The Best Way to Dry Nails

Thoroughly drying your nails keeps your polish smudge-free.

Photo: Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images

Getting the perfect at-home manicure can be messy and time-consuming. Certain polishes can take ages to dry, leaving your nails susceptible to nicks and smudges even hours after application. If you're tired of blowing on your hands and finding rogue smears on your favorite clothing, use some easy techniques to speed up the process.

Ice-Water Soak

After air-drying for a couple of minutes, try soaking your fingers in a bowl of ice water for a quick set. The icy blast freeze-dries the polish, and a three-minute dunk is enough to harden the polish completely. The initial air-dry period is crucial, though -- splash in too soon, and air may try to escape from the still-wet layers, forming bubbles and ruining your paint job.

Cold-Set Blow Dry

For some polishes, multiple coats are a must for supreme vibrancy and coverage. But before you slather on that next layer, use a hair dryer on a cold setting on your nails. The cool air hardens the polish and creates a smooth, primed surface for the next coat. It isn't the fastest technique, but the results are worth the wait.

Polish-Drying Accelerators

For a salon-quality dry, check out nail-polish-drying drops. After applying a top coat, squeeze a drop of these polish hardeners on your nails. The drops crystallize each layer of the polish so there's no "skinning," or wet layers under a dry top coat. Some brands even come fortified with moisturizers to give your post-manicure cuticles a boost.

Thinner Polishes

Perhaps the fastest way to get nails to dry quickly is to use a specially formulated quick-drying polish, or to thin out a thicker polish. If your favorite bottle is a little goopy, add a few drops of base coat. Don't thin your polish with nail polish remover -- it'll work temporarily, but over time, it breaks down the chemical quality of the polish. Top off your layers with a speed-dry top coat and your nails will be fly in no time!

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