Should You Let Nail Polish Dry Between Coats?

Giving yourself an at-home manicure or pedicure can be tricky sometimes. Do you want to use a few coats of nail polish but don't know if or how long you should wait between each one? Well, we've done some research and have the answer for you. Let's get into it.

Give your nails around two minutes to dry between coats. Doing this allows your polish to settle, which will keep it from looking chunky or streaky once you're done painting. You can also try putting your nails under a UV/LED light for a faster dry time.

As we begin, we will cover all things nail polish and tag some helpful related products. Whether you're new to nail painting or want to switch polishes, we're here to offer some help. With that said, let's dive right into this post!

Disclosure: We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

Beautiful groomed woman's hands with white nails on the light gray background, Should You Let Nail Polish Dry Between Coats?

How Many Coats Of Nail Polish Do I Need?

Generally, you should only need two to three coats of polish for your nails. Regardless of what type of polish you use, more than three coats will usually result in a clumpy manicure/pedicure.

That said, many polishes advertise only needing one coat for salon-quality nails, although this isn't usually the case. A good general rule is if your polish is darker, use one to two coats, while lighter colors need two to three.

How Long Should You Wait Between Coats Of Nail Polish?

Beautiful manicured woman's nails with cream nail

Ideally, you want to wait around two minutes before recoating your nails. As we said, doing this ensures a professional-looking manicure and will prevent streaking and clumping.

Although your nails won't be completely dry in two minutes, they will be dry enough not to smudge with a new layer of polish, which will keep your nails looking even.

Will Nail Polish Dry Without A Top Coat?

Nail polish will dry without a top coat, but it might take a while. Generally, you want to apply a top coat to your nails if you use a no-light polish, meaning you plan to air dry them.

If you paint your nails with thick polish like gel, it's usually best to apply a top coat and then place your nails under a UV lamp for a minute or so. Applying a topcoat helps with the drying process and your nail's final look, so we recommend using one.

Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Nail Coat

This topcoat is clear, fast-drying, has a high shine finish, doesn't require an LED or UV light, and comes in a 0.5-ounce bottle.

Follow this link to see it on Amazon.

What Happens If You Don't Put Top Coat On Nail Polish?

If you choose not to apply a top coat to your nails, expect them to chip easier. Using a top coat on your nails is basically like sealing them for the next seven to ten days, so skipping this step leaves your polish unprotected.

Of course, if your polish promises to be hardy enough to resist chipping and peeling, a topcoat might be unnecessary, but again, this depends. In general, you want to apply one regardless of what your polish says to ensure your nails stay in good shape.

How Do I Know If My Nail Polish Is Dry?

Womans hands with trendy manicure on blue background. Summer nail design. Beauty salon concept

Although it can be hard to tell, you should know if your nails are dry by tapping them together. You want to tap your two pinky nails together gently, and if your polish is dry, your nails will come apart easily without any resistance.

You can also try tapping the bottom of your finger on your polish, and if it doesn't leave an imprint, your nails are dry. Of course, you don't want to try these too soon because you might mess up your nails, so wait about 10-15 minutes after painting.

How Long Does It Take For Nail Polish To Completely Dry?

Typically, nail polish will be fully dry in about one to two hours. Especially if you've used a few coats, your polish will take longer to dry, so try to keep your nails protected for a couple of hours.

Formaldehyde-free polishes also take longer to dry, so make sure to set aside an hour or so for drying. You can also try using a UV or LED light to dry your nails, which usually takes around 15 minutes and works well on gel polishes.

SUNUV Gel Nail Light

This UV/LED nail light reduces dry time by 50%, works on hands and feet, has three-timer settings, and has great online customer reviews.

Check out this nail light on Amazon.

What Dries Nail Polish Faster?

There are plenty of ways to speed up this process for those trying to get their nails dry ASAP. A few of our top methods include:

  • Using a blowdryer
  • Placing your hands in the freezer
  • Quick-dry drops or a top coat
  • Hairspray

Colder temperatures, specifically, work wonders for speeding up polish dry times, so if you can, try to also dip your fingers in cold water before painting.

OPI Drip Dry Lacquer Drying Drops

This bottle of polish drying drops sets in 60 seconds, has a glossy finish, is infused with jojoba and vitamin E, and comes in two sizes.

View these drying drops on Amazon.

Does Hairspray Dry Nail Polish?

Yes! Using hairspray is an excellent idea for speeding up your nail's dry time. Although it isn't the first thing that comes to mind, hairspray works similarly to a topcoat, essentially hardening and protecting your nail polish below.

To use hairspray on your polish, spray a small amount over each nail, letting it dry for about 60 seconds. After that, your nails should feel dry/hard to the touch, which means you can go about your day as usual.

How Do I Keep My Nails From Chipping?

Nails Design. Hands With Bright Pink Spring Manicure On Grey Background. Close Up Of Female Hands. Art Nail.

In general, it's a good idea to use a thick, high-quality polish to avoid your nails chipping. It's also a good idea to avoid showering/bathing directly after a manicure or pedicure, so wait a few hours before getting wet.

Applying a top coat will also help keep your nails chip-free and protect them from peeling, so we recommend it. Like we covered above, you can also try using quick-dry drops or hairspray to set your nails, so you have a few options.

Can I Paint Over Chipped Nails?

Although it can be tempting, we don't recommend painting over chipped nails. Doing this will almost always lead to an even chunkier-looking manicure, so try to use polish remover before repainting.

That said, you can also try to buff down the chipped spot and apply a glittery or metallic polish to your nail to hide it, so that's another idea.

How Long Does A Manicure Last?

Typically, a manicure will last you between seven and 14 days. Depending on how thick your polish is and whether you use a top coat, this timeline can vary, so keep that in mind.

Like we said, setting your nails will protect them from chipping and peeling, so even using hairspray or quick-drying drops is an excellent way to keep your nails intact.

How Long Should You Wait Between Manicures?

It's usually a good idea to give your nails a week or two between manicures. Especially if you get gel or acrylic nails regularly, allowing enough time for your natural nails to grow and heal is vital.

A good way to tell if your nails need a break is to check them for discoloration and see if your cuticles feel dehydrated. Your nails might also have white spots or rough patches, which are indicators that you should hold off on another manicure for a couple of weeks.

To Wrap It Up

Stylish fashionable women pink manicure with feathers, rhinestones square shape

Whether you always paint your nails or want to start, it's essential to give them enough time to dry. From what we found, you should wait around two minutes between coats to prevent your polish from looking chunky.

When it comes to using a topcoat, this is a good way to protect your nails and keep them looking better for longer. You can also try using hairspray or quick-dry drops to seal your nail polish, so you've got plenty of options.

Regardless, remember to give your nails about an hour or two to fully dry, and don't be afraid to dip them in cold water before painting.

Made it to the end? Check out these helpful related nail posts below!

Should You Cut Your Toenails Before A Pedicure?

How To Apply Chunky Glitter To Gel Nails

What Nail Color Goes With A Pink Dress?

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