How to Perform CPR on Nail Polish

How to Restore NailPolishAll true nailphiles have experienced it.

You’re going through your nail-polish collection, and from the corner of your eye, you see it.

Soldier down!

A poor polish is fighting for its life, barely able to gasp for air as its hoarse voice says, “Help me! It’s not my time yet!”

You cradle it in your arms like you did the first day you brought it to your loving home, reassuring it that things will be okay. But then it passes out!

It looks so dry, as though it’s been to the Sahara Desert!

You break into a nervous sweat. What’s a responsible nailphile to do?

Plenty! Roll up your sleeves, be brave, and let me show you how to perform CPR to save your beloved polish fromΒ an untimely death!

P.S.Β Today is the last day to enter my worldwide giveaway for your chance to win the OPI Don’t Speak 18K Gold Top Coat! (Ends tonight at 11:59 pm EDT.)

When nail polish is exposed to the air, it can become thick, stringy, glue-like, and then ultimately unusable. And some formulas (like chunky glitter lacquers) may have a tendency to naturally thicken over time, despite your best efforts to keep the handle screwed on tightly.

Just like how people age with time, the same is true for lacquer. But with nail polish, there’s a way to snap them back to their 20-year-old heydays in a matter of seconds!

(I’m sure that scientists are trying to figure out how to do the same with humans, but well, I’m not interested. I’m happy growing old gracefully, and this grape is looking forward to becoming a raisin one day. I’m thinking about moving to California, so I can become a California Raisin. But that has yet to be determined. I still haven’t mastered the whole singing and dancing routine.) πŸ˜‰

So don’t abandon your precious polishes just because they’re looking a little rough around the edges (and in the bottle)! Give them some TLC and some “CPR” that I outline in this post! πŸ™‚

One of the chemicals in nail polish evaporates over time, which is what leads to the liquid turning into a semi-solid or even a solid. If you restore that depleted ingredient, it’s like the nail-polish elixir that waves its magic wand and brings it back from the dead.

But don’t seek assistance from your nail-polish remover like what some beauty forums may recommend. As the name would suggest, a remover’s job is to REMOVE nail polish. It won’t add anything to the formula to restore it. Its job is to break apart the lacquer and to send it to a better place in the high heavens. πŸ˜‰

Instead, I suggest that you track down a bottle of nail-polish thinner, which is very different. I like to use Seche Restore, which can be used to bring a goopy bottle of Seche Vite Fast Dry Top Coat or pretty much any lacquer back to its original consistency.

Although I’m a fan of the written word, as you can tell from readingΒ the post I wrote about my passion for writing, I think that photos will better illustrate why you shouldn’t be so quick to toss out a nail polish, even if it’s so dry, it looks like it has solidified.

Case in point.

Here’s my beloved bottle of OPI Suzi & the 7 Dusseldorfs.

How to Restore Nail Polish

It’s lying down on its side, and you can clearly see that the polish isn’t tilting in the slightest. That’s because it has become nearly rock solid. It doesn’t even drip slowly like molasses.

To further illustrate its condition, check this out!

How to Restore Nail Polishes

Even when I tilted the bottle upside down, the polish inside didn’t even budge! (Haha, I would never attempt this with a fresh bottle of polish, unless I’d somehow be in the mood to clean up lacquer from my wooden floors for hours or days!)

My favourite nail-polish thinner to use is Seche Restore. It’s specially designed to be used with the Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat, but you can use it for nearly any lacquer.

I buy the “professional” size, even though I’m not a nail technician. You can find this at Sally Beauty Supply. (They also offer the smaller bottles, but I don’t like to keep repurchasing it, so I just grab the big bottle.)

The Seche Restore Professional Kit comes in a box that looks like this:

How to Restore Nail Lacquer

Inside, you get a clear bottle like this:

Seche Restore How to Restore Nail Polish

To restore your nail polish, use the provided dropper. (Depending on how much your polish has dried up, you’ll need to use more or less of Seche Restore.)

Seche Restore Dropper

For the polish in this post, it required about one and a half full of the dropper. But if your polish is only a little thick, you can add about 5 drops to bring it back.

It’s always a good idea to use fewer drops and then add more as needed. If you add too many right off the bat, your polish could be very watery. (If this happens, you can rectify it by leaving the cap open slightly, so the chemical evaporates a bit.)

How to Restore Nail Lacquers

Ta-da! After adding the nail-polish thinner and shaking it all up to mix the pigment and thinner evenly, it’s now restored to the original consistency! πŸ™‚

Before, I couldn’t even get the polish out. Now, I can easily paint with it again.

Here’s the polish swatched on a nail wheel after my CPR. πŸ™‚

Why You Shouldn't Throw Out Nail PolishI hope that you found this post helpful, and feel free to share it with a fellow nailphile.

The more nail-polish lives we can save through CPR, the better! πŸ˜‰

Remember, old nail polishes need love, too! Hehe, and with this little trick, you can have even the old ones feeling like spring chickens again!


34 thoughts on “How to Perform CPR on Nail Polish

  1. Joyce

    Hi Mary, it’s a good thing I’m working from my home today!

    The way you described it I could just see the poor polish fluttering its lashes one more time and sink back in your arms whispering its last words of goodbye… and in slow motion your hand reaches for the Seche Restore box, it opens, the bottle and the dropper come out and YOU SAVE THE POLISH!
    Come to think of it, maybe Chariots of Fire would have been a better choice…

    You know, I think I’m going to check my polishes for possible victims… work can wait!
    Joyce recently posted: Bling-y autumn manicure

    1. Mary N

      LOL… I can picture that, too! A feeble little whisper of “Helllllpppp me….” Look at what you’ve started, Mary! πŸ˜‰

      But seriously, I have Seche Restore and so far have only had to use it on top coats. I almost want one of my little polish buddies to ask for Last Rites so I can see how well it works on them. tee hee

    2. Mary S. Post author

      Hey Joyce!

      Hehe, I really like your description, too! It’s like visualizing a movie where the main character is nail polish. (I wonder when that will become a reality. Hey, I’d go see it!) πŸ™‚

      Haha, thanks for your hilarious comment! You have such a great sense of humour, and I was seriously in stitches laughing – totally needed that stress relief! πŸ˜€

    1. Mary S. Post author

      Hey Melissa!

      It’s really good to know, especially if you have a limited-edition nail-polish that looks like it’s going to do the death rattle. You can save pretty much any nail polish. It truly is a miracle in a bottle!

  2. Neff815

    Wow. I always used remover, but I’m going to search for this product you suggested. My 14 year old is a polish hog and I’m left with the goop most of the time. This will help. Thanks Mary

    1. Mary S. Post author

      Hey Neff815!

      Ahhhh, nooooooo! No remover! Haha, I always cringe when I hear about that method.

      But I’m so glad to hear that you’ll try a nail-polish thinner next time. πŸ™‚ You’ll be so pleased with the long-lasting results, too!

    1. Mary S. Post author

      Hey Lissette!

      I’m so happy to hear that you’ve also had a lot of great results from using Seche Restore! πŸ™‚ Oh yeah, especially with a pricey Chanel polish, you want to put in the effort to bring it back to life!

  3. Marieke

    Seche Restore is my best purchase of the year. It works so well and it’s not even expensive. I got Essie Butler Please (the gorgeous blue) and it was so thick but I saved its life and couldn’t be happier with that color.

    1. Mary S. Post author

      Hey Rachel!

      That makes me smile so much knowing that you really enjoyed this post! I had so much fun writing it, and it was definitely a long time coming! πŸ™‚ Had this idea for a long while, so it’s about time I published it. Hehe!

    1. Mary S. Post author

      Hey Anatasiya!

      You’re very welcome! I had a blast writing this post, and as long as even one person finds it useful or interesting, that makes my day! Thanks for taking the time to leave me a comment. πŸ™‚

    1. Mary S. Post author

      Hey Irina!

      My pleasure! πŸ™‚ It always made me cringe when I heard that some people put nail-polish remover to restore their polishes! Glad that I could help spread the word about the proper way to bring an old polish back to life.

  4. Tiffany

    I feel like I have been living in the dark before this post πŸ™ I mean how many polishes have I wrongfully put to death in my lifetime? I am buying this pronto! Awesome tips πŸ™‚

  5. Debbie

    Thanks so much, Mary, for posting this with photos. I’ve got some polishes in my collection that need a wee bit of CPR … so now that I see how easy it is to do … I’ve got to get busy and rescue them! πŸ˜€ Thanks again!

  6. Jennifer

    I love this product too. Being a fellow nail polish junkie~I’m swatching constantly everywhere & use this to save my polishes.
    FYI~ I’ve found seche products from USA sellers w/free shipping at great prices on eBay. It’s a must have.

    1. Mary S. Post author

      Hey Jennifer!

      Glad you found the miracle that is Seche! πŸ˜‰ I don’t know how I was painting my nails without their Dry Fast Top Coat before I discovered it. Seriously, the way it dries nail polish lightning fast is a must for people who have busy schedules like me! Hehe, plus who wants to wait for polish to dry these days? Technology in the nail industry has come such a long way!

  7. Jenny

    Does Seche Restore still contain toluene in it? I haven’t purchased it because last time I checked, that was one of the ingredients. Having three-free (or more!) polishes is important to me and I’m sure to other readers as well, so it may be important to note that if it does.

    Would adding Seche Restore (if it has toluene) to a three-free polish affect it in any way?

    1. Mary S. Post author

      Hey Jenny!

      Yes, I believe it has Toluene. It’s not Big-3 free, unfortunately. I use Big-3-free and non-Big-3-free nail products, but if you are consciously wanting to avoid that ingredient, better steer clear of Seche Restore.

      Thanks for bringing this up – good point! You’re right – lots of readers will appreciate this added information.

      I’ve added Seche Restore to a lot of Big-3-free polishes, and it still rejuvenated them to make their formula brand new again. However, the polish will no longer be Big-3-free.


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