How Quick-Dry Nail Polish Works

Science of Fast Drying Nails

Quick-dry products do work, although there may be a trade-off getting your polish to dry fast.
Quick-dry products do work, although there may be a trade-off getting your polish to dry fast. Ken Browar Productions Inc. / Getty Images

A lot of science goes into quick-drying nail polish products. Have you ever wondered which quick-dry products work and how they dry your nails faster? Here's how it works.

How Quick-Drying Nail Polish Works

Quick-drying nail polish contains the same ingredients as regular nail polish, except it, has even more solvent. The solvent evaporates quickly, reducing your drying time.

Disadvantages

Faster drying comes at a price. Since there is more solvent than usual, quick-drying formulations tend to be runnier than regular polish and leave behind a thinner coat of polish. Usually, a second film forming ingredient (copolymer) is added to quick drying formulations so that they will form a coat in a short amount of time. Some people feel the quick polishes produce a duller or weaker coat than you would get from regular polish.

Other Quick Dry Products

Quick-drying nail polish isn't the only route to a fast finish. There are other quick-dry products, such as sprays or drops that you apply over the polish to make it dry almost instantly. These products typically contain volatile silicones which evaporate fast, taking the polish solvent along with them. The top film of the polish forms almost immediately, so you're less likely to smudge your nails. Depending on how thick the polish is, you may still need a few minutes to get a good hard 'set' that won't dent under pressure.