Why is My Nail Polish Sticky & How to Fix It

Nail polish comes in different colors and types, and if you are a fan, you know how frustrating it can be when the polish becomes sticky. Sticky nail polish comes in different ways, it might never dry, smudge or stick to anything, making it difficult to enjoy your fresh manicure. But what causes nail polish to be sticky, and how can you fix it precisely?

What makes nail polish sticky?

Several factors can cause nail polish to be sticky. Here are some of the most common reasons;


When the humidity level is high, it makes it difficult for the nail polish to dry correctly. The nail polish looks dry on the surface, but it remains sticky underneath. Humidity also causes nail polish to absorb moisture from the air, which makes it thicker and stickier.

Using old nail polish

One of the most common reasons for sticky nail polish is using old and expired nail polish. Nail polish has a shelf life of 24 to 48 months, after which it starts to break down and develop a sticky texture. Ensure that you replace old nail polish with new ones regularly.

Applying too many coats

Applying too many coats of nail polish can cause the polish to become sticky, as it takes longer for each layer to dry. Avoid applying too many layers of polish.

Thick and gloopy nail polish

The formulation of nail polish plays a significant role in how it dries. A thick and gloopy nail polish might dry on the surface but remain sticky underneath. Ensure that you purchase good-quality nail polish that is designed to dry fast and evenly.

How to fix sticky nail polish

Now that you know what causes your nail polish to be sticky, here are some tips to fix it;

Use a blow dryer

You can use a blow dryer to dry out the nail polish faster. Ensure that you use the low setting, and do not get too close to the nail. The warm air helps to dry out the nail polish faster.

Use a quick-drying topcoat

Topcoats help to seal the nail polish and dry it faster. They are designed to protect the color and add a glossy shine to your polish. Use a good-quality topcoat to dry out your nail faster.

Clean the nail surface thoroughly

Ensure that you clean the nail surface entirely before applying polish. A clean and oil-free nail ensures that the polish dries evenly and reduces the chances of the polish becoming sticky.

Apply thinner layers of nail polish

If you apply thick layers of nail polish, it takes longer to dry, increasing the chances of it becoming sticky. Apply thin layers of polish, allowing each layer to dry thoroughly before applying the next.


Sticky nail polish can be frustrating, but it is a common occurrence when the polish is old or when the weather is humid. However, by applying the tips above, you can fix and enjoy your manicure flawlessly. Remember to keep your nail polish in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight, and replace old polish with new ones.


Here are some of the most common questions asked about sticky nail polish;

  • Can I fix a sticky nail polish with nail polish remover?
  • No, nail polish remover does not fix sticky nail polish. In fact, it can worsen the problem by making the polish thinner and more prone to smudging.

  • Can I use a topcoat on sticky nail polish?
  • Yes, a quick-drying topcoat is ideal to fix sticky nail polish. It works by sealing the polish and drying it faster.

  • What causes nail polish to be too thick?
  • Nail polish can be too thick due to exposure to air or being stored in an area that is too warm. Always make sure that you store your nail polish in a cool, dry place.

  • What is the best way to apply nail polish?
  • The best way to apply nail polish is by using thin layers and allowing them to dry thoroughly before applying another layer. Always apply the polish in a well-ventilated area away from any moisture.


Smith, L. (2020, July 15). Why Is My Nail Polish Sticky? Common Causes and Fixes. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/sticky-nail-polish

Gibs, R. (n.d.). Nail Polish Shelf Life: How Long You Can Keep Your Nail Polishes. OPI. https://www.opi.com/blog/nail-polish-shelf-life-how-long-you-can-keep-your-nail-polishes

Hong, N. (2020, February 28). How to Dry Nail Polish Fast. Byrdie. https://www.byrdie.com/how-to-dry-nail-polish-fast-4588233

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