Cause: Each time you remove the brush, you probably swipe it against the bottle's edge to get rid of the excess polish. Some drips down the outside and dries, and it's as good as glue. And no one has yet come up with a polish formula that sticks to nails but not glass.
Cure: As a first step, use a jar gripper or wrap a rubber band several times around the cap to give you a better grip. If that doesn't do the trick, run hot water over the bottle to loosen the dried polish, then try again.
Preventive tip: "When you finish polishing your nails, use a little polish remover on a tissue to clean around the rim of the bottle, then store the bottle upright," says Kristi Fuhrmann, a Los Angeles-based makeup artist.
2 of 7Ellen Silverman
Cause: Because they're made of waxes and emollients, lipsticks become unstable if they aren't kept at the right temperature, explains New York City makeup artist AJ Crimson. "If you're not storing it at room temperature, or if it gets too hot in your purse, a lipstick can melt and lose strength, which makes it more susceptible to breaking completely," he says.
Cure: Mash the bullet back into the tube and apply with a lip brush. If it's too far gone for that to work, scoop what's left into an empty lip-gloss pot, use a blow-dryer to melt it into place, and let set.
Preventive tip: If a lipstick looks as if it's melting, put it in the refrigerator for 20 minutes so it can regain its consistency.
3 of 7Ellen Silverman
Shattered Powder Eye Shadow or Blush
Cause: You bumped it or dropped it. And because compacted makeup is usually less than a quarter-inch thick, says Crimson, it's very fragile. Extremes in temperature can also make pressed powder more prone to breakage.
Cure: Add a few drops of rubbing alcohol to the compact and use a butter knife to smooth the powder back into shape, says Fuhrmann. Let dry before using. If the damage can't be repaired, you can crush the cosmetic completely, transfer it to a small resealable bag or jar, and use it as loose powder.
Preventive tip: When traveling, place cotton puffs over each eye shadow, blush, or powder before closing the case, says Crimson. Store them in a cool, dry place.
4 of 7Ellen Silverman
Clogged Hair-Spray Pump
Cause: “A clogged nozzle typically occurs when a small amount of resin, which is what gives hair spray its stickiness and holding properties, dries and sticks to the exit hole in the sprayer,” says Mark Frey, director of marketing for personal-care products at Meadwestvaco Calmar, a leading manufacturer of packaging.
Cure: Hold the nozzle under warm running water, then remove the residue with a tissue or use a toothpick to gently scrape away any debris lodged in the hole.
Preventive tip: After each use, run the nozzle under warm water, then dry with a tissue. Store hair spray with the cap on in a cool, dry place. If you use hair spray only occasionally, buy small cans to avoid buildup in the nozzle over time, says Kevin Marshall, the group creative director at Marc Rosen Associates, a package-design and branding firm in New York City.
5 of 7Ellen Silverman
Jammed Lotion Pump
Cause: It's either a clog (a bit of lotion in the hole of the pump has hardened) or a pump defect (one of the mechanism's many parts is misaligned), which causes the whole gizmo to fail, says president and CEO of MD Skincare Carrie Gross.
Cure: If a clump is the issue, run the pump under hot water, then use a toothpick, a needle, or a bobby pin to dig the blockage out of the hole. If this doesn't work, and the pump itself is the cause, take it out and pour the lotion into a plastic cosmetics bottle (available at drugstores).
Preventive tip: After each use, wipe away any lotion sitting at the tip of the pump with a cotton swab.
6 of 7Ellen Silverman
Broken Perfume Pump
Cause: The pump tops of many fragrance bottles have crimped collars to prevent leaks. If these are misassembled, the perfume won't make it to the nozzle. Other possible culprits? A faulty pump spring or a pump that is poorly attached to the dip tube (that strawlike thing). "The dip tube can also come loose in the bottle," says Doug Virtue, president and CEO of Virtue Development Company, which creates packages for fragrances, skin-care products, and other cosmetics. "Unfortunately, there's no way to reattach it."
Cure: "Return it to the store where you bought it," says senior director of packaging development for Revlon Ray Garofano. Before buying, ask what the return policy is on faulty packaging.
Preventive tip: Try a spritz before you buy (though that's no guarantee your purchase won't break later).
7 of 7Ellen Silverman
Missing or Broken Aerosol Cap
Cause: "If the cap is broken, it may have been assembled with greater force than necessary," says Garofano. "This can cause the cap to spread slightly, making it weaker." If, on the other hand, the cap has pulled a disappearing act, it probably wasn't securely attached to begin with or it got jostled loose with use.
Cure: Fortunately, many companies use the same packaging, so try taking a cap from another bottle, says Marshall. Gently press it down onto the stem, being careful to point it away from your face.
Preventive tip: Replace the cap by pressing it gently and directly on the center of the nozzle.