How to Thin Nail Polish at Home Without Nail Thinner

Who else gets upset when her nail polish gets thick and won’t come out? The thought of it alone…I had to come to terms with the fact that there will always be beauty product tragedies. I found rest in it and began to seek solutions to issues like how do I thin my favorite nail polish?

Opening your favorite bottle to see thickened, sticky nail polish is disheartening. Well, for me, it ruins what should have been an intimate indoor manicure day. During the stay indoor climate, I ran into this issue several times. Nail thinner and polish remover saved the day until I ran out of supplies.

So, there had to be improvisation somewhere and somehow. I got searching and I did find help. I’m generously going to teach it to you, so you do not ever have to be stranded.

How to Thin Nail Polish Without Thinner

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1. Warm Up Your Nail Polish With Your Palms

Do you know that the warmth your palms provide your cheek during winter can be very handy here? Your sticky nail polish can make do with that. Make sure the bottle is perfectly sealed, so it does not spill during this process.

Place the bottle between your palms and begin to roll. As your roll, the bottle gets warmed up and the nail polish begins to thin. While you roll, make sure you do not shake the bottle. However, this method is for nail polish that has not thickened heavy yet.

2. Thin Nail Polish In a Hot Water Tub

My idea of a jacuzzi for my favorite bottle. I figured that if my nail polish thickened because its environment got cold, I can revive it with some warmth. What you need is a small bowl, hot water, a small towel, and of course the nail polish.

However, the water should not be too hot. Otherwise, you may rather have a cracked bottle of nail polish instead of thinned nail polish.

  • Pour hot water into the small bowl and put the bottle of polish into it
  • Leave it in the water for about 2 to 3 minutes, depending on how thick it got
  • When the time is over, take out the bottle carefully
  • Then, because it can be very hot, use the towel to wrap it
  • When it is warm to the touch, roll it in between your hands so the polish mixes
  • Your nail polish is now as good as new

3. Use Rubbing Alcohol to Thin Nail Polish

Rubbing alcohol is renowned for its stain removal ability. It removes stains by first thinning them out and eventually fading them away. Use rubbing alcohol of about 91% isopropyl alcohol to thin your nail polish at home.

You’ll realize that your thickened nail polish no longer has so much of its alcohol smell. So, when you use rubbing alcohol to thin your nail polish, you can enjoy a replacement of the lost isopropyl alcohol.

  • You need to apply rubbing alcohol in drops. So, you may want to use a dropper applicator
  • Begin with about two drops, depending on how thick and sticky your polish is
  • After putting in the drops of alcohol, replace the cap and shake the bottle well
  • This will make the alcohol thin the goopy polish and restore it to lightness
  • After some seconds up to a minute, open the bottle to see the progress
  •  If the consistency is not so different yet, apply one or two drops and shake again
  • Keep opening to check if you have reached the right consistency
  • When you are satisfied, leave the bottle of already thin polish to rest for some minutes
  • Then, you can go ahead to use it for your at-home manicure

SEE: Best Gel Nail Polish Every Beginner Should Start With

4. Clean The Brush With Acetone

Your nail polish may appear thickened when you apply it because the brush is gunky with paint. Take out the brush and use foil to cover the bottle of polish so it does not evaporate.

  • Pour some acetone into a glass cup
  • Then, dip the brush into the acetone which will dissolve the gunk
  • When all has dissolved, rinse the brush with water
  • Afterward, dry it with a clean paper towel and replace it in the bottle
  • Gently shake your bottle of polish to mix the contents before you use it

5. Thin Nail Polish With Pure Acetone

In a thick nail polish crisis, it is natural to quickly grab your nail polish remover to help thin it out. I used to be guilty until I noticed that it reduces the longevity of my nail polish. So, I learned about substituting with pure acetone.

However, you need to use acetone carefully and in a very small quantity relative to the volume of nail polish. Also, I see this method as a last resolve especially if you are ready to dispose of the nail polish. This is because, after a few uses, the nail polish will begin to crack or chip when used.

  • Add one drop of pure acetone into the bottle of thickened nail polish
  • Shake the contents of the bottle well so that they mix
  • Open to see if the consistency is okay. If not, you may add one more drop and shake again
  • Afterward, leave the bottle to rest a while before you use it.

SEE: Use These Simple DIYs to Get Nail Glue off Your Skin

How to Prevent Your Nail Polish From Getting Thick

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The best way to thin your nail polish is to prevent it from getting thick. You can avoid going through the trouble of looking for a way to thin your nail polish if you do the following:

Keep the cap firm

Thickened nail polish is a result of evaporation of the alcohol content of the nail polish. When it comes in contact with air, it dries out and thickens. When you are not using your nail polish, keep it firmly closed. In between applications, use your thumb to cover the bottle.

Clean the necks after use

Sometimes, the nail polish bottles fall to their side and get gunky with paint. As a result, the lid may not properly close the bottle. Consequently, the polish will evaporate and become sticky.

So, after every use, soak a cotton ball with nail polish remover and use it to wipe the necks of your nail polish.

Do not store your nail polish in high temperatures

Your bathroom and window side are the wrong places to store your nail polish. These places can get very hot and cause the nail polish to lose moisture and become sticky. Store nail polish bottles in a cool, dry environment like your closet.

Keep them standing upright. If they fall to the side, it will cause clumping at the necks of the bottles. While you are avoiding high temperatures, the refrigerator remains a no-no for storing nail polish.

SEE: Get Your Ultimate Professional Finish With the Best Nail Lamp

Check the expiration dates

Nail polishes are not meant to last forever, and this is regardless of how well you take care of them. Thick and sticky nail polish can be because it has expired. So, instead of having to get to the point where you want to thin nail polish, use them up before the dates or dispose of them.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my nail polish sticky?

Sticky nail polish may be a result of exposure to air which will cause it to evaporate and dry out.

When you store your nail polish, keep it in a cool, dry environment like a closet. Also, make sure the cap is always firmly in place to keep air out.

Can I use hydrogen peroxide to thin nail polish?

No, it is not safe. Although hydrogen peroxide works like alcohol in removing nail polish stains, it is not a good option when you want to thin nail polish.

If you use hydrogen peroxide, the polish will quickly chip off after application. And, it may ruin your nail polish.

What should I do if my nail polish gets too thin?

When your nail polish gets too thin, it could be because you have used too much nail polish thinner. In this case, you should expose it to air.

Remove the polish brush and clean it with nail polish remover. Then, wrap it with a paper towel. Leave the bottle open, exposed to air in a cool environment. After long hours or a day, check on it to see the consistency. If it has regained its consistency, you can cover it and store it properly.

How can I thin nail polish without acetone?

If your nail polish has become thick and sticky, you can warm up your nail polish with hot water. Put the bottle in hot water for some minutes before you take it out. Afterward, when it is warm to the touch, roll the bottle between your palms to mix it well.

Moreover, the hot water method preserves the quality and lifespan of your nail polish which acetone may ruin and cut short respectively.


If you love to wear nail polish and give yourself a home manicure, there is a lot of things you need to know. From how to apply nail polish well to how to thin sticky nail polish. It is easy to be tempted to throw away thickened nail polish but what if it is a limited-edition shade?

You can salvage it and get it to be as good as new. If you do not have a nail lacquer thinner, all hope is not lost. Moreover, simple and readily available household materials can help you to revive your favorite nail polish, just like they helped me.

Keep these hacks in mind so you won’t have to stop what should have been a wonderful home manicure or pedicure session. Also, store your bottles of polish carefully and well in the right environment. This way, you’ll have fewer need to nail polish thinning hacks.

Thanks for reading.

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