Most of us have heard that a dab of clear nail polish can stop a pantyhose run in its tracks, but there are lots of other quick fixes and DIY projects you can do with all those nail polish bottles you never wear anymore.
Here are ten of our favorite clever and unexpected uses for nail polish—besides freshening up your fingers and toes:
1. Customize your coif
Whether you want to perfectly match your pumps or just add a cheerful pop of color to an updo, a few coats of polish on the exposed side of a bobby pin turns it into a fun, personalized accessory. Just make sure to give it plenty of time to dry before putting it in your hair!
2. No more mix-ups
Apply different shades of nail polish on the tops of your keys or the handles of identical toothbrushes to tell them apart (and add a little flair, too). Use regular Scotch tape as a stencil so you get a nice, clean edge on your artwork.
3. Shine on
We love costume jewelry—but those green rings it can leave on our skin? Not so much. Prevent tarnishing before it happens, and keep those accessories shining bright, by applying a thin coat of clear nail polish to your costume jewelry before you wear it. Or give your faux jewels a fresh update by covering them with a bold new hue or two!
4. Eye candy
No need to pay big bucks for a pair of boldly patterned plastic sunglasses—especially if you’ll be wearing them anywhere they could get lost, like the beach or a music festival. Instead, up-style your basic shades with nail polish polka dots, stripes, or another colorful pattern. To protect the lenses while you paint, just cover them with a thin layer of Vaseline and then wipe clean once your artwork has dried.
5. Stay above the fray
Got a button on the brink? Apply a little dab of clear nail polish in the middle of the button to keep the threads from unraveling further until you can sew it back on. This trick also works on the tips of fraying shoelaces.
6. Weather the storm
Going camping? Here’s an easy way to make sure you can light a fire, rain or shine: Apply a thin coat of nail polish to the head of your matches to make them waterproof. Make sure the polish covers a bit of the stick as well, but not too much. Let air dry, then seal in a waterproof container for double insurance.
7. Footwear fix
Nail polish is great for covering wear and tear on your shoes—or a fun way to breathe fresh life into an old pair of heels! If you’re going the camouflage route, just make sure to pick out a polish that is as close to the shoe’s original color as you can find. Try adding a layer of matte or high-gloss clear coat on top if the finish doesn’t quite match at first.
8. Amp up your accessories
Ever been on a group trip and realized you accidentally took home someone else’s phone charger or headphones? Yeah, us too. Prevent mix-ups and add personality to your smartphone accessories with a little nail polish artwork. Paint your phone charger with glow-in-the-dark polish so you can plug it in before bed without turning on the light, and add two different colored dots to your earbuds so you can easily tell them apart without straining to see the tiny “L” and “R.” Clever and colorful!
9. Don’t lose that sparkle
If you love rhinestones and sequins as much as we do, then you know that sometimes they need some help staying in place. A little spot of clear nail polish can act as quick-drying glue when you need to keep a single rhinestone in your necklace or a string of sequins on your top.
10. Keep it clear
Make any label smudge-proof with just a quick swipe of clear nail polish over the text. This is especially helpful for things like plant markers, which are exposed to a lot of moisture and can fade over time. But this technique also comes in handy with cosmetics. Cover the name of your perfect foundation shade or favorite lipstick with clear polish to make sure you can read it when you want to re-buy, or write the date you bought it on the side of the packaging and cover it with a protective coating of clear polish, so you never lose track of an item’s expiration date.