What Causes Bubbles In Nail Polish?

Are you frustrated when your nail polish seems to take forever to dry, or worse, develops bubbles after it is applied? Bubbles in nail polish can be a super annoying, but what causes bubbles in nail polish?

What can we do to try and prevent bubbles appearing in our nail polish? I’m going to share tips on how to avoid these bubbles, and what you can do to try and get rid of them.

What Causes Bubbles In Nail Polish?

What Causes Bubbles in Nail Polish?

When you’re trying to get a perfect manicure, bubbles in your nail polish can be frustrating. But what causes bubbles in nail polish, and how can you prevent them? Let’s take a closer look.

Thick Consistency

If your nail polish is too thick, it can cause bubbles to appear. This is because the polish has difficulty adhering to your nails, and the air becomes trapped between layers of polish. To prevent this, make sure you’re using a nail polish that isn’t too old or expired. You can also try adding a few drops of nail polish thinner to the bottle to thin it out.

Applying Too Thickly

Another common cause of bubbles in nail polish is applying it too thickly. When you apply a thick coat of polish, it takes longer to dry, and the polish can become uneven. This can lead to bubbles appearing in the polish as it dries. To prevent this, apply thin, even coats of polish, and make sure each coat is completely dry before applying the next.

Nails Emit Natural Oils

Your nails naturally emit oils, which can cause bubbles in your nail polish if they’re not thoroughly cleaned before application.

To prevent this, make sure your nails are clean and free of oils before applying nail polish. You can use a nail polish remover to clean your nails and remove any oils.

Shaking the Bottle

Shaking the bottle of nail polish too vigorously can also cause bubbles to appear in the polish.

This is because the shaking can introduce air bubbles into the bottle, which are then transferred to your nails when you apply the polish. To prevent this, gently roll the bottle between your palms to mix the polish instead of shaking it.

Letting Air Bubbles Settle

If you notice small bubbles spring up in your nail polish, don’t panic. Minor bubbles sometimes appear, but they can be easily fixed.

Let the nail polish settle for a few minutes, and the bubbles will usually disappear on their own. If pesky bubbles appear in the first place, try applying thin coats of bubble-free nail polish to prevent them from occurring in the first place.

Bubbles in nail polish can be caused by a variety of factors, including thick consistency, applying too thickly, natural oils on your nails, shaking the bottle, and letting air bubbles settle.

Why Do Thick Polishes Cause Nail Polish Bubbles?

Why Do Thick Polishes Cause Nail Polish Bubbles?

When you’re applying nail polish, you want a smooth, even finish. Unfortunately, sometimes bubbles can appear in the polish, ruining the look of your manicure.

One cause of these bubbles is thick nail polish.

Thick polish can trap air bubbles between coats, causing the polish to look uneven and bumpy. This can happen if you apply too much polish at once or if you don’t wait long enough between coats.

If your polish is old or expired, it may have thickened over time, making it more prone to bubbling.

To prevent bubbling, make sure you’re using a polish that’s not too old or thick. You can also try thinning out your polish beforehand with a quick swipe across your nail using a nail polish thinner. This will help the polish to spread more smoothly and evenly.

When applying nail polish, begin by cleaning your nails and applying a base coat. Then, apply your favorite polish in one or two thin coats, allowing each coat to dry completely before applying the next.

Avoid shaking the bottle of nail polish vigorously, as this can introduce air bubbles into the polish and cause it to bubble on your nails.

Can Your Nail Polish Top Coat Cause Nail Polish Bubbles?

When you apply a top coat over your polish, it’s important to make sure that your polish is completely dry. If your polish is still wet, the top coat can trap air bubbles, causing them to appear on your nails.

To avoid this, wait for your polish to dry completely before applying a top coat.

Another common mistake is brushing over the bubbles. This can cause the bubbles to spread and make the problem worse. Instead, try to brush around the bubbles, and if necessary, reapply polish to the treated area.

If you’re still experiencing bubbles, try applying a top coat over your polish. This can help to conceal the bubble using a top coat. However, it’s important to note that this may not always work, and the bubble may still be visible.

In some cases, bubbles may form from the cuticle or tip of your nail. To prevent this, make sure to apply polish in thin layers and wait for each layer to dry before applying the next. Applying a base coat can help to create a smoother surface for the polish to adhere to.

How To Avoid Nail Polish Bubbles?

Here are some tips to help you avoid nail polish bubbles, which could ruin the finish of your manicure, as part of the drying process. So keep reading on how to avoid bubbles in nail polish:

Use A Base Coat

Using a base coat is the best way to prevent bubbles, as a base coat can help your nail polish adhere better to your nails and prevent bubbles trapped in your nail polish, as your nail polish is drying. A base coat also smooths out the surface of your nails, making it easier to apply nail polish.

Apply The Polish In Thin Layers

Apply The Polish In Thin Layers

Applying nail polish in thin layers is key to prevent bubbles in nail polish, and could prevent polish from adhering to your natural nails. Thick layers of polish may take longer to dry, and air bubbles may form as the layers dry. Apply thin, even layers of polish to achieve a smooth finish.

Avoid Shaking The Polish Bottle

Shaking the bottle of nail polish can cause air bubbles to form in the polish. Instead, roll the bottle between your palms to mix the polish.

Use A Nail Polish Thinner To Reduce The Thickness Of The Formula

If your nail polish has become thick, you can use a nail polish thinner to reduce the thickness of the formula within the nail polish bottle. Thick polish is more likely to create air bubbles when applied to your nails, which could prevent you from getting a smooth finish.

Allow Nail Polish Layers To Dry Completely

Allow each coat to dry completely before applying the next layer. If you apply the next coat before the previous coat is dry, the layers may not adhere properly, and air bubbles may form, and you won’t get an even nail polish finish.


How To Fix Nail Polish Bubbles?

When painting your nails, you may want to prevent nail polish bubbles from appearing on your manicure. To do this, it is important to keep your nail bed free of any dirt, oils and other particles that can interfere with the adhesion of the coat of polish you’re applying.

Shake up the nail polish before using polish, on to ensure the polish may is evenly distributed.

When you apply the first layer, use short strokes and be sure to leave a small bit of space around each cuticle for a clean finish. After two layers have been applied, finish off with a clear topcoat for added protection and shine.

If tiny air bubbles do appear when your nail polish has dried up completely, don’t be too alarmed. You can easily fix them without ruining your manicure by using an orange stick or toothpick pointy end dipped in nail polish remover and gently pressing down on them until they pop.

Also, be sure to apply thin coats when painting your nails, if you want to avoid bubbles. Thick coats are prone to forming more bubbles as they tend to dry out faster, leading to trapped air pockets within its thickness. So, ensure you make your nail polish dry fully, before applying a top coat.

Keep your polish bottles tightly sealed when not in use so as not prevent them from drying out prematurely, which could lead to bubbling issues in future application attempts, and will prevent bubbles on the brush, which could transfer onto your nails.


Bubbles in nail polish can be a common and annoying problem, but thankfully there are steps you can take to keep your nail polish from bubbling on the nails.

Thickened nail polish, applying too much polish at once, shaking the bottle of polish and not allowing enough time for each coat to dry can all lead to bubbles forming.

To prevent this, make sure your nail polish is fresh and not expired, apply thin coats of polish, clean your nails thoroughly before application and let each layer dry completely before starting the next one.

If small bubbles do occur, they should disappear on their own after a few minutes. If they don’t go away or if larger bubbles form, use an orange stick dipped in remover to gently press down on them until they pop.

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Gemma Etc.
Gemma Etc.

Hi, my name is Gemma, and I’m the writer behind GemmaEtc.com. I’m a true beauty obsessive, and love writing about anything to do with beauty. In addition to Gemma Etc., I also own MakeupMuddle.com, and love sharing my thoughts and feelings about beauty and lifestyle products.

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