Gel nail polish, gel polish or shellac polish is usually thicker than regular nail polishes. After several times whenever a gel polish bottle is opened for use, some of the liquid solvents will evaporate and makes it even thicker and harder to apply on the nails.

Thick gel nail polishes can be made thinner by warming them up, adding acetone or gel polish thinner to bring the gel polish to its original viscosity. Either liquid will make thick gel polish thinner so it will be easier to apply. While gel polish thinner is a proper one to thin gel polish, acetone should only be used if thinner is not available.

Why is my gel nail polish too thick?

Gel polish becomes thicker than its original condition is the result of the liquid solvent loss. Excessive heat or loosely closed cap will make these heat-sensitive solvents dissipate into the air.

What is gel polish thinner?

Thinner for gel nail polish is a liquid that has a chemical composition similar to that of gel polish. When gel polish gets thick because it loses some of its liquid solvents to evaporation, gel polish thinner can be added to restore an old gel polish’s viscosity to its original conditions.

Gel polish thinner is the proper choice for making thick gel polish thinner and should be used as a primary thinner. Gel polish manufacturers made these thinner because after a while, the gel polish will be thicker due to evaporation and precipitation, and by compensating for this solvent loss, it brings an old thick gel polish back to its optimal viscosity.

Technically, a composition for a gel polish thinner includes hydroxyethyl methacrylate, isobornyl methacrylate, hydroxycyclohexyl phenyl ketone, 2,4,6-trimethylbenzoyldiphenylphosphine oxide, ethoxylated trimethylolpropane triacrylate esters (ETPTA), and alkoxylated diacrylate.

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How to thin out gel polish

Adding an appropriate amount of a diluting solvent will make a thick gel polish thinner and bring it back to its original viscosity condition.

Specifically, a gel polish thinner will have the same chemical liquids that make up a gel polish, but it is much thinner. After it is added to an old thick gel polish bottle, it will dilute gel polish inside and make it thinner.

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How much should gel polish thinner be added to thin gel polish?

Most of the time, if you can tell that your gel polish bottle is thicker than it normally is then adding 3 to 5 drops of gel polish thinner should be sufficient initially.

Adding more thinner to a gel polish bottle only after mixing the two up evenly and it still looks thick.

The best gel polish thinner

The best gel polish thinner depends on who you ask. However, I have used a few popular brands and found that they were equally great. It is hard to rank which one is the best. As long as you use them according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, your gel polish should be fine after thinning. The brands I used were:

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Warming up a gel nail polish will make it thinner

High heat will make an old, thick gel polish thinner. There are two ways to warm up a gel polish bottle:

Soak the lower half of a gel polish bottle in a bowl of very warm water for about 3 minutes. The heat from the water will transfer to the gel polish and makes it warmer and thinner at the same time. You then can apply this warmed-up gel polish easier.

If warm water is not available, you can roll the gel polish bottle between your palms for about 3 to 5 minutes. Friction will create some heat energy that transfers to the gel polish bottle and makes it warmer. Gel polish inside the bottle will get warmer due to this action and get thinner also.

Note: Using heat as a solution for an emergency only because do it so often will have a bad effect on the gel polish! Since heat will speed up the evaporation of the liquid solvents, it will make gel polish even thicker if you heat it at a high temperature or too long.

How to thin gel nail polish with acetone

Acetone is one of the liquid solvents in gel nail polish. Adding acetone will make thick gel polish thinner but it does not make up for other solvent loss due to evaporation.

Using acetone to thin out thick gel polish only if gel polish thinner is not available and use it as a last option.

Do not add too much acetone to a gel polish bottle. Lack of other solvents will change the chemical integrity of this gel polish and can ruin it or change its characteristics permanently.

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How do thin out too thick or clumpy gel nail polish?

Clumpy gel polish is an extreme form of thick gel polish. When gel polish gets clump, it has lost a majority of its solvents, and pigments that are in it starts to precipitate.

When you find out a bottle of your gel polish gets clumpy, here is what you should do if you want to revive your gel polish:

  • Remove the cap and put it somewhere away from UV light.
  • Add about 10 drops of gel polish thinner to the bottle.
  • Use a long toothpick or something similar to stir the polish inside for 3 minutes. This will break big clumps down into smaller ones.
  • Put the cap back and close it tight.
  • Shake the bottle well for 2 minutes and put it away.

After two days, remove the cap to check the polish. If there are no more clumps, you can use it. If there are still clumps, stir it up with a long toothpick for 2 minutes and put away for 2 more days.

Use it only when there are no more clumps. 

What to do if you do not have a gel polish thinner?

There are two different ways that you could do to thin out thick gel polish if gel polish thinner is not available. Here are two things that you could do:

  1. Heat gel polish bottle, the heat will thin out thick gel polish. If heating a gel polish bottle does not decrease the viscosity, try the following option.
  2. Add 3 to 5 drops of acetone and mix it well with a long toothpick for two minutes.

Either way, this thick gel polish should only be used after 2 hours or longer. The time will allow the mixture to be completely blended.

How to keep UV gel polish from getting thick

The two simple things that you can do but will increase the life and maintain the quality of your gel polish collection:

  • Store gel polish in a dry, cool place, away from the light: the cool place will prevent gel polish solvents from evaporation. Dark places will keep UV light-sensitive gel polish from being cured by those light.
  • Close caps on tight before putting it away: besides storing gel polish in a cool and dark place, keeping all the caps on tightly is another simple thing you can do to keep them in great condition for a long time.

How much does gel polish thinner cost?

Gel polish thinner cost under $15 on Amazon. It is about the price of one gel polish or shellac polish bottle. Given the amount you get, this will last you a good 3 years for your gel polish collection at home. I think it is well worth the money.

It should be a great addition to your prized, expensive gel polish collection because it will keep all your gel polish colors in top condition, ready to be used.

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