Does Running Cold Water On Nail Polish Dry Faster

Running cold water on nail polish is a trick that many people swear by to make their freshly painted nails dry faster. But does it really work? As someone who loves experimenting with different nail polish techniques, I set out to discover the truth behind this popular claim. In this article, I will share my personal experience and delve deep into the science to give you a comprehensive answer.

The Theory Behind the Technique

The idea behind running cold water on nail polish is that the cold temperature helps to solidify the polish and speed up the drying process. The theory is that the cold water constricts the nail polish molecules, causing them to harden more quickly. This makes sense in theory, as lower temperatures generally slow down chemical reactions.

My Experiment

To test this theory, I decided to paint my nails with two coats of polish and use different drying methods on each hand. On my left hand, I painted my nails and then ran them under cold water for a few minutes. On my right hand, I let the nails air dry naturally. I chose a bright red nail polish with a glossy finish to make it easier to observe the drying process.

After a couple of minutes, I noticed that the nails on my left hand, the ones I ran under cold water, did feel slightly cooler to the touch compared to the ones on my right hand. However, there was no significant difference in the overall drying time. Both hands took around the same amount of time to dry completely.

The Science Behind Nail Polish Drying

To understand why running cold water on nail polish may not make a significant difference in drying time, let’s look at the science behind nail polish drying. Nail polish is a combination of film-forming agents, solvents, and colorants. When you apply nail polish, the solvents evaporate, leaving behind a solid, colored film.

The drying time of nail polish depends on several factors, including the type and brand of polish, the number of coats applied, and the environmental conditions. The solvents in nail polish evaporate at room temperature, and as they do, the film begins to harden.

The Role of Cold Water

While cold water may provide a temporary cooling sensation and potentially help set the top layer of polish, it is unlikely to significantly speed up the overall drying process. The solvents in nail polish evaporate at room temperature, and running cold water on them may slow down this evaporation process.

Additionally, the cold water method does not address the issue of drying the layers underneath the top surface. The top layer may appear dry, but the layers underneath could still be wet or tacky, leading to smudging and longer overall drying time.


Based on my personal experience and the science behind nail polish drying, running cold water on nail polish may not be the magic solution to faster drying time. While it may provide a temporary cooling effect, it is unlikely to have a significant impact on the overall drying process. To ensure your nail polish dries efficiently, it is best to allow it to air dry naturally or use other drying methods such as quick-dry top coats or nail drying sprays.

Remember, the key to a flawless manicure is patience. Give your nails enough time to dry completely to avoid smudging and enjoy long-lasting, beautiful results.