4 Quick-Dry Nail Polishes Under $5

Because ain't nobody got time for this s&#t.
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Publish date:
March 17, 2015
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nail polish, drugstore, budget beauty, quick dry nail polish

One of the the main attributes that I look for in a nail polish formula is dry time. I don't care how novel the color or glitter combo is--if it doesn't dry quickly and properly, I don't even bother.

The heartbreak of smearing half-set polish after letting it dry for an entire episode of Law & Order is too great. Never again!

When time is of the essence, formulas can be tricky: either they have too little pigment and end up streaky, or they contain too much acetone and leave nails dry and brittle (and smelly for hours afterward). But there is hope! Here, I’ve road-tested four drugstore formulas for speed, strength, and agility.

Revlon Top Speed In Spirit ($3.48)

White nail polish, quite simply, is the new black; it’s attention-grabbing yet neutral, edgy yet accessible. Finding one that goes on like a charm is tough, as it’s hard to get good coverage without being gloppy. This formula is the perfect blend of coverage and cure: it’s a little thick, so if you’re careful you can get one-coat coverage, though it might be slightly translucent.

Time to smudge-proof: 1:15Time to hardened: 3:15Wear: Both my thumbs and index fingers chipped within 24 hours, but the rest held up for three days without a top coat.

Sally Hansen Insta-Dri In Grease Lightening ($4.99)

This is a nice asphalt gray with a good, flat brush that picks up a fair amount of polish. The coverage is translucent, but I really liked it. An additional coat took about 10 minutes to dry, but gave an opaque finish.

Time to smudge-proof: 2:00Time to hardened: 3:45Wear: Chip-free for two days, then peeled.

Wet N Wild Fast Dry In Ebony Hates Chris ($1.99)

Fun fact: All of Wet N Wild's Fast Dry formulas are named after TV shows, including this Chris Rock sitcom nod. I used to wear black polish all the time--back in the old days when you had to nab it during Halloween, and even then you were stuck with slightly translucent coverage that had to be piled on. This shade is similar: a little thin and very smelly, a with sheer, inky application, which, again, I prefer. The brush is a bit long and soft, but it’s a forgiving polish that's easy to layer. I love it in one coat--it’s not nearly as harsh, but just as gloomy.

Time to smudge-proof: 1:00Time to hardened: 2:00Wear: One coat went chip-free for one day; chipping after three days was minimal.

Rimmel 60 Seconds In Red, Steady, Go… ($1.59)

Rimmel consistently delivers great color cosmetics, and this polish is no different. The short, flat, wide brush picks up just the right amount of product, and the curved tip lets you get right up against the cuticle with ease. The perfect fire-engine red, this is easily one of my favorite polishes. It goes with everything and it makes me feel like a lady--the kind of lady who carries a checkbook, even though it’s 2015.

Time to smudge-proof: 1:00Time to hardened: 1:30Wear: Didn’t chip in 3 days, but showed wear at the tips of my nails.

  • What are your favorite quick-dry formulas?
  • When do you do your nails? I always do them while watching TV. It’s super relaxing.
  • Do you have a signature nail color?