This easy trick makes your nail polish dry a lot faster

Spending a long time on DIY manicures, only for it to get smudged? Here, a celebrity manicurist reveals how to speed up the drying process.

With nail salons across the country closed due to coronavirus, you may be trying your hand at DIY manicures. The only problem? Without gel manicure lamps and fast-drying formulas accessible at home, you’re most likely spending a lot of time waiting for your nails to dry – and, if you’re anything like me, you eventually give up, resulting in a smudge on every finger.

But it turns out there is something you can do to help speed up the painting process. “The key is to understand how polish ‘dries’ — by evaporation of the solvents,” explains celebrity nail artist Jenni Draper. “This takes time. Some polishes dry quicker than others.”

So how do you get around it? “The best solution to getting polish to dry quicker is to paint each layer thinly,” says Draper. “Finger number one should be dry by the time you paint finger number 10. If it’s not, you’re painting too thickly.”

Alongside thin layers, Draper says an unsuspecting tool you already have in the house may also come in handy: a hairdryer. “On a cool setting, the hairdryer will speed up the setting time of the polish,” says Draper. “But don’t use so much force that you blow ripples into your polish. A slow, cool setting works best.” 

When it comes to making your nails dry faster, you’re bound to have seen one or two methods floating around the internet – but some of them are not effective. Case-in-point: dipping your nails in a cold water bath. While it’s a popular belief that this helps dry nail polish, Draper says it doesn’t work. “Nail polish is a polymer, formed by a chemical reaction,” she explains. “Lowering the temperature lowers the rate of the chemical reaction, plus it actually slows the evaporation of the solvents in the polish.

“The water may thicken the polish so it seems to dry more quickly. The only way to get a hard coat of polish is to let it dry. The cold water won’t hurt anything, but it won’t speed the process up.”

Another common myth is using baby oil to help speed up drying. “If you use a simple baby oil, you’re not going to see much of an effect aside from moisturised cuticles,” says Draper. “It may help in preventing clothes and such ‘sticking’ to the nails while drying.”

As well as thin layers and your hairdryer, Draper recommends looking into quick-dry products, polishes, oils, sprays or top coats. “These quick-dry agents contain solvents that evaporate quickly, pulling the liquid in the polish along with them. My all-time favourite quick dry products are Seche Vite Nail Treatment Topcoat, £8.95, and Morgan Taylor Accel Erate Quick Dry Nail Drops, £8.96.”

Looks like we no longer have an excuse for smudged nails…

  • Seche Vite Nail Treatment Topcoat, £8.95


  • Morgan Taylor Accel Erate Quick Dry Nail Drops, £8.96


Main image: Getty

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