The DIY Must-Haves For A Quick-Drying Mani

There’s no denying many of us have improved our skills when it comes to DIY beauty - either by desire or pure necessity.

While there are definitely (many) things best left to the professionals, I have enjoyed getting back into the at-home manicure. We’re not talking nail art - one step at a time - but a lick of varnish on my fingertips has proved to be a fun and reliable way to look and feel a little more polished. Even when paired with pajamas.

If you’re looking to get a bit more hands-on with your nails at home, then thanks to the experts I’ve learnt a few tips (how many puns can I fit in one nail article? The limit does not exist!) on how to do nails yourself.

Consider this your signal to level up, including the steps of a professional manicure to add and the secret to how to make nail polish dry faster.

Must-Have #1: Time. Do Not Rush.

For a professional-looking finish, prep is important.

Your DIY manicure should look a little something like this, according to nail expert and OPI National Education & Area Manager, Cheryl Cooke.

  • File nails equally

  • Lightly buff the nail plate to make it smooth

  • Ensure nails are thoroughly cleaned

  • Apply a base coat

  • Apply two coats of colour

  • Add a top coat. Always

  • Finish with cuticle oil

Salon-worthy nails are unlikely to come about if you start painting 30 seconds before you have to walk out the door, or juggling between four other tasks. 

In fact, not allowing enough time to do it properly is the most common mistake people make when doing their nails at home.

“Spend the extra time and effort to get your products ready and do your nails remembering that the drying time is important and should be allowed for,” Cheryl says.

“The whole time will still be less than going to the salon and also doing it right the first time will save you time doing it again or having to re-do a bad job sooner.”

Must-Have #2: A Quick-Drying Product

If you want to save time without compromising the finish, you can hack your way to dry nails faster by using an instant dryer on top of your favourite polish.

Spritz this onto your nails and speed up the drying process. It protects polish from chipping or smudging, leaves nails looking seriously shiny, and the spray makes it easy to do an entire nail in one hit - plus, it's really easy to take on the go if you are doing a last minute mani.

Life. Changing. One drop of these on your freshly painted nails and not only will you avoid that soul-destroying smushed up dent you get when you move too early, but you’ll have touchable, dry nails almost instantly. It dries, sets and protects so you can get on with the stuff you need to do. Apply after polish and top coat - one to two drops a nail will do the trick.

Another expert tip for faster drying? Cheryl advises using thin coats of polish, and allowing a minute or so between coats.

“Don’t worry about all the crazy tricks you see online - you’re more likely to end up smudging them!”

Must-Have #3: A Top Coat

A top coat protects your finished manicure, extending its life and adding shine, too.

“A good quality top coat will also protect the nails from UV light keeping them true to colour,” Cheryl says.

She recommends applying a thin coat as close to the top cuticle as possible without touching it, and cap the free edge.

It helps to keep a bottle of top coat handy too. Applying a top coat every couple of days will freshen up your DIY mani and help it to last even longer too.

This is a fast-drying top coat so you can get on with things faster. Using fancy-sounding ‘Extended Wear Technology’, a stroke or two on each nail banishes smears, smudges and streaks. Makes your nails tougher, glossy and longer-lasting.

A Bonus Tip:

A salon-worthy DIY manicure doesn’t mean super expensive tools, but it does pay to make sure your favourite nail polishes are still in a good condition.

So if you’ve got some bottles lurking in the cupboard that you remember buying in 2007, it might be time for a little reshuffle.

“Make sure your polish isn’t too old and sticky,” says Cheryl.

“It will be harder to apply, take longer to dry, and look chunky, too.”