yellow shellac. The question on our minds is does shellac nail polish go bad?

Shellac nail polish usually lasts up to 3 years before it should be discarded. This is the case provided these shellac nail polishes are stored correctly. That means they are not exposed to extreme temperatures and are closed properly to avoid exposure to air.

In this article, I will explore different ways to improve the shelf life of your favorite shellac polish. By doing so, you can build up your collection and when the next season comes along, you’ll be on point with the trend.

FEMELI Nail Polish Wall Rack 6 Shelves,Clear Acrylic Nail Polish Holder Organizer for 66-90 Bottles

What Is the Shelf Life of Shellac Polish?

The shelf life refers to how long a product can be kept until it expires or becomes unusable. In this case, nail polish tends to thicken and become clumpy when it is exposed to the wrong conditions. 

The shelf life also depends on factors like how it is stored, how frequently it is used, and the quality of the brand or product. If the shellac nail polish is stored in hot or sunny places, it can thicken.

Shellac that is used frequently, like in salons, for example, tend to last less than nail polish used by an individual at home. That’s because it is opened more frequently and the contents are exposed to air.

Finally, cheaper nail polish is made from less durable ingredients. They will perish faster than a product that costs a little more. Generally, the more expensive, the better the quality.

Why Should You Ditch Expired Nail Shellac?

Using nail polish that is not how it was when you first bought it could compromise your manicure. I will discuss why you should avoid using nail polish that has expired. Usually, this happens after two to three years after opening it.


Expired shellac will not give you the desired color when the nail polish dries. This is because expired nail polish loses its vibrancy or starts to look a little off. 

Thick Finish

Using expired nail polish can lead to thick or clumpy textures. The nail polish does not dry properly and is likely to annoyingly smudge when you touch it. If adding gel polish thinner doesn’t change the texture then it’s time to ditch the polish.

It Does Not Last As Long

Expired nail polish is likely to be less hardy. It may chip or peel much faster. Especially if the texture has changed in some way or the ingredients are not binding together the way they should.

Does Gel Nail Polish Expire?

Gel nail polish tends to have a long shelf life. There are instances where it may become unusable or do not give optimal results. Here are some of the factors that can lead to the expiration of gel polish.

It Hasn’t Been Used for a While

When gel nail polish has been standing after it has been opened, the ingredients tend to separate. It may show the color separated from the clear liquid. You may also notice the glitter or color sinking to the bottom of the bottle.

Nail polish should be gently shaken every now and again to prevent this separation from happening. Each time you do your nails you could give each bottle of polish a gentle shake.

The Caps Are Not Closed Properly

This is one of the biggest causes of gel going bad. This happens when the caps are not closed tightly or are not put back on properly. When the polish is exposed to air, it thickens and changes consistency.

The Gel Is Exposed to Heat

Polish that is exposed to high temperatures tends to become thick and unusable quickly. It is best to store nail polish in a cooler room. Some people put their polish in the fridge. This might not be the ideal solution either. A cool dry place is usually best.

Cooluli Skincare Mini Fridge for Bedroom - Car, Office Desk & Dorm Room - Portable 4L/6 Can Electric Plug In Cooler & Warmer for Food, Drinks, Beauty & Makeup - 12v AC/DC & Exclusive USB Option, Pink

Does Shellac Polish Expire?

In general, shellac can last up to three years if it is taken care of. The shellac which is the resin substance used in nail polish has a binding property. This means that shellac is less likely than gel or other nail polish products to separate.

Again, the lid needs to be closed tightly after each use and stored in a cool, dry area for it to last. Usually, shellac polish that is taken care of can last up to 3 years. In a salon, however, with frequent use, it may be best to replace after 12 months.

How to Extend Shellac’s Shelf Life

There’s no doubt that one spends a small fortune on a beautiful shellac nail polish collection. The concern is how to extend their shelf life so that it lasts up to its expiry date. It is important to note that improper storage can lead to perishing quite quickly.

Let’s take a look at the tell-tale signs that it’s time to ditch that bottle of shellac nail polish. I’ll also discuss some things you can do to make it last longer.

The Signs of Expired Nail Polish

Here are signs to look out for when deciding if your shellac is good to go or a new bottle is needed for your manicure.

Check the Period After Opening Date

Many nail polish products provide a period after the opening date. This usually indicates how long the polish can be used after the bottle has been opened. Once a bottle is opened, the product is exposed to air so it will depreciate faster compared to an unopened bottle.

Check for Separation

Most nail polish lovers are aware of the separation or sedimentation that happens with nail polish. It is not uncommon to find that the glitter, color, and other liquids have separated. This does not always mean that the nail polish has expired.

You can try to shake the bottle to mix the chemicals again. If the separation persists then it is possible that it is unusable.

Check For Discoloration or Smell

Like all things bad, expired nail polish may start smelling differently. Another common phenomenon of expired nail polish is discoloration. This indicates that the formula is not as it is supposed to be and it is probably expired. 

Check for Thickening

This is one of the most common signs of expired nail polish. When it is repeatedly exposed to air, the formula tends to thicken. There are techniques that can be used to try to restore its consistency which I will discuss later. 

However, there is a point of no return when it comes to its thickness.

How to Make Shellac Polish Last Longer

If you’re cautious, you can make sure your shellac polish lasts. Since it is a makeup of various chemicals, proper storage is essential for its preservation. I will discuss some tips here.

Avoid Sunlight Exposure

Many products require storage in places away from the sun. That’s because its UV rays have the potential to cause damage. This is particularly true for your favorite nail polish. If it is exposed to direct sunlight, you may find the formula starts to change consistency.

You may also notice discoloration, or separation taking place. It is, therefore, best to avoid exposing your bottle of nail polish to direct sunlight completely.

Keep it Stored in a Cool Place

This goes hand-in-hand with sunlight exposure. Heat exposure is just as much a culprit when it comes to damaging nail polish. After all, nail polish consists of a mixture of various chemicals. Science class teaches us that heat can change a chemical’s properties.

So if your nail polish is not kept in a cool place, you may start noticing consistency changes, discoloration, or separation. 

Shake it Up

Many nail polish brands put metal balls in the bottle. These precision ball bearings are often placed within bottles of nail polish in order to serve as mixing beads. For the best results

These aid us in keeping the nail polish from thickening. This is best achieved when the nail polish is mixed during each use by shaking the bottle. Doing so helps keep the components in the formula together.

Be careful not to overdo it though. Shaking the bottle too vigorously can lead to bubbling in the nail polish. 

Keep the Bottle Clean

The neck of the nail polish bottle often becomes lodged with thick nail polish which has dried after being exposed to air. This can tamper with the rest of the formula. It is advised to use a cotton ball with nail polish remover to clean the neck of the bottle after each use.

It is also advised to use the outside rim of the bottle when getting rid of the residue polish. This helps to prevent the thickening of the nail polish inside the bottle.

Cutex Ultra-Powerful Nail Polish Remover for Gel, Glitter, and Dark Colored Paints, Paraben Free, 6.76 Fl Oz

How to Save Clumpy Nail Polish

There is nothing more frustrating than clumpy nail polish. Bubbling is also something that can lead to undesired effects when it comes to nail polish. I will discuss a few dos and don’ts when it comes to restoring thick nail polish.

I will also talk about how to prevent your nail polish from bubbling. 

How to Thin Clumpy Nail Polish

The first method involves doing the following. Fill a bowl with some hot water and put the bottle of nail polish into it. Let it sit in the bowl for 3 minutes, then take it out and allow it to cool down a little. Once it is okay to touch, roll the bottle in your palms to gently mix the polish.

The next way to restore your favorite nail polish when it thickens is to add gel polish thinner into the bottle. Be extra careful not to use too much, this will have a negative effect on the consistency of the nail polish.

Tachibelle Nail Polish Thinner 0.5 oz - Bring your old polishes back to life (1 Bottle)

Use a dropper to put the gel polish thinner into the bottle. After that, shake the bottle lightly to mix the nail polish evenly. It is important to avoid using acetone. This is because it breaks down the product and may lead to an uneven consistency.

The polish is also less likely to last as long as it naturally would because it may lose some of its binding properties.

How to Keep Nail Polish from Bubbling

Let’s explore some of the things that cause bubbling in your nail polish. I will also discuss how to fix or avoid it. 

Clean Your Nails Before Applying Polish

Nail polish may react negatively to oils or acetone residue. Remember that after painting each nail, one dips the brush back into the bottle. These residues can lead to bubbling or thickening of the nail polish.

Make sure to wash hands with soap and warm water before doing a new manicure. Also, ensure that your nails are dry.

Applying Too Much Nail Polish

If you keep applying nail polish onto a layer that has not dried properly, it can lead to thickening of the nail polish. Additionally, dipping the brush in and out of the bottle more than what’s necessary can lead to bubbling in the nail polish.

This may also be the case when you apply too many coats of nail polish. Most brands need a different number of coats to be applied. Generally, no more than three coats are necessary. When you add more than that, it can thicken the nail polish.

Keeping the Bottle Open for Long Periods 

The brush is attached to the lid so naturally, the bottle will be open for some time. However, it is important to put the cap back on and tighten it as soon as you’re done with the nail polish. This will prevent long periods of exposure to air, which leads to bubbling and thickening.

Where to Store Your Shellac

Since proper storage is key to extending your shellac’s shelf life, I will discuss proper ways to do so here. Throughout this article, I have made mention of improper storage and the damage it causes. Here are tips on storing your nail shellac properly.

Keep Them in a Dark Area

Keeping your nail polish bottles out of the light is important. Avoid leaving them in places like your windowsill, desks, or shelves with lots of light exposure or anywhere else that sees a lot of light.

Light naturally leads to the hardening of the product which is why it starts to thicken after being exposed to too much light. The best places to store your nail polish bottles are darker areas. This can be in a special box, in a drawer, in a cupboard in your room, or in any other dark place.

Keep Them Away from Heat

Room temperature is not the issue, it is heated areas you want to avoid. Try to keep your nail polish bottles away from walls that are heated or other heated areas. The same is true for cold extremities. 

One does not need to store their nail polish in the refrigerator. Storing them in a dark area is likely to be the correct temperature too. The key is to store your nail polish in areas where the temperature is consistent.

Keep the Bottles Upright

Another key technique to storing nail polish to extend its shelf life is to ensure that the bottles are kept upright. When they lay on their sides, separation and sedimentation of the nail polish can occur. Leakage is also more probable where the lids are not tight enough.

Avoid Storing Them in the Bathroom

The bathroom sounds like the perfect storage place for nail polish. However, the bathroom is likely to be humid from steam and it also exposes the nail polish to inconsistent temperatures. These two factors alone can depreciate the shelf life of your shellac polish.

The Bottom Line?

If you want to make your shellac polish last and keep it from going bad then it takes a little mindfulness. Avoid storing it in areas with light and heat exposure, try not to dip the brush in and out more than is necessary, keep the bottle’s neck clean and finally, make sure to close the lid tightly after each use.

If you want to know how to have long-lasting shellac nails you can read about it here.


About the author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest posts

  • Is Nail Polish Not Vegan? Uncovering Hidden Animal Derivatives

    Is Nail Polish Not Vegan? Uncovering Hidden Animal Derivatives

    This post contains affiliate links.When shopping for beauty products, it’s essential to consider not just the color and quality but also the ingredients and production practices involved. Nail polish, a staple in many beauty routines, may seem straightforward, but its vegan status can be complex. Not all nail polishes are vegan, as some contain animal-derived…

    Read more

  • Best Nail Colors for Fat Fingers: Expert Tips

    Best Nail Colors for Fat Fingers: Expert Tips

    This post contains affiliate links.Choosing the perfect nail color can be a daunting task, especially if you have wider or “fat” fingers. However, with an understanding of nail shapes, colors, and styles that work best for you, it’s possible to find a nail color that not only suits your skin tone but also creates the…

    Read more

  • What Is SNS and Is It Better for Your Nails than Gel?

    What Is SNS and Is It Better for Your Nails than Gel?

    This post contains affiliate links.Taking care of the nails and trying to find the least invasive and damaging technique is what makes ladies constantly search and discover new techniques. One of those techniques is dip powder nails or more commonly known as SNS nails. You may wonder, is SNS better for nails than gel? SNS…

    Read more