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Why Does Nail Polish Change Color Over Time?

Why Does Nail Polish Change Color Over Time?


Nail polish is a popular cosmetic product that adds color and style to our nails. However, have you ever wondered why nail polish sometimes changes color over time while sitting in the bottle? In this blog post, we will explore the fascinating science behind this phenomenon. 

The Chemistry Behind Nail Polish

To understand why nail polish changes color, we need to delve into its chemistry. Nail polish is composed of various ingredients, including solvents, film formers, resins, plasticizers, and pigments. These components work together to create the desired color and texture. Here's are reasons why your nail polish color looks different from when you first got the polish!

Exposure to Air and Light

One of the main reasons why nail polish changes color is exposure to air and light. When nail polish is exposed to oxygen in the air, it undergoes a process called oxidation. This oxidation reaction can cause the color of the polish to shift or darken over time.

Additionally, exposure to light, especially ultraviolet (UV) light, can also alter the color of nail polish. UV light can break down the chemical bonds in the pigments, leading to color changes. This is why it is important to store nail polish in opaque containers or in a dark place to minimize light exposure.

Chemical Reactions

Another factor that contributes to color changes in nail polish is chemical reactions between the ingredients. Over time, the solvents in the polish can evaporate, causing the formula to thicken. This can affect the dispersion of the pigments, leading to color variations.

Furthermore, certain pigments used in nail polish may be sensitive to pH changes. If the pH of the polish changes due to exposure to air or other factors, it can cause the pigments to react and alter the color of the polish.

Temperature Change

Extreme temperatures, both hot and cold, can affect the stability of the chemicals in nail polish. This can result in color shifts or changes in consistency.

Aging and Deterioration

 Like any cosmetic product, nail polish has a shelf life. As it ages, the chemical composition can change, affecting the color and texture of the polish.

Storage Conditions

The way nail polish is stored can also impact its color stability. Extreme temperatures, both hot and cold, can affect the chemical composition of the polish and lead to color changes. It is best to store nail polish at room temperature to maintain its original color.

Quality of Ingredients

The quality of the pigments and other ingredients used in nail polish can impact how well the color holds up over time. Lower-quality ingredients might be more prone to fading or changing color.


Some nail polishes are more stable than others due to their formulation. High-quality brands might use more stable pigments and ingredients that resist color changes.

Different Batch

This phenomenon occurs due to variations that can happen during the manufacturing process from one production batch to another.



In conclusion, nail polish can change color over time in the bottle due to a combination of factors, including oxidation, exposure to light, chemical reactions, and improper storage conditions. Understanding these factors can help us better care for our nail polish and ensure that it retains its original color for as long as possible.

Next time you notice a change in the color of your nail polish, you'll know that it's not just your imagination. It's the fascinating chemistry at work!

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