How to Thin Nail Polish with Alcohol: Step-by-Step Instructions

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If you’re an enthusiastic user of nail polish, you’ve likely encountered the frustration of discovering that your beloved polish has thickened and become challenging to apply smoothly. Instead of immediately replacing the bottle, you can easily restore your nail polish to its original consistency by thinning it with alcohol. In this article, we will provide you with a detailed guide on how to thin nail polish with alcohol.


Before we delve into the specifics of thinning nail polish with alcohol, let’s begin with some background information. Various factors can cause nail polish to thicken and become difficult to apply. Exposure to air, fluctuations in temperature, and the natural aging process can cause the solvents in the polish to evaporate, resulting in a thicker, more viscous formula. This can lead to an uneven or streaky finish when applying the polish.

Fortunately, thinning your nail polish with alcohol is a simple solution to this problem. Alcohol acts as a solvent, effectively breaking down the thickened polish and restoring it to its original consistency. This not only makes it easier to apply the polish but also prolongs the lifespan of your favorite shades.

Gather Necessary Supplies

Before you begin the nail polish thinning process, ensure that you have the required supplies on hand. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Rubbing alcohol (ideally 99% isopropyl alcohol, as higher concentrations are more effective)
  • A dropper or pipette
  • A nail polish shaker or a roll of paper towels
  • Your thickened nail polish

Having the correct supplies is crucial to ensure a smooth process and achieve the desired nail polish consistency. Let’s take a closer look at each of these supplies and understand their importance.

Rubbing Alcohol

The key ingredient in this process is rubbing alcohol. As mentioned earlier, it acts as a solvent and effectively breaks down the thickened polish, restoring it to its original consistency. Opt for a high concentration of alcohol, ideally 99% isopropyl alcohol, for maximum effectiveness.

A Dropper or Pipette

A dropper or pipette is essential for accurately adding the alcohol to your nail polish. Precision is important because adding too much alcohol can make the polish excessively thin, while adding too little may not yield the desired effect.

A Nail Polish Shaker or a Roll of Paper Towels

After adding the alcohol, thorough mixing is required to ensure even distribution within the nail polish. A nail polish shaker is a convenient tool for this purpose. However, if you don’t have one, you can achieve the same result by rolling the polish back and forth between your hands using a roll of paper towels.

Your Thickened Nail Polish

Lastly, you’ll need the nail polish that you intend to thin out. Ensure that the bottle’s lid is tightly closed and that the bottle itself is clean, free from any debris or remnants of old polish.

Preparing the Nail Polish

Before you begin thinning your nail polish with alcohol, it’s important to properly prepare it. Follow these steps:

  1. Clean the bottle: Ensure that the nail polish bottle is clean and devoid of any residual polish. Use a cotton swab dipped in nail polish remover to clean the bottle’s neck and the brush handle.
  2. Roll the bottle: Roll the nail polish bottle between your palms for a few minutes. This facilitates the mixing of any settled pigment, ensuring an even consistency.
  3. Test the polish: Apply a small amount of polish on a piece of paper or your nail to assess its thickness. If it appears too thick and gloopy, it’s time to thin it out with alcohol.

Thinning the Nail Polish

Now that your nail polish is prepared, it’s time to commence the thinning process using alcohol. Follow these instructions:

  1. Add the alcohol: Using a dropper or pipette, add a few drops of alcohol to the nail polish bottle. As a general rule, add one drop of alcohol for every two drops of nail polish.
  2. Mix: Firmly close the bottle and roll it between your palms for a few minutes to thoroughly mix the alcohol and nail polish. Alternatively, use a nail polish shaker or a roll of paper towels to mix the polish.
  3. Test the consistency: After mixing, evaluate the consistency of the polish. If it remains too thick, repeat the process by adding a few more drops of alcohol and mixing again.
  4. Repeat as necessary: It’s better to add too little alcohol than too much. Remember that you can always add more alcohol if needed, but once you’ve added too much, there’s no going back. Repeat the process until you achieve the desired consistency.

It’s important to note that excessive alcohol can make the nail polish excessively thin and watery, making application challenging. Therefore, it’s crucial to add the alcohol gradually, ensuring thorough mixing between each addition. With a little patience and practice, you’ll become proficient at thinning out your nail polish with alcohol.

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