How to Thin out Nail Polish-Best Thinners & DIY without Thinner

If the nail polish you bought feels thick and sticky all you need is to thin it out. To thin out, you need to add a few drops of a thinner, a polish remover or a solution of some readily available items in your home.

The following are details on what exactly a nail polish thinner is, the best thinners, how to thin without a thinner (DIY thinner substitutes at home) plus more ideas to revive your old nail lacquer.

What is a Nail Polish Thinner

Nail Polish Thinner, as its name suggests is a product or emulsion designed to thin the consistency of polish that has thickened out and has started to become sticky. While nail polishes are meant to boost the beauty of nails, they lose their efficacy after a while when they begin to thicken.

A thick nail polish has uneven consistency. This means that spreading it on your nails will be hard and results won’t be up to your expectations. The coat may look dull and faded and even come off a few days after application.

This is where nail polish thinning comes in. It is the only option to revive your old nail polish by diluting it while making it less sticky. It can be done using a thinner, regular removers or other solutions found in your home.

A good nail polish thinner will only require just a few drops to work and can restore the nail polish/nail lacquer back to its original consistency. This saves and prolongs the life of your nail polish and you don’t have to toss it out because it has started to get thick.

Since most of us tend to own multiple bottles of nail polish, imagine how many bottles you’ll save that way.

Of course, this won’t make your nail polish last for past its expiry date, but will be a great quick fix for restoring the original consistency of your nail polish, so you can use at another few times.

how to thin nail polish -using thinners diy home alcohol without thinner
Nail Lacquer and a Thinner

Nail Polish Thinner Ingredients

Although commercially available nail polish thinner ingredients differ from one formula to another, the most common ingredients include:


The above ingredients are the less toxic yet equally effective nail polish solvent alternatives to acetone.  You can choose between commercially available nail polish thinners or make your own DIY nail polish thinner, as you will learn shortly.

How thin out Nail Polish with a Thinner

Below are steps to thin out nail polish using a thinner

  1. First, remove the cap from the nail polish, and add 3 or 4 drops of nail polish thinner to the nail polish bottle.
  2. Close the bottle tightly and roll it between your palms to mix the thinner into the polish. Do not shake the bottle as this will create air bubbles. If the thinner is not mixing into the polish, try turning the bottle upside down a few times.
  3. Re-open the nail polish and test it.  If it flows loosely from the brush it’s ready to use.  If it’s still too thick, repeat steps 1, 2 and 3, then re-test the polish on your nail.
  4. Consider letting the nail polish thinner sit in very thick polish before mixing it.
  5. If your nail polish is very thick and you have already repeated the process a few times, try letting the thinner sit in the polish.
  6. Open the bottle, add two to three drops of nail polish thinner, and close the bottle.
  7. Let the bottle sit for one hour then mix the thinner into the polish by rolling the bottle.

Thinning Gel Nail Polish

There thinners specifically meant for gel nail polish thinning. Gel nail polish has a special UV reactive make up; therefore, using regular nail polish thinner may prevent it from working properly. Making your gel nail polish less sticky can be done following the steps below

Step 1: Look for a gel that has thickened.

Step 2: With the use of eye dropper, add small amount of gel polish thinner into the bottle of the gel polish. After each drop make sure to shake it well. This will thin the thickened gel polish.

Step 3: When the gel is of desired consistency then you are done, your gel polish is ready to be used and this will look nicely on your nails just like a new2 gel nail polish.

If using paint thinner, Mix 3-4 drops of paint thinner and shake it well to check the consistency. It will give back the rich and smooth feel of your nail polish, as it is new to make your gel less sticky.

Best Nail Polish Thinners

Now the best brands of nail polish thinner, according to nail experts and online consumers are as follows:

  • Beauty secrets nail polish thinner. This nail polish thinner claims to be 100% vegan and free of well-known toxics like Sulphates, Parabens, Propylene Glycol and Petrolatum. It claims to thin the nail polish for a smooth even application and a whopping 90% of online reviewers that tried ir report that it really does what it claims. Available online
  • Opi nail polish thinner. A pricier than other brands yet very effective nail polish thinner which does what it says, according to online reviewers.
  • Orly nail polish thinner. A very handy product with a built in dropper and a breakage-resistant bottle, perfect for those who don’t want to worry about breaking and wasting the product. According to online reviewers this only needs a couple of drops and just a few seconds of shaking to work.
  • Mia Secret Nail Polish Thinner. Although being a less-known brand this U.S.A produced nail polish thinner preforms really well according to online reviewers and Instagram nail gurus.
  • Super Nail – Polish Thinner Amazon’s one of the top selling.
Best Nail Varnish Thinners

What should you consider before buying?

When choosing a commercial nail polish thinner, it’s best to choose from reputable brands and places where there is no mishandling of products or inappropriate storing conditions. This will ensure that the product’s consistency remains safe and intact.

It would also be wise to choose brands that don’t use any Propylene Glycol, Acetone, Parabens, or other toxic ingredients in their ingredients list. These are dangerous to our health and don’t necessarily make the nail polish thinner work better, as many will think.

If you are buying the product online and from a retail store, make sure that there is no legislation that prohibits its shipping as some states or countries may prohibit its shipping, due to the presence of flammable or dangerous ingredients.

It would be wise here to check the product’s ingredients online or ask the manufacture itself if it’s flammable or not.

DIY Nail Polish Thinner-Thinning without a Thinner

Although there are not many alternatives to commercially bought nail polish thinners, you can get similar results by either using

  • Rubbing alcohol (recipe below)
  • Hot Water
  • Acetone or Nail Polish Remover
  • Hydrogen Peroxide

Rubbing Alcohol

DIY nail polish thinner rubbing alcohol
Rubbing alcohol

If you have decided to make your own nail Polish thinner at home, the no 1 household ingredient that will do the trick is rubbing alcohol (of at least 91% purity). The steps are simple and as follows:

  • Take a dropper or pour a few drops of the alcohol to the nail polish you want to thin out. Ideally, that would be 2-5 drops depending on how thick the nail polish already is—the thicker it is the more drops you’ll use. Note: Don’t pour over 6 drops as this will ruin its consistency and color pigments.
  • Close the lid of the nail polish bottle and shake it well for a few seconds so that the alcohol gets incorporated to the nail polish.
  • Finally, test it out by applying it on your nails, using its regular brush. If it’s still too thick, apply a few more drops and repeat the above process.

Nail Polish Remover(Acetone)

Acetone or nail polish remover are usually not recommended.  Both can ruin the nail polish and cause it to crack when it dries.

Acetone nail polish remover to thin nail polish
ONYX Acetone Nail Polish Remover

Use acetone or nail polish remover as a last resort and at least make sure you only use a couple of drops and only use it one time as anything more will damage the performance of the nail polish and make it fall apart.

In addition, you will most likely need to mix your polish out after a few more uses

Hot Water as a thinner

If you don’t want to add anything to the bottle a great alternative for thinning it out is to run the bottle under hot water or close it well and place in a bowl of hot water for just a few seconds. This method is alcohol free and easy.

How to use hot water to thin out nail polish
Hot water

Caution: the water must not be boiling hot as you risk braking the bottle of the nail polish (which is typically made of glass).

Hydrogen peroxide can be used the same way as alcohol.

What if you make the polish too thin?

If you used too much thinner and made your nail polish too thin all you have to do is let some air back into it.

Take the brush out first and clean it with some plastic nail polish remover. Wrap the brush with some plastic wrap and leave the nail polish bottle, opened in a quiet spot. Check it after a day because the air will make it thick again.

Sometimes, you may need to leave the bottle open for a few days. This will depend on how hot, cold, dry, or humid the room is.

Tips to make too Thick Nail Polish not Sticky

To get the best results out of your nail polish thinning here are more tips

  • Apply only one drop at a time, then shake, test it out and then apply additional drops. The thing here is, you don’t want to apply too much drops all at once as this will permanently damage the consistency of your nail polish.
  • Apart from nail polish, you can use it to thin out clear base as well as top coats which have started to get thick and gloppy.
  • Only use the nail polish thinner a couple of times as this is a quick fix that is not intended for repeated use—if you use it more than that it will simply ruin the nail polish.
  • If you have space, it is best to save nail polish in the fridge. Otherwise, keep your nail polish bottles in drawer, in a clean fresh place, free of humidity and away from direct sunlight. Storing of nail polish in dry place will decrease the thickening process.
  • Do not use acetone or nail polish remover to thin gel nail polish
  • Shake the varnish whenever you use it or at intervals to avoid them drying.
  • Ensure that at the end of your manicure, the bottle is properly closed and no fresh air can get in.
  • Clean the mouth of the nail varnish bottle. This will avoid build up of product in the area and avoid its contents drying. Do so with a cotton swab dampened with a little nail varnish remover.

What is the difference between Nail Polish Remover and Thinner?

Nail polish remover is used to remove the nail polish off the nails. It is recommended not to use nail polish removers for dilution of nail polishes as they contain water which is not compatible as the nail polishes.

On the other hand, nail polish thinner is used to dilute nail polishes. They are meant to bring back life to nail polish that has thickened and become hard.

Originally posted 2021-01-29 08:34:00.

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