You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Experts Say a Few Simple Hacks Can Help Your Nail Polish Dry Way Faster

Prevention logo Prevention 6/26/2020 Nicol Natale
Smudging your nails after painting them is the worst. These expert-recommended tips can help your nails dry fast for the perfect manicure. © Tetra Images - Getty Images Smudging your nails after painting them is the worst. These expert-recommended tips can help your nails dry fast for the perfect manicure.

Understandably, most of us are avoiding salons right now. The coronavirus pandemic has made simple pleasures, like getting your hair colored and nails done, super risky to not only you, but your stylist or nail tech.

The solution: It’s time to take things into your own hands. After you read up on how to remove your acrylic nails or gel polish, these tips to strengthen your nails, and the best non-toxic polishes to try, you’re ready to give yourself a beautiful at-home manicure.

But after cutting, filing, shaping, and painting for what feels like hours, the last thing you want to do is put up with the slow, painful process of letting that paint dry (or worse, smudging your hard work).

“Regular nail polish takes about 30 to 60 minutes to dry to the touch,” says Eliana Gaviria, a nail technician at Haven Spa in New York City. But it actually takes hours—sometimes a full day—for nail polish to completely dry to a smooth finish.

While you’ll simply need a bit of patience, there are a few tips and tricks that can help you get better results in a shorter amount of time. Below, experts share legit tips on how make your nails dry faster at home—and what you should avoid doing to speed up the process.

1. Make sure your nails are clean before painting.

Before you even begin applying your color, make sure your nails are squeaky-clean of any lingering residue, like cuticle oil or hand cream, “otherwise the polish will never dry,” Gaviria says.

These products create a slippery film and add an extra layer below the polish, which prolongs the drying period. After filing, shaping, and trimming your nails, make sure you wash them thoroughly with soap and water. Then, Gaviria suggests using acetone to clean all residue off of the nail.

2. Apply thin layers of nail polish.

The more layers of nail polish you apply to the nails, the longer it takes for them to dry, explains Syreeta Aaron, a LeChat Nails educator. That’s why it’s best to apply thin coats of polish. “If you make a mistake, it’s better to remove polish and start over rather than continuing to layer, which makes it thicker and harder to dry,” she says.

As you’re layering, follow this order: Thinly apply your base coat, followed by two (or three if the color is very sheer) coats of polish, and finish with a top coat.

3. Use a quick-dry top coat.

Once you get to your last step, take a close look at the formula. “A good quick-dry topcoat might help cut time,” Gaviria says, adding that the QTICA Nail Half Time Polish Drying Accelerator works great. “They come as a dropper.”

Aaron recommends the Sally Hansen Insta-Dry Top Coat, which has an acrylic polymer formula to harden and dry nails quickly. You can also try OPI’s Drip Dry Lacquer Drying Drops, which are infused with hydrating jojoba oil and vitamin E.

4. Enlist the help of your blow dryer.

“Using a blow dryer on cool air after applying each thin layer of polish can be very helpful,” Aaron says. “Note that it needs to be cold air, as cold air dries polish faster. Heat doesn’t allow the polish to set.”

5. Wait a full 30 minutes before using your hands.

After all that hard work, you may feel tempted to rush through the drying process and go about your day. But Aaron suggests waiting it out until your nails are completely dry. “After polishing your nails, I recommend waiting at least 30 minutes before taking a shower or bath, washing dishes, or doing a load of laundry,” she says. “The heat from the water (say, from a hot shower) may cause peeling.” Pro tip: Now is the time to enjoy some Netflix.

6. Finally, avoid messy tips that don’t actually work.

The internet is full of home remedies for faster nail drying, like applying PAM Cooking Spray (yes, really) or using ice, but Gaviria says these methods do not work—and can get pretty messy.

You may have also heard that dipping your nails in olive oil an hour before painting them can speed drying. While this may help to remove excess oils, Gaviria says it’s much easier to use acetone, which thoroughly cleans all oil residue off of the nail.

As for dipping your freshly painted nails into an ice bath to speed up the drying process? That’s an old wives’ tale, she says.

The bottom line: Your freshly polished nails will take some time to dry. If anything, use it as an excuse to truly pamper yourself. Because the last thing you’ll want to do is spend more time cleaning up the smudges.

Support from readers like you helps us do our best work. Go here to subscribe to Prevention and get 12 FREE gifts. And sign up for our FREE newsletter here for daily health, nutrition, and fitness advice.

Try 200+ at home workout videos from Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Prevention, and more on All Out Studio free for 14 days!

AdChoices

More from Prevention

AdChoices

FIND SALONS NEAR ME

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon