Taking care of your nails with clear or colored nail polish can feel good. But for some people, the benefits of a DIY mani are outweighed by the time required for the polish to dry. While it can take 10 to 12 minutes for polish to fully set on the nail, there are some shortcuts you can try to make the process go faster.
Keep reading for some safe suggestions for how to dry nail polish faster.
1. Quick-dry top coat
Purchasing a clear coat of nail polish that’s been formulated specifically to cut down on drying time is an easy way to dry nails faster.
Many of the commercial quick-drying top coats are as cheap as or cheaper than regular polishes. The best nail polish top coats claim to add a layer of sheen to your nails, prevent chipping, and dry your nails in a minute or less.
2. Cold water quick-dry
This trick requires a bit of prep work. Before you paint your nails, take a small bowl and fill it with cold tap water. Add an ice cube or two, and set the bowl near where you’ll be painting your nails. After your nails are painted, wait about two minutes to let the polish “set” — this will ensure it adheres to your nails fully.
Then dip your nails in the cold water and hold them there for about five minutes. When you remove your hands or feet from the water, you’ll see that there is water beading on top of the nail surface — a sure sign your polish is completely dry.
Plug in a hairdryer with a “cool air” setting before you start painting your nails. Once you’re finished putting on polish, hit your nails with a steady stream of cool air.
This works best if you paint the nails on just one hand, use the hairdryer, and then repeat the process for your other hand. It’s essential that you use the cool setting for this drying solution, as some people have reported burning their skin with a hot hairdryer.
4. Baby oil
Baby oil, olive oil, and even cooking spray may help your nails dry faster. Place the oil in a decanter or medicine dropper so that you can easily control how much oil you put on each nail. You don’t need much! Then, once you’re ready to dry your nails, apply a drop or two to each nail and sit patiently for a minute or two.
The oil should work to dry the nail polish faster as it sits on top of your nail bed and soaks into the paint. Thinner paint dries faster, and this method basically thins the paint that’s already on your nail. Once you see the oil beading at the top of your nail, wipe the oil off with a dry paper towel.
5. Thin coats of polish
This manicure technique could save you lots of drying time. By applying several thin coats of polish, as opposed to one or two thick coats, you’re giving your nails a chance to dry in between each application.
This leads to a more even finish as well as faster drying times overall. Practice how much paint you put on using a larger nail surface, like your thumbnail, to see how thin you can spread the paint.
6. Drying drops
You can purchase drying drops for your nails at any beauty supply store or online. Unlike quick-drying top coats, drying drops don’t add another layer to your manicure.
These drops are oil-based, so they condition your cuticles as they dry your nails. Anecdotally, this method seems to only dry the top layer of nail polish. Even if your nails appear dry after using drying drops, give your manicure or pedicure another few minutes to set.
Take care of your manicure
Air-drying your nails takes a lot of patience, but getting them to dry more quickly just takes a little bit of forethought and some creativity. If you want your nails to dry faster, don’t wave your fingers around, as you might smudge the polish.
Some nail professionals claim that even after polish appears dry, a manicure isn’t fully “set” for 12 hours or more. Take special care of your nails the day after giving them a fresh coat of polish.
To make a manicure last longer without chipping, refresh them with a thin layer of quick-dry top coat every two or three days.