Indoor Retrobriting

Indoor retrobriting is an alternative to conventional outdoor retrobriting.  It does offer some advantages over the conventional technique but also some inconvenients.  The chief advantages are as follows:

  1. It can obviously be performed at any time of the day or night as it does not require sunny conditions
  2. The retrobriting gel does not dry as quickly and therefore requires less applications
  3. There are less debris in its environment which would otherwise lead to insects and/or vegetation (leaves, grasses, etc.) sticking to the gel
  4. It is a more ‘gentle’ form of retrobriting (even with 40 volume gel) that is therefore more forgiving specifically on platinum-colored plastics

The main disadvantages of this technique compared to conventional retrobriting are:

  1. It requires the purchase of additional equipment (e.g. blacklights)
  2. The overall process takes longer

Recommendations regarding the setup/technique:

  1. UV lights should be positioned in such a way that they distribute light evenly on all plastics.  In my case I use two (2) American Dj 24″ Black Light Fixtures (see image below) mounted on a wooden frame above the plastics to be treated.  As I position the plastic parts underneath those lights, I make sure that all sides are properly exposed and that shadows are minimized.  Note that repositioning may be required every few hours if an even distribution of UV light is not possible.American Dj 24" Black Light Fixture w/ LAMP Black-24BLB
  2. I remove all logos and when possible labels as well, from plastic cases.  I then clean all plastic parts thoroughly with Chlorox CleanUp and a nail brush.
  3. I use an out-of-the-bottle 40 Volume peroxide gel from Salon Creme (see link below).  This can be found in stores such as Sally Beauty or on Amazon.  I use a paint brush to apply thin layers of the gel evenly on all plastics.  The key here is to avoid pooling or uneven distribution of the gel. (,default,pd.html)
  4. I reapply the gel every few hours if necessary

The length of the process will be a function of the yellowing of the plastics and of the desired result.  It is my experience that significantly yellowed plastics may require 10 to 20 hours of exposure to obtain perfect results.

Retrobrite 101

51There are many ways to Retrobrite. I avoid submerging because it’s a waste of peroxide, and maybe toxic for the environment, also don’t wrap in plastic as it allows areas to wrinkle and get more concentrated than others, promoting streaks. I basically paint the gel to the plastic.

Remember to remove all logos, metals and elements that are not benefiting from retrobriite. Snow white are easier to clean, platinum and beige require more “babysitting” and less power (20 strength instead of 40).

I base my technique on a recipe found on the original “Retrobright” site, a guy named Tezza.

Here is the recipe, make sure you wear gloves to avoid chemical burns:

– 100 ml of liquid Peroxide 40, found in beauty supply shops
– One teaspoon of Arrowroot powder
– One teaspoon of Oxy Clean powder

Mix thoughtfully the three elements in that order, first the Arrowroot and finish with the Oxy Clean. Once mixed up, “paint it” to the plastic you are fixing under a full sun. The mixture will bubble as it’s reacting to the sun. Make sure you spread it evenly, like painting, leaving no “lines” to avoid “streaking”.

Leave the item for about an hour, depending on weather conditions. Some windy or dry places will need reapplying every hour, make sure you rotate the item so all angles get direct sunlight.

The process is not time based or an exact science, you need to be checking every time, maybe washing to remove the coating and inspect the color. It is not for the lazy, that just want to leave and come back to a pristine piece. Leaving some pieces for a long period could end on streaking, fading logos and variations in color or “patches” with different shades.