There are few things that rank as high on my list of annoyances as a smudged nail—especially when I’ve tried to save money by going the DIY route. Not only does it take a good half hour out of my day (while watching Netflix on the couch, but that’s neither here nor there) to properly file, buff, and actually polish them, but I’m basically useless for another half-hour until they’re dry. Ever tried going to the bathroom within three hours of doing your nails? I’d sooner unbutton my pants with my wrists and pretend I don’t have fingers at all than risk smudging a nail.
That is, until I found the holy grail that is quick-dry drops about a year ago. If we’re being honest, when I first discovered them I assumed everyone had been using quick-dry drops without me for years—that they’d somehow eluded me. As it turns out quick-dry drops are still a relative secret: Most of my friends have never heard of them, and a couple couldn’t even wrap their minds around how they worked. Most quick-dry drops, which feel slightly oily to the touch, work with the help of a solvent—usually ethyl acetate or butyl acetate—to help the polish evaporate and dry faster, cosmetic chemist Randy Schueller confirms. They often have a harsh, acetone-like acetone scent for obvious reasons, but if you can get past that, you’re golden. They work best—that is, they dry your nails to a glossy finish within a couple of minutes—if you apply thin, even layers of polish; if you glop it on, there’s likely no saving your manicure.
After discovering QTica’s drops during one of my first trip to Tenoverten’s salon in NYC, I’ve since tested out quite a few. Serial nail polish-smudgers, behold: the best quick-dry drops to scoop up so you never have to deal with a smudged nail again.