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If you’re like me, you most likely have a large collection of regular nail polish at home sitting around waiting to be used. Though, sitting down and taking the time to actually paint my nails and make sure they’re properly set seems like a difficult task most days. Whenever I try I almost always accidentally smudge them. Or my nails appear dry but later I see the varnish hasn’t set properly. UV light sets polishes like gel effectively and is used by professional nail artists across the world. But can you use UV light on regular nail polish?

Can You Use UV Light On Regular Nail Polish?

Can you dry regular nail polish with an LED light? The quickest and simplest answer is no, you can not dry regular nail polish on its own by UV or LED light.

A UV or LED light won’t impact the time it takes to dry regular nail polish and hasn’t been proven to be effective enough to be worth the splash!

Regular nail varnish contains chemicals like ethyl acetate and butyl acetate. They are volatile solvents which only dry by evaporating. A UV and LED light can not speed up the evaporation rate.

Gel nail polish is slightly different to regular nail polish and can be set and dried by using a UV or LED light. The light causes a chemical reaction which sets the polish.

It is possible to combine regular nail polish and gel polish, meaning you can use a UV or LED to help set the nails. This will be effective and can make your regular nail polish last longer.

uv light bars

How To Use UV Light On Regular Polish

We have found a simple method to follow if you are wanting to try out UV light to dry your regular nail polish. The method below is by Pamela Tapia who demonstrates each step.

You will need:

  • 1 bottle of nail polish remover
  • Cotton wool pads or loose cotton wool
  • 1 Nail file
  • Hand moisturizer
  • 1 pot of regular nail polish
  • 1 gel top coat nail polish
  • UV light nail lamp
  • Step 1: Apply a small amount of nail polish remover onto a cotton pad or ball. Use the nail polish remover to completely remove any previous nail polish that may be present.
  • Step 2: Use the nail file to prep the nails ready for the nail polish. Use the nail file to file any rough areas of the nail that may be present, focusing on the sides of the nails.
  • Step 3: Use two pea sized portions of hand moisturizer and rub into the hands evenly. Make sure to focus on the nails in particular.  If you are looking for the best hand moisturizer, we recommend L’Occitane’s Shea Butter Hand Cream.
  • Step 4: Depending on what color of nail polish you use, paint one layer of regular nail polish over all your nails. Leave the regular nail polish layer to dry naturally for about 4 minutes. Or use a nail dryer and allow them to dry for 2 minutes. A tip to know if your nails are dry is to touch them after two minutes. If they do not smudge, they are good to go. Opting for a lighter color, like a white or baby pink? You may need to paint two layers of regular nail polish to make sure you get the full effect of the shade. If you paint two layers, leave the first layer to dry naturally for 4 minutes again. Or use a nail dryer and allow them to dry for 2 minutes. Then go back and add a second layer and allow it to dry again. 
  • Step 5: Once the regular nail polish is dry, use a clear gel top coat to paint one layer over the regular nail polish. The gel nail polish should be clear which will not affect the shade of the regular nail polish. It will also add a protection coat. Adding a clear gel nail polish will mean your painted nails will last longer.
  • Step 6: Turn on the UV light nail lamp and place your nails under the lamp for 2 minutes. Using a gel polish as a top coat over regular nail polish and setting with a UV light lamp will make your nails appear shinier than regular nail polish alone.

How To Dry Regular Nail Polish

We have a few tricks up our sleeves to make sure you don’t smudge those beautifully painted nails! Here is a list of methods to try that will dry regular nail polish faster:

  • Regular nail polish drying spray: Purchasing a regular nail polish drying spray can help your nail polish properly set within a few minutes. A nail polish drying spray contains chemicals such as butane and propane. These will help increase the speed of evaporation of the regular nail polish, making it dry faster. 
  • Apply thin coats of regular nail polish: This is one of the simplest ways to make your nail polish dry faster. Applying multiple layers of thin coats of regular nail polish is actually more reliable than applying thick coats. The finish of the nail polish will be more even and have less air bubbles. Thinner coats of regular nail varnish will evaporate and dry faster than thicker coats.
  • Use hairspray on regular nail polish: Hairspray, when sprayed onto regular nail polish can work very well when drying the nail polish faster. It contains chemicals that will make the polish evaporate. When using this trick at home, make sure to hold the hairspray at least 10 inches away from the nails. Spray the hairspray after the nails have already been naturally drying for 30 seconds. Spray them for ten seconds before allow them to continue to naturally dry. 

Do you want to know how to dry regular nail polish faster?

Using a dryer for regular nail polish can be very effective. It is the most popular way of drying regular nail polish. A nail dryer can prevent smudges and properly set the polish while also saving you time. A nail polish dryer can be most effective when drying between thin layers.

Nail polish dryers have a quick drying time of 2-3 minutes. It’s the perfect tool for nail professionals or those who have little patience.

Wanting to try out a nail polish dryer?

We recommend the Portable Nail Dryer with Fan & LED Light . This nail dryer is suitable for both fingers and toes and is built to be lightweight and portable.

We also recommend that you try this Gel UV LED Nail Lamp and Nail Dryer . This nail dryer is also a UV light machine. This means it can dry both your regular nail polish and gel polish.

perfect red mani


What Nail Polish Works With UV Light?

The best nail varnish that will 100% work with UV light is gel nail polish. Gel nail polish will dry quickly under UV lamps, roughly taking just up to two minutes to properly dry and set!

A Combination Is The Best Bet!

Using a combination of regular nail polish and gel nail polish is the perfect balance. You can select your favourite shades that you already have at home and improve drying time and smudges by using a clear gel top coat. This gel top coat allows you to use a UV or LED light which can properly set the nail allowing your nails to last longer.

Do you use a UV light to dry your regular nail polish? What is the most effective way to dry regular nail polish?