Gel Polish Bubbles After Curing? Explained Here

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Okay, so you’ve perfected your manicure skills and know-how to shape, buff, and apply nail polish like a pro! You decide to take it to the next level and try a gel polish at home… only to realize it’s much more complicated than just a regular manicure.   

Despite your best efforts, your at-home gel manicure has left you with tiny bubbles. Now, this is a common occurrence, so don’t beat yourself up about it. Instead, read on to find out what causes bubbles in gel polish, and what you can do to avoid gel polish bubbles after curing.


What Causes Bubbles in Gel Polish?

Gellen Gel Nails

Bubbles typically surface during the drying process because of air getting trapped between layers of polish. There are a few different reasons this might be happening…

  • Poor preparation – In order to ace your gel manicure, you need to start with a clean, blank canvas. Leftover polish, dirt, and oil can react with the nail products you are putting on and create air pockets.
  • It’s too thick – Gel polish is a lot thicker than regular nail polish. You have to be careful not to paint on too thick a layer or it will not cure properly.
  • Not cured between steps – Gel manicures require a 3-step process of a gel base coat, gel color and topcoat. Each step must be fully cured before you begin the next step, otherwise, your gel nails will get wrinkles or bubbles. 
  • Old gel polish – gel polish will thicken over time and make it very difficult to apply layers thin enough to cure properly.
  • Not placing hand properly under UV light – if your hand is not placed properly under the UV light, the gel on some fingers may not cure properly.

Do Bubbles in Nail Polish Go Away?

Bubbles in gel polish will not go away on their own. Unfortunately, the only thing you can do is either remove the polish on the affected nail(s) and try again or get used to wearing gloves.

How Do You Fix Gel Polish Bubbles After Curing?

As we mentioned, bubbles in your gel polish will not go away on their own, and there’s nothing you can really do about them.

But if you find yourself in a jam and don’t have time for a redo, you can always cover a bubble with a nail decal , or get fancy and go with a rhinestone  (you’ll also need glue  with these).

And if all else fails, you always have your pockets!

How to Prevent Bubbles in Gel Polish

You may not be able to fix bubbling in gel polish after it occurs, but you can prevent it from happening in the first place.

Here are a few tips to get a bubble-free gel polish finish:


Preparation is key! Remove any old nail polish and clean your nails.

After cleaning your nails, take the time to dry them thoroughly. Remember, even if your nails look dry, the skin and cuticles surrounding your nails may still be moist. 

Lightly buff nails, then clean the surface of the nail with alcohol. The nails need to be dry and lint-, oil-, and lotion-free before you start the application process.

Always wipe nails with alcohol, using a lint-free wipe before application.

If any dirt, oil, or lint is left behind, this can cause gaps and improper adhesion between layers, resulting in gel polish bubbles.

Use a nail bonder:

Gel Nail Bonder

A nail bonder works by removing surface oils and contaminants from the natural nail plate and raises the pH of the natural nail which allows better adhesion of the gel to prevent bubbling.

Roll the bottle:

You’ll have to fight off the urge to shake the bottle of gel polish before you open it, like you would for regular polish. Instead, roll the bottle between your hands.

Apply thin layers:

Although a hard, crunchy outside and a soft gooey middle are what you’re going for if you’re baking a lava cake, not so much if you are trying to apply a gel manicure!

And that’s exactly what happens if you apply the gel polish in thick layers. Under layers that are not cured properly will inevitably lead to bubbling.

Opaque colors need even thinner layers than translucent colors. This is because the light does not pass through opaque polishes.

Make sure you cure after each step:

Gel manicures require a 3-step process of a gel base coat, gel color and topcoat. Each step must be fully cured with an LED or UV Nail Lamp before you proceed with the next step.

Each step has its own curing time, so make sure you read the product manufacturer’s instructions.

Check your hand placement:

Now, this may seem obvious, but it happens. If you notice your thumbnail is the nail you are having issues with, make sure you are placing your hand properly under the UV light.

If your hand is at an angle, your thumb, because it’s on the outside and it’s the shortest, may not be in the proper position to receive the light it needs to cure the nail.

Take Away

What causes bubbles in gel polish? We’ve discussed a few different reasons your gel polish might be getting bubbles, but the two most common reasons for bubbles in gel polish are that the nail was not properly prepped before application, and the polish layers are too thick to cure properly.

Make sure you are starting with clean dry nails and keep the layers thin!

See also:

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).