How to Thin Nail Polish? – 4 DIY Nail Polish Thinning Tips!

If you are like me and you prefer stocking up on all shades of one color family, chances are your regular nail polish turns gloopy and clumpy. The only way to revive them is to thin nail polish.

Thin Nail Polish

Imagine this – you plan your outfit, you pick a hairdo, and you also select the footwear and accessories to go with it. Then comes the favorite – picking the nail polish you want to wear. To your horror, you twist open the bottle and find a thick nail polish that clearly cannot be used.

If this has happened to you or you are a hoarder (like me), this article has all the hacks, tips, tricks, and prevention strategies that prevent thickened nail polish. Ready to learn?

Supplies Needed to Thin Nail Polish

From everyday supplies to extravagant ones, here is everything you need to fix dried nail polish. You would need

  • A bowl,
  • Some boiling water,
  • Alcohol-based acetone nail polish remover, and
  • A thinner for nail polish.

Alternatively, rubbing alcohol is one of the best thinning agents for nail polish. Note that, you do not need all these products. You just need one or two to make nail polish thinner.

In the following sections, I share insightful guidance on how to use these to fix dried nail polish, some prevention tricks so that your expensive nail polishes never dry out, and certain care instructions for different types and finishes of nail polish. 

How to Thin Nail Polish? – 4 DIY Nail Polish Thinning Tips!

So you have one (or more) bottles of dried nail polish. You are in a fix, and I have multiple fixes for you to revive those dried nail paints. With the help of the tools mentioned in the above section, you will have your nail polishes as good as new. Let’s begin!

Thin Nail Polish

Tip – 1: The No Brainer, Nail Polish Thinner.

A store-bought thinner for nail polish is the easiest, most efficient way of restoring nail polish texture. Nail polish thinner is typically made using butyl acetate, ethyl acetate, and isopropyl alcohol.

These ingredients react with each other and the nail polish chemically to create a reaction that impacts the consistency. Clumpy nail polish thins down and becomes more applicable and easy to use. 

So, how do you use nail polish thinner to dilute nail polish?

This is fairly simple.

  • With the help of a dropper, add two to three drops of nail polish thinner to your nail polish.
  • With the nail polish lid back on, roll the bottle between your hands.

There are two things happening at this stage. One is a chemical reaction between the ingredients. Two, the natural body heat from your palms helps in thinning the consistency of the nail polish. In under one minute, you will have an evidently better nail polish consistency.

PS: For gel nail polish, use a specialized nail polish thinner. Alternatively, an acetone-free nail polish remover works well. Certain brands I recommend for thinners include O.P.I, Orly, and Beauty Secrets

Did you know? You can also make a DIY nail polish thinner at home. For this, you will need rubbing alcohol. Almost available at everyone’s homes, take 2-5 drops into the nail polish and shake!

Do not add more than six drops of rubbing alcohol into your thickened nail polish as it will diminish the quality and color of the nail paint. 

Tip – 2: Acetone to the rescue!

When you see how acetone works in restoring nail polish texture, you are bound to be impressed. However, the key is to not become greedy. Do not, at any cost, use more than one drop of acetone in one bottle of thickened or clumpy nail polish.

For a while, acetone will definitely fix dried nail polish. But, it will ruin the quality, cause the nail polish to dry up, and turn it completely unusable. 

I have had certain questionable experiences with using acetone to dilute nail polish. I would not want you to go through the same. So, here is a tip I use now. 

Instead of directly pouring drops of nail polish remover into the clumpy nail polish, add acetone with an eye dropper to thin nail polish. This will help precision. 

Tip – 3: Melt the clumps.

As the name suggests, you need some heat to restore nail polish texture. There are two ways you can use this to thin your nail polish. 

The first and the quicker one is to boil some water. Add it to a bowl. Place your dried nail polish or polish bottles inside the bowl. Let it sit in the hot water bath for a good five to seven minutes.

Dry the bottle using a cloth. Open the lid to check whether or not the nail polish texture is restored. If it is still clumpy, place it in the water bath again. Check again, it should be better now.

If you are out and about and do not have a bowl at an arm’s distance, here is one of my favorite tips to thin dried nail polish.

You need a flow of warm water. Turn on the tap, and place the thick nail polish under this running water. Be patient, hold it for 10 minutes. Keep twisting and turning the nail polish bottle from side to side.

Keep it still at one side for 30-45 seconds. Repeat the same steps as above – dry the bottle, and check the consistency. And it should be good to go!

Tip – 4: The alter ego – acetone-free nail polish remover.

I prefer using acetone-free nail polish remover as I have sensitive skin. I get a burning sensation if this alcohol-based nail polish remover comes in contact. This is why I invest in an acetone-free nail polish remover all the time. 

But little did I know that it doubles as a DIY nail polish thinner too! Following the same concept as we did with acetone remover, add 2-3 drops of this into the nail polish. Roll the bottle between your palms and you should be good to go. 

Keeping Nail Polish Fresh – Tips to Prevent Thickening!

They say you learn from your mistakes. But have I learned from mine? Nope, not really. But that is actually what helped me discover multiple tips, tricks, and hacks to revive thick nail polish. Or better yet, prevent nail polish from thickening. 

How to Thin Nail Polish

Tip – 1: Storage situations.

Always ensure your nail polish bottles are stored in cool, dark places. Keeping the bottles under sunlight or in lit spaces will cause them to dry faster than their shelf life. If you live in a place with humid conditions or where the climate is primarily warm, consider placing the bottles in your refrigerator.

Also, do not store the nail polish in washrooms. The steam from hot showers may impact the nail polish consistency. 

Tip – 2: Seal shut.

Once you have applied the nail polish and completed the manicure, make sure you seal the nail polish bottle shut tightly before storing it back in your vanity. A tightly shut lid of nail polish will prevent air and moisture from entering inside.

It enhances the longevity of the nail polish shelf life. You can use the same nail polish shade for longer without worrying about clumps. 

Tip – 3: Positions matter.

Wherever you store your nail polish bottles, make sure they are stored upright. Never upside down like nut butter is stored. Storing a nail polish in an upright position prevents the nail polish content from flowing towards the cap.

If the nail polish is stuck around the cap, it gets gloopy, and clumpy, which causes air to enter. Hence, your nail polish becomes thick.

How to Thin Nail Polish? – FAQs

Is it OK to thin nail polish with nail polish remover?

Yes, it is perfectly all right to fix your dried nail polish using nail polish remover. Nail polish remover works to revive the nail polish by thinning it. The alcohol in nail polish remover fixes the consistency of the thick nail polish by eliminating the clumps. Please be sure to use just one single drop of nail polish remover.

How can I thin my nail polish without acetone?

In this article, I have highlighted some alternatives to thinning nail polish without using acetone. The simplest switch is to replace acetone nail polish remover with a non-acetone-based nail polish remover. Alternatively, running your nail polish under hot water or using a nail polish thinner are some foolproof fixes.

How do you fix nail polish that is too thick?

My first tip is to take preventive measures. Storing your nail polish correctly, not applying it under the fan, and sealing the lid shut – are a few of those. Sadly, if your nail polish has dried up, you can use acetone, you can use a nail polish thinner, run the nail polish bottle under a hot water bath, or place it in a bowl filled with hot water.

How to thin nail polish without thinner?

91% rubbing alcohol is going to be your best friend when it comes to thinning nail polish without nail polish thinner. Rubbing alcohol is an easily available liquid. You want to add just 3-5 drops of rubbing alcohol. Then roll the nail polish bottle gently between your palms. Check if it has thinned, and is ready to use again.

Wrapping up:

I completely understand the pain of having to throw away your favorite (super expensive) nail polishes without even using them much. I can’t remember the number of times I have had to throw away the nail polish completely.

Anyway, after some extensive research on the ingredients, the quality, the brands, and more – I realized I could revive my dear nail polishes by using some simple hacks. 

Though using acetone nail polish remover is a method, I personally do not prefer it. I would much rather run the bottle under hot water or use a nail polish thinner. That being said, I am so glad I found these fixes and preventive measures that saved my nail polish.

Did you learn something new? Have you tried this? How was your experience? Let me know!


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