How To Dry Your Nails Faster

woman painting her nails to help them dry faster

One of our most frequently asked questions is how to dry nails faster. There’s nothing like a freshly painted manicure, especially one you’ve managed to perfect on your own! But, once you’ve finished admiring your handiwork, you realise that the waiting game has already begun. When you have a number of other things to do, waiting for nail polish to dry can seem like the longest wait of your life. And it’s not made better by the fact that one slight twitch manages to smudge all your hard work! Although the best solution is to sit it out and let them dry, sometimes a faster method is desperately needed.

Luckily, there are plenty of things you can do to dry your nails faster for a longer-lasting manicure. Read on to find the best tips on how to dry nails faster, plus a definitive answer to how long does nail polish take to dry, so you know how long to leave out of your schedule next time!


How Long Does Nail Polish Take To Dry?

Unfortunately, ‘how long does nail polish take to dry’ isn’t as easy to answer as it may seem. The overall drying time of nail polish depends on various factors, including the number of coats you’ve applied, the thickness of these coats and the type of nail polish used. Nevertheless, as a general rule of thumb, most nail polishes will take one hour to dry completely. However, if you don’t have a whole hour to spare, you should wait at least twenty minutes before doing anything to allow the topcoat to start drying well[I].

How To Dry Nails Faster

The drying process of nails can be a laborious one, particularly if you’re running short on time. Luckily, several tricks can help dry nails faster. So give some of these fast-drying techniques a try to learn how to dry your nails faster, and preserve that perfect manicure in no time at all.

1) Paint Thinner Layers

The essential thing to remember for a slick, quick-drying manicure is to always paint with thin coats. Thicker layers not only take longer to dry but also make the result look clumpy and rough. So, remove excess polish by wiping the brush against the rim of the bottle before painting your nails. Usually, nail technicians recommend applying two coats of colour using three brush strokes on each nail[ii]. This should be enough to cover your whole nail with a nice, even finish.

2) Let Each Coat Dry

woman painting nails and waiting for them to dry

To speed up the overall drying process, you should let each coat dry before applying the next one. Although this may sound like a more time-consuming approach, it gives each coat a chance to adhere to your nail properly. This means you can use your hands sooner once your manicure is finished since there’s less chance of the polish smudging. Also, it will give you a smoother finish. Layering coats straight away can lead to air bubbles and quickly create a globby mess. Ideally, you should wait 2 – 5 minutes between coats, depending on the type of polish you are using[iii].

3) Choose A Lighter Shade

Lighter nail polish shades have less pigment than darker ones, meaning they will dry faster with fewer coats. So, if you’re short on time, opt for lighter coloured polishes or metallic shades. You can apply fewer coats than darker shades, and they will naturally dry in half the time. Using these colours will also mean fewer visible mistakes, which is always a bonus! However, make sure that the coats you paint are thin and that each layer has a few minutes to dry between applications for a smooth, quick-drying result.

4) Use A Quick Drying Top Coat

Applying a top coat is essential to maintaining your manicure. Although, for a faster-dried manicure, you should opt for a quick-drying topcoat. These saviours are available as polish, drops or sprays, and do exactly as their name suggests – quickly dry your manicure! They are able to do this because of the quick-drying silicones included in their formula, which protect the nail polish without dissolving the colour. However, if you are using quick-drying drops or sprays, make sure to apply a regular top coat first. A topcoat is vital to protect your polish from a range of environmental factors and give it more staying power, so it’s well worth the extra few minutes!

5) Dry Nails Faster With Cold Water

drying nails faster with cold water

This is one of the easiest ways to dry nails faster. Colder temperatures are perfect for speeding up the drying process of nail polish, as they will harden the top layer and enable you to go about regular tasks sooner without worrying about smudging your manicure. To speed up the drying process this way, start by filling up a bowl with cold water and a few ice cubes before you start painting your nails.

Then, paint your nails completely – still using a base coat and top coat! – and let the fresh paint settle and adhere for a couple of minutes. Finally, dip your nails into the bowl of cold water for up to 5 minutes. Make sure not to smudge your nails against any ice cubes! When you’re certain they’re dry, carefully pat your hands dry, taking extra care around your freshly manicured nails, as they may still smudge[iv].

But remember that an ice bath will only harden the top layer. This means that the layers beneath will still be a little wet, so be mindful of your nails for a little while after using cold water.

6) Use a Hairdryer

As we mentioned before, colder temperatures are the perfect way to speed up your polish’s drying process. So here’s another way to go about using them! As long as your hairdryer has a cool setting, it’s an excellent option for drying your manicure. Simply set your hairdryer to its coolest setting and hold it a few inches away from your nails until they are dry to the touch.

However, you must never use a hairdryer on hot to dry your nails. Doing so could potentially damage your skin, cause bubbles in your manicure and prevent the polish from properly hardening and adhering. Also, never dry your nails with a hairdryer on full blast, as this will dry out your cuticles. 

Alternatively, you could use a fan to do this – anything that will blow cool air onto your nails will help speed up the drying process. 

7) Invest In Fast Drying Nail Polish

shades of nail polish

Yes, that’s right. Fast-drying nail polish is a thing, and it’s an absolute lifesaver. You can get this amazing formula in a variety of colours from a variety of brands, so you’re certain to find just the right one for you. All you have to do is simply paint your nails as usual, then marvel at how soon you can use your hands without a single smudge! You can get formulas that dry in as little as 45 seconds, so your days of painfully waiting may be numbered. However, fast drying polishes can also dry out your nails, so make sure to apply a strong base coat before adding any colour. Also, store any fast drying polishes carefully with their caps sealed to stop them from drying out quickly. 

Maintain Your Manicure for Longer

As an extension of understanding how to dry nails faster, maintaining your manicure is important for keeping your beautifully painted nails for longer. Plus, you don’t want to put in all that effort or money only to have your freshly painted polish start peeling after a few days. So take some of these tips into account to keep your manicure looking new and fresh for longer.

  • Keep Your Nails Short – Shorter nails are less susceptible to breakages and chipping than longer ones.
  • Use A Good Base Coat – Use a strong base coat that grips to your nails well.
  • Only Paint Your Nails – Sometimes, nail polish can bleed onto the skin or cuticles, but this can break the seal between the polish and your nail. When it comes off your skin or cuticle, it will also come off your nail too.
  • Choose The Right Top Coat – Similarly, you need to make sure that you use a topcoat created with a formula that is chip resistant and strengthening.
  • Reapply Your Top Coat Regularly – You should reapply your topcoat every 2 or 3 days for renewed protection.
  • Deal With Chips As Soon As They Appear – Fix any chips as soon as you see them to avoid peeling, picking and spreading.
  • Protect Your Hands – Wear gloves when doing anything that may damage your hands or nails, such as washing up, cleaning or heavy-duty jobs.
  • Don’t Bite or Pick Your Nails – Even biting or picking at the skin around the nail can harm a manicure, so try and break this habit[v].

You can learn more about the best ways to maintain your manicure and some extra drying tips from a specially curated manicure course.


Enjoy Your Nails

Now you know how long nail polish takes to dry and how to dry it faster; the world is your oyster! Finally, you can have that smooth manicure without the stress of potential smudges and endless wait. Make sure to use your skills to keep up with all the latest nail trends and make your nails the talk of the town!







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