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Can You Cure Regular Nail Polish?

If you’re someone who loves to paint their nails, you know how frustrating it can be when your nail polish starts to chip or peel.

While some people may simply remove the polish and start fresh, others wonder if there’s a way to cure regular nail polish and extend the life of their manicure.

Can you cure regular nail polish with UV light or an LED Light? Keep on reading to find out what to try next time you paint your nails. Can you dry your nail polish with a UV light?

Woman filing her nails with a nail buffer before applying nail polish

Key Takeaways

  • Air Dry: Regular nail polish is designed to air dry naturally, not to be cured under a light.
  • No UV/LED: It doesn’t contain the photoinitiators required for curing under a UV or LED lamp.
  • Longer Drying Time: It takes longer to dry compared to gel polish which cures quickly under a lamp.
  • Not Compatible: Attempting to cure regular polish under a lamp may not dry the polish and could cause it to bubble or remain tacky.

How Long Does It Take To Dry Regular Nail Polish?

The average drying time varies depending on several factors, such as the number of coats applied, the thickness of each coat, and the type of polish used.

You can expect your nail polish to dry anywhere between 5 minutes to an hour.

Are you in a rush and need your nails to dry faster? Fear not! There are several methods you can use to speed up the drying process of your natural nails.

One popular choice is to simply let your nails air-dry, though this might take a little longer than some other methods. Bonus tip: if you apply thin layers of polish, the drying time will be much faster!

Another fantastic option is a hairdryer set on a cool setting. Gently blow cold air onto your freshly painted nails, taking care not to get too close or else you risk smudging the polish.

This method will significantly reduce drying time; just be mindful that the heat from the dryer could potentially weaken the polish, so always stick to cool settings.

What Makes Regular Nail Polish Slow To Dry?

Hey there! You must be wondering why regular nail polish can sometimes take so long to dry. Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. Let’s dive into the factors that contribute to the slow-drying nature of regular nail polish.

Regular nail polish is composed of solvents, pigments, plasticizers, and resins – all of which play a role in how the polish adheres to your nails as well as its drying time.

The solvents in the formula evaporate as the nail polish dries, allowing the other components to form a solid, smooth film. However, this evaporation process can take a while, depending on the type and proportion of ingredients used in the polish.

Another key factor is the number and thickness of coats you apply. As you might expect, more layers of polish will take longer to dry since the solvents have to evaporate from every coat.

If you apply each coat too thick, it’ll take even longer for the solvents to evaporate, making the entire process more drawn out.

The type of polish you use can also affect drying time. Some polishes dry faster than others due to differences in formulas and ingredients.

For instance, quick-drying polishes contain solvents with lower boiling points, allowing them to evaporate more rapidly than traditional polishes.

Lastly, factors like temperature, humidity, and airflow can impact how long it takes for your nail polish to dry.

Warmer temperatures, lower humidity, and good air circulation all contribute to quicker drying times. On the other hand, if it’s a cold and humid day without much airflow, your polish might take longer to set.

Woman curing her nail polish under a UV nail lamp

Can You Cure Regular Nail Polish?

You can indeed cure regular nail polish, but it’s essential to know that not all nail polish formulas are designed to dry under either a UV or LED light.

However, don’t worry, as there are still ways to combine regular and UV gel nail polish for fantastic, long-lasting results.

For a fabulous manicure, paint and cure a gel base coat first, then apply 1-2 layers of regular polish or a 50-50 mix of the polish and gel transformer.

Once you’ve applied the regular polish, seal your creative masterpiece with a gel topcoat. Just make sure the regular polish is 100% dry (which may take up to 24 hours) before applying the gel topcoat.

As a bonus tip: Before you start with your manicure, it’s a great idea to apply sunscreen to your hands. This helps protect your skin from UV light exposure when curing under a UV lamp, to make nail polish dry faster.

This method helps to speed up the drying process and provides an impressive, chip-resistant finish. Enjoy the convenience and durability that a UV lamp can offer as you perfect your nail game.

Remember, it’s crucial to be aware of potential skin exposure to UV light when curing nail polish. So, always follow safety precautions and don’t forget to apply sunscreen beforehand.

Can You Use A UV Light To Cure Normal Nail Polish?

You can use a UV light to dry regular nail polish, although not all nail polish formulas are designed to cure under UV light specifically.

However, using a UV lamp for drying your nail polish can offer several benefits:

  • Faster drying process: Instead of waiting around for ages for your nail polish to dry naturally, a UV light can speed up the process significantly.
  • Long-lasting, chip-resistant finish: UV light curing can provide a more durable and resistant finish for your regular nail polish, so your beautiful nails can stay looking fresh for longer.

But, there are some important considerations to keep in mind:

  • Make sure the nail polish you use is compatible with UV light to avoid potential damage or a less-than-perfect finish.
  • Be aware of the potential risks associated with UV exposure, such as skin aging and DNA damage. To reduce these risks, you can apply sunscreen to your hands before using the UV light.

If you’re not into using a UV light for curing regular nail polish, you can always invest in a nail fan. A nail fan is a specially designed fan used to dry regular nail polish by gently blowing warm air, causing the solvents in the polish to evaporate faster. This can reduce the drying time by 30-40%.

Remember to take care of your nails and enjoy experimenting with different methods to find the perfect drying solution for your regular nail polish. 

Woman with white nail polish on her nails

How Long Does UV Take To Dry Regular Nail Varnish?

Oh, great question! You must be wondering whether UV light can speed up the drying process of regular nail polish. Now, let’s find out how long it takes for UV to dry regular nail varnish.

Well, to start with, it’s important to know that regular nail polish and gel nail polish are different when it comes to the drying process.

Regular nail polish takes around 15 minutes to dry on its own, while the drying time for regular nail polish ranges from one to two hours.

On the other hand, true gel nail polish can be dried under a UV or LED lamp, taking just about 30 seconds to a few minutes to cure completely.

However, using UV light on regular nail polish may not produce the same results, as regular nail varnish doesn’t contain the same chemicals that react with UV light to speed up drying.

It might still help the polish dry a little faster than air drying, but don’t count on it to cure instantly like gel polish.

To summarize, while UV light can be a game-changer for gel nail polish, it isn’t the most effective method for drying regular nail varnish.

Your best bet is to let your regular nail polish dry naturally, which should take around 15 minutes to 2 hours depending on the product, temperature, and humidity. 

Woman curing her nail polish under a UV nail lamp

Why Do People Use a Gel Topcoat with Regular Nail Polish?

Great question! Let’s dive into the exciting world of nail polish. You might be wondering why people would use a gel topcoat with regular nail polish instead of sticking to a single type of product.

There are several advantages to combining these two types of nail products that might convince you to give it a try.

Firstly, using a gel topcoat on your regular nail polish gives your manicure a shiny, glossy appearance that resembles a professional gel manicure.

It’s an easy way to enhance the look of your nails by adding a touch of glamour without the added cost or special equipment needed for a full gel manicure.

Secondly, adding a gel topcoat to your regular nail polish can significantly improve the longevity of your manicure, making it last longer.

Regular nail polish can be prone to chipping and fading after a short period, but a gel topcoat provides a more durable and protective layer that helps your manicure withstand the test of time. No more worrying about redoing your nails every few days.

Lastly, using a gel topcoat on your regular nail polish allows you to take advantage of the amazing range of colors and finishes available in regular nail polish, while still enjoying the benefits of gel polish. It’s like having the best of both worlds right at your fingertips.


Once your nail polish is completely dry, apply a gel top coat, such as Gelish Top Coat, which is known for its durability and lasting shine.

This will give you up to two weeks of wear, which is a fantastic improvement over the 4-6 days of wear you might get without the gel topcoat.

Remember to cure your gel topcoat using a UV or LED light, depending on the specific requirements of the gel polish you’re using. This will ensure that the topcoat is properly set and long-lasting.

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