How Long Does it Take For Nail Polish to Dry? (6 Tips to Make it Dry Faster)

Getting a manicure should be a pleasurable form of self-care but smudging your nail polish after a fresh manicure or pedicure is most aggravating. The sinking feeling that results from accidentally brushing up against someone or something after applying a fresh coat of polish is universal. 

Your manicure may appear dry in minutes, but if you’ve ever smeared nails that appeared to be set, you know it takes much longer. 

How Long Will My Nail Polish Take to Dry?

Nail Polish

Drying time depends on how many coats you apply, how thick each coat is, and what type of polish you choose. Here are some tips if you’re unsure how long it takes for nail paint to dry completely on fingers, toes, real, artificial, or acrylic nails.


Most nail polish applications should dry in less than an hour; nail polish can dry in as little as 15 minutes. Many salons have UV lights with fan dryers to help speed up the drying process.

Several top coats and nail polishes dry quickly and allow for air-drying nail polish. However, For nails to air dry, it might take up to two hours, depending on the number of coats of nail polish used (one coat dries faster than two to three or more).


In terms of pedicures, the polish takes the same amount of time to dry; however, it is recommended to wait an hour before wearing closed-toe shoes, even if it is dry to the touch. Although the polish doesn’t smear, it will often smudge with the imprint of your sock, so it’s best to wear flip-flops after a pedicure.

Different nail polish have their drying time. Here are some popular nail polish and their general drying time.

Acrylic Nails

In the case of Acrylic Nails, a frequently asked question is whether a UV lamp is required to cure the nails and how long it takes to dry without one. Not only can acrylic nails cure without UV light, but they should also be allowed to air dry. Acrylics, in reality, only need air to cure and harden properly.

Acrylics need not be exposed to UV light, and you will need the necessary materials, technique, patience, and dedication. Acrylic painting can be a difficult or simple process, but how to apply acrylics correctly will make a huge difference.

If the ingredients are applied carefully and evenly, acrylic nails should dry in 10-15 minutes. Of course, this is correct. After 15 minutes, the acrylic will be fully hardened, and you should check your nails to ensure this is the case. You can, however, apply an air-dry top coat to your entire nail and let it dry in approximately 2 minutes.

If you want to use a UV light or LED lamp, allow the product to cure (dry) for two minutes under the UV light or 1 minute under the LED light.

Gel Nail Polish

Gel polish comprises acrylic monomers and oligomers that thicken when exposed to UV light. Curing is when a once-liquid gel transforms into a hard, chemical-resistant coating in seconds. While a LED drier may also be utilized, it cures in two minutes instead of 60 to 90 seconds for the base coat and another 60 to 90 seconds for the topcoat when using a UV Light.

The popular question is, “Can gel polish dry without UV light?” No. Gel polish is unlike regular nail polish and needs UV or LED light to form a hard layer. 

Shellac Nail Polish

A UV light is used to cure Shellac, leaving your nails entirely dry and strong enough to resist any bumps and knocks following your manicure. Apply a small coating of shellac base coat during base coat application, then cure for ten seconds under a UV light.

Then, make a single thin coat using the shellac color and cure under the UV lamp for two minutes. A second coating may be applied with the Shellac Color while the previous UV lamp is still turned on.

Polygel Nail Polish

Unlike hard gel, PolyGel does not self-level and remains in place. So far, there isn’t enough evidence to suggest that cold water, solar rays, or even air will be enough.

The Polygel will cure in 30 seconds with an LED bulb or 2 minutes with a UV lamp. It’s possible to over-cure PolygeI. When Polygels are over-cured, and some may discolor and lose their shine, while others will do neither.

SEE: How to Remove Gel Nail Polish

How To Make Nail Polish Dry Faster

1. Use Thin Layers

Apply polish with as few strokes as possible without overworking it. Even if the first coat appears streaky, trust that the second coat will even out the color. It will go more quickly if you use nail paint that only needs one to three coats for the base coat, color, and topcoat.

2. Use A Hair Dryer

Surprisingly, using a hair dryer to accelerate the drying process of nail paint is possible. We recommend using it in a cool setting because using it at a higher temperature may cause the polish to bubble. Hold the dryer’s nozzle a few inches away from your hands and direct the airflow toward your nails for a few seconds until your nails feel dry.

3. Use Cuticle Oil

Cuticle oil nourishes your nails and can protect your paint job, and the oil acts as an additional barrier between your polish and the elements. Apply a thin layer of your preferred cuticle oil to barely dry nails to help them dry quickly and smudge-free.

4. Quick Drops/ Sprays

As many salon professionals do, apply quick dry drops or spray after the nails have dried for five minutes to expedite the drying process. 

Meanwhile, try to keep your movements to a minimum. Unlike cuticle oil, quick-dry sprays aren’t particularly good for your nails. In fact, they can dry them out pretty badly, so you shouldn’t make a regular habit of using them.

5. Freeze the Polish

Why not use the same chilly idea with water while polishing, as it has been demonstrated that cold air may harden polish? Before dipping your nails into a basin of cold water, let your nails air dry for a minute. Even though your hands may get chilly, a two-minute soak should be adequate to dry them up so you can go about your day.

6. Visit the Kitchen

Did you know that cooking spray may be used to dry your nails? This indispensable culinary item hydrates skin and cuticles while adding a silicone layer of protection to your manicure. Simply spray cooking spray over your nails and let sit for a few minutes.

In essence, the lacquer is thinned out and soaked into the nail. You may gently wipe it off with a tissue when it begins to bead at your nail’s surface to reveal strong, dry lacquer below.


How Can I Tell Whether My Nail Paint Has Dried?

Touch your pinky nails lightly when you believe they are probably dry. You need to let the polish another few minutes to dry completely if you can feel it “grip” a little bit.

Keep in mind that you shouldn’t use this approach until you are confident that the polish has dried. This method will damage your nail paint if your nails are too wet. However, pressing your pinky nails together won’t leave any marks if they are at least 80% dried.

How Does Oil Dry Nail Polish?

The oil helps the nail polish dry more quickly by sitting on the top nail bed and absorbing the polish. This technique thins the polish already on your nail since thinner paint dries more quickly. 

SEE: Gel vs Acrylic Nails Differences

Don’t Forget!

The amount of time it takes for nail polish to dry varies. Many factors are involved, such as the number of coats you apply, how thick each coat of paint is, the device you’re using to dry it, and if you’re drying your nails at home or a nail salon. All these factors should be taken into consideration. Also, remember to be patient. One piece of advice for painting your nails is to wait two minutes between each layer and paint your nails while engaging in something fun, such as watching your favorite TV show.