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Can You Touchup Paint On Car With Nail Polish

Right, let's picture the scene... You just arrived home from work, excited to have that big family reunion party tomorrow. But as you park up your car for the night - keen to show it off to your jealous siblings - your jaw falls to the floor as you see a long, deep scratch along the doors. Not wishing to think much about it, you rush across the house to find something to fill it in with.

You don't have the time for a proper touch-up or respray, and you certainly don't want to be left red-faced in front of your kin. You scramble across every single drawer and cabinet, and finally, that aha moment comes into mind. In the dark depths of your dressing table's innards, you see a few bottles of nail polish. But... Can you really use nail polish to touch up your car's paint?

Nail Polish... For Your Car?

If you're in that exact emergency situation right now and don't have the luxury to read through, then yeah, nail polish does more or less work as a touch-up solution. In fact, it's not just nail polish that could behave as a household stop-gap for paint repairs. Even permanent markers have been found to work decently well too. Mind you, either solution only works if you're in a desperate pinch.

But it's nonetheless surprising news to find that nail polish is able to work on your car's paintwork. Renault even makes and sells nail polish that perfectly matches its cars, and could double as paint touch-ups. It looks good once painted on your fingernails, too. However, does nail polish really work that well, to a point where you could dot it across your car?

Does It Work?

Well, we have to remember that cars undergo hugely expensive paint processes with special chemicals and production methods to give them that glowing sheen. Nail polish, on the other hand, is made differently. Still, it can certainly do the job when you need it to. Generally speaking, we haven't found significant evidence to suggest that nail polish in itself could damage your car.

Although, the process of removing that nail polish afterward is a bit tricky and complex, and it could make you wonder if it was worth the trouble. For example, let's say that you'd like for a professional paint touch-up and repair after you've already applied the nail polish for a quick DIY fix. Before they could even get to (re)painting your car, they'll need to remove that nail polish. 

It might require some sanding or lots of nail polish remover. Either way, the extra steps will take more time, and might even result in secondary damage to the surrounding paint as you do so. Even so, nail polish might not entirely match your car's finish. The colour might be spot on when it's in the bottle, but once applied, it could appear vastly different as an end result.

How Can You Use Nail Polish To Touchup Your Car's Paint?

So far then, it seems like nail polish, though a great emergency touch-up repair, could prove risky. It will add to the hassle later on, and may cost you more for damages and extra steps to remove it. Thus, you'll have to be the determiner of whether that risk is worth it for you. If it is, then here are some easy steps in how to attempt touch up your car's paint with some nail polish. But we really don’t recommend doing it, look up a proper touch up kit instead. However if you’re going ahead:

  1. The first step would be to clean up the area around the damage. This is a crucial step, as nail polish could seal in any grit or grime, which will end up damaging your car's bodywork underneath.
  1. Find a matching colour of nail polish. As this is a mostly temporary fix - and depending on the visibility of the area that you're painting on - try to find a nail polish colour that'll more or less match your car's paint.
  1. Once you've cleaned the damaged section of the car and let it dry, you can start applying the first coat of nail polish. Put on that one layer carefully, moving the stroke of the brush along one direction and in a single stroke, and then let that coat dry out completely. 
  1. If you could see through that first coat down to the bodywork, or if it's not completely level with the rest of the surrounding paint, then you could apply a second coat or more.
  1. When you think that it's satisfactory with the number of coatings you've applied and had allowed them to dry, grab some clear nail polish. More specifically, this clear "top coat" nail polish is an extra protective layer, which will also contribute a bit of shine to the finished look.

In Summary...

Nail polish is indeed a rather helpful and multi-purpose tool, not only in making our fingernails look all pretty, but also a handy apparatus to keep in the house in case you need a quick touch-up of your car's paint. It's a cheap fix, and one that even the automotive novice can manage. However, you'll have to be aware of the risks and future inconveniences as a result of this. 

Needing to remove all that nail polish later on will cost you time and money. Plus, the removal process may even cause added damage to your car's paintwork, which will cost you even more time and money. So long as you're perfectly conscious of these issues, and are willing to accept them, then you could certainly keep nail polish around in the garage.

However, specialised car paint touch-up solutions are no doubt a lot better than nail polish. Not only could it be matched perfectly to your car, but it'll stick on there like the paint came straight from the showroom floor. These paint touch-up solutions are still our go-to recommendation if you need to fix your car's damaged paint, but if you're in a hurry and not bothered about a good result, then grab that nail polish and go mad.