Unlike mascara’s lightening-fast turnover rate, nail polish is one of those beauty products that takes a lot longer to use up, but tends to stay in cabinets and counters for decades (seriously—we’ve spotted bottles from the last century). Contrary to powders and blushes that come with a suggested makeup expiration date—check the little icon in the back of the compact—lacquers, top and base coats, and special nail treatments don’t exactly have a mandated shelf life. So when do you toss them?
According to Schoon Scientific president Doug Schoon (who formerly served as CND’s VP of Science and Technology), the FDA does not designate the shelf life of nail polish, so it’s up to the manufacturer to determine the appropriate date. “Unopened and properly stored polish will last at least 18 months, possibly 24 months depending on storage conditions,” says Doug. Real talk—two years is a little early to ditch that half-used splurge, so it’s more important to look for signs of a spoiled bottle instead of relying on the date.