How to Fix Thick Nail Polish

Updated on July 28, 2017

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.

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! | Source

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!

Gentle Mixing

If your nail polish has thickened only slightly, try this trick to get it flowing again: First, turn the bottle upside down to redistribute the color. Roll the bottle between you palms for a few minutes to warm up the polish. The heat from your hands may work to thin it out.

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. | Source

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

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.

Nail polish remover is a temporary fix for thick polish.
Nail polish remover is a temporary fix for thick polish. | Source

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.

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

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.

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

Add one drop of nail polish thinner at a time to the bottle of nail polish. Replace the brush and cap. Shake well and test the consistency on your nail. 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.

Extreme Fix

Take a small amount of acetone (from the beauty supply store) and add an equal part of orange oil to the solvent. Blend the mixture well and add two drops to the thickened nail polish. Shake the bottle well and let it sit for ten minutes to allow the polish to thin properly.

Orange oil helps your polish go on smoother and gives your homemade polish thinner a nice fregrance.
Orange oil helps your polish go on smoother and gives your homemade polish thinner a nice fregrance. | Source

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. Do this until the desired consistency is reached.

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.

Avoid storing your polishes in the refrigerator.
Avoid storing your polishes in the refrigerator. | Source

Store nail polish in a cool, dry place away from direct sun. Keeping nail polish in the refrigerator, 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.

Cautions

Remember to dispose of the leftover nail polish thinner, remover or acetone after use or place in an airtight container. Store 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.

© 2012 lindacee

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    • lindacee profile image
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      lindacee 4 years ago from Arizona

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

    • Nicole S profile image

      Nicole S Hanson 4 years ago from Minnesota

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

    • lindacee profile image
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      lindacee 5 years ago from Arizona

      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!

    • Londonlady profile image

      Laura Writes 5 years ago

      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!

    • lindacee profile image
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      lindacee 5 years ago from Arizona

      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! :)

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 5 years ago from Orlando, FL

      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 :)

    • lindacee profile image
      Author

      lindacee 5 years ago from Arizona

      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!

    • lindacee profile image
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      lindacee 5 years ago from Arizona

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

    • QudsiaP1 profile image

      QudsiaP1 5 years ago

      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. :)

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 5 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      Excellent tips, lindacee! Voted up and shared.

    • lindacee profile image
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      lindacee 5 years ago from Arizona

      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!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      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!

    • lindacee profile image
      Author

      lindacee 5 years ago from Arizona

      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! :)

    • lindacee profile image
      Author

      lindacee 5 years ago from Arizona

      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 profile image

      meloncauli 5 years ago from UK

      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.

    • Liz-reviews profile image

      Eunice Elizabeth 5 years ago from Vancouver, BC

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

      Always super frustrating when the polish turns to thick goo.

      Fabulous !!

    • lindacee profile image
      Author

      lindacee 5 years ago from Arizona

      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!

    • lindacee profile image
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      lindacee 5 years ago from Arizona

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

    • lindacee profile image
      Author

      lindacee 5 years ago from Arizona

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

    • leahlefler profile image

      Leah Lefler 5 years ago from Western New York

      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!

    • profile image

      ignugent17 5 years ago

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

      Voted up and useful.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 5 years ago from Arizona

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

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