Do Quick-Dry Nail Polish Products Actually Work?: A Test

BlacKat asks, “Do you have any experience with those products that claim to help nail polish dry instantly,”

Conveniently, in my drawer of weirdo nail polish products that I don’t really use, I have a bottle of Sally Hansen Dry Kwik Nail Color Dryer. Until this evening, I had never even tried it. I actually bought it on accident, intending to buy a Sally Hansen topcoat and, in my rush to exit the drugstore, not reading the label on the product in my hand.

Halfway through an episode of Project Runway, I thought, “Eh. Now is as good a time as any to apply, remove, and re-apply nail polish ad infinitum.”

For my testing polish, I used Sation Front Row Flasher. I applied one coat of the polish to my two pointer fingers, started a stopwatch, and (starting at the one minute mark) tapped them together until they stopped feeling sticky or tacky. I took a note of this time… and repeated everything nine times more. My ten trials came up with the following data (in seconds):











Those numbers yield a mean of 164.8 (about two minutes and forty five seconds) with a standard deviation of 11.93.

I then repeated the procedure using the quick-dry product. The instructions say to let your nails dry for one minute and then to apply the product, and I followed them. As soon as I applied the product, I started tapping my nails together to check for dryness. My ten trials came up with these numbers (in seconds):











That is a mean of 72.8 (about one minute and thirteen seconds) with a standard deviation of 2.49.

I checked whether there was a difference between the two groups using a simple, unpaired t-test. As you can probably guess based on the graph and/or the raw data, there was a very statistically significant difference between the two groups, t(18)=23.87, p. This means that there is less than a one hundredth of a percent chance that these differences occurred by chance alone.

I was not surprised to find a difference between these groups, but I was surprised at just how different they were. As someone who is awful about keeping my hands still after applying polish (resulting in not only chipped nails but difficult-to remove globs of pink all over my belongings). The greasy feeling of the product is more than made up for by the decrease in drying time.


1. Hi! Thanks a lot for doing this test! I always get my nail polish smudged because it takes too damn long to dry, so maybe it’s worth buying a quick drying product after all.

I find it interesting that they are somewhat oily, though. I wouldn’t have expected that. Do you know the chemistry/method behind these products?

2. I don’t know, but I can look into it!

3. I always spray my nails with non-stick cooking spray, like PAM, and leave it for a few seconds then wash it off. My nails are usually dry enough after that to perform most tasks. I wonder, since the Sally Hansen is oily, if it’s similar to cooking spray?

4. In the quick dry time trial, does the 72 seconds include the 60 seconds of letting your nails dry prior to applying the product? Or is it really 60 seconds dry time + additional 72 seconds dry time after applying quick-dry? If it’s actually 60s +72s than you really only save about 30 seconds of total dry time, which to me is not worth it at all, so I’m just curious.

5. The 72 second is in total. So 60 seconds in you apply the product, and it is dry in 12 seconds.

7. Great information. Thanks for providing us such a useful information. Keep up the good work and continue providing us more quality information from time to time. Nail Polish