how long does it take for nail polish to dry

How long does it take for nail polish to dry? Well, if you’ve ever been in a situation where after just leaving the nail salon or you just finishing an at-home manicure with your favorite color and bang!! Something happens while either reaching for the car keys or getting money from your purse, and you’ll find that pretty nail polish now smudged, you surely ask a question like this.

It requires two things to paint your nails i.e. time and patience. So, in an effort to prevent yourself from smudging still-tacky polish and also to avoid a number of other nail polish disasters, keep reading to learn exactly how long it takes for nail polish to dry completely, along with some expert tips on how to make nail polish dry faster.

How Long Does It Take For Nail Polish to Dry Completely?

How Long Does It Take For Nail Polish to Dry Completely

Actually, how long it takes for your nails to dry completely depends partly on the type of nail polish and nail polish dryer you use.

Generally, it takes one-two hours before nail polish can completely dry, especially if you’ve applied a base coat, two coats of nail polish, and a topcoat. But, Formaldehyde-free polished takes more time to dry.  

Most nail dryers let you use your hands 5 to 15 minutes after polish is applied, but for best results, polish your nails when you have time to allow them to dry completely.

How to Make Nail Polish Dry Faster

Here are some tips on how you can dry your nails faster.

1. Rely on a good top coat

An easy way to dry nails faster is by purchasing a clear coat of nail polish that has been formulated specifically to cut down on drying time.  

A lot of commercial quick-drying top coats are cheaper than regular polishes and the best nail polish top coats claim to add a layer of sheen to your nails, prevent chipping, as well as dry your nails in no time.

2. Hairdryer

Plug in a hairdryer and set it on “cool air” before you begin to paint your nails. Once you are done putting on the nail polish, use the hairdryer to dry your nails.

This works best if you paint the nails on just one hand, then, use the hairdryer. You can then repeat the process for your other hand.

It is important that you use the cool setting for this drying solution because you can burn your skin with a hot hairdryer.

3. Baby oil

Baby oil may help your nails dry faster. Place the oil in a medicine dropper so that you can easily control how much oil you put on each nail.

Once you are ready to dry your nails, apply a drop or two to each nail and wait for like two minutes for it to dry.

The baby oil should work well to dry the nail polish faster because it sits on top of your nail bed and soaks into the paint. Thinner paint dries faster and this method basically thins the nail polish on your nail. But if you see the oil beading at the top of your nail, wipe it off with a dry paper towel.

how long does it take for nail polish to dry

4. Cold water

Before you start painting your nails, take a small bowl and fill it with cold tap water. Add a cube of ice or two in the water and set the bowl near where you will be painting your nails.

Once you’re done painting your nails, wait for about two minutes to let the polish set, then dip your nails in the cold water and hold them there for at least five minutes.

When you remove your hands or feet from the cold water, you will see that there is water beading on top of the nail surface – this shows that the nails are completely dry.  

5. Drying drops

You can get drying drops for your nails at any beauty supply store or online. Drying drops are oil-based, so they condition your cuticles as they dry your nails. Anecdotally, this method seems to dry only the top layer of nail polish.

6. Thin coats of polish

This is a manicure technique that could save you lots of time. Instead of applying one or two thick coats, apply thin coats of polish – this will give your nails a chance to dry in between each application, thus leading to a more even finish as well as dry your nails faster.

7. Don’t use old, sticky polish

Avoid using polish older than six months. If a nail polish has a thick consistency, it shows that it is past its best.


Certainly, we’ve answered the question “how long does it take for nail polish to dry” in this post as well as gave you some expert tips on how to make nail polish dry faster.

It is important to avoid touching your clothes or any fabric after getting your nails done. Also try not to come into contact with warm or humid environments like the gym – as this might get your nails smudge.

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