How To Save Dried Out Nail Polish Strips Tutorial!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Over the past year, I've been seeing more and more companies putting out nail polish strips. It started with Incoco, and then before you could say "trend", Sally Hansen, Sephora, OPI for Sephora, Nailene and a bunch of others all started putting them out too.

Unlike most nail appliqu├ęs, which tend to be made of a plastic material, I much prefer nail polish strips because the removal process is much kinder to your nails. Most plastic-based appliques involve soaking the entire nail in acetone for proper removal, but because these are essentially semi-dried polish strips, you can just remove them like normal nail polish, with cotton wool and nail polish remover. I've reviewed nail polish strips before in a previous post, and found them to be pretty good for a fuss-free application.

incoco soho chic strip

So, what happens when those nail polish strips - like real nail polish in bottles - dry out? I stumbled upon a solution the other day, when a months-old Incoco nail polish strip set I wanted to use had dried out. Fortunately, the answer is simple. All you need is this:

orly smudge fixer

Yep, that's all. Just a bottle of Orly Smudge Fixer. When I realized my nail polish strips had dried out, I was sad, and thought I'd have to throw the entire set out. And then a thought struck me: since these strips were made of nail polish, couldn't I rehydrate them with thinner, just like real nail polish? And isn't my handy bottle of Orly Smudge Fixer mostly made out of thinner anyway?

So began the experiment. The strip I'm using here is Incoco Soho Chic, a gorgeous deep brown with flecks of gold/red shimmer. It's absolutely gorgeous, which is why I was so loathe to just let it die like that.

First, I placed a strip on my nail (if you've never done this before, here's a nail polish strip tutorial to help you out). As you can see, because the nail polish strip is dried out, it doesn't stick nicely to the nail. It's all bunched up and uneven at the sides. Normally I don't have this problem with the nail polish strips - they usually just stick quite flat to the nail.

saving dried nail polish strips 1

Next, we add a little of our secret sauce - Orly Smudge Fixer. I just painted the smudge Fixer over the unsticky parts of the strip, and the bulges. You can also just paint over the entire nail with Smudge Fixer if the strip is really dried out, but the general idea is to wet the strip enough for it to adhere properly to the nail.

saving dried nail polish strips 2

And you're done! Look, no more weird bulges! Wasn't that simple? Just wait for the strips to dry, and you're good to go! Well, there is a small catch, though. Because the strips have been wet with Smudge Fixer, they will take a little while to dry. If you are impatient, a layer of quick-dry topcoat would help to speed things up.

And there you have it! Good as new! Other than Orly Smudge Fixer, I think you could use any other brand of nail polish solvent or thinner. The general idea is just to put back the solvent which had evaporated and thus caused the strip to dry out. I'm pretty excited about this method, it's simple and it works! Now I have an awesome manicure, and saved myself bunch of money!


  1. Great idea and a real money saver!

  2. wow thats amazing!! :O I think i need to try this next time i have nail strips that dired out ^^^ thanks a lot

  3. Great info on that cuz this is a big problem allot of people are telling e about, i haven't had time to really play with any of them due to some issues I was dealing with with my nails due to my diabetes so now that issue is got better I'm am ready to try these out and see how it works and this tip will save me allot of probs ty

  4. Great care for nails!Hope 2012 be one that counts for you!Carmen

  5. Wow! Great tip, thank you! I am sooooo glad I had not gotten around to throwing out my dried out strips!

  6. Oh. My. Gosh. You are a life saver! I have very short nails and can get two uses out of one set of Incoco strips and I don't want to waste any due to drying out. I can't wait to use them now!

  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  8. I can't wait to try this out! I have a lot of Sally Hansen ones that are dried out.

  9. Are you painting under the wrap or over it? I'm kind of obsessed with these things now and was thinking of buying a vacubag sealer to try and seal out the air on unused strips.

    1. @Anonymous: I'm painting over the wrap, it seemed easier! I've never thought of using a vacubag sealer, if it works you must let me know! :)

  10. Avon had nail polish strip 20-30 years ago, they were great! In fact had one set left over, still packaged, used not long ago still good! Anyway back to dried out strips, I thought of sealer but they cost over $100, haven't decided if worth it... excited to try Orly.

  11. Where can i buy the Orly Smudge Fixer ?

  12. QUESTION i have 5 left over full nail strips...i dont want them to dry see i use one full strip for 2 nails at a time.. So this way i have 2 full manicures. Do i place them in a ziplock bag? Will that work? Or do you suggest i just let them dry out and then use nail solvent? Thanks

  13. Do you thibk i could just use top coat? I dont have that smudge stuff and i dont have my own money with which to buy it even if i knew where to get it.

  14. My strip is too dry to put on the nail and then paint.Do you think it'll work to paint bottom with clear coat first?

  15. You can try resealing the bag with extras using a curling iron. If you use them fairly soon and don't wait for a montg or more, it works fairly well. I'm anxious to try this product for my older resealed packages because those have been a problem for me in the past.


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