The Experts Guide on How to Get Nail Polish to Dry Faster

One of the most frustrating parts of applying nail polish at home is waiting for it to dry. This part of the process seemingly takes forever, and most of the time, it ends up smudging. 

So how do you get your nail polish to dry faster so you can resume your regular routine? Here are some of the best tips for you. 

Why Does It Take So Long For Nail Polish To Dry?

There could be a number of reasons why your nail polish is drying slower than expected. It could be a result of neglecting to apply a base coat. This step is essential to get the nail polish to adhere to your nails. 

Another cause of slow-drying could be the way you’re applying the polish itself. Thick coats of paint will always take longer to dry and will most likely end up smudging.

Another reason could be that you forgot to get rid of the air bubbles in the polish before using it. Many people think shaking the bottle is the best way to get rid of the air inside, but this actually just creates more. The humidity in the air is another factor for nails that dry too slowly. 

How To Dry Them Faster

If you’re dying to know how to get your nails to dry faster so that you can stop stressing about it, here are some methods to try. Some of them may work better than others, so you may want to try more than one to see which one is best for your nails. 

Cold Water Method

Before you start painting your nails, you’ll need to prepare a bowl of cold water. You can add some ice cubes to make it even colder if you’d like. After you finish painting your nails, wait 2-5 minutes for them to set, and then dunk them in the cold water. 

Only hold them there for about five minutes (f you can bear it). When you take your nails out, there should be some water beads on the surface, and this is how you’ll know it worked!

Baby Oil

We say baby oil, but any type of oil will work for this method. Place the oil in a container that you can control how much comes out easily. Once your nails are painted, apply a small amount of oil to each one of your nails.

After a few minutes, the oil should help the polish dry faster. The oil thins the paint on your nails, allowing it to dry quicker. Finally, wipe the oil off your nails with a cotton pad. As a bonus, your nails will be extra moisturized after this process! 

Quick-Dry Top Coat

The slow nail-drying process has been around long enough for the industry to come up with a solution that can help. You can buy a clear coat of polish that is specifically designed to help your nails dry faster. 

Some of these top-coats even protect your nails from chipping. You can find these types of polishes online or in most stores. Ensure the one you purchase doesn’t contain any harsh chemicals that will damage your nail bed. 

Quick-Dry Polish

Instead of just applying a quick-drying top-coat, you can try using quick-drying polish in the first place. There are a lot of companies that have come out with formulas that are meant to dry almost instantly. 

However, these polishes tend to be a little more expensive than traditional nail paint. If you think it’s worth the extra few dollars because it will save you time, go for it!

Hairdryer Method

This may be a simpler way to speed up the process, but it does the trick! After you’ve painted your nails turn your hairdryer on the coldest setting it has. Run the dryer over each nail for about 2-5 minutes each. This will require some patience, but in the end, it will all be worth it.

For this method, make sure you only paint one hand at a time, using the hairdryer in-between applications. Only use the cold setting on the hairdryer because the warmer settings could burn your skin. 

The Freezer

Okay, we know this might be silly, but at this point, you’re probably willing to try anything. Holding your hands in the freezer for a few minutes will help solidify the top layer of your polish so that you are less likely to smudge them. You’ll still need to be careful for a little while, but this method can help in emergency situations. 

Thinner Coats

This is a technique used by many nail technicians to cut down on drying time. Instead of applying one extremely thick coat of nail polish, use a couple of thin coats. 

This allows your nails to dry in between coats and leaves you with a smoother end result. Remember, you don’t need much polish on the brush to apply one small layer on your entire finger. 

Drying Drops

Many stores sell drying drops that you can apply to your nails to aid in the process. These drops won’t add another layer to your nails and will condition your cuticles at the same time. 

However, this method will only dry the top layer of your nail polish, which means the layers underneath will need more time to set fully. 


Hairspray on your nails will work the same as it does on your hair. It will hold the top layer of polish in place, but it won’t dry the base layers. 

Plus, this method might leave your hands feeling sticky. After applying the hairspray, try not to bump your nails on anything for at least 30 minutes. 

Choose Your Color Wisely

If you are in a rush to paint your nails, you should pick a color that will dry the fastest. There actually are certain colors that dry faster than others. Metallic and sheer polishes will be your best bet here. They also will require fewer coats. 

What Not To Do

Now that you know all the things you can do, let’s talk about what not to do. 

  • Avoid waving your fingers in the air to try to dry them quicker. This may seem effective, but it can cause smudging and uneven drying. Try to sit still while waiting for the polish to dry. 
  • Don’t do any physical activities that could ruin your nails. Even if it seems like a simple task that couldn’t possibly harm your manicure, just wait!
  • If you are in a rush, don’t only apply one or two coats of nail polish. This might seem to save you time, but in the long run, it will lead to faster chipping. 
  • Don’t apply polish to jagged or uneven nails. If you forgot to file your nails or clip them before painting them, the polish would not dry correctly, and you’ll be left with a mess.

Alternative To Waiting

What happens if you don’t want to wait for your nails to dry? Well, there are some alternatives to consider. The first one is getting a manicure done professionally at a salon. 

When you get acrylics, you don’t have to wait for them to dry because the process is different. However, you still have to wait for the technician to finish applying your nails, which can take up to two hours. Plus, a trip to the salon can cost you hundreds of dollars a month. 

The other solution to waiting for paint to dry is buying press-on nails. This method requires no wait time and lasts five times as long as regular nail polish. Plus, you can get any design you want without worry about how talented you are at nail art. 

Some press-on nails are made cheaply and fall off after only a day or two. Clutch Nails has come up with the perfect formula for making press-on nails last as long as possible. We offer the trendiest styles for your nails that you can match to your personality or style. 

The best part of Clutch Nails sets is that they’re reusable. This way, you get the most bang for your buck. Each set comes with nail glue for easy application. The second time you apply them, we recommend using adhesive strips for the best results. 

The Bottom Line

There are so many ways to get your nails to dry faster. But if you’re tired of waiting, why not quit regular polish altogether? Press-ons from Clutch Nails give you salon-quality sets without the salon price. It’s a great option for people on a budget that still want their nails to sparkle and shine. 


How to Dry Nails Faster: Tips That Work | Healthline

How to Make Nail Polish Dry Faster - Nail Polish Drying Tips | Instyle

How to Make Your Nail Polish Dry Fast | Byrdie 

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