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.
Photos by Elizabeth Brockway.