How to Thin Out Nail Polish If Your Favorite Bottle Has Gone Sticky

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@overglowedit / Design by Dion Mills

There are a couple of product-related tragedies that are par for the course when you're a beauty hoarder. For instance, shattered compacts of bronzer and blush immediately come to mind, a discontinued signature lip color you've been wearing for years, or a confiscated "full-size" dry shampoo you were 100 percent convinced you'd be able to sneak past TSA. However, there's another major beauty bummer that ceaselessly haunts us: goopy nail polish.

And if you just cringed at the thought, you're not alone. Nothing hurts like reaching for your go-to bottle only to realize that it's turned into a thick and nasty mess practically overnight. And if it was a limited-edition shade or has sadly been discontinued? Well, we can't even talk about it. (Although eBay has proved invaluable where that conundrum is concerned—just saying).

Since one too many of our favorite nail polishes have kicked the bucket, we've morphed into polish lovers on a mission. The question: What's the trick to thinning out nail polishes à la our favorite nail salons, and what can we do to prevent (or at least postpone) the inevitable demise for as long as humanly possible? Determined to get some answers, we reached out to some of the best nail salons in the business to learn their tips and tricks on the matter. Ahead: How to thin out your nail polish like a pro.

Read on for some genius methods to thin nail polish and make it last longer.

how to make nail polish last longer
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01 of 05

Invest in a Nail Thinner

Lacquer Thinner, 2 fl. oz.
OPI Lacquer Thinner $6
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According to Jin Soon Choi (editorial manicurist and founder of JinSoon Nail Lacquer and JinSoon Spas), one of the best ways to thin out nail polish is to invest in a bottle of nail polish thinner (usually $10 and under).

"First, add just a couple of drops directly to the polish. To mix, roll the bottle between your palms and avoid shaking, which can cause air bubbles to form," she says.

02 of 05

Add a Drop (or two) of Pure Acetone

Beauty Secrets Pure Acetone Manicurist Solvent $21
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Celebrity manicurist and general manager of Base Coat Nail Salon Shelly Hill says her "go-to" method for thinning out nail polish is a drop of pure acetone.

"Just like polish thinners, it's critical to use only one drop of pure acetone in your bottle of nail polish. Shake well, and if the polish is still too thick, add one more drop," says Hill. "The 'less is more' approach is important to remember—if too much is used, the acetone will break down the makeup of the polish, which will actually lessen its lifespan."

03 of 05

Store in a Cool, Dark Place

nail polish bottles on a table
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Though pure acetone solutions and nail thinners are effective—they're a salon go-to for a reason—they also come with their own host of problems and might do your nails more harm than good in the long run (think brittleness, peeling, splitting, and breakage). To prevent polish from clumping in the first place, Côte Salon's Mary Lennon, tells us that the main trick is to always store nail polish in a cool, dark place that maintains a consistent temperature. You can even try the refrigerator if you live in a perpetually warm and humid climate.

Avoid storing your bottles in the bathroom—thanks to those long hot showers, the temperature is constantly fluctuating, and humidity can bode badly for your polish's longevity.

04 of 05

Keep Track of Expiration Dates

According to Sarah Gibson Tuttle, founder of Olive & June, products like nail thinners can help lengthen the longevity of your favorite polishes. Eventually, however, you'll have to make peace with your goodbye and toss the lacquer.

"It's best to toss out the bottles that start to get too sludge-y. After all, polish has a shelf life just like makeup. To keep track, try labeling the bottle to remember when you bought it."

05 of 05

Keep Polish Tightly Sealed

nail polish bottle scattered on carpet
Annie Spratt / Unsplash 

It's easy to forget, but one of the best methods for keeping polish thin and spreadable is to keep it sealed whenever you're not actively using it. And we mean whenever. "To preserve your nail polish for as long as possible, make sure to close the bottle between coats. It's when that air hits polish that it will start to thicken," says Tuttle.

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