How to Dry Nail Polish Faster?

February 06, 2024 6 min read

How to Dry Nail Polish Faster?

While the process of painting your nails is enjoyable for most, there’s one thing that we can all agree is a grueling experience, and that is waiting for the nail polish to dry. There’s only one thing worse when it comes to manicures - accidentally smudging your freshly painted nails because you were certain they were dry, only to be left surprised and disappointed that it wasn’t the case. 

Having to redo your nails truly takes the joy out of the process, so it’s important to let the nails completely dry before doing anything else, even if you’re very tempted to do so. But what if you don’t have time to wait? Well, then, this article is for you! Come along for the ride and learn how to dry nails fast. 

How to Get Nail Polish to Dry Faster

There are quite a few things that you probably already have in your home that can help your nail polish dry faster - some of which we can bet you wouldn’t even suspect can be used in that way. Let’s take a look, shall we? 

#1 Cold Water 

The first hack that can help you dry your nails faster is to do an ice bath for your nails. Simply take a bowl and fill it with cold water, adding a few ice cubes. Submerge your nails in it and keep them there for a few minutes - up to 5 would be ideal. Once you see the water beading on top of your nails after removing them from the bowl, you’ll know the nail polish is dry. 

Alternatively, you can also opt for running the nails under cold water using your faucet - just make sure that the setting you’re using is not too strong, as you risk ruining your freshly painted nails that way.

#2 Thin Layers 

If you put on a thick layer of nail polish, it will take forever to dry, regardless of how quick-drying it claims to be. That’s why it’s better to opt for thinner layers - even if you will need to put on an additional coat to reach your desired opaqueness. 

To make sure you’re not using too much nail polish, simply swirl your brush around the bottle’s opening and remove the excess. Additionally,each layer should be applied in three strokes - one in the middle and then one on each side. 

Make sure that each layer is dried completely before applying the next one. 

#3 Quick-Dry Top Coat 

A top coat is a true must-have when it comes to your nail polish - we’re not exaggerating when saying that even when you accidentally touch something with your nail, applying a top coat can make it disappear. And now, you can kill two birds with one stone, as not only will your manicure look flawless, but with aquick-dry top coat, you won’t have to wait forever for your nails to dry. 

Aside from a quick-drying top coat, there are alsodrying drops and nail-drying spray that you can put on your nails to help them dry quicker. 

#4 Hairdryer or a Fan

If you have a hairdryer at home, you can use it to your advantage - however, make sure that it has a cold air setting, as you might melt your nail polish with warm air. Alternatively, you can use a fan on a low setting, helping the nail polish firm up and dry faster. Just make sure that regardless of which option you choose, you don’t get too close to the nail, as it cancause bubbles

#5 Freezer or Air Conditioner 

This might not sound like the most pleasant way to dry your nails faster, but whatever works, right? Just stick your hands in the opened freezer or hold them in front of the air conditioner for a minute or two, allowing the cold air to solidify your polish. 

#6 Oil 

A rather surprising position on our list on how to dry nail polish fast, no doubt, but applying oil, be it baby oil, olive oil, or regular cooking spray, can actually help speed up the drying process. Move your oil of choice into a decanter or a medicine dropper and use just a little bit, no more than 2 drops on your nail, allowing it to sit for a few minutes. 

The oil will soak into the polish, thinning it and allowing it to dry faster. Once the oil starts beading on the top of your nail, you can use a dry paper towel to wipe it off. 

#7 Hairspray 

Hairspray can be used for more than just your hair, and helping your nails dry faster is one of those uses. However, you have to keep in mind that this will only work with the very top layer of the nail polish. Also, we have to admit that it’s not as effective as some of the other methods already mentioned, so you should probably use it as one of the last resorts. 

#8 Compressed Air 

This method is best used on nails that have been air drying for a few minutes already. Never use it on freshly painted nails, as it can smudge them. Just get the can of compressed air and spray your nails with it for a few seconds, keeping it about 1 to 2 feet away from your hand. 

#9 TV

Now, don’t get us wrong - television in itself will definitely not help your nails dry faster. What we mean by that is you should pick an activity that will allow your nails to dry without tempting you to do other things that would damage your manicure in between - such as binge-watching a TV show. You are killing two birds with one stone, truly, as you can catch up on your favorite show AND allow your nails to dry completely. Sounds good, doesn’t it? 

#10 No Base or Top Coat 

Now this one we wouldn’t really recommend, as not using a base coat makes your nail subject to discoloration from the nail polish, while no top coat will affect how long your manicure lasts. However, it's still an option. Not using both of them means less nail polish needs to dry before your manicure is done. 

#11 Lighter and Metallic Shades 

If you don’t have that much time but still want your manicure to look flawless, opt for lighter or metallic shades, as due to their lower pigment levels, they tend to dry slightly faster than darker nail polishes. 

What Affects How Long Nail Polish Takes to Dry? 

Nail polish remover

There are several factors that will affecthow long it takes for your nails to dry, including: 

  • The polish formula - Quick and fast-drying tend to take less to completely dry before their “regular” counterparts. 
  • The coats’ thickness - We mentioned this already, but applying thick coats can significantly prolong the time needed for your nails to dry. The same can be said for the number of coats - ideally, you shouldapply no more than 2 or 3 coats. The more coats you apply, the longer it will take for the polish to dry. 
  • The nail polish remover residue - If there’s any residue from your nail polish remover, it might take longer for your manicure to be completely dry. That’s why you should always ensure that your nails are clean of any residue before painting them again. 
  • Quality of the nail polish - The quality of your nail polish can also prolong the drying process, as poor-quality polishes tend to dry more slowly. 
  • Nail polish age- With time, your nail polish might thicken, making not only the application harder but also the drying time longer. If you want your nails to dry quickly, always make sure to use fresh nail polish. 

The Bottom Line 

Having to wait for your nail polish to dry is one of the worst things about painting your nails - especially when you have somewhere to be and waiting around without doing anything so as not to damage your freshly painted nails is the last thing you want or need. 

Thankfully, however, there are some things that can help you quicken the process - some of which we showed you in our “How to quickly dry nail polish” guide.

The truth is that how long it takes is significantly dependent on the quality of your nail polish. If you use high-quality, fresh nail polish, it will take considerably less time to dry than if you use an old, low-quality polish that you’ve had in your drawer for a few years already. 

At ella+mila, we understand the significance ofquality nail polish, which is why you’ll find plenty of them in our offer. They’re also17-free, meaning they don’t contain any harmful chemicals, making them safe for use. Whether you’re looking forwhite,red,glitter, or other nail polish, we have you covered!