Bubbles in Nail Polish: How to Get a Smooth Finish

There are few things as frustrating as getting a perfect manicure only for it to be ruined by air bubbles. These bubbles appear when your nail polish is drying and air gets trapped between layers of polish.

These bubbles can also appear when you skip a clear base coat and topcoat for your manicure. You can find out exactly why your nail polish is forming bubbles and some simple tips for preventing bubbles.

What Causes Bubbles in Nail Polish?

Bubbles in Nail Polish

There are many reasons for bubbles getting trapped in your nail polish and there’s no quick fix so you have to devote another hour to make your nails right. Let’s review the causes first.

Bubbles appear in the nail polish because of air trapped between the layers of polish during the drying process. Nail polishes can form air bubbles if it is too old, expired, or of cheap quality.

Some reasons why bubbles may appear in nail polish include;

1. Greasy or Unclean Nails

It is important to prepare your nails before applying nail polish. Ensure you clean up your nails, cuticles, and side walls properly. Dirty or greasy nails will not allow nail polish to sit and can result in bubbles.

2. Hot Temperature

Applying nail polish in a hot or humid temperature setting is not advisable. Also, do not apply nail polish if your body temperature is high. High temperatures can cause bubbles in nail polish.

3. Fan or Air Conditioning

If you dry up your nails under the high-speed fan or air conditioning, it could cause nail polish bubbles. Therefore avoid applying or drying up your nail polish under a fan or strong wind.

4. Shaking of Nail Polish

Shaking the nail polish bottle too many times before applying it will let air bubbles in the nail polish. This will cause larger and more visible bubbles on the nail surface.

5. Applying More Layers

Applying too many layers causes the formulation of bubbles in the nail polish.

6. Dipping The Brush Into The Bottle

Rapidly dripping the brush into the bottle results in larger bubbles in the bottle which get transferred to your nails when you apply the nail polish.

How To Prevent Bubbles In Nail Polish

Here’s how you can prevent bubbles in nail polish for good.

1. Clean Your Nails

Before you begin applying nail polish. 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 residue.

Note: Greasy or dirty nails will prevent nail polish from adhering well.

2. Apply A Base Coat

Applying a base coat is necessary for a smooth and even finish. Not only does it prevent nail discoloration, but it also extends the wear of your manicure. Our nails emit natural oils that prevent the nail polish from adhering well, so applying a base coat is the best way to seal the oils.

3. Inspect Your Nail Polish

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

4. Roll The Bottle

Shaking a bottle of nail polish vigorously is a perfect way to create bubbles. To avoid this, simply roll the bottle between your hands before application.

5. Paint Thinner Layers

The key to a perfect manicure lies in its application. The best way to apply nail polish is in three short and even strokes. The first stroke should go down the middle and then the remaining strokes should go down each side of the nail.

6. Always Apply A Top Coat

Once you finish applying your nail color, apply a topcoat. This way, you will be less likely to chip the nail paint.

7. Store Your Nail Polish Properly

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

Other ways to prevent bubbles in nail polish include;

1. Use A Cover-up

Sometimes, when you think you have a perfect finish, small bubbles spring out of nowhere. Instead of starting over from scratch, you can conceal the bubble using a top coat over your polish. The extra layer and enhanced sheen will reduce the appearance of the bubble and may flatten it out. 

Note: If you don’t have or don’t like to use a top coat product, adding layer of polish may do the trick, too.

2. Use A Disguise

If you’ve tried the above steps, you can always take the easy way out and cover a large, persistent bubble with a nail decal, sticker, jewel, or other enhancement.

3. Use A Polish Thinner

Minor bubbles sometimes can be smoothed out using polish thinner. All you need to do is brush over the bubbles from the cuticle to the tip of your nail in one or two flowing, continuous swipes, and let the area dry for a few minutes. Then reapply the nail polish to the treated spot.