I tried clear nail polish hacks that the internet swears by—here's what works
Spoiler: Some are definitely more useful than others.
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When used as intended, clear nail polish is versatile in itself, acting as a primer to prevent colored polish from staining nails, a shiny top coat to keep manicures from chipping, or on its own to protect nails from breakage. And we all know it’s come to the rescue at dance recitals, weddings, and even at the office when someone gets a snag in pantyhose or tights. However, the internet is overflowing with alternative uses for clear nail polish—hacks that use its gluey or protective properties to repair or prevent everyday nuisances.
We already know and love how nail polish can stop a run in tights in its tracks, but are those others—such as threading a needle or sealing an envelope—all they've cracked up to be? We put a bottle of clear nail polish to the test to see what it can actually do in the way of problem solving.
1. For coating a thread while sewing
Fewer things are as frustrating as attempting—and failing—to poke thread through the tiny eye of a needle over and over again. That task practically takes longer than the sewing project itself! Next time you find yourself in this situation, coat the end of the thread with fast-drying clear nail polish and let it dry. We noticed that the nail polish made the thread stiff, so it was easy to guide it through the needle eye. The key is “fast drying” and a light touch—otherwise, you’re wasting time waiting for the polish to dry when you could already have that button reattached and be on your way.
2. For waterproofing matches
If you spend time outside on camping trips or hikes, you may keep a book of matches in your belongings. However, one spill of a water bottle or quick rain squall could put a literal damper on your marshmallow-toasting plans. The internet claims that brushing nail polish onto the tips of matches (or dipping them directly into the bottle) keeps them sealed so water won’t damage them, while also adding the polish’s flammable chemicals into the mix. To test this theory, we coated to matches in nail polish (using both methods above, for completeness), allowed them to dry, dipped them in water, allowed them to dry again. When we swiped across the match strike paper, they lit easily and quickly, as if they’d never gotten wet.
3. For sealing envelopes
With this hack, we thought our days of licking envelopes were over. It sounded great in theory—the polish brushed along the adhesive flap would be sticky enough to hold the envelope closed and quick-drying enough to put the envelope right into the mailbox. However, after tracing the adhesive on an envelope with clear nail polish and stamping the flap down, we realized that nail polish has no hold whatsoever (read: you will lose the contents of your envelope). (Plus, we imagine you could no longer activate the now-polish-sealed adhesive, though we didn’t test this, because who wants to lick nail polish?) Continue licking the envelope or, better yet, use a damp sponge to activate the adhesive.
4. For preventing nickel allergies and green skin
Avoiding costume jewelry because of a nickel allergy? One way to prevent an allergic reaction without ditching your fun fashion jewelry is to coat the metal with clear nail polish. The polish creates a barrier between your skin and the nickel or copper irritating it. This same technique keeps the jewelry from turning your skin green as a result of the metal’s copper content reacting with your sweat, oils, or lotions. We at Reviewed have already tested this on our own—a few of us use nail polish to prevent the green skin effect and others, like me, have had success avoiding a sensitivity to nickel.
5. For thwarting off jewelry fading or chipping
Just as coating costume jewelry with nail polish prevents the chemicals from reacting with your skin, it also helps the gold and silver paint stay in place. If you’re noticing the shiny, pigmented finish of your jewelry fading, or if you buy a piece that you want to keep looking new longer, coat it in clear nail polish to sustain its paint job. I tested this theory on a few of my rings and necklaces and it worked like a charm—for a few months. Then I started noticing the color fading again, so I applied another coat.
6. For gluing faux gemstones into place
If you’ve been avoiding wearing your favorite sparkly rhinestone necklace or bracelet because a gemstone popped out, we’ve got your fix. The last thing you want is a glob of white or gloppy glue to be visible around the edges of the stone. Clear nail polish acts as a glue without being goopy or messing with the look of your jewelry (in fact, as mentioned above, it’ll help retain the metal color longer). To do, paint the back of the stone with the polish and put it back into place, then wait for it to dry before wearing. However, this fix works only if the stone is tiny or lightweight, as a larger, heavier stone fell out when we tried to test this hack on a ring.
7. For taking off your nail polish (ironically)
In an unexpected twist, putting on more clear nail polish is actually useful for removing an already dried old manicure. If you’re ever in a pinch and don’t have proper remover, coat your nails in clear polish and use a paper towel to wipe away. It took a couple of passes to fully remove the pink color coating my fingernails, but it ultimately left them bare.
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