Monday, July 11, 2011

Causes of air bubbles in nail polish & how to prevent it!

 Hey Everyone,
Recently, a reader asked this question on my how to color block post: "...Do you have any tips to not get bubbles when you apply polish? It seems like it ALWAYS bubbles for me. EVEN with my Essies :/" 
I had just typed out my reply when i realized that this is an issue that many people deal with when applying their nail polish, so this post will show you how to ensure that you're nail polish always looks perfect and air bubble free.   In case you're not sure what I'm talking about, i posted a picture of what air bubbles in nail polish looks like above...not pretty, right?  So, let's get started. 

The main reasons for air bubbles forming could be because the nail varnish is too thick, or because you're shaking the bottle before you apply the varnish, it could also be caused by rushing in between coats. 
Instead of shaking the bottle, rub it between your hands.  Shaking the bottle creates bubbles, which will transfer onto your nails as you paint them, so always rub!

Next, if you apply a base coat, wait for it to completely dry before applying your first coat. 

 When applying your first coat, be sure to apply it very carefully.  Your first coat should be THIN and EVEN.  Thick, gloppy coats creates bubbles (as well, it takes a LOT longer to dry). It is crucial now that you wait for the first coat to be 100% dry before applying a second coat.
 Once your nails are completely dry, there should be no air bubbles.  But if there are, fill them in with a thick top coat.  China Glaze's top coat is a good option.
 Wait for it to dry again.  

This is the end result.  There should be absolutely no air bubbles and you should be left with perfect nails!  When it comes to painting nails minus those pesky air bubbles...patience is key!  As mentioned above, you should wait for each coat to dry completely and be sure to apply thin and even coats. 

If your varnish is too thick, add a very tiny bit of nail varnish remover to it.  This will help to thin it out; but be sure to be careful when adding the remover as too much will make the varnish too watery to apply. 

I've noticed that way cheaper nail polish tends to be formulated poorly so they're very thick and don't apply evenly, same with old nail polish.  Invest in a high quality nail polish to insure high quality results, and throw out old nail polish.

I think that's it.  So i hope that you all found this helpful, and thank you to Arielle for her question, i hope this answered it for you and by the way, I love your name!

*All pictures, with the exception of the first one, are mine*


  1. Oh my gosh, thank you so much! Agh, you are such a help! I looked it up and stuff and it didn't help but you put it detail so I'm definitelt going to do this next time I paint my nails!

  2. haha! no problem, Arielle! Glad to help. :)

  3. This is very helpful! I always have bubbles in my nail polish. Next time I will follow your tips!

    Hello, Framboise!

  4. I'm glad that you found it helpful! good luck :)
    xx, Kels

  5. what color of nail polish did you use in your explanation? its realy pretty

  6. I have found that buying nail polish thinner works well with old nail polish. You don't need very much and it's inexpensive, about 5 bucks per bottle and you get a pretty decent amount so if your nail polish is too think try that I did and I love it save me from throwing away nail polish before its gone. :)

  7. thought i'd pass this info one -
    The nail polish is not absorbing air bubbles. The bubbles are not actually air, at all. They are formed when the volatile chemicals in the polish evaporate. That's how nail polish dries. If you apply very thick coats, the surface of the layer of polish will dry while it's still wet underneath. The volatile chemicals in the still-wet layer try to evaporate, but are now trapped under the already-dry top layer, and they form tiny bubbles. If your coats are thin, each coat will dry uniformly and none of the volatile gasses will be trapped between coats, so your mani will be bubble-free.
    That's why products like Seche Vite can often help reduce bubbles because it is designed to work with wet polish and bind layers together, thus allowing the volatile gasses to escape.

    Sadly there are still some polishes that no matter what i do..whether i follow every trick and technique, will still bubble! It always tends to be colours i adore...and when i really want a good manicure! :D

    1. Wow, Sakara! Thanks for providing us with the Scientific reason behind this, I really appreciate it! Personally, I find that following these tips really does help prevent nail polish from bubbling. It's all about thin coats and patience. Thanks for commenting! ♥
      xx, Kels

  8. so does the fact that there is a fan or open window not matter? or how about dirt and oils on the nails? Is that also a myth? After reading Sakaras comment I can only see one way to prevent the bubbles and that is to apply the coats as thin as possible.

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  11. is nail varnish remover the same as nail polish remover?

  12. Thank you for the info!
    My last nail art went wrong because of the bubbles, now I'm trying to prevent them (;


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  33. Oh my goodness thank you so very much I have been dealing with nail issue for weeks and I just got so tire of it now my nails won't be ruined by those silly bubble :D

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  38. I dont normally comment but as a nail technition I had to. Although most of your tips are great you should NEVER PUT NAIL POLISH REMOVER IN A POLISH TO HELP THIN IT OUT. The remover breaks down the polish so it won't last as long and can actually change the polish color (this is most common in reds and purples). Instead add some POLISH THINNER (found at most beauty stores and I believe target and Walgreens). It desighned to help thin polish without damaging the formula or color. Fair warning, its strong. Only add 1 or 2 drops at a time.

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