How To Dry Your Manicure In Two Minutes

Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Clearly Quick Topcoat
Essie Quick-E Drying Drops
Envi Nail Enamel Dryer

There's a reason the phrase "like watching paint dry" is a way to describe awful, mind-numbingly boring things: it's the worst. So why, in the 21st century, do we put up with nail paint drying, a process that requires us to treat our fingertips like they're newborn teacup poodles? We have magic camera glasses and space planes, but somehow polish is holding us hostage? I don't think so.

Time waits for no man(icure)...and neither do I, which is why I love enamel dryers. Sure, they're full of chemicals, but if you want set nails in under five minutes so you can finish getting ready, they're you're best (read: ONLY) hope. There are three products I'd recommend if you're as impatient as I am:

1. Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Clearly Quick Topcoat
The whole Sally Hansen Insta-Dri line is fantastic, actually. If you use a thin coat of the polish it really is good to go in less than a minute, and the topcoat is similarly quick. The only hitch is that if you have several thick, still-wet coats of regular polish on and then put Clearly Quick on top, the effect is akin to throwing a tarp on the surface of a swimming pool. It's covered, but there's still water underneath, and if you throw something at it you'll end up getting splashed. So when you've got a ton of polish on, instead try...

2. Essie Quick-E Drying Drops
These are a great for complicated, thick manicures because they help dry your polish without the risk of screwing up the paint by brushing topcoat over it. You squeeze a droplet out on top of each nail and then wait a couple minutes. Also try these in conjunction with Insta-Dri if you want to speed the topcoat up even more. This week I put a couple drops on top of a manicure that consisted of two coats of Pixi Nail Colour topped with Clearly Quick, and the whole thing was dry—really dry—in about 90 seconds.

3. Envi Nail Enamel Dryer
This stuff is an '80s-tastic throwback to a time when enamel dryers were aerosol and contained ingredients like 'mink oil' and 'Quaaludes', but it works! You have to wait 60 seconds after application to spray this stuff on, but you can get your whole hand at once, which makes it the fastest option of the bunch. You need a pretty good misting to get it to work, but after that you're golden. It's not as effective as its newer drying brethren, but it is cheap, retro, and highly decorative. Just...don't inhale.

—Lacey Gattis

Photos by Elizabeth Brockway.

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • Katie

    What IS that blue nail polish?!


      Looks like Essie's Butler Please

    • Katy

      I'm guessing it's YSL's Bleu Majorelle, but Sally Hansen has a great dupe called Pacific Blue.

    • rdm
    • Nancy

      The bright blue looks like Butler Please by Essie. Baker Street from Nails Inc. is also similar.

    • ITG Annie

      Covergirl Color Show polish in Blue Bombshell!

      • Katie

        Thanks everyone! Off to Ulta for me... :)

  • brittany

    What is the third nail polish?!?!

    • ITGLacey

      It's Rescue Beauty Lounge in Forgotten Road!

  • Nicole

    I love mavaladry. Its a super fast drying topcoat which you can find for less than 10 euros (in Paris).

  • M

    Also, once they are semi-dry, putting your hands/nails into a bowl of ice water does the trick. Just be sure they aren't freshly painted.

  • Nina

    Please tell us the colors!!

  • Katie

    Revlon and SinfulColors also make great (but very inexpensive) Quick Dry products. Both are oils, so you'll still need a top coat.

  • Rebecca

    Seche Vite topcoat forever!!!!

    • AK

      best topcoat everrrrr.

    • Guest

      Couldn't agree more! Glad to see that at least one comment about Seche Vite made it through the moderating process.

  • Michelle Glassow Schroll

    I love the blue nail polish :) And I need to try one product that can make my nail polish dry faster. Because I always mess up my nail polish while I wait for it to dry :)

  • Helen Boswell

    Great tips! Have you tried plunging them straight in cold water?!

    Helen x

  • Nina

    What is the 2nd color, the purple one?

  • vvn

    I've had salons use the drops on my manicures before and usually the nails that get the drops end up with bubbles =/

  • Amy

    y'all need to try the Caviar Topcoat by Nails Inc. I swear by it! It's not greasy and it makes your mani look like gels.

  • Sara

    Poshe top coat is my favorite, it's a little hard to track down in drugstores sometimes so I bought an industrial sized bottle of it via the internet. Manicures for days!

  • Alexandria

    Orly In-A-Snap dries polish in under a minute

  • mamavalveeta03

    I swear, I always have to pee after I get my nails done. I think it's purely psychological, because I always go before. Gotta' try these ideas! Great writing, too, Lacey!

  • emhasrednails

    I hate waiting for nail varnish to dry and I always end up smudging it by accidentally touching something, these are great ideas

  • Shaunacey

    need to try these!

  • mathilde GUIGOU

    I like the one from sephora....
    Thank you

    Kisses from France...


  • Laura C

    I will definitely be trying out these three options. I currently use Seche Vite but not 100% happy with it and previously, have tried Jessica Quick Dry Drops which were pretty good too.

    Laura x |

  • Anastasia

    It dryes quickly but leaves stripes( not shiny at all. I do Out The Door + Priti NYC Topcoat. Dryes quickly and shines like a gel, works for me

  • elise maiberger

    mink oil & quaaludes! You have a fan for life!

  • LuckiLuciLu

    Awesome! Upvote!

  • nicholasboodram

    I should try one of these. Do you feature any male manicurist? Thank you. xx

  • Joanna Leigh

    Seche Vite is my favourite for quick drying. It isn't instant, but it speeds everything up. It can pull the edges a bit though but it is still my go to.


Sally Hansen
Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Clearly Quick Topcoat
Essie Nail Quick-E Drying Drops
Envi Nail Enamel Dryer