Beauty Q&A: How Do You Stop Nail Polish From Bubbling?

November 10, 2020
Samantha Holender
By: Samantha Holender | by L'Oréal
I’ve really upped my game in the DIY manicure department over the past few months. And even though I can now polish in the lines and clean up my cuticles like a pro, I’ve yet to figure out how to paint my nails without a dreaded air bubble (or ten) popping up. To find out how to stop nail polish from bubbling, I turned to Rita Remark, the lead global educator for Essie. Here, she’s sharing her tips for keeping your regular or gel manicure smooth, shiny and bubble-free.

Why Does Nail Polish Bubble? 

The little bumps that can pop up when painting your nails are essentially air that got trapped between the layers of polish during the polishing process. And while your nail polish application technique can play a role in bubbling, it’s certainly not the only factor. “The temperature of the room, how old the polish is and whether the bottle was shaken or rolled can all affect polish clarity,” says Remark. 

How to Prevent Nail Polish from Bubbling? 

TIP 1: Check the Temperature 

Keep your polishes in a bin by a window? Maybe under the bed? It’s probably a good idea to rethink your storage because the temperature can affect the likelihood of your polish bubbling. “Store your polishes in a cool dry room,” says Remark. “Heat increases moisture which in turn can interfere with the polish and cause bubbles.” 

TIP 2: Use New Polish 

It’s time to part with polish that you’ve had for more than a year and a half  — they’re the most likely to bubble. “The polish gets thicker and air bubbles get trapped in the formula from overuse,” says Remark. The good news, though, is that you can stock up on some new shades. We’ve been obsessing over Essie Cargo Cameo.

TIP 3: Prep the Nail

Preventing bubbling starts with prep, so make sure to cleanse the nail with a cotton pad and alcohol so you're polishing on a clean, dry canvas. “Oils in our nails or cuticle area can cause pitting and bubbles in your mani,” says Remark. 

TIP 4: Don’t Shake, Stir 

Shaking your nail polish bottle back and forth may be a hard habit to break, but Remark strongly advises against it. “Shaking polish traps air in the lacquer and causes bubbles,” she says. “Instead, stir the polish by gently rolling it between your palms. 

TIP 5: Polish in Thin Layers 

Gunky, thick layers are the most likely to trap air, so do your best not to be a heavy-handed painter. Remark suggests swirling the brush around the top of the bottle and using a light touch on the nail. 

Photo: Chaunte Vaughn, Design: Hannah Packer

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