Is Nail Polish Flammable? (Yes, If It is Wet)


Don’t your nails look pretty when you’ve applied some nail polish? You ask yourself this question whenever you give your nails a brand-new coat of nail polish. In addition to being attractive, nail paint protects your finger and toenails from damage. But have you ever questioned whether nail polish carries any dangers? Is nail polish flammable, for instance?

Not to worry; this article aims to give you an answer. We also let you know whether wet or dry nail polish is more likely to catch fire. Additionally, it would be helpful to know whether gel nail polish or nail polish remover is flammable. Find out what happens if you leave your nail polish in the sun and whether it will likely catch fire or explode in a hot car.

Read: Does Kerosene Go Bad?

Is Nail Polish Flammable? 

In its liquid condition, nail polish is flammable. You might have to keep any flames away from your nail polish if it has an acetone base. While the chemical makeup of nail polish varies depending on the brand, acetone, and nitrocellulose are typically present. These two chemicals are both extremely flammable.

However, nail polish contains components that make it flammable, in addition to acetone and nitrocellulose. Plasticizers are added to nail polish to stop it from cracking. Nail polish has adhesives to help it stick to the nail and dyes to give the polish color. All of these components can catch fire, increasing the flammability of nail polish.

Isopropanol, a highly flammable solvent, is one of the solvents present in some nail polishes.

Want to know more about the flammability of nail polish:

Why Does Nail Polish Catch Fire?

When wet nail polish is exposed to a naked flame or a spark, the fire is accelerated due to the nail polish’s still-active acetone base. Numerous solvents, resins, and other highly flammable compounds are present in nail polish. Nail polish chemicals and volatile air vapors make applying nail polish to your nails near a live flame risky. The fumes can reach open flames and catch fire.

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When you apply your nail polish, the acetone in the polish is likely to evaporate. The movement of the vapor is caused by evaporation. So it’s not a good idea to paint your nails next to an open flame. Avoid painting your nails while smoking or near a lighted candle. It is important to note that nail polish is more flammable when it is liquid than when it is dried.

Read: Is Shampoo Flammable?

Is Dry Nail Polish Flammable?

Dry nail polish is not flammable though it can still catch fire. Because the hazardous and flammable ingredients are only present in the liquid form of nail polish, dry nail polish is not flammable. When your nail polish is drying, the substances on your nails will evaporate, leaving only the polymers and the colors. 

As a result, you won’t need to be concerned that your hands will catch fire while your nail polish dries.

Once your nail polish dries up, it loses most of its flammable potency. The polish might still catch fire, though, under exceptional circumstances. For instance, dry nail polish may not ignite when placed near a naked flame. It will take a few seconds to melt into liquid before it catches fire. 

Is Nail Polish Remover Flammable?

Pure acetone makes nail polish remover a highly flammable and combustible substance. Your nail polish is re-moisturized and diluted with pure acetone. Keep in mind that acetone is highly volatile and will burn instantly. But intriguingly, a flame is not required for nail polish remover to ignite. When heated, the fumes, primarily from the pure acetone, are sufficient to start a fire.

To prevent severe burns, never use nail polish remover while seated near a fire source. Read about how a 20-year-old lady suffered severe burns after using nail polish remover if you don’t believe it.


Is Gel Nail Polish Flammable?

Gel nail polish is no longer flammable since the chemicals used to produce it are no longer combustible. However, the early nail polish formulations were highly flammable. But once dried, gel nail polish can catch fire. However, if you place it next to a fire or other heat source, it generally won’t catch fire right away. 

Solvents with alcohol and acetone bases are frequently used in gel nail polish. If the gel is heated, these solvents cause the gel to become highly fluid. When the gel is too fluid, working with it becomes challenging. The gel will run onto the skin nearby, possibly causing skin irritation.

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What Happens If You Leave Nail Polish in the Sun?

Nail polish and heat don’t mix well. Your nail polish shouldn’t be exposed to the sun. These three outcomes are what you should expect if you expose your nail polish to the sun.

Nail Polish Components Evaporate

Acetone, which is present in nail polish and is flammable and rapidly evaporating, is present. Your nail polish begins to harden as soon as the acetone evaporates. No problem if you had painted your nails. However, if not, you won’t be able to paint your nails. Additionally, it gets thick, which makes applying the polish more challenging.

If your nail polish has already dried out, you could choose to add acetone to the polish. It is not a good idea since it will cause the polish to thin out. Acetone is highly toxic and can damage your nails. Your nails will be cracking, peeling, and dry.

Affects Color

The nail polish’s overall color and appearance will be affected. The UV rays from the sun are so powerful that they will change the shade of your nail polish. The sun’s rays will bleach the color pigment.

Texture Changes

The solvents and chemicals in nail polish evaporate when exposed to the sun’s rays. The silky, smooth quality of the nail paint will become hard and sticky. 

Applying thick nail polish is challenging, and it dries poorly when hardening. It forms bubbles and folds. If the polish is that thick, it won’t stay on your nails for very long.

Will Nail Polish Explode in the heat of a Car?

It’s not a good idea to leave nail polish in your car, especially on a hot day. The nail polish will explode. Even if there isn’t a flame source, the heat is enough to cause damage. Little will happen to nail polish when there is ordinary heat, and you’ve not kept it in direct sunlight. 

But if the nail polish is in a bottle and is exposed to a lot of heat, it is likely to explode. When the bottle gets too hot, acetone in nail polish releases vapor. The vapor expands and eventually blows up in an explosion. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is nail polish made up of?

A polymer is used in modern nail polish, primarily nitrocellulose and, in more expensive varieties, CABS (Cellulose acetate butyrate).  Acetone is another essential component of nail polish. To give nail polish the desired finish, it contains various ingredients such as:
Dyes and pigmentation: Gives color to the nail polish.
Adhesives: Ensure nitrocellulose adheres to the nail’s surface.
Plasticizers: To make the nail polish more flexible and softer.
Ultraviolet stabilizers: Resist color changes when the polish is exposed to sunlight. 
Opalescent pigments: For the glittery shimmer look in the nail polish color.
Thickening agents: For the polish to quickly rigidify when you apply it. 

Can I leave nail polish remover in a hot car?

Not a bright idea because the nail polish remover’s pure acetone is very flammable. Acetone evaporates into the atmosphere swiftly and lingers in vehicles for some time, especially if the windows are closed. That occurs if you leave the polish remover bottle open. If the bottle is not opened, it will probably explode or leak.

Don’t turn on the ignition if you smell acetone in the car since even a tiny spark might start an explosion. Open the doors before using the ignition key to operate the windows.

Is there a non-flammable nail polish?

Nail polish with a water base is not flammable. Some of the non-flammable nail polishes on the market include SOPHi Nail Polish, piggy paint nail polish for kids, and suncoat nail polish. Water is the main component that is inflammable. The polishes also don’t contain alcohol, formaldehyde, or toluene. The other components don’t make the polish flammable because of their low percentages.


The presence of highly flammable acetone makes nail polish flammable. However, wet nail polish won’t catch fire until you expose it to a naked flame or spark. But you ought to keep your nail polish away from heat. Keep nail polish sealed in a cold, dry place and away from potential ignition sources.

Avoid leaving your nail polish and remover in the car on a warm or hot day. Before turning the key in the ignition, open the doors as soon as you smell acetone. For your convenience, we have provided examples of non-flammable nail polish that you can buy.

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