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How to Fix Smudged Nail Polish: Simple Steps to a Perfect Look?

How to Fix Smudged Nail Polish

Don’t you hate it when you accidentally smudge nail polish after applying it? It’s so frustrating! Sometimes it also chips all too soon. So, let’s talk about how to fix smudged nail polish. We’ll give you simple steps to achieve a perfect look once more.

We’ll also discuss why polish smudges and chips and how to avoid smudging nail polish in the future. Let’s get started so you can enjoy a flawless manicure ASAP.

How to Fix Smudges When Nail Polish Is Wet

If the polish hasn’t completely dried, try smoothing it with nail polish remover. Acetone-free polish remover is a better choice because it’s less likely to undo all your hard work. Use a fingertip or a nail brush and blend the area.

Please don't use a cotton swab because it will shed fibers. If you don’t have a nail brush and don’t want to dip your fingers and the polish, use a lint-free nail wipe.

How to Fix Smudges When Nail Polish Is Dry

How do you fix nail polish after it dries? You have several options depending on the tools you have available.

Smooth Smudges with Polish Remover

If your nails were done at the salon or a friend's house, you may not have the exact polish color at home. In this case, you can use a dab of nail polish remover to blur and blend the smudge until everything is smoothed over.

Apply Another Coat of Polish

If you have the same polish on hand, it's easy to apply a fresh coat to hide smudges and chips.

We want to recommend our favorite non-toxic nail polish here:

LDS Nail Lacquer

LDS Nail Lacquer


With more than 170 shades, you'll likely find the perfect match to fix smudges on your nails. Moreover, these gorgeous colors look new for up to 7 days.

The formula is 9-free for your health. It contains no formaldehyde, phthalates, petrochemical solvents, or other nasty ingredients. It's also cruelty-free and vegan.

Apply a Transparent Top Coat

Nail lacquer will often dissolve the layers underneath it (which is why you can use nail polish to remove nail polish), so you can use a top coat to level out smudges.

Clip or Buff the Nail

If the smudge or chip is at the tip, you can try shortening the nail by trimming it. However, you'll need to be careful to not crack the polish, and you may need to cap the edge with a top coat.

An alternative is using a fine grit file to smooth the damaged polish. Remove debris with a lint-free wipe and repaint the nail. Otherwise, try blending the spot with polish remover and finish it with a top coat.

Hide Imperfections with Decorations

Here’s a fun way to take care of chips and smudges: add glitter! Turn it into an accent nail with stickers or rhinestones. Instead of it being a defect, let it be an opportunity to make the nail more beautiful.

How to Stop Nails from Smudging

Unlike gel polish that cures inside a nail lamp in a minute or two, nail lacquer takes 5 to 15 minutes to dry. But even then, it doesn't set completely for a few hours. That means it may still smudge even after you've waited 15 minutes before using your hands or putting on your socks.

The polish may take longer to dry depending on the temperature and the humidity. Moreover, the more layers you've applied, the longer it takes.

Prevent smudging by waiting at least 15 minutes for the polish to dry. But even then, wait to wash the dishes or put on closed-toe shoes for a couple of hours.

Since waiting isn’t always an option, here are other ways to prevent nails from smudging.

Apply Thin Layers

If you apply more than one coat, press the excess polish off the brush first. It's best to apply thin layers so that the polish dries quickly.

Use a Quick-drying Polish and a Fast-drying Top Coat

Some brands of polish dry faster than others. At the same time, a quick-drying top coat penetrates to cure all the layers and harden the polish in record time.

There are various fast-drying top coats, including Out The Door, Kiara Sky, and Seche Vite.

Use a Hairdryer, Fan, or Nail Dryer

Speed up the polish drying time with airflow. Not only does it reduce the odor, but it also helps you get on with the rest of your day faster. When using a fan or hairdryer, choose a low setting to avoid rippling the surface of the polish. Also, with the hairdryer, use the low heat only.

There are professional nail dryers that you might enjoy if you do manicures frequently.

Icy Cold Water

If you want to set the polish faster, you'll need a bowl with ice cubes and cold water. Submerge your fingertips for 5 minutes. Running water doesn't have the same effect and may smudge the polish.

Other Tips for Preventing Smudges and Chips

You waited 15 minutes for the polish to dry, but it still smudged. Why?

One answer is that the polish in the bottle could be old. Over time, the chemicals break down.

Another possibility is that the nails needed to be prepared appropriately. If they are oily because they weren't cleaned with alcohol or acetone first, the polish won't bond correctly.

But it could be a simple case of heat and sweat. The surface may have dried quickly if the weather's hot, but the part underneath might still be curing. Or if you've had your freshly manicured hands or feet tucked into your pockets or held against your skin, body heat and perspiration might have "melted" the polish. This is all the more reason to apply a quick-drying top coat to set the polish and harden it.

Lastly, switch to a high-quality nail polish that's chip-resistant and long-wearing. We have a wide selection of professional nail lacquers, including:


We hope these steps for fixing smudged nail polish help you solve the problem in a jiffy!

While you’re here, drop by our deals and stock up on nail supplies today.

Furthermore, please visit our new arrivals to see what’s trending in the nail world. Remember, we offer free delivery for shipments over $100!