Beauty Edit
How to Dry Gel Nail Polish Without UV Light

How to Dry Gel Nail Polish Without UV Light

Gel nail polish is a popular choice for manicures these days as it is easily used at home and creates a long-lasting wear. It might also be better for nails than manicure methods such as acrylics, especially when applied carefully alongside other nail-care tactics like cuticle oils and regular manicure breaks.

However, gel nail polish often needs a UV light to properly dry, and you might not have this piece of equipment lying around your home. Our article tells you how to dry gel nail polish without UV light so that your gel manicure can look its best, no matter what.

Why Does UV Light Dry Gel Polish?

The majority of professional gel manicures will utilize a UV light lamp to properly dry the gel polish. This is because the UV light reacts with the gel to help it polymerize, which means harden. The hardening process happens quickly which is part of what makes a gel manicure so durable and long-lasting, and it has a much quicker drying time than a regular manicure would.

However, many studies suggest that exposure to UV light in the form of manicure lamps isn’t necessarily the healthiest thing you can do for your nails. So, you may want to reconsider using a UV light each time you apply gel polish.

UV lights have been shown to increase the risk of certain skin cancers, cause premature aging, and contribute to weak nails. That’s not to say that you can’t receive a gel polish manicure every once in a while, but that prolonged and consistent exposure might contribute to problems with your nails and skin over time.

What Is the Difference Between Gel and Regular Polish?

The main difference between gel and regular nail polish is the curing time involved for each method. Gel nail polish typically requires a UV light lamp to properly cure and dry the nails, hardening them and making them durable. With regular nail polish, only a LED or heat lamp is needed.

Gel nail polish tends to be more durable and last longer than regular nail polish, which can be more prone to chipping. However, regular nail polish is more accessible for individuals who wish to give themselves manicures at home, and it is much more easily removed. Gel polish might need professional removal to stop it from breaking and weakening nails.

Do You Need UV Light to Dry Nails?

Gel nail polish typically needs a UV light lamp to dry nails, but regular polish does not. That being said, there are some methods to help you dry gel nail polish without a UV light. Various gel nail polish products that are targeted for at-home use without the assistance of a UV light lamp.

Most of the time, some patience and a heat source are required to dry your nails and have them looking their best.

Best Methods to Dry Gel Nail Polish Without UV Light

The following methods are some of the easiest and most effective ways to dry gel nail polish without using UV light. You may want to try a different method each time until you find one that works the best for you and is the easiest to fit into your manicure routine.

Quick-Drying Nail Spray

Quick-drying nail spray is a helpful product that you can use to speed up the drying time of your gel nail polish.

For this method, you will need to purchase a quick-dry nail spray and place your wet nails on a piece of paper or a cloth you don’t mind getting dirty. Then, apply the spray from about six inches away from your nails. Repeat this method on both hands and then allow your polish to dry completely.

Once the polish is dry, you can wash any residual film gently from your hands and your manicure is complete. You may need to be careful with your nails over the next few hours just to be sure that they are completely dry.

Nail Ice Bath

An ice bath for your nails might seem like a poor idea and a great way to mess up your manicure, but this method can actually help your gel nail polish dry faster without a UV light.

To make this method work, paint your nails with gel polish and let them air dry for around ten minutes. Then, fill a bowl with cold water, add some ice, and submerge your nails completely in the water for about three to four minutes.

The cold water will cure the top layer of gel nail polish, hardening it. Remove your nails from the water, pat the skin around your nails dry, and then be careful with your nails over the next hour or so to let the remaining layers of polish completely dry.

Air-Drying in the Sun

Good old-fashioned air-drying is a fool-proof way to make sure your gel polish manicure dries properly, but this method does take a lot of patience.

You can air dry your nails indoors, but direct sunlight provides heat and might speed up the drying time for your nails. Simply keep your nails still in the sunlight or anywhere else until they’ve started drying, which might take upwards of an hour. Be careful with your nails for several hours until you’re sure they have fully dried.

Use a Non-UV Gel Polish Brand

If you want to obtain a gel manicure at home, there are plenty of gel polish brands that are designed to be utilized without a UV light to cure them. Investing in one of these non-UV gel polishes can help you obtain a durable manicure without worrying about your nails drying.

Simply apply the polish according to instructions and use a regular LED light or air-dry your nails until they are cured and ready to go.

Find a Fan

Using a fan or another device to move air around your nails might help your gel polish dry, but you should be careful not to use a fan immediately, as the current might smudge wet polish.

Instead, air dry your nails for around ten minutes and then turn on a small fan, directing it at your nails. Don’t place your nails directly in front of the current. Move your hands a fair distance away so that the air reaches your nails and speeds up the drying, but that the wind instead enough to smudge the drying gel polish.

Quick-Dry Top Coats

Similar to a quick-dry nail spray, a quick-dry top coat can be applied on top of your gel polish to cure the top layer and speed up the drying process of your nails.

Carefully paint your quick-dry top coat over your gel nail polish and then let your nails air dry for around ten to fifteen minutes. The top layer should be hardened enough to protect the nails, though it might still take a few hours for your nails to completely cure.
blue and pink manicured hands

How Long Does It Take Gel Nail Polish to Dry?

Gel nail polish can take quite a while to dry if you aren’t using a UV light to harden the top layer and speed up the process.

You can expect the top layer of your gel nail polish to dry within ten to twenty minutes, and for full curing of the gel nail polish to happen after a few hours if you aren’t using a UV light.

Can I Use a Gel Top Coat on My Nails?

If you are applying regular nail polish and want to make your manicure more long-lasting, you can use a gel top coat on your nails.

Simply apply your top coat at the end of your manicure and wait for it to air dry or use one of the methods on our list to dry your nails before going about your day.

How Long Will My Gel Nail Polish Last?

Gel nail polish is fairly durable, and you can expect a gel manicure to last you around fourteen days before it starts chipping. How long your gel nail polish lasts does depend heavily on how active you are, your job, and whether or not your nails will be exposed to harsh conditions, such as lots of water.

Successful Home Manicures Without UV Light

Gel nail polish is one of the most popular types of nail polish thanks to its durable nature and the fact that it is slightly healthier for your nails than acrylics.

If you want to achieve a gel polish manicure at home, consult the methods on our list to figure out the best way for you to dry your gel nail polish without a UV light.