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Expert Advice: How To Avoid Bubbles In Nail Polish

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how to avoid bubbles in nail polish

Bubbles in nail polish, everyone gets them, no one likes them! It’s one of the most annoying things in nail art. Imagine, you’ve spent an hour perfecting those lines, your nail art looks beautiful and then… you see bubbles emerging, or worse, your top coat creates a storm of bubbles all over your flawless manicure. We’ve all been there.

So, how do you avoid nail polish and top coat bubble? And most importantly, why does nail polish bubble?

I’ve been researching this issue for some time and today I’ll share my answers with you, dear nail art warriors. So read on and let’s burst those bubbles!

8 proven ways to avoid bubbles:

1. Do your nails in a dry and cool place. High body temperature can cause bubbles. To cool down, soak your hands in cold water for a couple of minutes, dry them and then paint your nails.

2. Avoid doing your nails where there’s wind or strong air conditioning . Wind and air-conditioners can also cause polish bubbles. So doing your nails on a balcony or on the beach may seem like a good idea, but in fact, it can jeapardise your manicure. Always do your nails inside but ensure keep the room is well ventilated.

3. Avoid shaking your polish/top coat. If you need to mix the polish, roll it between the palms of your hands instead. Shaking the polish creates millions of tiny, invisible bubbles that will emerge as much larger bubbles on the surface on your nail once you apply that polish. If you can’t avoid shaking a polish, let it settle down for at least a day before using it.

4. Avoid thick polish or top coat. The thicker the polish, the higher the chances you’ll get bubbles. A new bottle of polish/top coat is thinner and the bubbles surface quicker. If your polish is too thick, thin it out by adding a few drops of polish thinner, like this one. However, don’t use polish remover or acetone to thin your polish, it will break the lacquer formulation and ruin it forever.

5. Keep the lid on your polish. Polish thickens when exposed to air. So the longer you leave the lid off, the more air gets in and the thicker the polish will get. And we all know that a thick polish is a bubbly polish!

6. Keep the brush on your nail when painting. It’s the best if you can use the ‘paint one nail with a one stroke technique’. I’ll do a video tutorial on this technique sometime soon. If you can’t do it one stroke, then try 3 long slow strokes per nail. Short, quick strokes will push air into the polish. When applying top coat, the following technique is the best. Pick up a good amount of top coat with the brush, it needs to be sufficient to cover the whole nail. Slowly lower it to the nail bed and still slowly, move the brush along the nail, without touching the nail, covering the pattern with top coat.

7. Avoid dipping the brush into polish too rapidly, too often. By taking the brush in and out of the bottle, you’re basically whipping the polish and adding thousands of tiny bubbles. Lower the brush in the bottle slowly and accurately. If you see any bubbles, very easy to see in a top coat, slowly move the brush around away from the bubbles.

8. Don’t rush, take your time. Follow the steps and do your manicures properly. Always use a base coat before applying nail polish. Allow each coat to dry completely. If you let the first coat dry completely before applying the second coat, it’s likely you’ll avoid bubbles. However, if you see any bubbles surfacing in the first coat, it’s not too late to remove it and start over. Check that you’ve followed the 7 ‘Bubble-Free’ manicure rules above.

So these are my tried and tested tips for avoiding bubbles in polishes and top coats. Have you got any tips that you’d like to see added to this list? Please share!

– Maria, xx

PS. Got a  nail question? Email me at editor @ sonailicious.com or  tweet @so_nailicious with a tag #asksonailicious. I’ll do mybest to answer – individually, if there is a quick answer or here, if the answer is more complex

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  • lisenden

    All excellent points.

    I have one to add. It’s usually my topcoat that gets me in trouble and it’s usually from dipping the brush back in between nails. Of course, you have to dip the brush back in, so how I reduce bubbles is by using a different bottle for each hand (not different brands, just different bottles of the same brand). Unless it’s Seche Vite. Then I use 4 different bottles because that stuff is bubbly, but I still find it the best for nail art. Perhaps not a solution for your average gal, but if you paint your nails several times a week, this might not be unreasonable!

  • Lauren

    I just found a magic trick for bubbles! I had a massive bubble on one finger and was about to take the polish off. Since the rest of my fingers were already painted I thought I’d just dip the one in acetone for a few seconds and wipe it but when I took my finger out the bubble was gone! Gave it a few minutes to dry and topcoated it and it’s good as new! I feel like I made a scientific discovery hahah ohh well, priorities…

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