Dry Your Nails Fast

We all want our nails to dry faster.  It’s the most boring and annoying part of painting nails.

You may remember the Ice Water Dries Nails – Fact or Fiction post where I did an experiment to see if dunking your hands in ice water dries your nails faster.  Needless to say, I’m writing this post… So what are some other ways that might work?

‘Running your nails under the cold tap’ is one method that was passed down to me.  I tried it a couple of times on a whim.  If I was rushing out then I’d put them under the cold tap just as I was leaving the house as an extra level of protection.

But that wasn’t really testing whether it dries nails faster than leaving them to air dry.  Only a thorough experiment would find out once and for all if:

Cold running water dries your nails faster


  • Base Coat
  • One light coloured nail varnish
  • One dark coloured nail varnish
  • A Timer
  • Cold running water from the tap


  • Apply 1 coat of base coat and 2 coats of a light colour to 1 nail
  • Apply 1 coat of base coat and 2 coats of a dark colour to the other nail
  • Wait 3 mins to air dry
  • Place nails under cold running water for 1.5 mins



At first glance the light colour appeared dry.  When I touched it there was a teeny bit of a tacky feeling (really want to stress that it was not that tacky, like on a scale of 1 – 10, the tacky feeling was about a 3) but it didn’t smudge.  I then pressed harder and I saw a very light imprint of my finger print appear.

Lighter Colour

Again, the darker colour looked dry.  I touched the surface and no smudging occurred.  There was a slight tacky feeling (approx 2/10).  Pressing harder didn’t cause any smudging or fingerprints.

Darker Colour

Final Thoughts

This method works! It definitely sped up the drying time so I could get beyond the ‘fragile state’ (you know that time when you literally can’t do anything because it will ruin your nails).

I deliberately used the exact same nail varnishes as in the Ice Water Experiment so I could compare the results.   The Cold Running Water Method process took less time, was MUCH less painful (physically!), took less time to prepare (didn’t have to get ice cubes from the freezer) and actually was successful in drying my nails faster.

In the Ice Water Experiment I waited 2 mins before plunging my fingers into the ice water and in this experiment I waited 3 mins before putting them under the tap.  The additional minute may have helped, although that fact doesn’t really matter because the Ice Water Experiment claims to dry nail varnish instantly.  So I was actually being generous by giving it 2mins to air dry first!

I would definitely recommend this method if you have a nail varnish that takes a bit longer to dry, if you’re in a rush and/or want a more secure feeling that your nails are dry.  It doesn’t dry nails instantly, but putting your nails under cold running water does dry your nails faster.


29 responses to “Dry Your Nails Fast

    • haha not crazy at all!
      I remember you saying you leave them for about 10 mins to air dry first, and based on this, I’m sure that would work even better, leaving zero tackiness. It’s good to know these tricks! 😀

      • Nah, I just do it whenever I’m losing patience and/or I’m waiting for the base to dry before I stamp.
        I don’t even know how I started doing that, I think I figured that, chemically, any laquer dries quicker when it’s cold.
        But it works ! And isn’t as excruciating as ice cold water in a bowl ; ))

        • From a science perspective, it does seem to make sense, but then again so did the freeze drying theory about ice water lol
          Thank you for talking about stamping. I’m not a stamper (yet!) but I obvs know that a lot of people stamp so it’s really useful to know this can be used for the base
          P.S, nothing is as excruciating as the ice water *shudders* 😀

        • Hehe, sure, as you know, I love stamping : )
          And I know that you can apply a fast drying top coat over the base before you stamp, but I don’t like it, cause it makes for too many coats in the end.
          Cold water it is : )

    • I think you’d have to be more careful if it’s got intricate details. This worked with 2 coats, if you’re going to add more it might be better to put them under the tap after each additional coat rather than at the end.

  1. This is so awesome to know! I always run my fingers under the tap when I’m in a hurry too, but I’m always too impatient to give it more than 15 seconds or so XD

    • I think any sort of time under the tap ‘helps’ so depending on how long you left them to air dry first, that’s all you may need!
      Though 3 mins air drying and 1 and a bit mins under the tap left my nails basically dry!

  2. Thank you so much for clearing this up! I have heard many times before that nails dried faster under cold running water, but any time I tried I ended up totally messing up my mani!

    • No problem CoCo. Doing it this way worked very well. In the picture above you can see the pressure of the water wasn’t too strong so it didn’t smudge or dent the varnish as it ran over it. I held my hands about 1/2 way down the stream. Hope it helps!

  3. HA! I just found your blog because of the last experiment only to see that your most recent post is another water drying experiment ^_^ Love it! I might try this next time I need to dry my nails quickly…like when the baby decides he must be picked up NOW and not in 5 minutes…hahaha

    • Thank you! I’m so pleased you got to see the follow up! The longer you leave them to air dry before putting them under the tap the better. But doing it this way definitely sped up the drying process. Hope it helps so your little man can be back in mummy’s arms in no time 🙂

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