Nail Makeup

Try These DIY Hacks On How To Dry Your Nail Polish!

Waiting to dry your nails after wearing that favorite nail polish is a fine line between frustration and excitement. Heck, you can’t even sleep in fear of the smudges.

Written by Manal Yahya

On Apr 6, 2023 – 8 minutes read

Try These DIY Hacks On How To Dry Your Nail Polish!

When it comes to waiting for something to get dry, patience always seems to be wearing thin. Be it as long-drawn as running on a treadmill, as annoying as a freshly painted canvas, or even as uneventful as waiting for your nail polish to dry, time seems to stretch on and on. You are eyeing the clock, indeed it feels like forever. 

If you cannot stand the time-window of drying nail polish, here’s how to dry nail polish fast. There are ways to cut down drying time and tips to keep in mind before starting the polishing for the drying process to go faster.

You Can Make Your Nail Polish Dry Faster Without Waiting Too Long, Here’s How!

Unless you are relaxing at a spa, not many of us are ready to take the time out of our day to sit still for a nail polish coat to get dry. Even if it is for 20 minutes or so. Some even dread going to the salon just because of the wait. We’d rather leave our nails naked. At least I would. 

All of us are too busy running on tight schedules to squeeze a DIY mani session into our daily plans, let alone sit and wait for it to dry. Even if scrolling mindlessly through our Instagram feed makes up most of the said schedule.

You Can Dry Your Nail Polish Faster Without Waiting Too Long, Here’s How

But priorities, priorities! Not to mention the smudges and smears you are risking by waiting too long. Especially if you are like me who cannot stay put for more than 10 minutes.

But what if there are shortcuts to dry the nail polish faster? What if you can dry your nail polish quicker than you’d like? Well, there are ways to dry nail polish fast without ruining your perfect paint job.

Here’s exactly how to dry the nail polish faster and smoothly at home. 

Hack #1. An Ice Bath Always Helps.

Soaking your freshly painted fingers in cold water helps nail polish to dry faster. With significant temperature change, the cold hardens nail polish and dries it quickly. Before you paint your nails, grab a small bowl, and fill it halfway-full with cold water.

You can do it right after you paint your nails but you can avoid smudges by prepping it before you start painting. Add two or three ice cubes and keep the bowl near where you are painting.

ice water dip to dry nail polish

After air-drying your nails for about a minute or two —to ensure the polish adheres to your nails fully, dip your fingers into the cold water for five minutes. Make sure you don’t soak your fingers in the water too soon.

You are supposed to see water beadings on top of your nails when you take your fingers out of the ice bath. Be careful while soaking with ice cubes, you don’t want to have dents or smudges. As an alternative option, you can try running your fingers under cold water with a steady flow —not too heavy to avoid smudges. 

#2. Make use of your Hairdryer to make your nail polish dry faster

If you are painting nails on just one hand at a time, this will work wonderfully. Before you start painting your nails, plug in your hairdryer with a “cool air” setting.

It is essential to use a cool setting because cold air (from a fan or blow dryer) can help dry the polish faster and heat can cause bubbles on the newly polished surface. Some people even reported burning their skin with heat from the hairdryer.

blow dry nail polish

So once you have painted your nails, hit them with cool air for two to three minutes with your dryer 12 inches above your nails. Instead of blasting fully with the dryer, go with a steady stream of cool air to avoid drying out your cuticle area. This is one method to dry nail polish fast.

#3. A Pinch of Oil Can Make a Difference

If you don’t have any handy quick-drops, you can always use a few drops of oils at home. Be it olive oil(1), sunflower oil, or even baby oil, a few drops of them can help your nail polish dry faster.

How do oils work while drying painted nails? As the oil sits on top of your nail bed, it soaks into the paint and it thins out the paint on your nail. If you had painted a thin coat, even better, since thinner paint always dries faster.

A Pinch Of Oil Can Make A Difference.

This method will certainly speed up your drying process. If it does in case fail, which is highly unlikely because everyone across the globe does topcoat this successfully, you will have hydrated nails at the end. 

You have two ways to try this. Place a small bowl with a few drops of the said oils, sit your nails in it for five minutes, and lay your hand on a flat surface to wipe them dry. Or use a medicine dropper to apply a drop or two to each nail.

Once you see the oil beading at your nail beds, wipe the oil off with a dry paper towel. Let them remain unwashed for one hour. 

#4. Apply thin coats to make your nail polish dry faster

This simple manicure technique can wonderfully cut down your drying time. Besides, it does make more sense; a thinner layer dries much quicker than a thicker layer. Even if you apply another few thin layers on the first coat, thinner layers, as opposed to one or two thick layers, dry faster.

Because you will give your nails the time to dry in between each application. It will take a lot of time for multiple thick layers to dry completely.

Apply Thin Coats Of Polish.

To paint lightly, you must be conscious of how much polish your brush has. Before applying to your nail beds, swirl the brush around the mouth of the bottle to remove excess lacquer.

You can try this on your thumb first to see just how thin your brush can paint. This method will also give your nails an even finish.

#5. Wait Time Between Coats Can Be Increased.

Similar to how applying thin coats of polish helps the paint dry faster, increasing the wait time between each coat can notably help your nails. Typically, painting your nails takes two minutes.

Wait Time Between Coats Can Be Increased.

But if you give your nails a bit more time-window before applying the next layer, each nail will be dried faster. So give each nail at least a two-minute window —some even give a five-minute window (fewer bubbles, fewer smudges).

If you are usually quick to finish the polishing, you may want to slow down and wait a bit before the second coat. Although the application time will be longer, the drying time with this tip in mind will be significantly lesser. 

#6. Choosing a lighter shade can make your nail polish dry faster

If you are in a hurry to dry your nail polish, you must consider the drying time of certain shades because some colors dry slower than others. Due to the pigments, darker shades take much longer to dry than light shades.

nail polish shade and drying time

You can choose a metallic or sheer shade because they dry faster and require fewer layers. In a hurry, always choose the shade wisely!

#7. Exposure To Freezer Temperature Works.

Holding your hands in the freezer does sound crazy. I mean, who wants to do that? But if you are feeling a bit adventurous and you are willing to do whatever it takes, let the cold temperature thicken up your polish by holding your hands in the freezer.

Exposure To Freezer Temperature Works.

Like using a hairdryer, frigid air from the freezer will help your top layer to solidify and shock the polish dry. But the only problem with this method and soaking your nails in cold water is that your top layer will be dry but the layer underneath will not be completely set. So you have to be careful with the tips. 

#8. Spritz Your Nails with Sprays.

Your hairspray can not only hold your hairstyle in place but also dry your nail polish faster. You can spray your nails with your hairspray after two minutes keeping in mind that it only hardens the top layer —meaning, you will have to be careful with your nails for the next 30 minutes.

It doesn’t have to be only a hairspray, you can reach for a bottle of regular cooking spray, like PAM, for another quick option. Hold it 12 inches away from your nails and spray lightly on each nail, after two minutes.

spray to dry nail polish fast

If you want to know the reason behind this odd trick, here it is —oil-based products help the nails dry faster and keep your cuticle areas moisturized(2). It may leave your finger a bit greasy but you can wipe the excess oil. Also, avoid using a butter-flavored spray. 

You can also use an air duster to speed up the drying process. Because the compression cans air out cool air.

But it comes with major risks when inhaled regularly, so try it when you don’t have any other spray options. The next option is pretty obvious: a nail-drying spray. This product, which is made specifically for helping the nails dry at a rapid rate, can set your polish without smudges and dry your nails faster. 

#9. A Quick-dry Topcoat is a Quick Solution.

Another product you can make use of is a clear coat of nail polish or quick-drops —also designed specifically to cut down the drying time. The drops act as a barrier against the small particles that can get on the nail during the drying time. They are pretty cheap and can prevent the chipping of nails along with drying your nails within a minute or two.

Yes, it is the best answer for how to dry nail polish fast. They can absorb the solvent in the polish without dissolving the color. Look for products labeled as “quick dry” or “rapid speed.”

A Quick-dry Topcoat Is A Quick Solution

Other ways you can dry your nail polish faster are by using a fast-drying nail polish in the first place, doing your pedicure(3) first (if you are doing a full mani-pedi), keeping your nails away from enclosed spaces like your socks or shoes, and refreshing your polish with a quick-dry topcoat every other day. Another important tip — don’t wiggle your fingers.

After reading this article, you won’t feel exhausted even thinking about having a manicure session at home in the first place. You will be excited because now you know the tricks and tips on how to dry your nail polish faster at home. If you have any other tips besides these mentioned above, do let us know in the comment section!

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. (n.d). Virgin Olive Oil and Health: Summary of the III International Conference on Virgin Olive Oil and Health Consensus Report, JAEN (Spain) 2018. (Online). Available at
  2. National Center for Biotechnology Information.(2020). Nail Health in women.(Online). Available at
  3. Health and Style Institute. (2017). Manicure and Pedicure Health Benefits. (Online). Available at

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Manal is a lifestyle influencer who has spent years delving into the world of beauty, fashion, and wellness- a pro when it comes to anything woman.

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