How to Dry Regular Nail Polish with a UV Light

During the pandemic, a lot of us turned to a plethora of new habits. Cooking, baking, reading, and like me, doing DIY manicures at home.

Back then, we had all the time in the world to wait for our nail polish to dry, but now that the world has gone back to how it was, or a semblance of it, many of us no longer have much time to wait.

Now people are looking for many ways to get their nail polish to dry faster, so there have been a lot of questions. One of those questions is if one can use UV light to dry regular nail polish. 

I’ll be tackling that question, along with a few others I’ve been asked multiple times now.

Can UV Light Dry Regular Nail Polish?

UV or LED light does not exactly work on regular nail polish. While all nail polishes look the same, they are made up of different compounds which determine how they work.

Regular Nail polish will only dry through the evaporation of the solvents. These solvents will evaporate through exposure to air.

While you are more than welcome to put your nails under a nail lamp to dry, they won’t move faster than the regular air-drying process. 

The light from the lamp will not help speed up the evaporation of the solvents in the nail polish. Also, regular nail polishes do not contain photoinitiators, which is what the light works on.

Now, if your UV or LED nail lamp produces a significant amount of heat, it may help to speed up the evaporation, but I would advise against it because the process may take too long and excess exposure to that light can be dangerous 

What Kind of Nail Polish Works With UV Light?

Nail polishes containing photoinitiators are what can be dried by UV lamps and LED lights. They are mostly gel polishes.

Gel polish is specially formulated with those photoinitiators that allow it to set and harden when exposed to UV light. 

When the photoinitiators are exposed to UV light, some particles are released, which react with the resins of the gel in a process called polymerization.

When these reactions occur, the gel polish becomes cured, and it dries and hardens. What all this means is that for a UV light to dry nail polish, the polish needs to contain these photoinitiators.

As mentioned earlier, gel polishes contain these particles which are why they can be cured by UV light. 

When going out to purchase gel polish, check the contents to make sure it contains these chemicals; some of them don’t have them.

How Long Does Nail Polish Take to Dry Normally?

If you’re someone who has been doing their nails for a long time, you know how it feels to wait for so long for them to get dry. 

Then when you’re so sure you’re in the clear, you bump your feet or hands somewhere, and suddenly, there is a smudge and all your efforts are wasted.

On average, it takes one or two hours for regular nail polish to fully dry, but this time frame depends on a few factors.

  1. Type of nail polish
  2. The number of layers you apply
  3. If the bottom layer dries before you apply the next one
  4. The color of the nail polish
  5. The thickness of the nail polish

Does Rubbing Alcohol Make Nail Polish Dry Faster?

When turning to other methods to speed up the drying of your nail polish, you may consider using rubbing alcohol but I’m here to disabuse you of that notion. 

Rubbing alcohol does the exact opposite of drying up your nail polish. It softens your manicure, making it come off your nail easily.

There is, however, a method to use rubbing alcohol to get your manicure to dry faster. Instead of applying the rubbing alcohol after, apply it before you paint your nails.

The theory is that the evaporation of the rubbing alcohol will affect the evaporation of the solvents in the nail polish, thereby speeding up the process.

Are There Other Ways to Make Nail Polish Dry Faster?

Back in the day, the only ways to speed up the drying of nail polish was to blow on your nails or shake your hands around.

Now, the nail industry has come up with some products to aid in this endeavor. Here are some products you can try.

1. Nail Drying Sprays – Best Alternative to UV Lights!

Nail drying sprays are like hairsprays, packed in a can and they are acclaimed to dry nails almost instantly.

What they do is create a protecting film over your nails, protecting them from getting smudged, while speeding up the evaporation process.

Highly recommended!

nail polish dry spray

2. Nail Drying Drops

What the drying drops do, is absorb the solvents in the nail polish to speed up the drying process of your manicure.

3. Hand Dryers

This type of nail polish dryer blows air on your manicure set, speeding up the evaporation of the solvents, thereby making your nails dry faster.

These nail polish dryers are more portable and cheaper than UV and LED lights.

There are other at-home techniques to make your nails dry faster.

FAQs on How to Use UV Light For Regular Nail Polish 

Is it safe to use UV light to dry regular nail polish?

Regular nail polish dries by evaporation, not UV light. So, there is little need to use it on your manicure. 

As for safety, exposure to UV light can prove to be harmful to your skin, so try not to use it for long periods and make sure it is on a needs basis.