How To Thin Nail Polish: 4 Easy Methods Explained

Thin nail polish
Photo: Kris Atomic on Unsplash

What happens when you grab your favorite nail polish bottle and see it is all goopy and sticky? Learn how to thin nail polish and make it work again for you.

We have all been there – that favorite nail polish shade, possibly one that is discontinued, became goopy practically overnight. You were devastated for sure! Well, you will be happy to know that there is actually a solution. Thin nail polish is something that you can do at home and save your polish from completely drying out.

You can do many things to prolong and save your favorite nail polishes and make them look like you have just left the nail salon. First of all, keeping and protecting them from sunlight is crucial.

How to Thin Nail Polish: Proven Methods and Tricks

Photo: Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Unfortunately, if your nail polish becomes sticky, you need to try everything that you can to make it work again. We have some proven methods and tricks on how to thin nail polish at home, with or without using a nail polish thinner.

What is a Nail Polish Thinner?

Nail polish thinner is an emulsion designed to thin the consistency of polishes once they become goopy. The main problem is consistency itself – once it thickens, it becomes uneven. That is when nail polish thinner comes in to do miracles.

How to Make Nail Polish Thin with Thinner?

RELATED: Is Nail Polish Toxic: The Toxic Truth About Nail Polish and Your Health

Nail polish thinners usually cost less than $10 but can make your nail polish last a bit longer.

Follow these steps when thinning out your polish with a thinner.

  • Add 3 or 4 drops of nail thinner into the polish.
  • Instead of shaking the bottle, roll it between your palms. If you shake it, you will create air bubbles.
  • After rolling, you can open the bottle to see if you have succeeded in thinning it. If not, repeat the process.

You can as well let the thinner sit inside the nail polish bottle instead of rolling it. Try for an hour or so, and then roll the bottle between your palms.

How to Make Nail Polish Thin with Pure Acetone

Photo: cottonbro from Pexels

One of the easiest methods to thin nail polish is to add a drop of acetone to it. However, nail artists are not recommending it. It will thin the polish, yet it will shorten its lifespan.

  • Add only one drop of pure acetone to your nail polish bottle.  
  • Shake the bottle well, and try it out.
  • If the nail polish is still thick, add one more drop and mix it again.

How to Thin Nail Polish with Hot Water

If you have neither acetone nor thinner, you can use hot water to make your nail polish thinner. This might be the easiest way to do it, yet be aware that it can be the least effective.

  • Completely close the nail polish bottle and put it in the bowl with hot water.
  • Ensure the water is not boiling – otherwise, it can break the bottle, which is usually made of glass.
  • Allow the bottle to remain in the water for about two to five minutes.
  • Gently roll it between palms to mix the polish inside.

If this wasn’t enough, repeat the whole process or mix it with a nail polish thinner.

How to Thin Gel Nail Polish

Gel nail polishes require special thinners made only for them. Once you find the gel polish thinner, you can use it to thin your gel and make it brand new again. Using regular thinner will stop your gel nail polish from working properly.

  • Open the gel polish bottle that has thickened and pour a small amount of thinner.
  • You should shake the bottle after each drop of thinner.
  • When you get desired consistency, the gel nail polish is ready to use again.

How to Keep and Store Your Nail Polish

To prevent thinning out and clumping in the first place, you need to take good care of your nail polishes, especially those that you don’t often wear – limited editions or discontinued ones, for instance.

Photo: Dan-Cristian Pădureț on Unsplash

Store in Cool and Dry Place

The main trick is always to keep your nail polish bottles away from the sunlight. The best place to store them should be cool, dry, and with a constant temperature. Some women even go for a refrigerator. Although, this is recommended for warm and humid climates.

Check Expiration Dates

You need to be aware that even nail polish thinner will not help you keep your polish in good condition forever. After all, just like makeup and hair products, nail polishes have their expiration date.

If you want to keep track of expiration dates, you should create small labels or use a marker to write on the bottle.

Tightly Seal Bottle Caps

Even though this sounds obvious, sometimes women forget to seal bottle caps tightly. You need to do this whenever you are not actively using your lacquer. However, even if you are closing the lid between coats, you won’t make a mistake. On the contrary – that is how you will prolong the life of your favorite nail polish.

Q&A: You Ask We Answer

Here are some of the frequently asked questions about thin nail polish and how to make it functional again.

How do you liquefy hardened nail polish?

Can I add acetone to nail polish?

Yes, you can add acetone to nail polish that has thickened. However, that won’t prolong its lifespan for long. The nail polish will start to crack and probably go back to being thick again.

Can you use nail polish remover as a thinner

No, you can’t use a nail polish remover as a thinner. Even if this seems like a quick and cheap solution to prolong the lifespan of your favorite nail polish, it will crack after just a few uses.

Is nail polish thinner the same as nail polish remover/acetone?

No, it is not the same. Acetone is found in most nail polish removers, but it is not a solvent. It will thin your nail polish but also crack it. Thinner is specially designed to act as a solvent and replace the ingredients in the polish that have evaporated over time.

Nail polish remover and thinner even have entirely different chemical compositions.

Can you use rubbing alcohol to thin nail polish?

Yes! If you don’t have a thinner in your bathroom, then you probably own rubbing alcohol (with at least 91% alcohol in it). Add a few drops to your nail polish bottle, shake it well, and check the consistency.

How many drops of rubbing alcohol I can add?

No more than 6 drops. If you add more, it will ruin the consistency and the color pigment. Ideally, you should add from 2 to 4 drops of rubbing alcohol.

What if I make nail polish too thin?

Everything can be solved, even if you have made your nail polish too thin. Just let some air back into it. Open the bottle and clean the brush out with a polish remover. Then leave the bottle open for a day or so in an open and dry place. The air will thicken the nail polish again.

Can you use hydrogen peroxide to thin out nail polish?

No, you shouldn’t use hydrogen peroxide as a nail polish thinner. On the other hand, it can be helpful when you don’t have a polish remover but don’t overuse it.

About The Author