How Long Does Nail Polish Take to Dry?

April 29, 2023

For those who enjoy a polished and neat appearance, a fresh manicure is essential to your beauty routine. Whether you prefer a simple, classic style or something bold and trendy, a well-done manicure can elevate your look and boost your confidence.

However, you’ve likely experienced the frustration of smudging or chipping freshly painted nails before they’ve had time to dry properly. Understanding the factors that affect drying time and the typical drying times for various types of nail polish can ensure you step out of the salon with perfect, long-lasting nails.

Factors Affecting Nail Polish Drying Time

Several factors affect how long it takes for nail polish to dry, including the type of polish, the thickness of the coats, and exposure to light. Key factors to consider include:

  • Type of nail polish: The nail polish you use impacts the drying time. For example, gel nail polish typically takes longer to dry than regular polish. Quick-drying nail polish contains solvents that evaporate quickly, speeding up the drying process. Powder dip nails are generally known for quick drying time and durability.
  • Application technique: How you apply nail polish can affect drying time. For instance, the layers will take longer to dry if you don’t wait for the first coat to dry completely before applying a second coat.
  • The thickness of coats: Nail polish contains solvents such as ethyl acetate, butyl acetate, and alcohol, which help the polish adhere to your nails and dry quickly. However, when thick coats are applied, the solvents take longer to evaporate, resulting in longer drying times.
  • Humidity and temperature: Humidity and temperature can affect how quickly your nail polish dries. If it’s too humid, the moisture in the air can slow down the drying process. If it’s too cold, the polish may take longer to dry.
  • Exposure to light: Exposure to light can affect nail polish drying times, especially for gel nail polish that requires curing under UV or LED light. Your nail polish may only dry partially or take longer without proper exposure.

Average Drying Time for Different Types of Nail Polish

The average nail polish drying time depends on the nail polish used. If you need a quick manicure or want to be able to return to your regular activities immediately after polish application, ask your manicurist at Nineteen85 Nail Bar about the following nail polish types and their average drying times:

  • Regular nail polish: Regular nail polish takes 1-2 hours to dry completely.
  • Quick-drying nail polish: Quick-drying nail polish contains volatile solvents like ethyl acetate, which evaporates quickly, allowing the polish to dry faster than regular nail polish. It typically takes a few minutes to dry between coats.
  • Gel nail polish: Gel nail polish contains photoinitiators that require UV or LED light to harden, so the drying time depends on the light source used. Typically, gel nail polish takes 2-3 minutes to cure under UV light and 30-60 seconds under LED light.
  • Powder dip nails: Powder dip nails are a mixture of resin and adhesive polymer powders, which create a hardened layer on the nails. The powder mixture is activated using a base coat and an activator, and they typically take less time to dry than traditional nail polish. The base coat takes about 30 seconds to dry, and each coat of powder takes 30-45 seconds to dry. The activator coat dries within 30 seconds, and the final topcoat takes about a minute to dry.
  • Glitter or textured nail polishes: Nail polish with glitter or textured finishes typically takes longer to dry than regular nail polish due to the added particles in the polish. The average drying time for glitter or textured nail polish is around 30-60 minutes, depending on the size of the glitter particles.

What Helps Nail Polish Dry Quickly?

Waiting for nail polish to dry can be tedious and time-consuming, but chipped or smudged nail polish can ruin the look of your freshly painted nails. Fortunately, there are several tricks you can use to speed up nail polish drying time, including:

  • Choose quick-drying nail polish: Quick-drying nail polish is designed to dry faster than regular nail polish. However, the solvents used in these polishes may irritate freshly prepared cuticles or sensitive skin. The final finish is also typically less durable and won’t last as long as regular, gel, or powder nail polishes.
  • Apply thin coats: Paint thin, even coats to speed up the drying process. Allow each layer to dry completely before applying the next coat.
  • Add a fast-drying topcoat: A quick-drying topcoat can help seal the nail polish and speed up the drying time. Apply the topcoat after the final layer of nail polish has dried completely.
  • Use an accelerating spray: Accelerating sprays use alcohol-based solvents that help evaporate the nail polish more quickly. The spray also creates a protective layer on top of the nail polish, preventing smudges or dents from occurring during the drying process. However, not all nail polishes react well with accelerating sprays, and some formulas may be too thick or require a longer drying time for an accelerating spray to be effective.
  • Use a nail dryer: Nail dryers are an excellent option for those who want to dry their nail polish quickly. They come in different sizes and types, including portable fans and full-size machines, and use cool air to speed up the drying process.
  • Dip nails in cold water: Dipping your nails in cold water can help set the nail polish quickly. After applying the final layer of nail polish, wait a few minutes, then dip your nails in a bowl of ice water for 2-3 minutes.
  • Try a UV or LED Lamp: UV or LED lamps use specific wavelengths of light to cure the nail polish, which helps to dry it faster. The light reacts with photoinitiators in the polish to create a hardened, durable finish. UV lamps emit broader wavelengths than LED lamps and may require longer curing.

How Do You Know When Nail Polish is Dry?

To know if the nail polish is dry, gently touch the surface of the polish with a finger. If it feels tacky or sticky, it’s not dry yet. If it feels dry, you can test it by lightly tapping your nails together. If there’s no smudging or marks, the polish is dry. However, avoiding activities that could cause smudging or chipping for at least an hour is best.

How Do You Fix Dry Nail Polish?

If your nail polish has already dried and you notice imperfections, such as smudges or bumps, you can use a nail polish corrector pen or a small brush dipped in acetone to fix the mistakes. You can also use a nail file or buffer to remove bumps or ridges. Then, apply a quick-drying topcoat over the dried polish to smooth out imperfections and add shine.

Visit Nineteen85 for a Flawless Manicure

Experience the ultimate nail care at Nineteen85 Nail Bar and Spa in Burbank, California. Our skilled nail technicians offer nail services, such as polish, powder dip, gel manicures, and pedicures, to suit your preferred look.

Our spa is equipped with state-of-the-art tools and technology to provide you with a relaxing and rejuvenating experience. Schedule your appointment at Nineteen85 Nail Bar for gorgeous nails you’ll love to flaunt.