How To Prevent Bubbles in Nail Polish?

nail polish


In a world of nail art, acrylic and extensions, nail polish remains a classic favourite. It is simple to apply and ideal for the frivolous mind that wants to change the colour every other day. But nail polish lovers have been enduring a nail polishcatastrophe for years. Why does nail polish bubble?

Small bubbles in your nail polish can be annoying because they completely ruin the look. The glassy smooth appearance is lost even by the tiniest bubbles. So, what’s the solution?

Here are a few tried-and-true suggestions by tira for avoiding nail polish bubbles along with the proper technique for doing so to consistently achieve a smooth surface.

Why does nail polish bubble?

Before we get into the preventives and tips, let us first understand why nail polish form bubbles as it dries. For a variety of reasons, the air becomes trapped between the layers of polish as you apply it. These air pockets appear as bubbles on the nail as the paint dries.

Let’s take a closer look at the causes of bubbling nail polish:

  • Humidity and excess moisture prolong the drying time and often moisture gets trapped in the layers leading to bubbles.
  • If the nails are dirty, have dust and grime or an oily layer, nail polish cannot adhere to it easily and bubbles form while applying.
  • Stippling the nail polish brush or taking too much time to draw a stroke also causes bubbling due to the wrong application technique.
  • Nail polish starts to thicken ever since you open the bottle. If the paint has thickened, it will not lay down properly and get bubbles on your manicure.
  • When you shake the bottle too much before application, bubbles are formed inside. They get transferred to your nail during application and cause bubbling.
  • Expired nail polish also led to bubbling on your manicure.
  • When your nail polish between coats does not get enough time to dry, it will eventually form bubbles.

Preparing your nails before application

The key to getting a smooth application is preparing your nails first. When your nails are absolutely clean and dry, the nail polish adheres to them and dries evenly.

The following are the steps to preparing your nail for the application:

Step 1: Wash your hands

Start by washing your hands thoroughly with a mild cleanser. Remove all traces of dirt, grime and excess moisture from your hand. Make sure to clean your nails before you start applying the paint.

Step 2: Dry it thoroughly

Remove excess moisture with a microfiber towel and then air dry the fingers thoroughly. Do not use any towel as the tiny fibres get stuck on your nails and later make your nail polish streaky.

Step 3: Wipe the nails with nail polish remover

This additional step cleans the nail surface and removes any excess oil too. Simply take a cotton pad and nail polish remover to wipe the nails once before you start applying.

Pro tip from tira: Avoid using cotton balls while cleaning. They leave microfibre pieces on the surface and form a streak of nail polish the moment you apply them.

Tips to prevent nail polish bubbles

After the preparation, it is time to start applying the nail paint and ensure bubbles do not form. Here are a few tips to prevent bubbles at all costs.

In case they do occur, we also have some tips to help you remove them.

A cool, dry place with minimum moisture

Start by setting the ambience for the application. If you have an air conditioner, turn it on and cool the room first. But before you start applying turn off the AC otherwise it will thicken the paint.

If you do not have AC, turn off the fan and close the windows till the application is done. Overall, the idea is to minimise humidity and moisture or gushing air in the room.

Use a base coat

Start by applying a good base coat as it provides a surface for the nail paint to adhere to. Base coats are thinner than regular nail paints and hence dry well without forming bubbles. Thus, you get a smooth surface to work.

Do not lift and dab the brush too much

Place the brush as close to the nail as possible and finish the application with minimum strokes. The more you lift and dab the brush, the more air pockets get formed.

Press bubbles out of the brush

Before you start applying the nail polish, tap the brush’s neck against the bottle’s edge to remove excess paint as well as any bubbles trapped in the brush. This ensures no bubbles get transferred on your nails during application.

Pro tip from tira: Avoid shaking the nail polish bottle to mix the content, instead, roll the bottle between your palms. This avoids the bubbles from forming.

Avoid using expired or thick nail polish

If the nail polish is very old or appears thicker than usual, do not apply it at all. Each nail polish coat must be very thin to prevent bubbling which is not possible with thicker nail paints.

Never mix nail polish with a remover

Often we try to thin the nail polish using the remover solution but it actually breaks down the formula of the polish and it will not dry easily. As a result, using such polish will create bubbles and streaks.

Let every coat dry thoroughly

Wait at least 20 minutes after the first coat of the polish to make sure it is absolutely dry. Even if you are using a quick-dry polish, give it at least 10 minutes before you apply the next coat. Also, do not layer more than 3 coats of the polish.


Nail polish bubbles ruin the look you are trying to achieve but proper preventives let you get the perfect manicure every time. We at tirahope the tips we shared will help you the next time you are painting your nails. The key is to minimise moisture exposure and always use quality nail polish for your beautiful nails.

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