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Why Does My Nail Polish Bubble? [& How To Prevent & Fix It!]

Have you ever reached for your nail polish and found that it was filled with tiny air bubbles? Or noticed that those same tiny bubbles were forming on the surface of your nails after you’ve finished applying a few coats of your favorite lacquer? Don’t worry; I’m here to help. This is all you are going to want to know.

So, why does nail polish bubble? Nail polish can begin to form tiny air bubbles inside the bottle when the nail polish is getting old, drying out, or is of poor quality. Bubbles can also form in your nail polish as you paint your nails. This is often the result of debris cross-contaminating the applicator brush. 

Bubbles can be easy to notice when they’re trapped inside your nail polish bottle. 

But, they can often sneak up on you, appearing only as your nails are ready for their final coat of lacquer.

And as previously mentioned, there are a few reasons why air bubbles can appear in your nail polish bottle and on the surface of your nails. 

So, let us delve deeper to help you find out exactly why your particular polish has bubbled and what you can do to prevent this from happening in the first place.

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What Causes Nail Polish To Bubble?

It is most common for nail polish to form bubbles when it is getting old, starting to thicken, or is of poor quality. 


If your nail polish is more than two years old, you may start to notice it drying out, and after using a particular nail polish countless times, it’s only natural that air bubbles will begin to form. 


Other tiny particles, like dust, can also get stuck on the applicator brush and find themselves mixed in with the rest of your nail polish. 

Messy hands can also introduce air bubbles (and bacteria!) into your nail polish and cause it to bubble. 

Excess hand lotion, oils, and yes, even food can damage your nail polish inside the bottle and make it more difficult to apply to your nails. 

Shaking The Bottle

We know how tempting it can be to shake nail polish before applying it, but shaking your nail polish bottles can actually force air into the lacquer and cause bubbles to form before you even open the bottle. 

Poor Application

Too-thick layers of nail polish can also encourage bubbles to form. 

Applying layers that are too thick can trap air bubbles between coats and spoil your manicure or pedicure. 

Thick layers also take longer to dry, which can make your nails more vulnerable to damage.

Can All Nail Polish Bubble?

Bubbles can happen with any kind of nail polish. Yes, even expensive, top-quality polishes suffer from air bubbles more often than we’d like to admit. 

While poor-quality nail polishes are more likely to form air bubbles, remember that all types of nail polish will benefit from proper storage and care.

How Do I Stop My Nail Polish From Bubbling?

You can prevent your nail polish from bubbling in the bottle by securing the cap, storing it correctly, and avoiding shaking the bottle. 

There are a number of ways to prevent air bubbles from forming in the actual nail polish bottle as well as on the surface of your nails.

Proper Storage

Storing your nail polish properly is the best way to prevent nail polish from bubbling. 

Too much heat, moisture, and sunlight can all make nail polish take a turn for the worst. 

Make sure to store your nail polish bottles in a spot that is consistently cool, dark, and free from excess humidity. 

Proper storage practices have a variety of benefits and will make your nail polish last longer, too.

Close Properly 

An important part of proper storage is making sure that your nail polish bottles are closed properly.

Remember to tighten the cap between coats and manicures, as a loose-fitting cap will allow air to leak into the bottle and encourage air bubbles to form. 

This is also the most common way to guarantee that your nail polish will start to dry out sooner rather than later.

Painting Technique 

Proper painting techniques are also an important part of keeping air bubbles out of your nail polish. 

Thin layers of nail polish dry much faster than thick ones, so avoid piling on thick coats as they are more likely to trap air and form bubbles. 

Proper Preparation 

It’s much easier to fix nail polish bubbles when you’ve taken all the right steps to properly prepare your nails in the first place. 

Proper hand hygiene is an important part of keeping your nail polish fresh and free of bubbles. 

For best results, remember to always wash your hands with soap and water before applying nail polish. 

This helps keep unwanted particles and anything other than nail polish far away from your nail polish applicator. 

You can also wipe your nails with an isopropyl alcohol pad to dissolve any lingering oils that could make their way into your nail polish.

How To Fix Nail Polish Bubbles?

You can fix bubbles that form inside the nail polish bottle by using nail polish thinner.

If you notice that bubbles are starting to form in your nail polish, add 1-2 drops of nail polish thinner directly into the nail polish bottle and tighten the cap. 

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To mix the nail polish and nail polish thinner together, roll the nail polish bottle between your hands for a minute or two. 

Rolling the bottle instead of shaking it is the key to working the air bubbles out of the polish. 

Nail polish thinner can also help remove bubbles on the surface of your nails. 

Dip a soft-bristled paint brush or makeup brush into nail polish thinner and gently brush over the bubbles 1-2 times. 

Remember to brush over the whole nail, from cuticle to tip, and then reapply nail polish to the treated area. 

This will help dissolve the surface of the bubbles and allow new nail polish to fill any tiny voids left behind. 

You can also apply another thin coat of nail polish to conceal those pesky air bubbles. 

Adding another layer of nail polish could reduce the appearance of the bubbles and even flatten them out.

If this subtle cover-up doesn’t cut it, you can always get creative and disguise unsightly bubbles with decals, stickers, or other types of nail art.