How to Thin Out Nail Polish if it is Sticky, Thick and Clumpy

Last Updated on April 27, 2022 by SulaBeauty Staff

It is such a disappointment when you get time to apply nail polish and you find that the polish inside is clumpy, sticky, and thick. It can’t be applied, as if you will it will take ages to dry, will get smudged, and will only irritate you more.

Trust me, I know how annoying it feels when more than half of your old nail polish is still remaining and the formula starts to get thick, it feels like a waste of money.

But worry not, as I will not let your polish go to waste.  

How to Thin gel Nail Polish

In this article, I am going to help you fix your clumpy nail polish by introducing you to several methods that you can try at home. I am going to make your old nail polishs feel brand new.  

Why Is My Nail Polish Sticky? 


Exposure of nail polish to air is one of the most probable reasons for the cause of sticky or clumpy polish. Your polish will get thick and start to dry if you don’t seal their caps instantly after use.

Close the lid as soon as you apply it to your nails, the contact of polish with oxygen will shorten its lifespan. Also, there are chances that you are not storing your nail paints at desirable temperatures and away from sunlight.

I am going to provide more tips on how to thin nail polish so, keep reading!

5 Methods to Thin Out Nail Polish at Home 


1. Get a Nail Thinner 

In this method, we are going to need a good nail lacquer thinner, it will help fix our thick nail polish. Before I begin to tell you how to use a nail polish thinner to thin out thickened nail polish, you can buy a nail polish thinner from any local drugstore near you or you can click here to buy it from Amazon, it comes with a dropper which is convenient.

You are supposed to put two to three drops of the nail lacquer thinner into your old nail polish bottle. Use an eyedropper to do this step for precision.

Now, close the cap of your nail paint bottle tightly and then, rub the bottle between your hands to mix the nail polish thinner into the nail polish.

And remember not to shake the gel nail polish bottle as it creates air bubbles into the formula and disturbs the desired consistency. If you find difficulty in mixing thinner into polish then, turn the bottle upside down a few times.  

You must test the consistency of your nail polish by either applying it on a page or on one of your nails and if it’s still thick then, add a drop more and let the nail polish thinner sit in very thick polish before mixing.

Don’t add too much as it’ll get too runny and will be impossible to reverse the process 

2. Add a Drop of Pure Acetone to thin out nail polish 

Well, you can also make use of a few drops of pure Acetone to thin out nail polish as well. However, I would recommend this method as your last resort and only to be used when your nail polish is almost over.

Because acetone breaks down the nail polish and can ruin it so, if you’re planning to consider this option on half a bottle of nail polish then, use other given methods.  

For this method, use only one drop of pure Acetone and put it into the nail polish, and gently roll the bottle in your hands. It’s an effective method to provide you with a thinner gel nail polish.  

3. Store in a Cool, Dark Place that maintains a consistent temperature 

Storing your nail polish the right way is just as important as keeping your veggies in the fridge. You need to store nail polish in a cool and dark place, don’t keep it in your washroom as the temperature there keeps constantly fluctuating.

I would advise you to keep them in your wardrobe or in a drawer to maintain a consistent temperature. And please keep your nail paints away from direct sunlight.

This way they will last longer, won’t dry quickly, and the formula will stay intact.  

4. Make sure to Check Expiry date 

It is very important to check the expiry dates of your make-up products including nail polish. People often think that nail polishes don’t have an expiration date, whereas they are wrong to think this way.

You need to ensure that your nail paint is not expired before considering any of the methods that we have provided in this article as an expired product can’t be fixed and must be thrown away.  

5. Keep it Sealed properly so that no Air gets inside 

You need to ensure that your nail polish bottle is perfectly sealed so that the air doesn’t get inside. The oxygen makes the polish formula clumpy and thick. And therefore, instantly close the cap of the bottle as soon as you have applied it to your nails.

Don’t leave it open on the table as the polish will start to dry and always keep the bottles upright.

Also, use a cotton swab soaked in acetone or rubbing alcohol to clean the excess nail polish on the sides of the bottleneck. If you won’t remove the excess then, it will get dried and will get more difficult to close the bottle cap leaving space for air to get inside.  

See also: Will gel nail polish air dry?

6. Thin Nail Polish with Hot Water 

If you don’t have nail lacquer thinner at home and need a quick fix to thin out nail polish that doesn’t require any other product then, consider this method. All you need is a bowl and some hot water.

So, start by heating some water and then pouring it into a big bowl. And then, put your nail polish bottle into that hot water bowl after closing its cap tightly.  

Leave the bottle inside water for at least two minutes and then, remove the nail polish bottle very carefully as it will be hot.

The hot water will heat the polish which in turn will make the formula thin for a short period of time. Then, gently roll the nail paint bottle between your palms to mix the polish inside.  

How to DIY Thin Nail Polish using Alcohol? 


If you are out of your nail polish thinner then, you can use rubbing alcohol or isopropyl alcohol as DIY nail polish thinner to help fix your clumpy nail polish.

Now, you must be wondering how alcohol can thin out a nail paint formula, well keep reading and I will catch up on all your doubts. First, let’s see the method: 

1. Using an eye dropper add two to three drops of isopropyl alcohol into your nail paint bottle.  

2. Then, gently rub the glass bottle in between your hands or put it upside down to help mix the solvent into the polish completely.  Avoid shaking the bottle too much as it will create air bubbles in the formula.

3. You must test the polish consistency by either applying it to one of your nails or on paper. If it’s in uneven consistency then, add more drops, or else if the formula is of the original consistency, then, let the bottle sit for 15-20 minutes before using. 

See also: Can you use nail polish remover instead of rubbing alcohol?

How Alcohol Thins Out Nail Polish 


You see Isopropyl Alcohol and Ethyl acetate are two of the main ingredients available in most nail polishes. But when the nail polish dries out or becomes too thick then, these two ingredients are lost.

Adding these two solvents into the nail polish manually can help thin out the formula, they will replace the lost alcohol. Also, isopropyl Alcohol can act as a replacement for Ethyl acetate as well, because they are quite similar.  

How Effective is Alcohol at Thinning out Polish 


Well, the effectiveness of this method depends on the nail polish that you have. Several nail polishes have alcohol and ethyl acetate in large proportions and for those polishes, adding isopropyl alcohol will make the formula thin and they will mix well.

However, for some nail polishes, the alcohol will not blend well and might ruin the quality of the polish or fade its color. Thus, alcohol might be effective in thinning out nail paints but is not the preferred choice.

Frequently Asked Questions 


How Can I Thin My Nail Polish without Thinner? 

If you are out of your nail polish thinner then, you can use the hot water method at home to thin out your nail polish. All you have to do is keep the nail paint bottle in a bowl filled with hot water for a few minutes and then, shake it before use. Also, you can make use of rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover instead of regular nail polish thinner.  

Can I Use Alcohol to Thin Gel Polish? 

Yes, you can make use of 2-3 drops of isopropyl alcohol to fix your sticky nail polish. This will not ruin your nail polish.  

Can I Thin Gel Polish With Acetone? 

Yes, as mentioned earlier, you can use a drop or two of pure Acetone, it’s an effective solution but short-term. Acetone that is present in nail polish removers can break down and ruin the nail polish formula.  

Can you Dilute Nail Polish with Water? 

No, you must not dilute nail paint with water, it won’t work. Only use a few drops of either nail polish thinner or nail polish remover to dilute the polish. 

Can Nail Polish be Thinned with Remover? 

Yes, you can use nail polish remover to thin your nail paint. However, use only two drops at maximum in the nail paint and not more than that.  

Can you use Hydrogen Peroxide to Thin Out Nail Polish? 

No, I know a lot of websites suggest that you can use Hydrogen peroxide to remove nail paint when you run out of nail polish remover. But you can’t use Hydrogen peroxide to thin out nail polish. 

Related: How to Use DND Gel Polish

Final Thoughts – What is the Best way to Thin Nail Polish 


I’d recommend that you make use of nail polish thinners to thin out your thick nail polishes. It’s the most ideal method; however, if you don’t have nail polish thinner then, you can make use of Isopropyl alcohol, nail paint remover or use the hot water technique.

Store your nail polishes with utmost care to increase their longevity. Keep them in a dry place away from humidity, avoid storing them in your bathroom or any warm place.

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