Can You Use Clear Nail Polish On Polymer Clay?

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Polymer clay is a fun material used in a variety of crafts. You may find yourself making a pair of earrings, a box for trinkets, or a unique wall hanging for your room. Once a clay project has dried, your next steps typically involve sealing, glazing, or decorating your item. There are many avenues to decorating your clay project. Perhaps you've considered using the nail polish that is lying around the house. We have combined our research to explain the relationship between polymer clay and nail polish and answer if this is the right choice to use on your project.

Clear nail polish may seem like a cheap alternative to other materials, making it tempting to use on your polymer clay project. Don't do it. Nail polish contains a solvent that may not affect your clay initially, but it will break down your polymer clay over time. Your beautifully crafted project will be left in a slimy, sticky state. To save your project and honor your hard work, do not use clear nail polish on polymer clay. 

Clear nail polish is out of the question, so what can be used to give your polymer clay a shiny look? Keep reading as we touch on this and discuss what the best sealer for polymer clay is.

womans hands rolling polymer clay. Can You Use Clear Nail Polish On Polymer Clay

Does Polymer Clay Need To Be Sealed?

Polymer clay is often set apart from other clays due to its durable and water-resistant characteristics. So, technically no, polymer clay doesn't need to be sealed for some projects. You can seal it, however, and with specific projects, you really should.

Can You Use Clear Nail Polish On Polymer Clay

If you use another media on top of your dried clay, you will need to bring in a sealer. Working with sealant on your clay can also create another dimension to your project, adding to your final result.

Read more on our blog post, Can You Sand Polymer Clay?

What Is The Best Sealer For Polymer Clay?

If you opted to apply a sealer to your polymer clay, your next question is sure to be, what sealer should I use? There are a few options when choosing a sealer, and each come with their pros and cons. Options for sealant include the following:

  • Gloss Varnish
  • Polymer Clay Wax
  • Matte Varnish
  • Liquid Clay
  • Resin

Original female ornaments from polymeric hand-worked clay

The best sealer for polymer clay depends on how you imagine your finished product to look. Based on which sealer you use, you may be left with a glossy look, a more natural appearance, invisible sealant, or a sheen surface. Let's look into the details of each sealant to figure out which is best for your craft.

Gloss Varnish

Gloss varnish is the perfect sealant for a shiny finish. This varnish is relatively inexpensive and can be brushed on any shape. After some buffing and sanding, your project will be left with a smooth, glossy look.

You can find a basic gloss varnish here on Amazon. 

Keep in mind that this varnish may react to other media used on your polymer clay. If you are working with inks that are alcohol-based or gliders paste, it is best to avoid gloss varnishes.

Polymer Clay Wax

If you are looking for a sheen look, using wax as your sealant is the way to go. Wax will maintain the texture of your clay and create a more saturated look to your colors. Wax dries quickly and is easy to use; just apply with a brush.

Amazon offers a wax polish by Renaissance here. 

Matte Varnish

Using matte varnish will give your sealant an invisible look. Matte varnish is the best choice when you want to preserve the surface effects of your polymer clay. Potentially negative aspects of this sealant are the dulling of colors on your clay, highlights imperfections, and these products tend to be more expensive than others.

Basics Acrylic includes a matte varnish that you can find here on Amazon. 

Liquid Clay

Using liquid clay as a sealer can leave you with a semi-gloss finish. Liquid clay is compatible with everything you would use with polymer clay. While liquid clay has many uses, there are a few downfalls to this product.

Amazon offers a clear liquid clay here. 

Liquid clay as a sealer can cause a cloudy layer on your project if you use too much. This aspect runs the risk of ruining all of your work. Using this as a sealer can become quite costly and can be challenging to use compared to other options.

Resin

Resin can be a fun sealant as it will create a domed finish with a glossy look. Utilizing resin may even enhance the finished look of your project, but these benefits aren't without effort. Resin can be a little tricky to use. Once you get the hang of it, you'll find it is the best sealant for flat surfaced polymer clay projects.

Take a look at this clear resin kit here on Amazon. 

As you can see, choosing the best sealer will depend heavily on which project you are pursuing. Keep the image of your final project in mind before choosing your sealant. Keep in mind the different finishes, costs, and skill levels required with each option.

Learn more on our blog post, Can Polymer Clay Get Wet? Is It Waterproof After Baking?

Can You Use Clear Nail Polish On Air-dry Clay?

Unlike polymer clay, the solvent in clear nail polish does not affect Air-dry clay. Once your air-dry clay project is completely dry, you can apply one layer or more of clear nail polish as a sealant. Keep in mind that these layers do not make your project completely waterproof but instead water-resistant.

Modeling mermaid tails with white air-dry modeling clay.

Be careful not to apply too many layers, or you may end up with a cloudy look over your hard work.

Do You Have To Seal Mica Powder On Polymer Clay?

Mica powder is best applied to unbaked, raw polymer clay. To get the desired metallic look, it is important to apply it to unbaked clay due to its sticky nature. Can you still apply mica powder to your project if you already baked your clay? You can, but it may turn out a little different from expected. Once you have your mica powder where you like it, does a layer of sealer need to follow?

Metallic Brown Mica Pigment Powder for Cosmetics

Mica powder does not have to be sealed in polymer clay if the finished project will not be handled. If your project will be passing through hands often, you should use a sealant. More often than not, the answer is yes. You have to seal mica powder on polymer clay. With some projects, you can even mix mica powder with your sealant.

How Do You Make Polymer Clay Shiny?

Polymer clay is not naturally shiny or glossy, but there are ways to achieve this look. To create a shiny look without adding other mediums, like a gloss or sealant, you can try sanding or buffing your clay piece. This method may take a bit more effort, but you don't need to worry about your finished project having brush strokes, cloudiness, or a sticky surface.

The video below is a beginner's guide to sanding and buffing polymer clay:

Another method of getting your polymer clay to a shiny state would be to use a sealant, like a gloss varnish. Brushing on a varnish will be easier than taking the steps to sand and buff, but use careful strokes to avoid leaving brush marks behind.

Read more on our blog post, Can You Draw On Polymer Clay?

Can You Use Mod Podge To Glaze Polymer Clay?

Mod podge is used often across many paper crafts, but can they be used as a glaze for polymer clay? Mod podge comes in many styles, including matte, gloss, and satin versions. In theory, you can use mod podge as a glaze. When used as a glaze on polymer clay, the drying time is excruciatingly long, and you will be left with noticeable brush marks. Mod podge also becomes sticky in high temperatures or humidity.

Crafts from polymer clay, close-up

So, you can use mod podge as a glaze for your polymer clay project, but would you want to with those outcomes? Probably not.

Final Thoughts

Clear nail polish on polymer clay is a no-go due to the presence of a solvent. There are plenty of other options you can utilize as a sealant for your clay project. Picking the best option will depend heavily on what you want your final project to look like. Maybe you want a glossy piece of jewelry or a matte finish figurine. There's a sealant for that. We hope you found this article insightful while working with your polymer clay. Happy crafting!

Do you have a desire to pick up another craft? Have a look through our blog post, 25 Types Of Crafts You Can Try - The Ultimate List.

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