How to: Properly Store Nail Polish

How to properly store nail polishA couple of weeks ago I finally accepted that I needed to reorganize my nail polish stash. I use 2 Melmers and a DIY nail polish rack to store my polish and it is a wonderful system…if I actually use it! I made the terrible mistake of reorganizing my stash by brand (instead of color). Since then I’ve had a hard time finding what I was looking for and nail polish ended up everywhere. There were bottles on my desk, on my nightstand, on top of my lightbox, in my bathroom, on my vanity, on top of my dresser. Even in my car and in my purse! Quite frankly the situation was out of control and nail polish was taking over my life.

It has been a slow process but I’m getting close to having all my polishes entered in my new nail polish spreadsheet. Currently my sewing machine is covered with nail polish bottles as I’m waiting to have everything archived before I reorganize my Melmers by color.

This was all a very long winded way of explaining why I’ve been doing some research on how to properly store nail polish. My collection is far too large for most of my polishes to get any kind of regular use. So I want them to last me a long time.

Below the jump are some tips on how to store nail polish so it lasts (and why you shouldn’t store nail polish in the refrigerator!)

If you have any storage tips please let me know! I’m always looking for better ways to store my beloved polishes 🙂



Nail Polish storage failI’ve gone through several nail polish storage methods. The first being plain old plastic containers. The second was a Melmer that lived on my vanity. Then I expanded to 2 Melmers and moved them into the linen closet in my bathroom. Turns out….these were all really bad ways to store nail polish!

The best place to store nail polish is in a cool, dry, dark place where the bottles can stand upright.

Unfortunately, this eliminates many of the most common places to store nail polish. Clear plastic containers expose polish to light and don’t allow for polishes to easily stay upright. Storing polish anywhere in the bathroom exposes the polishes to humidity.

DIY Nail Polish RackWhat’s a girl to do? I definitely will not be ditching my nail polish rack, but I will turn it into a non permanent means of storage. It will be a place for polishes I plan to wear soon and then they will move on to my Melmers.

Luckily, my Melmers (as long as I keep them out of the bathroom and direct sunlight…) are a great place to store polish. But, there are other places that would work too. The bottom drawer of a dresser, desk or vanity. At the bottom of a closet (preferably with no outside walls) in just a shoe box would also work well.

So you’re probably thinking right now that the fridge sounds like a fabulous place to store polish. It’s cool. It’s dry. It’s dark. But it also exposes the polishes to extreme temperature changes. Nail polish needs to be at room temperature to actually use (otherwise the formula will not apply smoothly). The polish going back and forth between very cool and room temperature causes more harm to the polish formulation than any good that comes from storing polish in the fridge. (Plus really…who wants to store polish next to the butter? Ew!)

I’m glad to know that I’m giving my polish its best chance to last a very long time. I hope this was somewhat helpful and hopefully in the next couple weeks I’ll be sharing my new storage and organization method with y’all.


  1. I keep mine in an old wooden secretary desk… My to-read books are in the top, polish is in the drawers. I use a combination of silverware trays and desk organizers to keep the colors separated/organized. I doubt it’s a perfect system, but it works for me.

  2. I so wish I had a space for melmers but I am in a cracker box of a cottage that only has 2 drawers in the kitchen even…so space is really hard to come by here. I have had to keep my polishes in plastic storage boxes. I used to find some good ones by Rubbermaid that had hinged tops so they were all 1 unit with box and lid and the lid had a big head space that allowed me to deal with tall bottles as well. Now those are not made and I have to use the standard shoe box size ones. I keep swearing I am going to get to my dupes that now take up more than 4 large boxes and get them out of here but for the 4 or 5 that I want to keep for me. I do store mine out of all sunlight. But like you, I am guilty of having a few key polishes out – I keep a tiny spot on a cabinet in my bedroom where I can put my top clear coat, base and the 2 main shades that I am reaching for constantly. I do keep a database of all my polishes but when I get lazy on entry, I toss the ones that still need to go into my database in a gallon size ziplock bag and then get to them in bulk. Ya think 1500 bottles in my database are too many! I finally do!

    1. I’ve done a good job purging polishes over the years but it’s always so hard to part with polishes! I totally feel your pain, lol

  3. Hi Alli,
    I love your blog! Despite the fact, that it decreases my nail polish addiction 🙂
    I keep my bottles “flying” on a white square magnet board in my bedroom. Looks like art to me 🙂
    Greetings from Germany!

  4. Ooh, I hope you post stash pics after you reorganize. I could use some inspiration. Right now my stash is sorted by brand. Such a PITA *sighs*

    1. Organizing by brand was one the the dumbest things I’ve ever done! I will definitely be posting pictures of my stash once I get it organized again 🙂

  5. thanks so much for this. I almost went the way of storing in the fridge. I keep mine in 2 photo boxes I got from a craft store. Its great as it’s dark and dry but I am running out of room as to my growing addiction so i need to buy more. How much do melmers run?

    1. Melmers retail for about $40 but I’ve never paid more than $20. Michaels always has them on sale or there’s a coupon floating around 🙂

  6. I use old Birchbox Man boxes from my bf to store them by colors (one box for golds/silvers, one for blues/greens, one for reds, etc.) they’re a really cute and sturdy pull-out design. But it sounds like I’m doing it wrong! Why is it bad to store bottles on their side instead of upright?

    1. It has to do with the way the pigments are mixed plus if a bottle is on its side there is a larger surface area exposed to air. Hopefully that makes sense!

  7. I have mine stored in two Melmers that I stacked on top of each other. I also put a set of wheels on the bottom so I can roll it over to my bed and it’s perfect nail polishing height.

      1. Thanks! I actually came up with it when I was picking up my second Melmer. Just to give you a heads up, you’ll have to remove one of the front pieces on the wheel set in order to have access to all of the drawers.

  8. I really did LOL at the sewing machine comment, as I had a significant portion of my collection stacked in copy paper box lids that I was using as trays. A couple of weekends ago I did some mass production of the DIY racks. I currently have 8 in an interior hallway (no direct sunlight). They are narrow enough that I can use this under utilized space for storage *and* decor. I probably only need 7 but I want some room for the inevitable growth. I recently got into gels (LOVE!) and those are stored in an opaque rolling cart (sunlight will cure/harden them in the bottle) along with my supplies like files, base and top coat. The rolling cart stays by my desk, but I can roll it in front of the couch for the TV-dry time combo. The top is big enough to work on and all of my supplies are at my fingertips–I just have to decide on a color first!

    P.S. from my mass production I discovered a trick to getting the foam board to glue together straight/level: I used plain, old-school straight pins to hold the boards in place and then did the hot glue. No burnt fingers either!

  9. Hey I’m a near-newbie at this but already have about 60 or so polishes, obviously too many to use up in the next 5 or 10 years, lol!

    I cleared out my bathroom cabinet and display my beauties there. It has a wooden door which i keep closed, except to meditate on my treasures:)

    So, is humidity a real problem? Sigh, new problem!

    1. As long as you keep the door closed I think it would be fine. I used to keep my polish in the linen closet that’s in my bathroom. I never felt like the humidity really got in there.

      1. Tks, I doubt this cupboard is well sealed, but for now I’m going to leave it and hope for the best. Just no space elsewhere!

  10. Very nice! I may make a nail polish rack rather than shelling out $40 on amazon for one (at one point)

    Also, might I suggest continuing to use the racks for permanat storage by maybe moving them and putting some cute fabric over them so it’s nice and dark? That could work, though I do get why you would wanna store them in a Melmer. 🙂

  11. I dont wear mine as often as i want but as soon as it chips i get annoyed. Lol but anyway. I do keep my bottles in a little drawer in my dresser in my bedroom, but, its on the outside wall that the pipes freeze on all winter. Never thought it would damage them. Thank you for making me aware! !!!

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