These Fast-Drying Nail Polishes Ensure You'll Never Ruin a Manicure Again
After a manicure, waiting for your nails to dry can feel like an eternity. Even though nail polish drying times vary by the number of coats you apply, the type of nail polish used, and the climate you're in, there are products that were made specifically to dry fast. From subtle neutrals to dark, earthy tones, quick-drying polishes come in an array of colors and at different price points. You can buy a fast-drying hue that'll suit your needs, which means you'll never have to worry about carving out time for your nails to dry again.
Thanks to modern innovations, a slew of different brands are rolling out quick-drying nail polish options. "Just before the [pandemic], back when we all didn't have time on our hands (literally), two really exciting quick-dry lines hit the shelves," explains celebrity and editorial nail artist Miss Pop Nails. "One is by Essie called Expressie and dries in about a minute. The other is Nails Inc. Speedy Gloss and it dries in 45 seconds. They are both amazing breakthroughs that offer decent wear, particularly for quick dry polish which has the bad reputation of flaking off as fast as it was put on." And these two brands are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to fast-drying lacquers.
The Best Fast-Drying Nail Polishes Available Now
- Best Affordable Option: LeChat Nail Polish
- Quickest Dry Time: Nails Inc. 45 Second Quick-Drying Nail Polish
- Best Hero Brand: OPI Nail Lacquer Nail Polish
- Best Gel-Like: Gel Couture by Essie
- Best 60-Second Dry: Essie Expressie Quick-Dry Nail Polish
- Best for Nail Art: Paintbox Nail Lacquer
- Best Add-On: OPI Rapid Dry Spray
Best Affordable Option
A quick-drying polish that comes in a bright shade will ensure your manicure makes a statement and is ready in no time. "This shade embraces the coral, apricot tones that are really on-trend for spring and summer and looks great on most skin tones," says celebrity nail artist Elle Gerstein.
Shop Now: LeChat Nail Polish in Apricot, $2.50, lechatnails.com.
Quickest Dry Time
Nails Inc. 45 Seconds Speed Gloss is a favorite of Gerstein's. "This is a perfect peachy shimmer that you can layer on top of any color or wear alone," she says. Miss Pop Nails agrees, recommending the entire line of fast-drying polishes.
Shop Now: Nails inc. "Kings Cross Keeps Me Cool" 45 Seconds Speed Gloss, $8, nailsinc.com.
Gerstein deems this the "perfect nude" hue, and we're inclined to agree. This gel-like polish should last around eight days, giving you longevity from your quick-dry nail polish.
Shop Now: Sally Hansen Miracle Gel in Birthday Suit, $6.30, amazon.com.
White nail polish is prone to highlighting a manicure's imperfections, so finding one that's fast-drying is key. "[This is] a perfect white you can wear alone and it makes a great base for today's neons and nail art," says Gerstein.
Shop Now: Gel Couture by Essie Pre Show Jitters, $11.50, ulta.com.
Best 60-Second Dry Time
As its name denotes, Miss Pop Nails says this lacquer dries in about 60 seconds. We're partial to this neutral shade for a subtle manicure.
Shop Now: Essie Expressie Quick-Dry Nail Polish in Buns up, $9, ulta.com.
Needs Few Coats
Darlene Sritapan, OPI's North America education and capability manager, recommends shades of OPI's Nail Lacquer, "because it applies thin, dries quickly, and [is] very shiny. I don't need three coats like other polishes to get good color coverage," she says. That means it has a shorter overall drying time.
Shop Now: OPI Nail Lacquer Nail Polish in Put It in Neutral, $10.50, ulta.com.
Best on Its Own
Manicurist and nail expert Aja Walton also prefers Essie's quick-dry nail polish. "I'd say Expressie is my favorite because of the formula's power to actually quick dry without needing a special top/base coat," she says. "It mimics the puffy look of gel [and] eliminates any accidental smudging in between layers." For a bold and summery look, she recommends We Don't Mesh, "a chartreuse color that isn't too vibrant is a rare find so this color is excellent with the added bonus of having a silver pearlescence."
Shop Now: Essie "Expressie" Quick-Dry Nail Polish in We Don't Mesh, $9, amazon.com.
Walton also recommends Olive & June—specifically their Jo color. "This semi-sheer apricot toned polish perfect for a barely-there mani in a rush," she says.
Shop Now: Olive & June Nail Polish in Jo, $8, oliveandjune.com.
Best for Nail Art
According to Mabelyn Martin, creative director of Paintbox, a quick-drying polish is important for nail art, so a fast dry time was top of mind when coming up with the nail salon's own brand of lacquer. "We kept nail art in mind when developing our formula so making sure each coat went on smooth and dried quickly was essential," she says. "Our polishes are surface dry within six to eight minutes and our topcoat Like Glass also dries fast while keeping a super glossy finish."
Shop Now: Paintbox Single Nail Lacquer in Like Mystery, $22, neimanmarcus.com.
Miss Pop Nails recommends this rapid dry spray, and so does Sritapan. This spray will make any lacquer a quick-dry nail polish.
Shop Now: OPI Rapid Dry Spray, $9.99, target.com.