Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Let's Get "Dusty"! ~ Kim's Dusty Hunting How-To!

Hello everyone! 
Are you longing for old holographic polishes and other HTFs???
My Dusties =)
If so, you may find this post quite useful! I’ve had a few people ask me how I go about dusty hunting and finding these gems, so I thought I would share every aspect of what has worked for me =) I kid you not when I say every aspect! This is my exclusive-comprehensive-dusty-hunting-how-to-tell-all!

***WARNING*** This is essentially a novel/textbook excerpt! Feel free to scroll down to the sections of interest, or not bother reading it at all =p

~~ So first off, Dusty Hunting is when you go to stores and salons looking for old polishes that are hard to find (HTF)Often times these polishes can no longer be found in stores or online. We call it “dusty” because usually, the polish bottles will actually be covered in a layer of dust, since they probably haven’t been used/touched in a very long time! In my opinion, successful dusty hunting is a mix of luck, communication skills and opportunity.

Now that we know what dusty hunting is, how do we start?

Do some research!!! This will end up saving you a lot of time and money =)

***Look up swatches*** generate a wishlist and know what is HTF. I use blogs, polish groups and ebay to find out what I like, and to judge how much something is worth to me. 
    -- Also, if you have some extra $ you can be nice and pick up items for other people, or collect bottles for future swaps etc.

***Know the price of polish in your area*** There's nothing worse thinking you got an awesome deal, only to find you could have gotten the polish cheaper in a store or online! Some old polishes can be found on online auction sites for much cheaper than new-retail, depending on your location! Find out what price beauty/polish supply stores sell each brand for, as well as normal salon/drug store retail. Knowing how much salons paid for the polish will help you later on =)

Know where and when to go!!!  There are 2 ways I do this:
1) Plan ahead, look up and map salons/supply stores

     -- This is a good idea if you aren't familiar with salons in the area and if you want to be efficient! I Google nail/hair//beauty supply stores/salons, then map out an area with locations to check. 
    -- For supply stores, check their website or reviews to find out prices and if they only sell to pros. Not a pro? Well then maybe it's time to make some new friends! 
    -- If you plan a route, keep an eye out for more places to try, as you go along. I like to walk since most of the salons in the areas I go are near each other, but if the closest salons are half and hour apart that might not work so well...also, if you plan to drive, find out about parking. 
    -- Some people phone stores and ask about  their polish stock. Personally, I feel it's easier for me to just go in person and check it out for myself, but if you're short on free-time or if salons are far and scarce, this might be the way to go. Nail techs and salon staff aren't typically sales associates, and may not know all the product they have or have time to check.
2) See a salon? Check! Enter salon(what I do more often) I've found both methods effective, but the later makes it much less of a disappointment if I come home empty handed. It really depends on your area, but I usually  spontaneously dusty hunt. I'll just be living life and walking down a street, then "bam!" salon! => initiate dusty hunt... lol... you can never know what you'll miss out on! Also, don't be afraid to go to salons/stores (unless they look sketch...), stay safe!

***Go near supply stores!*** If the public can buy a bottle of OPI for $6 at the supply store, it is highly unlikely they would buy from the surrounding salons charging $10-15! There's a good chance the salon polish has a low turnover rate, and this is also a good chance to bargain. Also check the supply stores, sometimes they have old polish too.

***Go during off-peak times*** Empty salons = bored staff (at least that's how I feel when I work and no one comes into the store for 2 straight hours). When they are free, they will be more likely to help you out and respond to you not wanting to get your nails done. I've walked into a full salon and trust me, your not wanting to get your nails done is the least of their worries. If everyone's busy they're probably not going to facilitate your hunting when they have clients to attend to. I haven't yet found the "off-peak" time, but I'm sure one exists!

***Go to salons that are dead, as in not busy at all*** They don't get many clients and will value your purchases and $$$! Small quiet, self-owned salons have worked best for me. In two, I've found 2 x OMG, DV8, MPJ holo black, DS Glamour, Sand-erella, La Boheme, Movin' Out, Catch Me in Your Net...just to name a few.

What else???

***Who to go with?*** So far I've only gone alone, but I'm planning to take my friend Nishu soon =) Just make sure to decide who will get dibs on what, so there's no fighting/arguing/getting upset over polish. If you're shy or nervous like me, bringing a friend can help you out =)

***What to bring?*** I always have a backpack since I'm usually coming home or on a break from school. Be sure to bring something to carry the polish in as well as something to keep it from breaking (cloth, towel, bubble wrap, bubble mailer...)
    -- Wear comfortable clothing as I find I often need to get down and look at the bottom of low shelves to try and read labels. 
    -- Also, it's a good idea to carry $$ cash $$. Not all salons accept credit/debit and most will not charge tax for used products. A list of what polishes you want may also be helpful.

While on the hunt... <----- IF YOU ONLY READ ONE THING,

***Know what to say***  Most salons are not accustomed to people buying their used polish. This can be even more troublesome if English is not the main language of the staff. Try your best to communicate what you want to do. 
    -- I usually start by walking into a salon and saying, "Hi! Do you have any nail polish for sale?" If they do, then YAY, go in and look, if not, go in anyways =P 
    -- The first time stepping into a salon can be really nerve racking, but I promise after a few times it will become more and more exhilarating =) Just be nice and let the staff know what you're doing and what you're looking for. Just remember, there's nothing to lose! Worst case scenario you leave empty handed, just as you came in.

***Be prepared to...*** Wait and stand around for a long time, have people look at you weirdly, chatter about you in another language or straight up get turned down. 
    -- Many places will not sell their used polish because their regular clients use them on a regular basis, especially if their polishes are all coded and swatched. I probably succeed in only 20% of the places I go to. Keep in mind that salons cater to their clients. If they are willing to help you, be patient and remember that helping you is not usually their priority, especially if they are busy. 
    -- Personally, I'd tone down the polish. You wouldn't want one of their clients adoring your nails and asking where you got them done --> unhappy salon


***Search*** I start by looking at the retail displays and I put what I want on their counter. You may need to get on the ground and look through shelves to find out what they have. I've even had to ask for them to take polish out of cases. Sometimes they ask if I am looking for certain colours, and I tend to say that I'm just browsing. This is also where I usually ask how much they sell their polish for. 
    -- After, I look at their used polish shelves and use silver caps and old labels (ex. black for OPI) as a quick guide of what they have. (not all but most silver capped polishes are China Glaze or OPI holos) 
    -- I tell the staff I want to see the colours (keeping them informed of my weird ways!) and I pick up the bottles of interest and check the labels. It is really important that you check the labels! Many holos (non-silver caps) will not look holo inside the store, especially if they haven't been shaken in a long time. Also, you never know what you might find!
    -- I believe some people ever bring in mini lights that will show off the holoness of holo polishes. If you have one, go for it!

***Select Polishes*** Ask the staff if they have "new ones" of the polishes you are interested in. Sometimes they do, which makes the dusty life a bit easier! When they don't, it's not the end of the world yet! There is still hope! Sometimes I'll put the polish back on the shelf and move on to looking at others, sometimes I'll keep it in my hands...and never want to let go...

***Remember to check the polish!!!*** If it's used polish, they shouldn't mind you opening up the bottles. Before buying, I'd recommend opening up the bottles and checking fill levels and consistency. There are 3 reasons for this:
     1) Dark polishes and glitter clump to the sides, so the bottle looks fullThen when you take it home, you realized you paid full-retail price for a half-empty bottle... <--personal experience =( 
     2) If the used polish is really thick, there's an opportunity to add thinner, thereby increasing the volume of the polish
I bought a used AA once and it was 1/4 full with glitter clumped on the sides so it looked fuller than it actually was, but by opening it you could clearly see how empty it was. I went home, added thinner to it and got it to the same consistency and opacity as my new bottle. In the end, I had a 3/4 full bottle! 
     3) Smell the polish. LOL you're probably wondering why. Well, some salons add things to their polish. This could be good or bad. In my experience it is good because they tend to make the polish last longer on the nail, but bad because they stink! You also can't guarantee that the polish is 3 free.

We're almost out the door with our little precious dusties!!

***Bargain and close the deal*** Once I find a dusty I like, I ask if they will sell it to me. Usually they say, no, not for sale and point me to the new ones. Then I say I know it's used, but this is the colour I really want/love/like/been looking forblah blah blah...
    -- If they say no, I make them an offer. You need to personally gauge this, depending on how badly you want/need that polish, how much polish retails in your area, and also on how full it is. Usually salons don't know about collecting and HTFness, but some do and will charge you more for holos + silver caps! Also, sometimes they won't believe that the polish is half empty, and I have to show them but opening it up.
    -- With my MPJ, I was lucky that I could buy it. The nail tech knew all her polishes were limited edition. She had one heck of a collection! She offered to order me anything that was new/current, so I asked for it and told her I was far from home (which I was) and wouldn't be coming back. She checked her lists and said she'd get more for herself, and that was that =)
    -- If they won't sell you the polish, it's ok. You can always try the same place another time! Perhaps another staff member will be willing to sell the polishes you want =)

***Be nice!*** Tell the people in the salon that you are very happy they could help you and if you plan on returning, tell them! Salons can be used as a resource! Sometimes they have access to lots of old polishes! Some places are even willing to let you provide them with a list of polishes you're looking for. (Make sure you include the letter/number code on the bottom of the bottles of OPI's, as well as a way to contact you).

***Keep a record of:***
       ...What you found - If you're not sure about something, write down the name and where you found it, and google/ebay it later!  ...Where you went - Keep note of the names and locations of places you visit. If you want to return to one to get something in the future, it's really hard if you can't remember where it is/what it's called... <--- learnt from experience...

~~If at first you don't succeed, try and try again! 
I was lucky, the first time I tried, I picked up 2 kaleidescopes at a salon I pass every day. The first lady I asked said they weren't for sale, but she left and another lady said sure. I got them for $4 each =) I probaly could have gotten them cheaper, but I was new to dustying and nervous.

~~Try areas where you frequent, once again this depends on your location and geography, but you don't necessarily need to travel far to find salons. They are surprisingly quite easy to come across! I like to explore and bus hop during my 2hr commute home from school, so this works for me =)

~~Sometimes you need to convince them to sell you polish. Buy a new polish, get you nails/hair done. Decide what it take to get what you want!

Hope you found my novel helpful! Feel free to post/email me any further questions @ topolishornot@hotmail.ca

I'd also like to know how you get dusty! =D

Good luck!



  1. omg !!!!! this is gr8 !!!! its like polish lovers guided chapter 2 lol !!! polish hoarders 101 lol ! amazing post !!!

  2. I have been waiting on this... thank you :) I might plan a day soon and go round all of the salons... great post!!!

  3. simply amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! well instructed!

  4. Wow, never thought you'd be so enthusiastic about nail polishes. You should stop by Beauty Nail, there's like 2 other nail salons near us too. XD

  5. @prosesroses LOL it's partly Anisha's fault!!! and I already have! I picked up OPI My Private Jet the holo one, from one of the salons =)

  6. Thank you so much for this! I can't wait to give this a go!

  7. Thank you so so much for this post! I recently went salon hopping on my way home from school and found a few OP beauties that aren't incredibly HTF, but ones that I'd been dying for nonetheless. I was wondering if what I was saying/doing was helping or inhibiting progress. Now I know! Much appreciated!

  8. Thanks to you, I have my very 1st OPI DS. I'd never been dusty hunting, but I figured it couldn't hurt to try so after I read your post I stopped at a hole-in-the-wall salon near my house and struck lucky when I found DS Glamour for..wait for it.... $3.00!!!! Maybe it was beginners luck, but I am already mapping out locations for this weekend. Thanks again.

    1. That's awesome!! What a great find =) Glamour is definitely one of the most sought after dusties too! Congrats on your success and thanks for sharing!

  9. Hey, what is that turquoise OPI next to the green & pink "suede" OPIs? I want to put it on my wish list! :)

    1. I believe it's "Catch Me In Your Net". If you are a collector, you definitely need it, but if you just like the colour there are lots or exact dupes out!

    2. Thanks! I just Googled that. It looks like it's very similar to Zoya Charla, which I already have, so I guess I don't need it. :-)

      Do you remember what the coppery/green duochrome on the far right of the same picture is?

    3. That one is La Boheme. It's not really that duochrome in real life, but it is a gorgeous red! It has that old fashion tiny sparkle you see in Clarins 230

  10. Thanks for all these tips. I have been in salons where I live and the staff isn't always particularly helpful if you aren't getting a service, so I am glad to know that isn't really all that uncommon. I got some Groupons for a mani/pedi a while back and look forward to testing my new found skills at dusty hunting! :)

    1. That sounds like fun and a great idea! Good luck =)

  11. In Norway, salons is a new and chic-thing. That they never have anything older than 2010.. but its a nice guide for vacations :)

  12. How do you tell the difference between the old label OPI from the new label OPI??

    1. I believe old label OPIs are black print and the newer ones are green print. I think this is to signify their changeover to 3-free polishes.

  13. I would love to see a list of the polishes you've found while dusty hunting! You've inspired me to start doing it too! :)

  14. Thanks !!! Lots of Great Advice!!! Much appreciated!!!

  15. Just curious if you could tell me the name of the 3rd opi on the bottom row, it is pink and it is the one next to the golden yellow china glaze. You have a very nice collection of hard to finds. I want to try dusty hunting but I am really scared...maybe someday I will try it though.

    1. Thanks =) I believe that one is OPI Movin' Out

  16. ...
    Now I need to do hecka research on polishes. I had it in my head that I would go into a salon and just somehow know what was, like, htf and all of that, having only been obsessed with polish for a month now. Thanks for this! I think I'll take a stab at hunting today...!

  17. Thank you for that comprehensive guide. I am feeling quite nervous about the idea of dusty hunting, but having an idea of all the steps involved really helps. Thanks, again.


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