Thursday, August 25, 2011

Polish Expires?

Nope ... negative ... maybe?

I was rummaging through my Mom's polish bin.  I came across a seriously old polish.  Do you remember when Cutex made polish?  Yea, a completely forgotten fact.  I don't think they are doing it now, but maybe they should.  I urge Cutex to pick up the beakers again and start mixing! ;)

This polish is over twenty years old, my guess is ca. 1990.  The bottle had a price sticker from Ames.  Remember those stores?  My Mom used to work there in the early 90's and she bought it on clearance for $0.99.

Are you ready for this?

Cutex - Sparkling Amethyst
2 coats.

You know the most amazing thing? Not one drop of thinner was necessary.  When I first opened it up, it was a bit gummy at the neck.  I gave it a good shake and it returned to a completely normal consistency.

It applied very smoothly, but polishes with this type of pigment usually do.

The color itself is not that fantastic, very 90's, no?

It's definitely frosty, but not too bad.

Myth busted?  Perhaps.

Does this polish work?  Yes, but I could imagine a polish "expiring" in terms of:

1. Color - Color can fade or change over time due to exposure to the sun or other factors.  Perhaps the color I observe in the bottle now was not the original color when it was manufactured back in the day.

2. Formulation degradation - Polish contains compounds that are comprised of long chains of molecules called polymers.  Mainly, these resins provide strength and flexibility to the polish coating.  Can these resins degrade over time?  Perhaps.   If the polymers are breaking would this change the polish consistency?  Maybe.  I guess it all depends on the inherent physical properties of those smaller chains.  Whenever I come across an old polish that is really thin (that was once normal) I always think this is the reason, but I have no idea, just theorizing here.  If the resins are degrading then the integrity of the polish could be compromised because the strength and flexibility may have diminished.  I would think this would be an important factor with regard to polish wear.    

Is old polish safe? I don't know, but my fingers haven't fallen off.  Have yours?  Some people worry about bacteria in polish.  I can't fathom how they would survive in the solvents.  For example, isopropyl alcohol, present in many polishes, is used as a solvent, but is also a well known anti-bacterial agent.  BUT, I suppose stranger things have happen.  There are bacteria here on earth that thrive in sulfuric acid.  Interesting fact, but I doubt there are any bacteria in polish.  Regardless, let's use commons sense ... if you experience some sort of reaction, then it would be a good idea to discontinue use.

This makes me want to start a tag.  Do you have anything really old?  Rummage through your, your mom's or your grandma's stash and see what you can find!  I would love to see it :D


  1. I am still trying to grasp that 1990 was over 20 years ago. Right around that time I was using my paper route money to buy Lee Press On nails :D I'm sure if I was near my Momma and not on the other side of the country, that I would find something EXACTLY like this in her nail polish drawer!!! Hahahahaha Hmmm...maybe I will ask her to look and send me something old!

  2. I remember Cutex polishes.

    Unless I'm wrong, their polishes back in the seventies had those long, tapering to a point tops.

    My cousins used to use a frosty white on their nails, and I wished I were grown-uppy enough to wear polish.

  3. Apparently they still sell Cutex nail polish in the Philippines... in fact, that's even what they call nail polish there (like we refer to tissue as Kleenex, they call nail polish Cutex). I just saw some incredirad swatches a couple weeks ago and I loved 'em! I don't know why they neglect North America. :(

    I don't have any old polishes... I threw out all the polishes I had as a teenager because I thought they went bad (wince) and my mom is a crazy Swedish hippy so she didn't wear nail polish.

  4. Yes I am old enough to remember Ames and Cutex polish! No bacteia could survive in the chemicals in old polish!!!

  5. You know what I have that's uber old?

    A book entitled 'Simple Guide to Microsoft Excel 97' lol.

  6. I doubt old polish is unsafe. I always feel like you could put next to anything in nail polish and it'd probably be safe.

  7. I used to have a bunch of stuff from the early to late 90s but about a year ago I went through and cleaned out most of it, thought it was old and wouldnt work. ugh if only i would have waited till I found out about thinner and everything...
    right now I still have some sally hansen teftlon tuff? anyone remember them and the hard as nails with the long white cap and half flat bottle. Im sure they work fine havent used any of them in a long time will have to break some out

  8. Lol that polish is as old as me!

  9. A funny and useful post!
    When my partner tells me that I own too many polishes, I always say: "Polishes don't expire!".
    He's a chemist and he never denied this fact!

  10. Fawk, that is a newish bottle of cutex to me. My first nail polish was a cutex but way back in the early 70's, the only make up stuff I was allowed to buy as a little girl.

  11. i have a bottle of polish from the 40's (no, i did not buy it new! lol!). still applies just fine. no idea if the previous owner used thinner, but it definitely smells super chemically.

  12. I have a whole plastic container of old polishes, including some that were my first "odd" colors. Think purple and one with blue glitter. I need to get some thinner so I can break these babies out again

  13. I just remember the SMELL. Holy Jeebus did polish from drugstores and places like Ames and Target SMELL!

    I have polishes that are not even a year old that have gone gimpy and had to be chucked.

  14. awesome!! I wish I had some older polishes!!

  15. I remember Ames, and we also had Hills in our area! I was graduating high school in 1990, and sporting WNW polish like mad. That polish is such a typical finish for the early nineties, isn't it? But it's amazing it's in such great shape - some of my older Maybellines that I scored at DT are in more rough shape than this is.

  16. 20 years old, huh? To me, the 90's were yesterday (heck, I got married in 1990!) but I point of fact, Cutex continues to make polish, but they're not available in the North AMerican market. Weird, right? And this from a company that's based in the US, no less! Apparently, the Asian market is filled with Cutex's latest baubles...go figure! Secondly, while the older polishes still seem to be viable, can it be attributed to the ingredients used, which are not kosher to add today? I'm referring of course to the nasties, aka: Toluene, DBP and formaldehyde (as well as formaldehyde resin). In any case, even with those ingredients added, it's not like you'd be wearing the polish long enough to cause major harm...I hope! Plus, let's face it: with the plethora of shades out there today, once in a while it's nice to do something retro! You can start a new trend: vintage varnish!! What do you say, my friend?! PS: your nails are looking quite spectacular!!

  17. that polish could be as old as i am! :) hahaha
    i also have some very old ones that are still kickin'... but my 3 oldest have died. they were Lip Smackers.

  18. ^my oldest polish is also a lip smackers. It's the grape one, and it still works great for me. It's actually one of my favorite colors. :)

  19. I think the oldest I have is probably 15-16 years old. From my middle school days. I know they are still at my parents house, so I might need to go over there and dig them out!

  20. I have some polishes bought 20 years ago. I wish I had kept my oldest bottles (Cutex in the traingular bottle, bought 1983) but I had a breakup with polish when I was 16 and threw them out. Sadly I made the same misstake my second breakup with polish, ten years later, and only saved the absolute favourites. Stupid, stupid me.

  21. They still sell Cutex polishes in Australia, but they suck! Really boring colours :)

  22. OMG i totally remember these polishes, lmao.

  23. @Maribeth - haha, Lee Press On's omg now I am enjoying my memories of their commercials! If she has something, you should totally do a post!

    @Lalli Carvalho - Thank you! :D

    @Anna - You know I can actually picture them. OH FROST ... what a mature finish ... I am obviously not mature enough for them yet.

    @Theomanic - That is so interesting! I recently asked them on twitter it they might resurrect the line ... they said stranger things have happened ... so who knows! :)

    @Fingers - yea I don't think so either.

    @The Student's Guide To Nail Polish - ROFL ... holy hell I'm old. F me.

    @VijiiS - haha, we still all have fingers.

    @BubblyFairy - ugh, yea, pre-thinner knowledge is just plain sadness. Ooo old Sally's ... could be a total win!

    @Courtney - Lol, you young whipper snapper!

    @Cristina - PeeBeforePolish - haha, you win! HOARD MORE!

    @Olivia - haha,nice! OMG if you actually still owned it I would pee myself.

    @nirfreak03 - after I put my eyeballs back in my socket I emailed you :D

    @Tres - That is awesome! DO EEET!!

    @KJ Callaway - I love chemicals! lol

    NO CHUCKING NECESSARY!!! Thinner to the rescue! It should be your best chemical friend.

    @Jacki - I wish it was more awesome, like way less frost.

    @Nicole - This frosty mess is a total flash back, no joke. Anything good from DT? - Yay 90's! Great memories and frosty polish! Oh the topic of the older chemicals ... that should be a post all on it's own. Personally, I don't think they are as bad as they are made out to be and there was much more pressure on the companies from interest groups who knew even less about these chemicals. Fear mongering at its finest ... now I digress. It was totally retro, but I want something cooler, because it was almost too frosty.

    @rebecca - it's so funny because these polishes are "old", but you are actually pretty young!

    @Julia - That's awesome. I don't even remember Lip smackers nail polish. hmmm

    @Angie - Yes! I want to see them!!

    @Sminkan - Darn I wish you would have too. Breakup's are hard, I am sorry for your loss :P You must stop this nonsense.

    @Em - haha, who knew!?

    @Enamel Girl - LOL, but do you still have any? That would be a sight to see :D

  24. Well, I never understood how nail polishes expire... I mean, some nail polishes I have are new and they are already very bad! And some old nail polishes are still very good! I think the only thing that may change, after the ones you just wrote, is the drying time. I noticed my old nail polishes take ages to dry, some of them don't even dry completely and that's when I know it isn't proper to application anymore. But bacteria surviving in all the polish components?? Very doubtful indeed! And I wear some nail polishes really old and my nails are still very healthy :) I think you just busted the myth!

  25. I love old polishes, I have some that have outlived their BRUSH...LOL

  26. @Akuma Kanji - I wonder if the older polishes always took forever to dry or got that way through the years, hmmm.

    @Jacki S. - I have heard of this, disintegrating brushes ... crazy!

  27. That's so funny, cause I have been talking about the 21 y/o polish I wore on my sister's wedding day a lot lately. It's Holiday Red from Dior and it is in fantastic shape...goes on beautifully, rather thin too. I think I may have only worn it a handful of times...don't know why, it's gorgeous. :)

  28. I have an old polish from Orly, but compared to the ones you and your readers have, it's almost new! I think it's about 10-11 years old, and considering I'm 16, I think it's a lot :) It's a bubblegum pink, with some nice shimmer. The first coat dries nicely, but the second takes forever. I could post a few pics on my blog if you wanna see it?

  29. @Anonymoius - That is awesome! Red is classic right? You can't loose!

    @lovepolish - I would love to see it!! yay! Start swatching girlfriend!

  30. I've blogged about the polish now, you'll have to excuse my English, I'm from Norway :)

  31. I shipped a bunch of late 80's polishes to Zoya for the exchange last year, but the oldest polish I have (I think, I have no way to date some), is a Diane Von Furstenberg called Wild Passion. It says © 1980 on the back of the bottle. I got it in one of those World of Beauty (?) make up kits they used to have a monthly club for, somewhere between '80 and '82. It's a pretty intense creme, dark berry pink.

  32. @lovepolish - That was great, thanks for doing it! It was actually really pretty!!

    @Sandi - Wow that is freaking awesome! Have you wore it recently? Hmmm, I wonder how it would behave.

  33. I'll try it in the next week or two. It's a great fall shade.

  34. Yay, send me a pic through my email if you can, I would love to have a gander! :D

  35. cutex maked polish in Australia :)

  36. My oldest polish is from 12-13 yrs ago, a Cover girl Nail slicks. I put a drop of polish thinner and it works fine. A little too late-90s for me. It's good to hang onto your old polishes and save them for the Zoya Earth day exchange. :) Speaking of old polishes, does anyone remember when Bath & Body Works had nail polish circa 1997? I had a bunch but threw them out! I didn't know of polish restore back then. :\

  37. OOooo, I don't ever remember seeing B&BW polish, darn it. Any good shades?? Too bad they are in the trash now :(. Daw well, we live and we learn, me included.