As I was decluttering my makeup stash a few days ago, I came across a couple of nail polishes that have become all gloopy and unusable. That happens when the solvent (usually butyl acetate or ethyl acetate) evaporates. So, if you want to save your nail polish, you need to add it back.
The best way to do this is by using a thinner, such as OPI Nail Lacquer Thinner. Thinners contain these solvents and often nothing else, giving new life to your favourite polishes without compromising their consistency and formula. But thinners can be expensive, so a lot of girls prefer to use a few drops of their nail polish remover instead.
Does that work as well? Very often, sadly, not. Here’s why:
Acetone-based nail polish removers
A lot of nail polish removers feature acetone, a substance that mixes well with butyl acetate and ethyl acetate. So, in theory, there shouldn’t be any problems, right? Well, acetone is a very potent solvent, more so than butyl/ethyl acetate, so it can ruin any shimmers or glitters present in your nail polish, as well as giving the colour a dull finish. Is this trade-off worth it? It’s up to you to decide.
Water-based nail polish removers
The solvents used in nail polish removers can be quite drying, so a generous dose of water is often added to make the formula gentler. But water doesn’t mix as well with butyl acetate and ethyl acetate. This can compromise the finish of the nail polish, making application streaky. That’s why this type of remover should be added only to glittery nail polishes. Those chunky glitters well conceal any flaws.
Ethyl acetate-based nail polish removers
Ethyl acetate is one of the solvents used in nail polishes, so this type of remover is by far the best option to revive your favourite shades. But there’s a catch. It works well only when ethyl acetate is the only or main ingredient. If the remover also contains big amounts of water, acetone, or any other ingredients (usually hydrating ones added to counteract the effects of the solvents), then it may compromise the colour or consistency of your nail polishes.
The Bottom Line
Although they can be pricey, thinners are by far the best option to revive an old, gloopy nail polish. Nail polish removers rarely work as well, and can compromise both the colour and consistency of your favourite shades. If you want to give one a go anyway, do a quick test by mixing a few drops of your old nail polish and remover and see if you like the result.
How do you revive your old nail polishes?