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Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D.

How To Dry Nails Fast

By October 18, 2013

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Nail polish is a type of lacquer. (Bumerang22)The internet is full of tips that supposedly dry your nails faster, but which ones actually work? Here's a look at some of the most common ideas and whether or not they will speed your drying time.
  • Plunging Wet Nails Into Ice Water
    This doesn't work! If it did, don't you think every nail tech out there would be doing it? Think about it... nail polish is a polymer, formed by a chemical reaction. Lowering the temperature lowers the rate of the chemical reaction, plus it slows the evaporation of the solvents in the polish. Yes, the icy water may thicken the polish so it seems to dry more quickly, but the only way to get a hard coat of polish is to let it dry. The cold water won't hurt anything, but it won't speed things up, unless you dry your hands under an air dryer afterward. If you think this works, consider how much time you spend with your hands in ice water and compare it against normal drying. Or, conduct your own science experiment and put one hand in the ice water and leave one to dry on its own.

  • Putting Hands in the Freezer
    This is not the most economical method, but it's unlikely to hurt anything other than your electric bill. The cold can thicken the polish while the circulating air evaporates the solvent.

  • Using a blow dryer or fan.
    This speeds the set of the film former (usually nitrocellulose). Just be sure you don't use so much force that you blow ripples into your polish (unless that is the desired effect).

  • Apply a quick-dry product.
    These contain solvents that evaporate quickly, pulling the liquid in the polish along with them.

  • Apply cooking spray.
    Whether or not this works depends on the product. If you simply pressurize oil, you're not going to see much of an effect aside from moisturized hands. On the other hand (hah), if the spray contains a propellant, it will evaporate quickly, acting like a quick-dry product.

  • Spray nails with canned air.
    Again, this works much like a quick-dry product. Canned air is a little expensive, so you might want to blow keyboard chow out of your laptop and opt for an inexpensive quick-drying top coat instead.
What works and what doesn't? Share your quick drying tips.

How Quick Dry Nail Polish Works
What's in Nail Polish?

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November 1, 2013 at 12:55 pm
(1) Vivian says:

I just want to share with those looking for a quick drying product to try the Dazzle Dry Nail Polish System – the total manicure will dry rock hard in 5 minutes without the use of any drying aid such as the tips mentioned, heat, drying drops or UV light.

November 3, 2013 at 2:31 pm
(2) monica says:

The drying with cold water is just a waste of time and i wont dry it. if u try a fan i will just make little bumps. if u try the lights (i dont remember what their called. LOL!) it can give you skin cancer so just let them dry naturally or blow them with your air and while they dry you can watch tv.

November 17, 2013 at 11:52 pm
(3) agnes says:

Monica: you are misinformed. UV does not cause skin cancer but rather prevents it (by making vitamin d, a MAJOR anti-cancer vitamin). Skin cancer never existed until people started spending days indoors and until people started using lotions loaded with carcinogenic garbage. Ever wonder why skin cancer is unheard of in tropical and third world countries, yet the office worker religiously using sunscreen when outdoors dies of melanoma?

November 30, 2013 at 8:43 pm
(4) Rachel says:

Hey Agnes, do you work for LA Tan or something?

December 6, 2013 at 12:24 pm
(5) Dee Dee says:

Just for the record, Bob Marley died from melanoma (discovered under one of his toe nails) and he was Jamaican “Mun”

January 12, 2014 at 9:28 am
(6) Amber says:

Agnes, the reason you don’t hardly ever hear of skin cancer in third world countries, is because they don’t normally have all of the equipment to detect cancer, of any sort.
There is scientific proof that Ultraviolet Rays cause cancer. UV radiation in solariums is a significant risk factor for melanoma and other skin cancers. You must be one of those tanning bed girls, to not believe it.

January 17, 2014 at 1:40 am
(7) hana says:

agnes: third world countries don’t get skin cancer because their skin tone is usually darker (darker skin tones are able to deal with uv light better than pale skin tones).

February 5, 2014 at 4:53 am
(8) shelby says:

lol at the subject change in the comments

February 23, 2014 at 1:35 pm
(9) Nicci says:

For anyone looking for quick dry concepts, I use Sally Hansen Insta-DRI nail polish. It dries in 60 Seconds. Its wonderful and very works like a charm. I have it it just about all colors

March 16, 2014 at 8:20 pm
(10) cynthia says:

Soo, pretty much don’t do what wiki said. Haha >_<

April 2, 2014 at 7:42 pm
(11) burnadette says:

this thread was so entertaining that my nails dried while i shared it with my friends and almost laughed myself to death.

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