Ice Water Dries Nails Fast – Fact or Fiction?

Does ice water really dry your nails?

In the beauty world there are so many old wives’ tales so I thought I would test one of them out:

Putting your nails in ice water for 3 mins will dry your nails

Now if you were to ask me where I first heard this, I couldn’t tell you.  That’s something the thing about old wives’ tales, they seem to appear from nowhere and linger on in the back of your mind.  Though no matter how long it’d been ‘known’ to me, I’d never tried it til now.


  • Base coat & 2 colours
  • Ice (I added way more ice than in the pic)
  • Bowl of cold water
  • Timer

Ice Water Dry Nails


  • Paint 1 nail with 1 coat of base coat and 2 coats of a light colour
  • Paint 2nd nail with 1 coat of base coat and 2 coats of a dark colour
  • Allow them to dry for 2 minutes
  • Place nails into ice water for 3minutes



Excuse the rough painting. When I removed my fingers from the ice water, I initially thought that the light colour was dry. I lightly patted it and it felt dry.  Then I lightly ran my nail across it to see if it would scratch – it did.  I patted it again close to the cuticle and little bit of smudging occurred.

Ice Water Dry Nails

As soon as I looked at the dark nail, I knew it wasn’t dry at all.  I patted it and felt some ‘movement’, so I ran the pad of my finger across it and it completely smudged.

Ice Water Dry Nails 2


Firstly, this kinda hurts!  The pain was about a 6.5/10 at the 1 minute stage and I really wanted to stop the experiment but continued on.  After 2 mins I couldn’t really feel anything and then I worried that I’d lose circulation (dramatic or what) so I moved them around a bit in the ice water and carried on.

It definitely does not work for dark colours.  I deliberately tried a dark colour because they are usually thicker and take longer to dry.  In this experiment, the nail varnish didn’t dry at all and smudged all over the place.  A complete an utter mess!

This might work on lighter colours.  Although the nail varnish could still be scratched, it didn’t smudge too much and was mostly dry to light tapping on the surface.  I think that if you applied a quick dry top coat to it at that stage it would probably be okay.

I think it didn’t work because nail varnish contains solvents that need to evaporate off. That’s why air drying works so well. By placing it in the ice water it may harden the nail varnish but it’s not drying it, if that makes sense?

I’ve gone through the pain so you don’t have to! 🙂 I’ll be trying a few other theories, so let me know if there’s any specifics you want me to try

37 responses to “Ice Water Dries Nails Fast – Fact or Fiction?

    • Yeah, I can’t say it was the most comfortable experiment lol though after a while my fingers kinda went numb… It’s just not an effective method at all but at least we don’t have to wonder any more 🙂

  1. Haha, I had always wondered about this one, I think I first heard it about 25 years ago, but never tried it. Thanks for your dedication!

  2. Good research! Fingers in ice water for 3 minutes?! Thanks for risking circulation loss so we don’t have to. 🙂

    • I’d heard it being 2 or 3 minutes so I went for 3 to be on the safe side but the extra minute didn’t help at all! It was funny because for some silly reason, I hadn’t anticipated it hurting lol. So when it did, I became so worried, and this was only 2 fingers let alone all 5! Not worth it, but I’m pleased to have saved some fingers from the agony! 🙂

  3. I’ve tried this before with similar results! I think whoever started that rumor just wanted to sit back and laugh at us all freezing our fingers off T_T

  4. oh man, ice water! the pain.
    I used to be very impatience and run my polished nails under (slow) running hot and cold water taps. it does help to an extend. but now I just sit back and wait, I can’t go through painting and repainting them. That would take me much longer! 🙂

    • you make a very good point! Sitting there might take longer but it’s more of a guaranteed way to have them dry fault-free. So we can enjoy our freshly painted nails 🙂

      • Some people say it works for them. Well, maybe it does. But it certainly does NOT work for the majority – so I’ve heard. But it’s really strange that some people recommend this technique all the time without having ever tried it…

  5. Pingback: Nails dry faster under cold running water – Fact or Fiction? | Nail Luxxe·

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