Does Nail Polish Thinner Work? (Explained & Solved)

One of the most annoying things with nail polish is the product becoming thick and goopy. This happens when you’ve had nail polish for quite some time.

Even if it is not expired, old nail polish tends to separate and become clumpy. Eventually, it will solidify, which means you cannot use it anymore.

This is where nail polish thinners come in. Nail polish thinners are made to solve this problem.

Here is How Nail Polish Thinners Work:

Nail polish thinners work by replacing the solvent in old nail polish that has dried up and becomes thick. This solution helps old nail polish to return to its original consistency so that you can use it again. According to many salon professionals and nail experts, nail thinners are effective.

What Is Nail Polish Thinner?

Sometimes your nail polish can become thick and clumpy even if you have only been using it for a month or two. This is because the solvents evaporate every time you open the bottle of nail polish.

It is recommended that you do not leave the bottle open for too long while applying nail polish. This is also why you must seal the bottle tightly when not in use.

If you have lots of old nail polish, don’t throw them out just yet. A nail polish thinner may be able to revive them. Nail polish thinner is a chemical solution that replaces the solvent in nail polish that has dried up or thickened. 

While some people use acetone to revive old nail polish, it is not the same as nail polish thinner. However, nail polish thinner may contain acetone.

There are different brands of nail polish thinners out there, and each one has ingredients that are slightly different from the list. However, all of them contain pretty much the same chemical solvents.

Here are the common ingredients in nail polish thinners:

  • Ethyl acetate
  • Butyl acetate
  • Toluene
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Heptane
  • Acetone

These ingredients are also in most nail polishes. Of these ingredients, the most common ones used for nail polish thinners are ethyl acetate and butyl acetate.

For gel nail polish, regular thinners will not work. This is because gel nail polish has ingredients that are different from regular nail polish.

Gel nail polish has its kind of thinner, which is composed of a monomer and a photo-initiator. So if you have an old bottle of gel nail polish and you notice that the content has become clumpy, buy a thinner that is formulated specifically for gel nail polish.

Does Nail Polish Thinner Really Work?

When your nail polish starts to become thick, all nail professionals would recommend using a nail polish thinner so you can restore its consistency.

Nail polish thinner really does work. This is because nail polish thinners are made of the same solvents used in nail polishes.

When a bottle of nail polish is opened, its solvents will evaporate. This is what makes nail polishes clumpy over time.

Adding nail polish thinner to old and clumpy nail polish will replace the solvents so that you will restore the nail polish to its smooth liquid consistency.

Here is how to use a nail polish thinner:

  • Add 2 to 3 drops of the thinner to the old nail polish.
  • Close the nail polish bottle and roll it between your palms to mix the thinner with the polish.
  • Test the consistency of the nail polish.
  • If it is smooth, like new nail polish, then it is ready to use. If not, add a couple more drops, mix, and test it.
  • Keep repeating until you get a nice and smooth consistency.

Is Nail Polish Thinner Bad For Nails?

Nail polish thinners contain chemical substances that are generally safe for the skin, but can they be bad for the nails in the long run?

In general, nail polish thinner is not bad for the nails. These products contain the same solvents that are used to make nail polishes.

However, depending on the solvent used for the thinner, it can make your nails brittle over time. It can also cause your nails to peel, split, or even break.

The key is to choose a nail polish thinner that does not use acetone. When buying one, check if it has acetone as one of its ingredients. Those with trace amounts of acetone can damage your nails in the long run.

What Are Some Reliable Nail Polish Thinner Brands?

There are lots of nail polish thinner brands out there that are very effective. Here are the brands that prove to be reliable according to reviews by consumers and nail experts:

Nail Tek Extend Professional Polish Thinner (~$11 for a 15 ml bottle)

This thinner is great for all nail types and can restore your nail polish by replacing the essential solvents with just a few drops.

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It also prolongs the life of your nail polish. It has a dropper for easy application and a screw-on cap so you can seal it tightly when not in use.

Beauty Secrets Nail Polish Thinner (~$11 for a 118ml bottle)

This thinner works on all regular nail polishes and effectively restores your old nail polish into a smooth and brushable consistency.

It has a built-in dropper attached to the cap, so you can easily dispense the product.

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The best part about Beauty Secrets Nail Polish Thinner is that it is cruelty-free, with a simple formula that contains butyl acetate, ethyl acetate, and heptane.

OPI Nail Lacquer Thinner (~$10 for a 60ml bottle)

This is an award-winning product and is a favorite among nail experts.

The OPI Nail Lacquer Thinner can revive old nail polish and restore its perfectly smooth consistency. A few drops can go a long way.

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It is safe to use as it is made of butyl acetate and ethyl acetate and does not contain formaldehyde.

Orly Nail Lacquer Thinner (~$8 for a 59ml bottle)

This nail polish thinner is very versatile. Apart from restoring the consistency of old nail polish, you can also use this thinner to clean brushes.

The Orly Nail Lacquer Thinner is one of the best thinners out there, according to reviews, because it is very effective and can even extend the shelf life of nail polish without affecting its quality.

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It comes in an unbreakable bottle with a built-in dropper for easy application.

Super Nail Polish Thinner (~$9 for a 118ml bottle)

If you want a good nail polish thinner that is more affordable than the rest, then this is your best bet.

For the price, you get so much product. A couple of drops of the Super Nail Polish Thinner can restore your nail polish and bring it back to its original form and consistency.

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The downside to this product is that it has trace amounts of acetone which can affect the quality and reduce the shelf life of your nail polish.

Seche Restore Restoration Thinner ($6.74 for a 14ml bottle)

This nail polish thinner is proven effective in diluting any regular nail polish without affecting its color and shine.

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You only need to use 2 to 3 drops of this product for it to work. The Seche Restore Restoration Thinner can also thin out top coats.

What Are Some Alternatives to Nail Polish Thinner?

If you want to revive an old nail polish, using a nail polish thinner is the most effective way.

If you have nail polish in storage that has become thick and clumpy and you want to use it right away without a thinner, then there are some alternatives that you can use.

Here is how you can restore the consistency of nail polish without a nail polish thinner:

Use Acetone or Nail Polish Remover:

If you run out of nail polish thinner or don’t have one at home, you can use pure acetone or nail polish remover as an alternative.

The acetone or nail polish remover can effectively thin out nail polish that has become clumpy.

However, it can also break down nail polish and reduce its shelf life. Plus, it can damage your nails when used excessively. So if you are using acetone or nail polish remover to restore the consistency of your nail polish, make sure to only add one drop and nothing more.

Use Rubbing Alcohol:

Another alternative to nail polish thinner is rubbing alcohol with 91% alcohol.

It can be effective as a temporary fix if you need to thin out your nail polish just enough for you to use it.

Add 2 to 3 drops of rubbing alcohol to your nail polish and roll the bottle between the palms of your hands to mix the two substances.

Immerse the Bottle in Hot Water.

This is another simple trick to restore your nail polish if you don’t have a nail polish thinner. This is a good hack if you do not want to resort to acetone or nail polish remover, which can affect your nail polish’s quality.

All you have to do is to get a bowl and fill it with hot water. Then immerse the bottle of nail polish in the bowl and let it sit there for roughly 3 minutes. Then take the bottle out of the bowl and roll it between your palms to shake the polish inside the bottle.

Then open the bottle of your nail polish to check. If the nail polish is still not at the desired consistency, then repeat the process for a few more minutes.

When doing this method, exercise caution, as the bottle can become very hot. Wear gloves or use a piece of cloth when handling the bottle.

If you have lots of nail polish stored at home, invest in a good nail polish thinner. Nail polish thinners are great because they can easily restore your nail polish if it has become clumpy and dry.

To prevent nail polish from drying out, keep the bottle of your nail polish tightly sealed, and in between coats, close the bottle of nail polish, so the solvent does not evaporate.


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