How To Use Acetone Nail Polish Remover

Written By Lynda Le
Last updated
Acetone Nail Polish Remover

When it comes to acetone nail polish remover, there is nothing worse than opening up your favorite bottle only to find that the acetone has completely turned the lacquer into a gooey mess.

People who paint their fingernails at home know the pain of having a favorite shade turn into a thick, gloppy mess. It’s always a bummer when it’s a favorite color and there’s still more than half of the bottle left and this is even worse if it’s a discontinued shade.

Coming to the realization that you’re running out of nail polish can be devastating. I notice that these problems tend to happen more often with drugstore brands or discount polishes, but even high-end quality polish can become too thick and gelatinous.

dried up nail polish bottles

It’s tragic (ask any nail enthusiast and they will tell you the same), especially when there is more than half of the product left inside. What a complete waste of time and money, right? You might be looking for hacks and tips on how to thin nail polish.

Well, here is good news for you! There are ways to revive old nail polish and make it as good as new so that you can use every last drop of acetone-free goodness.

The original procedure for thinning out nail polish is to pour it back and forth between two containers. This works well with a small container such as an old lip gloss pot, or you can use a jar that has been washed thoroughly in hot soapy water,  making sure that there are no traces of acetone left.

One way to help your nail polish last longer is by keeping it in an upside-down jar while you’re not using it. This helps prevent the liquid from becoming “stirred” and mixed with air currents, which will lead to quicker drying times and a more even application of color.

What is the Shelf Life of A Nail Polish?

The age of today’s makeup trends is really just a natural extension from the past when it was common for women to wear rouge or mascara in order to look more polished.

Nowadays, we’re doing much more than that with our looks: eyeliner and lipstick are two examples of how people can easily change their appearance without going through too many steps!

But there are some products that do have longer shelf lives; after all your favorite nail polish color might be hard-pressed against fading away anytime soon if you take care of them right!

The average lifespan of an opened bottle of nail polish is about 2 years – but unopened bottles have no expiration date at all as long as they stay sealed tight. The same goes for mascara – you can find mascara in the makeup isles that has lasted as long as 30 years!

A good way to tell if your nail polish is going bad would be: does it smell strong and like chemicals? Does it look more cloudy than when you first opened it (and not just from dust)? Do the colors change hue or consistency after a couple of uses?

Nail polish can also thicken because it’s been mixed with another product, like acetone nail polish remover. This is done to create a new color or add a shimmer.

Nail polishes that have multiple colors in them are usually the ones most likely to do this. Different brands will be different on how thick they want their polish to be.

Not aware of where to see the expiry date on the nail polish bottle? Nail polish typically has the length of time it will last on the bottle. This varies depending on where you buy your nail polish, but watch out for this indicator to get a sense of how long you can expect it to last.

How Do These Nail Polish Go Bad?

The most common reason that nail polish goes bad is through exposure to humidity. It could be that the nail polish has been used for too long and has gone through many different temperatures causing it to become too thick and not work as well.

If you prefer the thinner consistency nail polish, but the bottle has dried up before you have a chance to use it, there are a few simple steps that can be employed to make thicker polishes usable.

restoring dried up nail polish bottle

Once you open a bottle, the polish starts to evaporate. When exposed to air, ingredients in the polish separate and cause it to lose its silky smooth texture. You might find yourself in the frustrating position of having a thick polish, and this means it will be hard to apply.

Something needs to be done before things get more difficult for you. To know if your nail polish has gone bad, check if:

  • Nail polish separates in the bottle and won’t blend, even if you give it a good shake.
  • The cap of the polish has a crumbly residue, that makes it difficult to twist and open;
  • The nail polish is sticky, thick, and difficult to spread on the nail.

How to Know if Nail Polish Has Gone Bad?

If you’ve ever put on an old tube of your favorite nail polish only to find that it’s lost its pigment and is now more like a watery substance, then rest assured: this isn’t just because the product has expired.

It turns out there are many different kinds of bacteria living in our surrounding environment that can creep into it as cosmetics also do while they’re sitting around for months at a time without being used.

Luckily though, most major brands add solvents with drying properties such as acetone or ethanol to their products so these types of microorganisms will have difficulty surviving long enough even if they do end up getting inside!

Remember: nail polish tends to last pretty long if it’s been properly stored.

However, the years can dry out your polish. The solvent in the polish acts as an effective preservative, however, they are also likely to evaporate, resulting in a crusty, dry, and not-so-usable polish.

Although there are other users who got a significantly longer nail polish life after storing the nail polish properly.

Instead of just focusing on the exact age, you must also notice the texture of the product to know the usability of your nail polish. If your nail polish becomes clumpy, you may experience a difficult time applying it to your nails.

If your nail polish starts feeling a little too thick and doesn’t seem as smooth, there are some things you could do to make it feel better. Adding a few drops of thinner or remover is an easy solution if you don’t have any on hand.

Thinning out your nail polish is not only a great way to keep it usable, but also can help prevent the clumping and chipping that often happens over time.

You’ll need some remover to get that stubborn stain off your clothes. Remover is much stronger than thinner, so use it sparingly; often just one drop will do. Once you’ve added the thinner or remover, replace the cap tightly and give the bottle a thorough shake before applying.

If you encounter any of these issues (nail polish getting bad), toss it. What you want to do is discard the old nail polish and start fresh. If it’s not too late, there are some tricks that can be used in thinning out your nail polish. Here is a list of hacks to help you restore their consistency.

Mix the Nail Polish

To thin out nail polish enough to work on a wide variety of surfaces, gently shake the bottle for about one minute. Seal the lid and then turn it upside down for another minute or two before shaking up vigorously.

Then, you can gently warm the nail polish by rolling it between your palms. This helps thin out the polish without having to add anything to it like acetone nail polish remover or nail polish thinner.

Shake can create air bubbles and cause nail polish to chip by creating cracks in the nails. If shaking a bottle of nail polish, make sure you’re using short shakes that allow for gas bubbles to escape; long ones largely collapse the top layer of liquid within the container and can also be the reason for nail polish thickening. Shake at your own risk!

The Wonder of Hot Water

The acetone in nail polish remover can leave the lacquer a little too thick. When you need to use your old favorite, all you have to do is soak it for about a few minutes in some hot water. The acetone will evaporate and the product will return back to its original state!

How Does It Work?

You will need the following:

  • bowl of hot water
  • thick nail polish

To thin out the nail polish, immerse the bottle in a bowl of hot water and let it sit there for 3 minutes. To evenly distribute the polish in your bottle, roll the bottle back and forth between your palms.

Glass bottles get very hot. You should be careful when you handle them. If the nail polish is still too thick, continue or keep doing the process until it is restored to the desired consistency. 

Use an Acetone-Free Nail Polish Remover

If only acetone nail polish removers are available but not acetone-free ones, there is still hope! Take those acetones out of your life by using a nonatomic remover on top of any other methods that might be traditional.

It’s worth it when you get a beautiful manicure without having to worry about drying time or goopy nails.

Nail polish acetone removers are not the only product you can use to thin out your nail polish. There are a number of other acetone-free products that could work even better than acetones in making nail polishes flow and dry quicker.

How does it Work?

Here are the things that you will be needing:

  • acetone nail polish remover
  • nail polish thinner 
  • thick nail polish

One alternative to pure acetone is nail polish thinners, which can be used in a pinch when you run out.

If you are to thin out your nail polish, be careful with the amount of acetone that you use. The key to thinning out nail polish is using one drop of acetone at a time to avoid harming the lifespan of your favorite polish.

How to Restore Thick Dried Out Nail Polish – Simple Tips To Get Back Your Dried Nail Polish

The Best Cure is Prevention

You can prevent your nail polish from getting goopy by following preventive measures.  One of the simplest ways is by always shaking your nail polish before dipping a brush into it.

How to Do It?

  • Store your nail polish in a place that is cool and dry to keep it good. find a place with a consistent temperature.
  • Take a cotton ball and soak it in acetone. Position the soaked cotton ball on top of your bottle, wipe the neck before you screw the lid back on. This will help the lid open more easily the next time you would like to do a manicure.
  • Avoid storing your polish on a hot surface, or in direct sunlight.
  • Nail polish is often stored in the bathroom and this can cause it to leak or dry out quickly. Take note that the number one enemy of nail polish is humidity.
  • Store your bottles vertically to keep them from becoming too thick with nail polish. Storing nail polish incorrectly can result in the product clumping together and drying out.
  • Never let the nail polish expose to air longer than needed. Factors that cause nail polish to thicken include exposing your nail polish to air for a long period.

Lastly, like most things in life, nail polish has an expiration date which you should heed if it starts to get too slimy. How long does nail polish take to dry?

Nail polishes last about two years, but they start breaking down a few months earlier. If you can’t blend the polish due to dryness, time to throw out the pesky bottle.

Tips in Extending the Life of Nail Polish

To get a manicure that looks like a salon one, you need the right tools and of course, a nail polish that goes on smoothly and evenly.

There are a number of ways to get rid of gooey, sticky, and bubble-filled polish from your nails – all you have to do is choose which one you want to try. Nail polish that is filled with bubbles need not apply anymore as they cannot give you satisfying results.

Simply give those thick nail polish a new life with these tips. Doing so will m your mani-pedi rotation a little while longer.

Freshen it up with A Nail Thinner

Repair your nail polish if it is less than two years old. You will need to add a few drops of nail polish thinner before you do anything else. Add a drop at a time and make sure you are not making the paint too thin.

Roll the bottle between your hands after each drop, then check the consistency of the polish before adding a few more drops.

two to three drops of thinner should be enough to do the trick. but, if the nail polish doesn’t improve with the amount, there is a possibility that it cannot be restored.

Essential Care Hacks for Your Nail Polish

Don’t let the nail polish dry out. If you have a bottle of nail polish that is almost empty, pour it into an airtight container and store it in the fridge. This will help to make sure that your favorite shades don’t stop working before you’re ready for them too.

If you find that your nail polish bottle is difficult to remove the brush from or has a sticky mess of lacquer, there’s an easy fix. Simply take off any excess nail polish around the opening and use some rubbing alcohol on it for just five minutes before putting in new polishes. This will help to keep the polishes from sticking inside.

Use nail polish remover to erase sticky residues, and to clean the edges of the bottle. It will be less likely to soak into your bottle once the unwanted polish is eliminated.

Refrigerating a nail polish can extend the life of some polishes by up to three months, according to a magazine. You should also clean your nails regularly—not just with soap and water but acetone nail polish remover as well. It removes any residual oil or dirt.

A steady hand is not enough to paint a perfect manicure if you don’t take the time to make sure there’s no air in the nail polish before applying it. Don’t shake the nail polish before you use it, instead roll it with your hands in between uses.

Additional Hacks for Nail Polish Care

Keeping the nail polish in the fridge between uses can improve its consistency. This may sound weird, but it really works. The darkness and cool temperature of the fridge let the polish maintain the smooth consistency it has. Another quick tip to prolong the nail polish’s life is to keep it away from direct sunlight.

If you find your polish brush is hard to remove from the bottle or has a sticky mess of nail lacquer on it after pouring out some product for use, then simplify your mani-pedi by giving this trick. Dip an old toothbrush in acetone and rub vigorously over any stray pigment that remains inside these bottles.

This will lift up residue that may have built up around the neck of each container while also keeping those brushes clean for future uses. Ditch it if the polish doesn’t change a bit after doing the tricks.

Additionally, we can always head over to our local beauty supply store and purchase acetone or other nail polish removers from brands that offer gel-like primers with their products.

new nail polish bottles

What Others Have to Say?

We have gathered what others have to say on how to thin nail polish, and list them down for you.

  • You can thin out nail polish by using two to three drops of rubbing alcohol.
  • Hydrogen peroxide is not the best ingredient to thin your nail polish, but you can use it in removing nail polish when you run out of acetone nail polish remover.
  • Acetone and thinner are different. Acetone is an effective degreaser used to lift layers of nail polish off of your nails, but it also dehydrates the skin. A thinner replaces moisture and evaporated substances in a nail polish formula as it dries out over time.

If you haven’t seen a bottle of nail polish in your makeup drawer for the last two years, then it might be time to do some major spring cleaning.

The shelf life on opened nail polishes is about 2-3 years and if that’s how long yours has been sitting around, then there are plenty of other clothes or items that need more urgent attention than this beauty product!

If your old bottles of colored liquid have lasted as long as they’re supposed to – congratulations! You found something worth keeping in storage.

But don’t let them stay up there any longer because chances are someone could use those pricey paints before their expiration date passes by again.

It seems like the perfect solution for any nail polish problem would be to just buy a new bottle, but this is not always possible. Sometimes you don’t have time or money because of other commitments and sometimes it’s too hard to find your exact shade at an affordable price.

While beauty hacks are nice, they can take some experimenting before finding something that works best with each individual person; there isn’t one right answer for everyone. So as long as patience remains in supply – keep taking advantage and use it.

Say goodbye to expensive manicures at the salon and hello to gorgeous manicures and pedicures! Not only will you save money by doing it yourself but also experience great satisfaction knowing that your polish is something that should have been in the trash, but had received a second life!

Have you tried any of these hacks? Do you have other tips that worked which are not mentioned above? Let us know so our community gets informed! Do not forget to share this with your friends too!

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I'm Lynda Le, a licensed nail technician with over 20 years of experience in the nail and beauty industry. Passionate about sharing my knowledge, I took up blogging in 2016 to connect with others who love beauty as much as I do. For the latest tips and insights, follow me on Twitter at @polishperfectt.

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