10 Signs Your Gel Polish Has Expired [2023]

how to tell if gel polish has expired

You are here because you are wanting to know how to check to see if your gel polish has expired. You have come to the right place because we use gel polish here every single day for nail art tutorials and DIY gel nail art.

One of the most important aspects of gel polish care is knowing when your gel polish has expired. While gel polish can last for months, it will eventually start to lose its luster, break down and may become brittle and prone to chipping.

There are some signs that are obvious if your gel polish is expired. It will be goopy or smell really bad. Here are some other ways to tell if your gel polish has expired with some helpful solutions to keep it lasting as long as possible.

how to tell if gel polish has expired

How To Tell If Gel Polish Has Expired

1. It's beyond the expiry date

Gel polish and also builder gels will have an expiry date on the actual bottle or the box set that it came in. Check the expiration date first. If your polish is expired, you can still use it if it's still working ok. Sometimes a quality gel polish will go beyond the open date so you can still use it if it is performing fine.

However, if it's beyond the expiry date and just not curing or painting onto the nail properly, it's time to toss.

12M: This shows that this set of gel polishes is good for up to 12 months after opening.

expired gel polish

2. The gel polish has changed colors

Gel polishes are a popular choice for many nail artists who want to achieve a long-lasting, high-gloss mani/pedi. However, gel polishes can sometimes change colors, which might indicate that the gel polish has gone bad or expired.

If you notice that your gel polish has changed colors, it's important to throw it away and purchase a new one. Gel polishes typically have a shelf life of about 6-12 months when it's constantly being opened. So if you have had your gel polish for longer than that, it's probably time to replace it.

You can especially tell with lighter colors or white gel polishes. When they start to yellow or start to look different than the swatches, it's probably not ok anymore.

how to tell if gel polish has expired

Additionally, gel polishes should be stored in a cool, dark place to prevent them from changing colors. If you notice that your gel polish has changed colors, toss it and get a new one!

3. The gel polish is thicker or thinner than usual

If your gel polish has become thick or thinner than normal, it might have gone bad or expired. Gel polish can last for up to two years if properly stored, but exposure to air, light, and heat can cause it to break down and become unusable. This is especially true for gel polishes that have a lot of loose glitter mixed into the base.

If the gel polish is starting to thicken or get gloopy, try adding a few drops of gel thinner to see if that helps. It should be fluid and self leveling. If the gel polish is too thin, you can try putting it in the fridge for a short time to see if that firms it up.

Ultimately, if your gel polish doesn't seem right, it's probably best to just replace it and start fresh.

gel should be fluid and self leveling

4. The gel polish is clumpy

Gel polish can become clumpy if it is expired or exposed to light or accidentally exposed to a UV nail lamp. If your gel polish is beginning to thicken or separate, it's time to replace it.

Here's how to keep the bottle away from light:

When doing a manicure. Take a bit of gel polish from the bottle and put it onto a nail palette. Then put the cap back on. By using a palette instead of using the polish directly from the bottle, it will keep the polish away from light and dust.

using a palette to keep gel polish clean

5. The gel polish has a different odor than usual

Gel polish has a different odor when it's expired because the ingredients begin to break down and change over time. This process is accelerated by heat and light exposure, so you might notice that your gel polish has a stronger smell after being in the sun or near a heat source.

Gel polish may not adhere to the nail as well after it's expired. If you notice that the gel polish is not performing as well as it used to, it's probably time to toss it out and get a new bottle.

how to tell if gel polish has expired

6. The gel polish is dull

Gel polish can turn dull when it expires, so be sure to check the expiration date before using it. If your gel polish is looking a little lackluster, it may have gone bad.

Don't risk using an expired product and ending up with a subpar manicure. This is especially important when you are need to do the exact same nail design over and over for a press on nail business.

Expired gel polish will not give you the same results as fresh gel polish. If your gel polish has expired, dispose of it immediately and get a new one. Don't take any chances with an expired gel polish. It's not worth it!

7. The gel polish is unusually sticky or tacky

Gel polish can turn sticky or tacky when it is no longer good. Here's why. Gel polish comes in a dark container so that it is not exposed to light. When you are using the same colors over and over, they could possibly turn sticky from being exposed to light and air.

Then after it's been sitting for a while past the expiry date, it's just no longer going to work as it once did. The gel polish will eventually start to break down. Oxygen and moisture can also get in, causing the polish to become a sticky or tacky mess.

So if your gel polish is starting to feel sticky or tacky, it's probably because it's expired. Time to throw it out and start fresh!

Gel polish should glide onto the nail smoothly.

gel polish should be smooth

8. The gel polish doesn't spread evenly

Sometimes you might paint the gel polish onto the nail and it starts acting strange like separating or not spreading evenly. This is one of the signs that you should check the expiry date to see if the gel polish has gone bad.

The formula is going to eventually separate. And with gel polish, it's not like regular nail polish where you can shake it up. So if the polish doesn't spread evenly, it might be time to get a new color.

Gel polish should give you a smooth finish every single time.

how to tell if gel polish has expired

9. It is separating from the base coat or top coat

If you're noticing that your gel polish is separating from the base coat, it's likely because the polish is expired (or not compatible with the base coat). This can happen if you don't use the polish often, or if it's been sitting for a while. Either way, it's not something that you want to happen when you're doing your nails.

If you're still having trouble with gel polish separating even though you know that it's not expired yet, try using a different brand. Some brands are better than others at staying put on your nails. If you're not happy with the way one brand is working, try a different one until you find one that works well for you.

The gel polish should go on smoothly without any separation from the base coat.

how to tell if gel polish is expired

10. The gel polish doesn't cure properly

If you find that your gel polish isn't curing properly, there are a few things you can check.

First, make sure that the polish is not expired. Gel polish should cure completely underneath a UV lamp, so if it's not curing properly, it may be because it's past its expiration date.

If the gel polish is still within its expiration date, then you may need to try curing it for a longer period of time. If you find that there are still uncured pockets of gel polish suspended underneath the cured layer, you will need to start over.

Check out this helpful article about how to make a gel manicure last longer.

gel polish should fully cure

In conclusion: 

If you notice any of these changes in your gel polish, it's probably time to get a new bottle or set. Expired gel polish can be difficult to work with and can cause problems with your nails.

Also, not all gel polishes are created equal and you might just have a brand that does not formulate properly. Here are some gel nail polish reviews we have done so you can pick out a quality set of gel polishes.

If you're not sure whether your gel polish is expired, err on the side of caution and get a new bottle. Your nails will thank you!

how to tell if gel polish has expired

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