How to Dry Nails Fast When You're In a Crunch

How to Dry Nails Fast When You're In a Crunch

August 9, 2021

You've successfully applied two coats of Essie's Wicked without spilling or turning your cuticles bordeaux. Well done! Now all you've got to do is sit still long enough for your nail polish to dry. Ugh.

But when there are emails to write, texts to be sent, and Instagram photos to post, you can't afford to be digitally sidelined for long.

That's why we tapped New York City-based manicurist Liang and Rachel Apfel Glass, founder of celebrity-loved, New York City-based nail salon GlossLab for their tricks to make nail polish dry faster.

Dry Your Nails With a Blowout — For Your Mani

The cool-shot button on your dryer can do more than seal your hair's cuticles — it can set nail polish, too. "It's probably the most effective way to dry nails fast," says Liang, who notes that hot air actually prevents polish from hardening.

With two heat settings and a cold-blast button, you’ll get those nails dry in no time. Blast that chilly air about six inches from your nail beds for about a minute. Then gently tap nails to gauge if they’re still tacky. Your nails (and hair) will thank us.

Dry Nails By Taking a Dip in Cold Water

Now that we know cold air helps polish harden, employ the same cool principle with water: Dip wet nails into a bowl of cold H2O, says Liang — just be sure to wait at least a minute before doing so to allow your polish to set preliminary.

A two-minute dunk should dry nails to the point that you can go about your business as normal.

But while this little hack may be a solution for some, Apfel Glass actually recommends ditching water altogether during the mani process because she says that it's a "breeding ground for germs and bacteria."

It can also cause your mani to chip quicker too, according to Apfel Glass because "water causes the nail plate to expand which then causes the polish to chip once the nail dries and assumes its original structure." So if you've got the extra time, wait it out or try one of our other tricks. But we'd be lying if we said the cold-water trick didn't work.

Apply Quick-Dry Drops to Your Nails

Give your nails a few minutes of drying time, then apply one to two drops of dry drops to each nail, and voilà! Just make sure to tip your hands so the formula covers the entire nail. Within five minutes, you'll have a rock hard mani that won't smudge.

There are several brands that offer dry drops, but we love Essie's Quick-e Drying Drops as well as Zoya's Fast Drops.

Consumer favorite Essie doesn’t just have a stunning collection of colors with even cuter names. These Quick-E drops will have your nails dry within minutes so you can run out the door.

Ditch the smudges and coat your nails with these drops. Your nails will be dry and typing away on that phone within minutes.

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Invest in a Quick-Dry Nail Polish

If you can't get your hands on any drops, switch your usual top coat for a quick-dry version, says Liang, who favors longtime InStyle Best Beauty Buy award winner Seche Vite.

Apfel Glass also favors quick drying polishes — her salons around N.Y.C. are stocked with a variety of colors that are dry before you're out the door. But you can also stock up on your own supply for all your at-home manis — there are plenty affordable and drug-store brand quick dries that won't knock any time out of your day.

The longtime InStyle Best Beauty Buy award winner makes our list for a reason. Chip free nails in a fraction of the time. Done and done.

Opt for quick drying color polish for an even quicker process. Two coats and you’re good to go.

Slather On Some Oil to Quickly Dry Nails

Get some baby oil, or even cooking spray, and apply a layer of oil on top of your nails. In about a minute or two, you should have a dry finish. Once you see it starting to bead a the top of your nail, you can gently (and safely) wipe it off with a tissue.

The oil essentially works by soaking into the polish and thinning out the paint.

Keep Your Nails Still When Drying

Of course, finding a speedy trick to dry your nails in the blink of an eye is ideal, but if you don't have any of the above solutions at your disposal, it's time to practice some patience. Apfel Glass recommends laying your hands on a flat surface and avoid scrolling on your phone. It may feel like an eternity, but it'll actually save you time if you don't have to go back and touch up smudges.

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If you are in a hurry, and you accidentally smudge, all hope is not lost. Apfel Glass recommends reaching for that glitter polish "to spruce up polish and rescue chipped nails."

A pretty pink glitter polish will cover any smudges or accidents.

When you’re feeling festive around the holidays, this is the perfect antidote to impatience-caused smudges.

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