How Long To Wait Between Nail Polish Coats

If you’ve ever attempted doing your own manicure you may have made the mistake of putting on additional coats too soon. If so, you will know that this can completely ruin your manicure. 

Waiting between nail polish coats is super important because not getting it right can take you ten steps back. This can be frustrating especially if you quickly squeeze this task in between chores or in your lunch hour.

So to help you save time, and nail polish, we’ve provided you with a deep dive into how long this process takes so that you can do your manicure like a pro.

How Long To Wait Between Nail Polish Coats

2-Minute Wait

Waiting for your nails to dry can feel like forever and we get it, you have things to do. But the good news is, you’ll only need a 2-minute drying time between coats. This works perfectly every time. These 120 seconds are crucial for your manicure so that the coats dry perfectly. 

And if you don’t have a timer, it usually takes 2 minutes to paint all the fingers on one hand, so by the time you’re done with the last nail, the first one is ready for a second coat. Having the best quick dry top coat nail polish will also help speed up the manicure process. 

Can you use regular nail polish with gel? This is possible, but you will have to wait much longer to apply the top coat. Because of how the gel top coat is formulated, you need to wait until the nail lacquer is 100% dry, which can take up to 24 hours.

Apply Thin Coats

how long to wait between coats of nail polish

This is important so that your nail polish can last. If you apply thin coats and wait two minutes, the coats will dry faster. This way it doesn’t matter how many coats of nail polish you apply as long the coats dry properly and the color looks amazing.

You might think it will take longer because of multiple layer effort, but this method works better than applying thick bulky coats because thicker coats take much longer to dry. 

Thicker coats also drip down the sides and fill the skin edges which leads to smudging when you clean it. With thinner lighter coats, the color gets stronger the more layers you apply. You will need to apply a thin layer and then wait two minutes. 

After that, apply a second thin layer and wait two minutes. Repeat this process until the color is right. This is so much better than trying to do a rushed quick job with thick layers. Rushing, and using thick layers, will result in a mess that will take far longer to fix than just doing it the right way from the beginning.

How much nail polish costs these days is mostly dependent on the brand you are buying. You can get the best quality nail polish, at good prices from ORLY.

Fast-Drying Top Coat 

how long should i wait between coats of nail polish


To help the process, get fast drying top coat nail polish. Follow instructions on how to use top coat nail polish if you are not sure what to do and make sure it is the best matte nail polish top coat available if you want a matte effect. 

A manicure is made up of multiple layers so getting the drying time right is incredibly important. Whether it's the base coat, polish coats, or top coat, allow for that 2 minute drying time no matter how eager you are to move on to the next layer.

What will also help the application is using the best base coat nail polish. You should know that there is a difference between base coat and top coat nail polish.


For the best results, do your nails when you have time. You want your nails to look as though they were done by a pro. If you allow 2 minutes per coat, no doubt your nail polish will look amazing.

You won't be wasting time redoing nails and best of all, you won't be wasting nail polish. Be patient, have fun, and enjoy your new painted nails.

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