How to Dry Your Nails Faster

Updated 11/15/19

Olive & June

Riddle me this: What's worse than getting a manicure only for it to smudge before leaving the salon? Nothing, that's what. Okay, maybe that's dramatic, but we can all agree that messing up freshly-painted nail polish is eye-roll-inducing at best. After all, in the busy world that we live in, it can sometimes feel like a feat to even make it to a manicure appointment or set aside time for a little DIY action in the first place, let alone allott time for a touch-up.

Fortunately for us, there are ways to avoid the manicure mishap. Keep reading to discover 15 hacks to help dry your nails faster. We'll be the first to admit that some of them seem a bit far-fetched, but after researching the corners of the Internet, these are the tips mani mavens swear by. Who knows, you might just uncover your new favorite beauty secret.

01 of 15

Run nails under cold water.

Chic faucet with running water

 Yuji Kotani / Getty Images

"I have no idea why this works, but it so does," exclaims Olive & June founder Sarah Gibson Tuttle. "Try running your hands under cold water which will help speed up the dry time." When implementing this trick, opt for a steady flow, not a heavy one, as super-fast water can lead to smudges.

02 of 15

Blast nails with cold air.

blowdryer laying on counter

Merethe Svarstad Eeg / EyeEm / Getty Images

"Whether you're at a salon or at-home, cold air from a fan or blowdryer will help the polish harden faster," Gibson Tuttle says. If you go the blowdryer route, just be sure to press the cool shot button continuously while drying. Forgetting to do so and accidentally using warm air could actually melt your polish.

03 of 15

Hold your hands in the freezer.

Woman with hands in freezer

efired / Getty Images

Brrr, we know. As much as we hate feeling cold, when it comes to our nails and the chance to not smudge them before they're dry, we're willing to do what it takes. In this case, it means holding your hands in the freezer for a minute or two. The cold air will help solidify the top layer of polish so that you don't have to be as careful immediately after your mani.

04 of 15

Use a fast-dry nail polish.

Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Rapid Red nail polish
Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Nail Color in Rapid Red $3
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Nail polish manufacturers caught on to the fact that most people wish polish would dry faster. As such, many brands have launched quick-dry polishes that require zero extra steps to speed up drying—like Sally Hansen's Insta-Dri Nail Color. Simply paint it on and marvel at how dry your nails are by the time you finish your last one.

05 of 15

Pick your color carefully.

Olive & June silver nail polish

 Olive & June

"If you're in a rush and need your nails to dry fast, reach for a sheer or metallic shade," Gibson Tuttle suggests. "They tend to dry faster and typically require fewer coats." Lucky for us, Gibson Tuttle launched her very own metallics—two of which you can snag in Olive & June's The Treat Yourself Box, $100.

06 of 15

Use quick-dry drops.

OPI Drip Dry Drops
OPI Drip Dry Lacquer Drying Drops $14
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"If you're at a salon, or have them at home, using quick-dry drops can help polish dry faster," Gibson Tuttle notes. OPI's Drip Dry Lacquer Drying Drops are a hit among Ulta shoppers. Designed to dry nails in one minute flat, it's no wonder hundreds of customers swoon over the easy-to-use product.

07 of 15

Drip olive oil onto your nails.

Olive oil on a pale blue background.

Henk Punt / EyeEm / Getty Images

Now, we know what you're thinking: Why on earth would I do that? Well, just like quick-dry drops, using oil can help speed up drying. There's no real rhyme or reason to why this works, but beauty lovers all over the world swear by it in a crunch. And hey, if all else fails, at least your nails will be hydrated.

08 of 15

Soak nails in ice water.

Cup of ice water

Classen Rafael / EyeEm / Getty Images

Similarly to holding your nails under running water or putting them in the freezer, when you soak them in a cup or bowl of ice water, the results are just as fast-drying. While it might seem like soaking freshly-painted nails in water would rinse the lacquer away, it actually shocks the color into place thanks to the major temperature difference. Just be sure not to let your nails touch any of the cubes, as that would definitely dent or smudge the polish.

09 of 15

Paint in light, thin layers.

Person painting their nails.

 Olive & June

"Painting your nails using thinner layers will help them dry faster—even if you have to do another coat to get the opaqueness you want," Gibson Tuttle explains. To paint your thinnest layer, be conscious of how much polish is on your brush. Your best bet is to swirl it around the opening of the bottle to remove any excess lacquer before applying the brush to your nails.

10 of 15

Wait longer in between coats.

Person doing a peace sign with white fingernails.

 Olive & June

"Waiting five to 10 minutes in between coats makes a world of difference," says Gibson Tuttle. "It will decrease the chance of bubbles and it dries faster, I swear!" Of course, in the long run, that can take more time to actually finish painting. But you tell us: Are a few extra minutes between coats worth avoiding twice that time to fix smudges? We think so.

11 of 15

Finish with a spritz of hairspray.

Person with red nails holding hairspray.

Peter Hermus / Getty Images

Just like hairspray holds intricate hairstyles in place, it can also help dry nail polish faster. Of course, it's important to remember that while a quick spritz will harden the top layer of polish, it doesn't work to dry the base layers below, so you still don't want to aggressively bump your nails for at least 30 minutes. However, going about your day as normal is totally doable.

12 of 15

Use cooking spray.

PAM Original Cooking Spray
PAM 100% Natural Fat-Free Original Canola Oil Spray $4
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If you've run out of hairspray, head to the kitchen for a bottle of cooking spray, like PAM. The oil-based product helps dry the top layer of nail polish in a cinch. Though, as you might have guessed, it does leave fingers a bit greasy.

13 of 15

Get creative with dust-off.

Dust Off
Dust Off Compressed Gas Duster $9
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Some beauty innovators say that spraying nails with air duster will help them dry at a rapid rate. And, it makes sense given the cool air that comes out of the compression cans. Of course, we'll leave it up to you whether or not you really want to spritz your hands with a product that comes with major risks when regularly inhaled.

14 of 15

Use a dedicated nail-drying spray.

Ulta Nail Dry
Ulta Professional Nail Dry $3
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As creative as some of these nail-drying hacks are, there's always the option to play it safe with a product that's designed specifically for speeding up nail drying time. Case in point: Ulta's Professional Nail Dry. The spray claims to set polish to avoid smearing, but again, you still want to avoid any major bumps to avoid dents while the base layers are still hardening.

15 of 15

Do your nails while watching your favorite show or chatting with your BFF.

Women painting their nails

 Cavan Images / Getty Images

"Okay, it won't help your nails dry more quickly but it will make the time go by faster," Gibson Tuttle exclaims. We don't know about you, but we like the way she thinks. So, what're you waiting for? Grab your besties and kick off a DIY manicure party ASAP.

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