Imaxtree: Matteo Valle
Trust me: Being a little impatient or a full-blown procrastinator isn't really ideal when you prefer to do your own nails at home—but it definitely isn't impossible to make it work. During those times when you can't wait for your nail polish to set but you also can't skip your mani or pedi, all you really need is a few tips and tricks to speed up the process. And to make it extra easy for you, I got NYC-based editorial nail artist Miss Pop to drop all her secrets for getting a smudge-free, fast-drying manicure.
So the next time you find yourself scrambling to get your nails done, pull up these seven tips for how to dry nails fast. And just a suggestion: It's never a bad idea to keep some press-ons on standby.
Use Dry Drops After Your Final Coat
Zoya Fast Drops
If you have yet to try drying drops, they're kinda about to change your life (or, like, at least the way you do your nails). Once you've finished your last coat of paint, use this dropper to place small drips of this oily solution over each nail, then wait while it gets to work. In five minutes or so (that's two TikToks, people!) it'll dry your paint all the way through to your base coat and prevent bubbles from forming in the polish.
Paint With Quick-Dry Polish
Essie Expressie Quick Dry Nail Color
If you're on the go and doing your nails, I dunno, in the car (we're all guilty), you need a nail polish color that'll dry really fast, so save your regular lacquers for when you have the time and go with this one when you don't. This one-step formula is one of Miss Pop's faves, and according to the brand, it only takes a minute to dry, which means the actual painting process will take you longer than the drying time.
Spritz Your Nails With a Drying Spray
OPI RapiDry Spray Nail Polish Dryer
Think of this bb as a makeup setting spray for your nails. Does it add anything to the overall look? Maybe not. But will you notice if you skip it? Absolutely. Wetting something that you want to dry sounds counterintuitive, but you gotta trust the process here. Another one of Miss Pop's top picks, this liquid spray mists your nails with a drying solution that simultaneously speeds up the drying time to prevent smudges and reminds you not to use your wet fingertips in the meantime.
4 Use Thin Layers of Nail Polish
A quick reminder for how to paint your nails: Thinly layer the colored polish and use three coats max. Think about it! The more paint you have globbed on, the longer it's gonna take to dry. Besides, if you do all the necessary prep work (watch this video if you need some direction), you don't need a ton of paint to make your nails look good. A quick-drying polish application starts with your manicure set.
Apply a Quick-Dry Top Coat
OOO Top Coat-Quick Dry
I'll never understand why so many DIYers skip the top-coat step! Not only does that extra layer keep all your work protected, but it also adds incredible shine so your at-home mani looks like a gel manicure. And guess what? Some top coat nail polishes actually help your nail polish dry faster. Miss Pop points out that some formulas chip easily, so make sure you read the reviews and find one that dries fast and lasts. Customers love this one because it doesn't sacrifice high shine for a faster drying time, and it really locks the polish in.
Set Them Under a Fan
Warrita 2020 New USB Desk Fan
There's a reason the nail salon sits you by a fan after your appointment to help your polish dry—it works. Get yourself a mini fan so you don't have to get lightheaded blowing on them and you also don't have to resort to using your blow dryer, which BTW, is way too hot for this. Miss Pop says the key to drying nail polish faster is cool, dry air. Just make sure to dust your fan blades between each use so don't blow any fuzzies into the wet paint.
7 Dip Your Finished Nails in Ice
And now for the nail hack you've seen all over your FYP: the ice water trick. Rumor has it, if you dip your wet, painted nails into a bowl of ice water for a few minutes, your polish will be dry when you pull them back out. Look, I've tried this once and while it might have worked (maybe?!), it didn't work well enough that it was worth getting out a bowl of ice every time I paint my nails. But it might be worth trying for you! Just be careful—Miss Pop also points out how easy it is to ding your nails against ice cubes or the sides of the bowl and cause smudges, which kind of defeats the purpose. IMO, try the other six steps first. They're a bit more comfortable.
Brooke Shunatona Brooke Shunatona is a contributing writer for Cosmopolitan.com.
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