If you’re like me, you haven’t had a professional manicure since March 2020 and you haven’t seen your nails bare this often since you were a kid. Boy has the pandemic changed a lot: Many of the routine indulgences we used to fill our calendars with no longer feel necessary. However, I still very much enjoy the look of freshly painted nails, especially for Zoom meetings where my hands are on display. My saving grace? The new crop of quick-dry polishes (all less than $10) that dry in one minute or less and have incredible shine. These are the five brands currently topping my list.
Sally Hansen Insta-Dri x Mentos ($5.50)
This formula currently holds the rank of number-one quick-dry polish in the U.S.—it dries in 60 seconds—and has a built-in base coat and topcoat. Plus, how fun is the brand’s latest collaboration with Mentos? All the shades are inspired by the nostalgic candies, including this soft pink called Confection Perfection.
essie expressie ($9)
A 2020 NewBeauty Award Winner, this polish is 100-percent vegan, 8-free (no formaldehyde, toluene, dibutyl phthalate, formaldehyde resin, camphor, ethyl tosylamide, xylene, triphenyl phosphate) and dries in 60 seconds. This translucent lilac is called “skip the track” and is part of the essie’s new, limited-edition “dial it up” collection.
Our 2021 NewBeauty Award Winner for “Best Quick-Dry Nail Polish,” Speedy Gloss dries in just 45 seconds and comes in several on-trend pinkish-white shades that flatter all skin tones. The pale-pink “Fly by at Victoria” shade pictured is my personal go-to.
With a dry-time clocking in just 30 seconds, this is the fastest-drying of the bunch that we’ve tested, and claims to last for up to five days. It also features a built-in base coat and topcoat and super high-shine, making it a no-brainer for on-the-go and no-frill at-home manis. My favorite shade of the collection is Ballerina Dropout (pictured), which is a beautifully universal shade for spring.
For those who like a little shimmer, this Ice Ice Cherry Quick Bliss polish from Sinful Colors dries in a minute and is infused with cherry oil to protect nails from breakage. It currently only comes in six shades, but we’re hoping the brand adds more, because the formula is super glossy and lasts (after two coats)—no base coat or topcoat needed.
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