How Long Does Gel Polish Take To Dry?

Imagine applying the most gorgeous color of polish to your nails, only to have it chip the next day. Or, you go to the salon for a manicure, and a few hours later your nails are peeled off. Frustrating, right?

Gel polish has been around for a few years now, and it’s revolutionized the nail industry. No chipping, no smudging, and it last for weeks! However, one question still remains – how long does gel polish take to dry?

Gel polish can take anywhere between 1-3 minutes to dry, depending on the type of drying lamp you are using. LED lamps tend to be faster, curing gel polish in just 30-60 seconds. UV lamps are a bit slower, but they still get the job done in about 1.5-3 minutes. This is much faster than regular nail polish, which can take up to 10 minutes to fully air dry.

I know how nerve-wracking it is waiting for your nails to dry, especially when you’re in a hurry. Is gel polish finally the answer?

In this article, I’ll explore everything you need to know about gel polish, from how it works to how long it takes to dry. By the end, you’ll have all the information you need to make an informed decision about whether gel polish is right for you.

Let’s go!

how long does gel polish take to dry

Why Does Gel Polish Dry So Quickly?

When regular polish takes at least 10 minutes, how is it even possible for gel polish to dry in under 3 minutes? The answer lies in what gel polish is made out of and how it reacts to different types of light.

UV light emits powerful rays that specifically activate the plasticization in gel polish to make it solid.

Gel polish is made from a type of synthetic polymer called methyl methacrylate. This polymer helps the polish adhere to your nails better than regular polish, and it also makes the polish more durable. 

When this polymer is exposed to light, it will harden and cure, or set. This process is called photocuring or photoinitiated curing. The light helps the gel polish to harden quickly and evenly so that it can set in just a few minutes.

LED and UV lamps are both types of curing lamps that use light to harden gel polish. LED lamps emit visible light, while UV lamps emit invisible ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Both of these types of light can trigger the photocuring process, helping the gel polish to set quickly.

Fact: Did you know that without the photocuring process, your gel polish can take anywhere from 15-24 minutes or even longer to dry? So definitely make sure you have a drying lamp on hand if you want to get your nails done quickly!

How Long Does Gel Polish Take To Dry?

Difference Between Using UV Lamps vs LED Lamps to Dry Gel Polish

Now that you know there are two common types of curing lamps – LED and UV – you might be wondering, which one is better. Take a look at the table below.

 UV Lamps LED Lamps
Type of LightEmits a broader, less consistent spectrum of light Emits a narrower, more focused spectrum of light.
SpeedSlower to cure gel polish. Faster to cure gel polish.
UsabilityWill work on all types of gel polish. May not work on all gel polish.
LifespanLasts only about 4,000 hours. Can last anywhere between 5,000-10,000 hours.
PriceLess expensive. More expensive.
SafetyMay not be safe for your skin if used for long periods of time. Perfectly safe.

As you can see, there are pros and cons to both types of lamps. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference and what type of gel polish you are using. If you want a more affordable option that will work with any kind of gel polish, then go for a UV lamp. If you don’t mind spending a bit more money and you want a faster drying time, then go for an LED lamp.

Here are our recommendations for the best UV and LED lamps available on the market:

Liteland UV Gel Nail Lamp: Spacious enough to fit your hands and feet, this UV lamp can cure all kinds of gel polish quickly and evenly with its 150W power. With a lifetime of 50,000 hours, you’ll be able to enjoy salon-quality nails for months and years to come.

LOD MelodySusie Eos Pro 12W: Designed by two cosmetologists, Melody and Susie, this LED lamp is perfect if you want to do your nails on the go. It’s lightweight, portable, and fast-drying – what more could you ask for?

Note: For regular nail polish, neither type of lamp will make a difference – the drying time will still remain the same. This is because regular polish is not reactive to light, so it can’t be cured or hardened using photocuring. You will have to air dry regular polish the old-fashioned way!

How Long Does Gel Polish Take To Dry?

How to Dry Gel Polish Using A UV/LED Lamp

The process of drying gel polish is pretty simple, whether you’re using a UV lamp or an LED lamp. Just follow the steps below and you’ll have perfect nails in no time!

Step 1: Nail Prep

Before you can start painting your nails, you need to make sure they are clean and free of any dirt or oils. You can do this by wiping down the nail surface with an alcohol-soaked cotton pad. This will help ensure that your polish adheres to the nails properly.

You should also trim, file, and buff your nails so that the surface is even. This will help your polish go on smoothly and last longer.

Step 2: Applying the Polish

Now that your nails are prepped, you can start applying the polish.

Make sure to apply thin, even layers so as not to make your nails too thick or bulky. Also, take care not to get any of the polish on the skin surrounding your nails – this will help prevent smudging and chipping later on.

Remember, only apply the gel base coat at this point. You can apply the colored coat and the topcoat later on because each layer of coat needs to be cured separately.

Step 3: Curing with a UV/LED Lamp

uv curing gel polish

Once you have applied your base coat, it’s time to cure your nails with a UV or LED lamp. The base coat can make your break your nails, so you want to pay extra attention to this phase. The base coat is not entirely cured, it will make your gel polish peel off easily.

To cure the base coat, you need to place your hands on the lamp and wait for the timer to go off. Depending on what type of lamp you are using and the power output, this can take anywhere between 10-60 seconds.

Recommended curing time (UV): 30s – 1 min for base coat.

Step 4: Second Layer of Polish

Once your base coat is cured, you can apply the second layer of gel polish. Again, make sure to apply thin, even layers and take care not to get any on the skin surrounding your nails. Then, cure your nails with a UV or LED lamp as before.

Recommended curing time (UV): 45s – 1 min for the colored coat.

Step 5: Applying the Top Coat

Now that your colored coat is cured, you can apply the top coat of polish. This will help protect the color and keep it looking glossy for longer. Cure your nails with a UV or LED lamp once more.

Recommended curing time (UV): 1.5 – 2 mins for the topcoat. 

Step 6: Cleaning and Finishing

Once your topcoat is cured, you can remove the sticky layer that may have formed on the nails using a cotton ball soaked in nail polish remover. Try to be as gentle and careful as possible, as you don’t want to mess up your hard work.

Lastly, finish with some cuticle oil or lotion to keep your nails glossy and healthy!

And you’re done! Your gel polish should now be completely dry, with a shiny finish that will last for weeks. Enjoy your freshly manicured nails and let everyone know that you did it yourself!

After finishing all the steps, you would want to avoid doing things that shorten the lasting time of your gel polish. You can learn how to keep gel polish from peeling to ensure it last as long as possible.

Final Thoughts: How long does gel polish take to Dry?

Gel polish is a wonderful way to achieve long-lasting, beautiful nails. With the tips you’ve learned in this article, you’ll have perfect gel nails that will last for weeks. Just keep in mind that different lamps will have their own pros and cons, you may want to experiment to find out what suits you the most.

Curing your gel polish thoroughly, but not to over cure it requires some practice to perfect the timing.

And now that you know how long gel polish takes to dry, you can experiment with different color mixes, and designs to create your own unique bio-gel nails. So go ahead and get creative, keep in mind that your nail designs are only limited by your imagination!

Thanks for reading, I hope you have found this article helpful!