How To Avoid Bubbles In Nail Polish

Get a perfect manicure with these tips to get a uniform layer of nail paint every time.

Reviewed by Simone de Vlaming, Beauty Expert
Written by Esha Saxena, MA (Mass Communication & Media Studies)
Edited by Madhumati Chowdhury, MA (English Literature)
Fact-checked by Vaishali Sinha, MA (Comparative Literature)  • 

You did everything right while giving yourself a manicure — avoided any spills, ditched all bumps, and steered clear of any dents. However, you missed the chapter on ’how to avoid bubbles in nail polish’ in your manicure textbook, and now all your efforts are in vain. Isn’t it what the nightmares of many women are made of?

Unfortunately, this problem doesn’t come with any fast and easy fixes. Once the pesky bubbles appear, your only option is to start afresh and redo your nails. But, fret not! In this article, we will address the issue at its root and share how you can prevent bubbles from forming in your nail polish. Read on.

protip_icon Keep In Mind
  • Brand: Choose well-known nail polish brands that are renowned for their use of premium quality nail polish ingredients.
  • Nail Care: Keeping the nail bed absolutely clean by buffering it and polishing it helps apply a neat coat and prevent bubbles.
  • Nail Polish Look: Getting a fresh manicure before nail polish application helps create a fine look and increases its aesthetic appeal.
  • Aftercare: While nail polish can’t be avoided altogether, it is important to give the nails some rest at times and avoid applying nail polish to prevent dryness or brittle nails.

Why Does Your Nail Polish Bubble Up?

As hard as you try to avoid it, it happens to the best of us. Bubbles appear mostly during the nail polish drying process when air gets trapped between the layers of polish. There are a few reasons this happens: your nail polish was too thick, you didn’t wait long enough before going in with the next coat, you didn’t apply a clear base coat, or you are using an expired nail polish.

No matter what your reasons, here are some nail polish techniques you can use to beat the bubbles for good.

How To Avoid Bubbles In Your Nail Polish

1. Clean Your Nails

How to avoid bubbles in nail polish step 1
Image: Shutterstock

Prepping is a must before you begin applying nail polish. Greasy or dirty nails prevent nail polish from adhering well. Always wash your hands with soap and water first. Wait for your nails to dry completely. Then, wipe them with a cotton ball soaked in acetone to remove any oil or dirt from the nail bed.

2. Always Apply A Base Coat

Image: Shutterstock

Much like putting on primer before your foundation, a base coat is necessary for a smooth and even finish. Applying a base coat not only prevents nail discoloration, but it also extends the wear of your manicure. Since your nails emit natural oils that prevent the nail polish from adhering well, a base coat is the best way to seal these oils in.

3. Inspect Your Nail Polish

Image: Shutterstock

You can’t expect an old, gloopy polish to give you a smooth finish. It is just not realistic.

Test your nail polish beforehand with a quick swipe across your nail to check if it is the right consistency. If your polish is thick, dense, and sticky, either thin it out with lacquer thinner or throw it away.

During this inspection, it is also a good idea to check the brush. If there are bubbles on the brush they will most likely transfer onto your nails. Just re-dip the brush into the polish, roll it between your fingers, and check again.

4. Always Press Out The Brush

To avoid any air bubbles, loose bristles, or little dust flakes that may end up in your brush, make sure to press out the brush before applying the nail polish.

5. Roll The Bottle

Shaking a bottle of nail polish vigorously is probably the number one mistake we have all made. Pumping the brush in and out of the bottle’s neck is another blunder. Doing so only traps the air inside the bottle, which creates tiny pockets where bubbles form.

Those air bubbles, when transferred onto your nails, sometimes leave noticeable holes in your manicure. If your polish has separated, the best way to deal with it is to simply roll the bottle between your hands like you are rolling dough.

6. Apply Thin Coats

Image: Shutterstock

The key to a perfect manicure lies in its application. If you have too much polish on your brush, you are in for a mess. You will have to deal with smudges, nicks, and bubbles. Besides, thicker layers of polish take too long to dry.

The best way to apply nail polish is in three short and even strokes: the first one down the middle and then one down each side of the nail. Lift the brush as little as possible and always wait for the first coat to dry completely before applying the second one.

protip_icon StyleCraze Says
Turn the fan off and close your windows while applying nail polish, as moisture and heat can cause bubbles in the polish while applying it.

7. Always Apply A Top Coat

How to avoid bubbles in nail polish step 6
Image: Shutterstock

Once you finish applying your nail color, apply a topcoat. Make sure you swipe across the very edge of your nail. This way, you will be less likely to chip the nail paint.

protip_icon StyleCraze Says
If you are in a hurry and need to conceal your nail polish bubbles, apply some nail stickers or jewels on them.

8. Dip Your Fingers In A Bowl Of Cold Water

How to avoid bubbles in nail polish step 7
Image: Shutterstock

To help your nail polish dry quickly and prevent any creasing or bubbling, submerge your nails in a bowl of ice-cold water for about a minute. Also, avoid hot showers after polishing your nails for at least two hours.

9. Soaking Nails In Vinegar

To achieve a flawless nail polish application and avoid bubbles, consider soaking your nails in a mixture of equal parts water and white vinegar for a few minutes. This pre-application step acts as a natural cleanser and effectively removes oil or other residue from the nail’s surface. By creating a clean base, the vinegar solution enhances the adherence of the polish and reduces the likelihood of bubbles forming as the nails dry. This straightforward technique not only promotes a smoother and more professional finish but also extends the longevity of your manicure. Embrace soaking in vinegar for bubble-free, beautifully polished nails.

10. Store Your Nail Polish Properly

Image: Shutterstock

Storing your nail polish upright in a cool, dark place with a consistent temperature is essential for the formula to retain its consistency and prolong its shelf life. Always wipe off the neck of the bottle with a remover-soaked cotton swab before putting it away.

If none of these tips help, it’s time for a new nail polish. Just like makeup and skincare, nail polish also has a shelf time. Your nail polish may be expired and so there’s no way to revive it. Time for a replacement!

Nicole, a blogger, shared her personal experience of dealing with air bubbles in nail polish. She said, “If your nail polish needs mixing, roll it between your hands. I like to lay it on its side, hold it by the lid and “roll” it in the air while trying to keep the bead in it in one space.” She also suggested allowing time in between coats. She added, “I sometimes apply a coat of polish, reply to a couple posts on Twitter, then come back for the next coat. I especially do this if I know I’m going to need multiple coats of polish. The few extra minutes is well worth it (i).”

Infographic: Top 5 Easy Steps To Avoid Bubbles In Nail Polish

Almost every girl owns multiple nail polishes to make their nails look bright, colorful, and beautiful. Who doesn’t want a smooth finish for their nails without having to splurge at a salon? But when you try painting your nails at home, small nail polish mistakes can ruin the whole look. But, there are multiple nail polish tips you can use to avoid bubbles and consistency issues when applying nail polish by yourself.

Check out the infographic below to remind yourself of a few ways you can avoid bubbles from appearing the next time you apply nail polish yourself.

top 5 easy steps to avoid bubbles in nail polish (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Get the high-quality PDF version of this infographic.

Download Infographic in PDF version

Nail polish may bubble up due to various reasons. Everything from how you store your polish to how you prep your nails before applying the polish could be a reason for recurring bubbles that ruin your otherwise meticulously done pieces of art. Once they appear in your manicure, there is not much you can do about it besides starting over. However, by following these tips on how to avoid bubbles in nail polish, you may be able to do away with the issue at its roots. Despite all these measures, if your nail polish still turns up bubbled, it is time to trash it and get yourself a new one.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does cold water dry the nail polish faster?

Yes, cold water fastens the nail polish drying process. Dip your painted nails in the cold water for 3-5 minutes. The ice water thickens the polish, so it seems to dry quickly.

Can you use hairspray to dry nails?

Yes, using hairspray to dry nails is an effective hack. You can hold the hairspray about 8 to 10 inches away from the nails and spray.

Do nails dry faster with hot or cold air?

The cold air helps harden the polish. So, it is best to use cold air to dry the nail polish.

Key Takeaways

  • There are several reasons your nail polish bubbles up — it probably is too thick, or you are not waiting long enough to let each coat dry before going to the next, or you are not applying a clear base coat.
  • Using expired products may also cause your nail polish to bubble up.
  • Dipping your fingers in ice-cold water helps your nail polish dry quickly, preventing creasing or bubbling.
how to avoid bubbles in nail polish

Image: Dall·E/StyleCraze Design Team

This video will help you tackle the pesky issue of bubbles in your manicure. Learn the reasons behind bubble formation and gain valuable tips to ensure flawlessly done nails every time.

Personal Experience: Source

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