There are many reasons why you probably SHOULDN’T Retrobrite your yellowing retro devices. The harsh chemicals are not good for your skin, and CAN break down the plastic over time if you continue to reapply the Retrobrite over time. Also, while this does work on reducing (and sometimes removing completely) the yellowing of your retro device, the yellowing will come back. Unless you change the materials or find a way to break down the plastic on a molecular level and reconstruct with better materials, the plastic will continue to age and yellow.
What is Retrobrite?
I realized quickly when I began collecting that many of us are not the biggest fan of the look of aging retro consoles. Sometimes systems like the NES and SNES yellow severely, while others are lucky and stay minty fresh. More than likely, you will come into the hands of the less pretty ones. And if you are like me, you would love to see that original color come back to life. Enter Retrobrite.
While the original “formula” of Retrobrite is somewhere on the internet, you can read more details about where the idea came from here. I will link some videos you can watch on how you can attempt this with your own consoles. It is not perfect, but it works. And you will be shocked on where you could buy the materials you need.
My NES restoration
My first attempt at this was with my NES console and controllers. It turned out better than I thought, but it certainly has areas where it could have been much better. Here are some pictures:
So you want to try it out too?
Lucky for you, it is pretty easy as long as you have patience and the right materials. Also, it helps to set your expectations low-this is not a perfect science unfortunately. As you can see in my pictures, there are certainly some areas where the plastic did not completely transition to the original color, but it still looks better than yellow. Regardless, I suggest you check out the following people for various ways you can Retrobrite your old consoles. Please note, some of the materials you may need could be hard to find. The salon cream I ended up finding that is recommended by most people was over priced everywhere but actual beauty stores. So I strongly suggest you check the places it, you know, is actually supposed to be sold at.
The 8-Bit Guy is the place to go if you need plain and simple instructions (with multiple techniques might I add) on how to Retrobrite your consoles. There are also plenty of others on Youtube or just on various forums (reddit) that have instructions as well. But for me, I would put my money on The 8-Bit Guy.
What is next?
I have a few things that need to be repaired within my collection, so expect to see some posts (and maybe a repair video) coming in the future. Currently, I am on the hunt for a good soldering iron an materials to assist with the repairs. So stay tuned!