How Long Does It Take for Nail Polish to Dry (Completely / Fully) at Home?

If you’ve had your nails done at a salon before, you probably have a good idea on the amount of time it takes your newly applied manicure or artificial nails to dry up. Truth is, there are various factors that come into play, including the type of polish used, and where it was done (salon or at home).

Read on to learn everything about nail polish drying.

How Long Does It Take for Nail Polish to Dry?

How Long Does It Take for Nail Polish to Dry (Completely / Fully) at Home


Typically, regular nail polish dries up in less than 1 hour. In some salons, it would take as little as 15 minutes to completely dry up newly applied manicure with the use of drying equipment such as UV light-equipped fan dryers that help shorten drying time significantly.

Why Isn’t My Nail Polish Fully Drying?

If you notice that your nail polish is not drying as quickly as expected, you may have applied a thicker layer than necessary. The key is to apply polish one thin layer at a time, allowing one layer to completely dry up before applying another layer.

How to Make Nail Polish Dry Faster at Home?

How to Make Nail Polish Dry Faster at Home

You can save some money and effort from a salon trip by doing your nails at home. But, one disadvantage is, it takes longer for your manicure to dry. On average, it requires around 10 to 12 minutes of drying time. However, there are some tricks that can help significantly reduce the manicure drying time.

Way #1: Fastest and Best Way to Dry Nail Polish with Hairdryer

Fastest and Best Way to Dry Nail Polish with Hairdryer

Before you start applying polish to your fingernails or toenails, get a hairdryer, and set it to "cool air." After applying the polish, expose your newly-painted nails to the steady flow of cool air.

For best results, use this technique on one hand at a time. Paint one hand first, then dry using the cool air from the hair dryer. Once completely dry, do the same to the other hand. Just make sure that the hairdryer is set to cool air. Otherwise, you may accidentally burn your hand.

Check out this video to help you understand the process better:

Way #2: Applying Thin Coats or Layers of Nail Polish

While this method may require a bit more effort, it will save a lot of drying time. Compared to applying one or two thick layers that take a long time to dry, applying one thin coat at a time, and allowing it to completely dry before applying the next thin layer leads to an overall shorter drying time.

The result is a more even manicure. This process may take some getting used to, however. So practice first to determine how much polish you need to put on the nail surface, and see how thin you can distribute the polish.

Way #3: Quick-Drying Nail Spray

There are quick-drying nail spray products available today that claim to dry fresh manicure almost instantly. These products contain quick-drying or volatile silicone that keeps the polish from smudging, while drying the solvent and helping it evaporate from the polish more quickly.

Here’s a video we found online that can help you understand how to use quick drying nail spray products and how they work.

Way #4: Quick-Drying Nail Drops

Quick-drying nail drops are available in most online and brick and mortar beauty supplies stores. The quick-drying drops don't add an extra layer to the polish, unlike quick-drying top coats.

The oil-based drops help condition the cuticles while drying fresh manicure. This method also tends to dry only the top layer. Allow a couple of minutes after application of the product to allow it to set even if your nails seem to be completely dry already.

Here's a video that can show you how to use quick-drying nail drops and how effective they are.

Way #5: Quick-Dry Nail Top Coat

You can buy clear nail polish coating specifically designed to reduce nail drying time. A lot of commercially-available fast-drying top coats cost the same or even cheaper than some nail polish brands. The best top coat products claim to prevent chipping, add a sheen layer to your manicure, and dry polish in no more than a minute.

Check out this video that teaches how you can apply a quick-dry nail top coat product.

Way #6: Cold Water

Surprisingly, dipping your freshly-painted nails in cold water for around 3 to 5 minutes (or the longest time you can stand it) can help dry your manicure fast. You may add ice cubes to lower the temperature even more.

Note: The cold water may help harden the manicure's top coat, but not necessarily the coats beneath it, making nails prone to smudging. If you need to wash your hands, carefully dry them afterward as the towel material might stick to the nails.

Check out this video to see how cold water can help in the drying process.

How To Know If Your Nail Polish Is Fully / Completely Dry?

To determine if your nail polish is thoroughly dry, dip the freshly manicured hands or feet in cold water. You’ll know that the manicure is completely dry when you see water beads on the nail surface after removing your hands or feet from the water.

Precautions & Care Tips for Drying Your Nail Polish

Following are tips you can keep in mind when waiting for your mani or pedi to dry:

  • Air-drying nail polish can take anywhere from a few minutes (using quick-dry products) to as long as 2 hours, depending on the number of coats applied and the thickness of each coat. Thus, to be on the safe side, if you get your manicure in the evening, wait up to 2 hours (depending on the mentioned factors) before going to bed.
  • Pedicures take as much time to dry as manicures. However, even if your toes feel dry, wait at least an hour before using closed-toe shoes. While the polish may not smudge, it may rub off on your stockings or socks. Thus, it is best to stick to flip-flops for the meantime.
  • If you accidentally smudge a finger or toe, dip it in nail polish remover. Even out the smudge, and apply a thin layer of polish. If it doesn't work, just remove the polish on the affected nail and apply a fresh one.
  • Air-drying requires patience, but making the process faster needs creativity and foresight. To speed up drying, refrain from waving or moving your fingers around to avoid smudging.
  • Nail professionals say that even if the manicure seems dry, it isn’t completely set until at least after 12 hours.
  • To maintain chip-free manicure longer, top it with a thin layer of fast-drying top coat every other day.

Final Verdict

You can make nail polish dry up faster, but it needs some effort, patience, and foresight on your part. Use the tips we provided in this post for faster-drying manicures and pedicures.

For questions, feedback, or to share your own tips, please don’t hesitate to comment below.

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