My Nail Polish Bubbles—What To Do?

Whether you do your nails at home or pay to have them done in a salon, taking a look at your freshly painted nails and noticing bubbles is upsetting. Luckily, there are ways to fix bubbles when they happen. Even better, there are ways to prevent bubbles from occurring in the first place. If you have ever experienced your nail polish bubbling, you're probably wondering what you can do to fix it. We've done some research to answer that question for you.

Depending on the severity of the bubbles and the complexity of your nail design, there are a number of ways to fix your nail if the nail polish has bubbled. Here are some of the most effective ways: 

  • Use nail polish remover to smooth the bubbles 
  • Apply nail polish thinner 
  • Blow warm air onto your nails 
  • Incorporate them into a design 
  • Start over 

We will describe each of these fixes to help you determine when to use each method. Then, keep reading to learn how to prevent bubbles in your nail polish.

A beautiful woman showing her dark red nail polish matching her red lips, My Nail Polish Bubbles—What To Do?

How To Fix Bubbles In Your Nail Polish

Nail Polish Remover

Dip your finger into the nail polish remover and smooth it over the bubbled nail. With this method, you can quickly eliminate the bubbles and preserve your polish. Follow up with a top coat to keep the polish smooth.

Take a look at this clip to see this method in action:

Nail Polish Thinner

Don't mistake nail polish thinner for the similarly named nail polish remover. While nail polish remover is applied to remove nail polish from the nails, thinner is most often applied directly inside nail polish to thin it out and make it smooth. However, nail polish thinner can be used to smooth bubbles out as well.

Use a brush to apply the nail polish thinner directly to the nail and let it dry. If you notice that some of the polish has been wiped away in the process, touch up the nail with polish before applying a top coat.

Warm Air

Applying warm air to remove air bubbles is common practice with crafting, including resin and stickers or decals. The warm air brings air bubbles to the surface and eliminates them, leaving a smoother area behind.

The same method can be applied to nails as well. Blowing warm air onto your nails or using a hairdryer on very low heat will slightly melt the surface of the polish, allowing the bubbles to escape.

Bubbled Nail Art

A woman showing her finger nail art

If you plan to spend more time on your nails to add nail art, you may not want to go through the process of removing the bubbles from your nails before moving on to the nail art step.

As long as the bubbles don't create lumps or make your nails look messy, you can try incorporating the bubbles into your art. Even a design as simple as the image above can do a good job of hiding the bubbles behind glitter.

Start Over

If all else fails, you can remove the bubbled polish from your nail and re-paint it. While this is more time consuming, it is more likely to work than the other methods. Take a look at some tips for preventing bubbles in nail polish so your next attempt is smoother-pun intended!

How To Prevent Nail Polish Bubbles

Drying finger nails under UV lights

Bubbling occurs for a number of reasons. Not letting each nail polish coat dry completely, using old nail polish, and starting with rough nails are just some of these reasons. Ensure a smooth finish every time by following these tips.

Let The Layers Dry!

Polishing your nails is not something that should be rushed or started five minutes before you are heading out the door. A good paint job is, unfortunately, time consuming.

Each layer, from base coat to top coat, should be dried thoroughly before adding the next layer. This prevents air bubbles that may form between the last layer of wet polish and the next one.

Refrain From Shaking The Bottle

We all do it, especially when we haven't used a particular polish in a while. It is well intended because separation occurs, and you want to incorporate all of the polish before applying it to your nails.

However, shaking the nail polish adds air bubbles to it that can be easily transferred from the bottle to brush to nail. Instead, roll the bottle in your hands. The warmth will incorporate the ingredients without adding the bubbles that come from shaking.

Create A Clean, Smooth Canvas

You wouldn't start a painting on an imperfect surface, and you shouldn't paint imperfect nails either. If you attempt to introduce polish to cracked, rough, or uneven nails, the polish will not have a smooth surface to adhere to, creating air bubbles. Cosmopolitan suggests starting your manicure by buffing your nails to create that smooth surface before you begin polishing.

Click here to see this nail file and buffer set on Amazon. 

Purge Your Old Nail Polish

Without a doubt, thick or lumpy nail polish will result in uneven, bubbled nails. Get rid of your expired nail polishes and treat yourself and your nails to new ones.

If you have any colors that are not expired but are thicker than they should be, add some nail polish thinner to it to thin it out. Start with just a few drops and mix the polish. Add more drops as needed until the polish is thin and smooth.

How Do You Make Nail Polish Smooth?

A woman showing her nicely done fingernails at the salon

While good technique ensures a smooth finish, you also need to make sure that you are using quality nail polish that is not too old or expired.  Also, make sure it is not too thick. If you find that your nail polish is thick or lumpy, thin it with nail polish thinner. Finally, polish your nails with thin layers, allowing each coat to dry before adding the next one.

Click here to see this nail lacquer thinner on Amazon. 

How Many Coats Of Nail Polish Is Too Much?

Nail experts agree that three coats of nail polish are the maximum number of coats you should apply. However, one layer of base coat and two layers of top coat are recommended as well. So, you would use a total of five coats on your nails for the perfect finish.

How Can I Make Nail Polish Stay On Longer?

Now that you've polished your nails to perfection, avoiding any bubbles, you may want to enjoy them for a while before having to do it again. There are some ways to keep your nails looking their best for longer.

Use The Right Top Coat

While it may seem like common sense to look for a long-lasting and chip-resistant top coat, remember that not all top coats are created equal. Some may focus more on shine than protection. Higher-quality top coats will do a better job of protecting not only the polish on your nails, but your nails themselves.

Click here to see this highly-rated top coat on Amazon. 

Choose A High-Quality Polish

Like with the top coats, some nail polishes are better than others. Again, look for a high-quality polish that is long-lasting. You can also use gel polish to make your manicure last longer.

Keep in mind that gel polish is an investment though. While some gel polishes set on their own, many of them need to be cured under a UV light.

Click here to see this long-lasting polish on Amazon. 

Let Your Nails Fully Dry

Take the time to ensure that your nails are completely dry before going about your day. If your nails are even slightly sticky, you are at a higher risk for damage to your polish. If you are in a rush, use a nail dryer or ice water to hasten the drying process.


Bubbled nail polish is a common occurrence, and it can happen to anyone. Reduce your risk of bubbles by using high-quality products and taking your time applying them. Give your hands and nails some extra pampering before your manicure to ensure even polish application and healthy nails.

Increase your nail care expertise by taking a look at these articles:

Can You File Nails With Nail Polish On?

23 Types Of Nail Polish And Finishes

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