How to Fix Thick Nail Polish - Bellatory - Fashion and Beauty
Updated date:

How to Fix Thick Nail Polish

Linda has written content for national fashion and beauty websites. She enjoys sharing style trends and tips with her readers.

Check to see if your nail polish is too thick before your next mani or pedi!

Check to see if your nail polish is too thick before your next mani or pedi!

If you do your own nails, you have probably ended up with an “off” bottle of polish—one that is just too thick to manage. Or, after several months, you might find that your favorite polish has morphed into a coagulated mess. It seems to happen more often with bargain brands than higher quality lacquers. However, even premium nail polishes can go from silky smooth to gloppy virtually overnight.

Just keep these tips in mind and have a few emergency supplies on hand—you’ll never again be caught off guard and will always be prepared to do battle with thick nail polish!

5 Ways of Fixing Thick Nail Polish

  1. Mix It Gently
  2. Add Nail Polish Remover
  3. Use a Nail Polish Thinner
  4. Make a Solvent
  5. Take Preventative Measures
Mix gently. Remember, air bubbles are one of your nail polish's worst enemies.

Mix gently. Remember, air bubbles are one of your nail polish's worst enemies.

1. Mix It Gently

If your nail polish has thickened only slightly, try this trick to get it flowing again:

  1. First, turn the bottle upside down to redistribute the color.
  2. Roll the bottle between your palms for a few minutes to warm up the polish. The heat from your hands may work to thin it out.
  3. If you must shake your polish, do so gently. Air bubbles formed during vigorous shaking will remain trapped in the polish. This can lead to prematurely thick polish.
Nail polish remover is a temporary fix for thick polish.

Nail polish remover is a temporary fix for thick polish.

2. Add Nail Polish Remover

Adding a few drops of nail polish remover will act to thin your polish temporarily and help out in a pinch. This tip is especially beneficial if you are using up the last little bit in a bottle before tossing it.

The ingredients in nail polish remover react with polish to give you good short-term results. Be judicious when adding nail polish remover—you can end up with a runny result, rendering a new bottle of polish useless.

  1. Purchase an eyedropper, and add acetone nail polish remover one drop at a time.
  2. Gently agitate the bottle after each drop.
  3. When you get your nail polish to the right consistency, apply it to your nails as usual.
Check the consistency after adding each drop of nail polish thinner.

Check the consistency after adding each drop of nail polish thinner.

3. Use a Nail Polish Thinner

If you would prefer to get an actual nail polish thinner, there are many brands from which you can choose. The primary ingredients of most of these thinners are toluene, ethyl acetate, or butyl acetate.

  1. Add one drop of nail polish thinner at a time to the bottle of nail polish.
  2. Replace the brush and cap. Shake well and test the consistency on your nail.
  3. Continue to add one drop of thinner, testing after each drop, until you reach the desired consistency.

Do not add too much thinner—as with using polish remover, you cannot re-thicken thinned-out polish.

Orange oil helps your polish go on smoother and gives your homemade polish thinner a nice fragrance.

Orange oil helps your polish go on smoother and gives your homemade polish thinner a nice fragrance.

4. Make a Solvent

  1. Take a small amount of acetone (from the beauty supply store) and add an equal part of orange oil to the solvent.
  2. Blend the mixture well and add two drops to the thickened nail polish.
  3. Shake the bottle well and let it sit for ten minutes to allow the polish to thin properly.
  4. Remove the brush from the bottle of nail polish to check whether it is thin enough. If it is not to your liking, add a drop or two and check again.
  5. Do this until the desired consistency is reached.
Avoid storing your polishes in the refrigerator.

Avoid storing your polishes in the refrigerator.

5. Take Preventative Measures

  • Don't hang on to nail polish for more than a couple of years. Some polishes won't even make it that long.
  • Be realistic about the longevity of your favorite trendy colors. You may feel a certain affection for your Tiffany blue nail lacquer, but chances are pretty good the bottle won't survive long enough to be back in vogue.
  • Store nail polish in a cool, dry place away from direct sun.
  • Do not store nail polish in the refrigerator. Keeping nail polish in the fridge, which many women do, actually makes it thicken quicker. Even when it is removed from the fridge and allowed to return to room temperature, the chemical composition may be forever altered—making that smooth, even flow a thing of the past.

Caution: Dispose of Materials Safely

Remember to dispose of the leftover nail polish thinner, remover, or acetone after use or place it in an airtight container. Store it in a cool, dry place away from potential sources of heat and static electricity. Your city or county has instructions and locations for safe disposal of flammable chemical substances.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Linda Chechar

Start a Conversation!

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on April 18, 2013:

Nicole, give these a try. Maybe you can save a bottle of your favorite polish! :)

Nicole S Hanson from Minnesota on April 18, 2013:

I've thrown far too many nail polishes away because they were too thick. Nice hub here, very useful tips!

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on November 07, 2012:

Guess we all do/did the same thing Londonlady! I thought the instructions used to say "shake well". Glad to hear you and your nail polishes will benefit from this tip. Thanks for the read and vote!

Laura Writes on November 07, 2012:

Oh gosh! I always shake my nail polishes like there's no tomorrow. I didn't know about the air bubbles. Then again, I see I wasn't the only one. Thanks for the tip! My nail polishes thank you also. Voted up!

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on October 29, 2012:

Hope these tips help extend the life of your polishes, Sunshine625! Such a waste to throw out bottles before they're empty. Thanks for reading and commenting! :)

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on October 29, 2012:

Brilliant tips Linda! I just toss out the bottle of polish and purchase a new one. I used to thin it out with nail polish remover though :)

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on October 08, 2012:

Qudsia, I used to shake the heck out of my nail polish bottles also. Then I found out it wasn't good to do. :( Hopefully this Hub will save a few bottles of your nail polish!

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on October 08, 2012:

TToombso8, so glad you enjoyed this Hub! Thanks for the vote and share!

QudsiaP1 on October 08, 2012:

You are like a life saver lindacee; I get so annoyed when my favourite colours get all dried out. I liked the 'rub the bottle within your hands' technique. Usually I just go all bad a** on shaking the life out of the bottle. :P P.S: I had no idea bubbles were bad for nail polishes. Thanks again. :)

Terrye Toombs from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. on October 08, 2012:

Excellent tips, lindacee! Voted up and shared.

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on September 27, 2012:

Happy to help, teaches! It used to make me so mad to throw a half-used bottle of polish away. Now I can at least get a few more manicures out of a bottle! Thanks for reading, voting and commenting!

Dianna Mendez on September 27, 2012:

Thanks for this information. I have been throwing out polish when it thickens because it was not usable. Now, I am going to use this to fix that problem. Voted up!

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on September 27, 2012:

meloncauli, I used to use nail polish remover to thin out my nail polish. Now I prefer to use the thinning product. It produces a better result. Hope this Hub helped save a few of your favorite bottles! :)

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on September 27, 2012:

Liz, thinning out thick polish will help extend the life of your thick nail polish -- at least for a few more manicures. Glad you liked these tips!

meloncauli from UK on September 27, 2012:

I found this article really helpful Linda as I have about six bottles of nail varnish that need sorting out. I didn't even know you could buy nail varnish thinner! Thanks. Voted up.

Eunice Elizabeth from Vancouver, BC on September 26, 2012:

Excellent suggestions, I would not have thought of thinning the polish.

Always super frustrating when the polish turns to thick goo.

Fabulous !!

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on September 26, 2012:

Leah, it is certainly worth a try. I just hate the thought of letting nail polish go to waste -- especially when you consider the price of even L'oreal or Revlon these days!

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on September 26, 2012:

ignugent, thanks for passing this along to friends. These tips do work and will save them from having to toss polish!

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on September 26, 2012:

Carol, maybe these tips will help you get a few more manicures out of a bottle! Happy to help. Best to you!

Leah Lefler from Western New York on September 26, 2012:

This is a really useful hub - I have a few bottles of old nail polish, and I'll have to try some of these fixes instead of just dumping them in the garbage!

ignugent17 on September 26, 2012:

Useful tips! I am not using nail polish much but I will share this with my friends.

Voted up and useful.

carol stanley from Arizona on September 26, 2012:

I have often wondered how to solve this problem besides just throwing out the polish ...Problem solved thanks to you. Voted UP.