Can you dry regular nail polish with a UV light

If you like painting your nails, you know how easy it is to apply regular nail polish at home.

But sometimes, regular nail polish can be a nuisance since it takes a long time to dry. So you have to plan in advance what you can and cannot do once you brush on that lacquer.

But there are also days when you don’t have the time to wait for your nail polish to dry. Surely there must be a way to speed things up.

Since it only takes gel polish a few minutes to set, it also makes you wonder what UV light can do on regular nail polish.

So in this article, we’ll figure out what UV light is and whether it works on drying regular nail polish. So read more below.

UV vs LED light

Whenever you get gel nail polish put on, you’ll see your nail tech use a tabletop lamp to dry your nails. 

But depending on the salon, they either use a UV or a LED lamp to cure gel polish. So is there a difference between the two?

There is, and it’s mostly the type of light they use. UV lamps emit a broad range of ultraviolet light that’s invisible to the human eye, while LED lamps give off light-emitting diodes in a narrower spectrum.  

In other words, both lights emit UV wavelengths but in different spectrums.

Traditionally, a UV lamp is the only type of light that can dry gel nail polish. But after LED lamps became more popular, most salons are now switching to them, and here’s why:

UV light will take around 2 minutes to dry gel nail polish, while it will only take a LED light of 15-30 seconds.

You’ll also have to change the bulbs on UV lamps more often since it will only last for about 4,000 hours. In contrast, a LED lamp will last 5,000-10,000 hours, depending on your use.

So now that you know the difference between the two let’s get down to business. Does UV LED light dry regular nail polish? Let’s find out.

Can you use UV light on regular nail polish?

Can you use UV light on regular nail polish

You can probably agree that smudging your nail polish is frustrating.

So now you’re grumbling your way to redo your manicure, and the thought of using your UV lamp is getting more and more tempting.

But does normal nail polish dry under UV light?

Unfortunately, it doesn’t.

That’s because regular nail polish consists of solvents that will only need to evaporate to set the lacquer fully.

Since a UV lamp only emits light, it won’t affect the drying time of regular nail polish.

It would only be like putting wet hair under your UV light, hoping it will dry it for you.

Can you cure regular nail polish with LED?

But what about LED lamps? Since they emit a different type of light than UV, can normal nail polish dry under LED light?

Well, we hate to break this to you, but it’s still a no.

As mentioned above, regular nail polish will only need to evaporate the solvent it contains to dry. So it doesn’t need curing under any type of light as gel polish does.

Unless you find a LED lamp that gets hot, then maybe it’ll lessen the drying time of your regular polish. But we doubt that since LED lamps only emit light, not heat.

Since UV/LED light doesn’t work on regular nail polish, what else can you use your lamp on?

Can you use a UV light to dry all types of nail polish?

Can you use a UV light to dry all types of nail polish

Using UV light to dry nail polish must be one of the most revolutionary ideas in the nail industry since it can now produce longer-lasting manicures. 

Since it doesn’t affect regular nail polish, what types of nail polish can you use a UV light on?

Gel nail polish

If you want to have a manicure that won’t chip after 3 days, your nail tech will probably recommend you use gel nail polish.

They have the reputation of having a high gloss finish and being nearly indestructible since they’re hard to chip. They can also last for 2-3 weeks, which is a plus if you don’t have the time or budget to visit a nail salon often.

But what does gel nail polish contain that needs curing under UV light?

Gel polish consists of a resin with monomers and oligomers in a semi-liquid state until their photoinitiators get activated by UV light.

Once the wavelengths of your lamp hit your gel polish, it will start the curing process turning the gel into a hard coat.

The entire process may involve a little bit of science, but the results turn out great.

Shellac nail polish

If you’re following the latest nail trends, you’ve probably come across Shellac nail polish.

It’s a patented formula from Creative Nail Design (CND) that mixes gel and regular nail polish. Creating a natural-looking manicure that’s both glossy and durable.

Shellac nail polish is available in over 100 shades. But you can only access them in CND-certified nail salons. So you’ll have to do a bit of research if you want to get a Shellac manicure.

Since Shellac polish contains gel, it also needs curing under UV light, which will give you a strong manicure that can last for up to 2 weeks.

The only downside is, since it also contains regular nail polish, a Shellac manicure will be more prone to chipping compared to gel polish.

Vinylux nail polish

Vinylux nail polish is another CND original. It’s a type of nail polish that creates a vinyl-like surface to prevent your manicure from chipping.

What’s great about it is that you won’t need to apply a base coat, and it can only last for up to 7 days. So it’s excellent if you want to have a fresh coat of polish every week.

Vinylux also contains the same solvents as regular nail polish, so you only need to air dry it. So curing it under UV light will not affect its drying time.

Plus, it would be unnecessary since Vinylux only has an 8 ½ minute drying time.

Dip powder nail polish

Dip powder nail polish isn’t as popular as gel polish. But it’s a worthy alternative as it can also last for up to a month.

It requires applying a monomer bonder, followed by dipping or brushing on acrylic powder in the color you prefer. You might need to repeat the process 2-3 more times depending on how saturated you want the color to be.

Once you’re satisfied with the shade, an activator is painted on to seal and add shine to your manicure.

But unlike gel nail polish, you don’t need to cure dip powder nails under UV light.

So like regular nail polish, you’ll also need to wait for a while until the polish completely dries.

Alternatives for drying regular nail polish

Alternatives for drying regular nail polish

When you think about it, it’s funny to see yourself tiptoe your way through your house, trying not to ruin your freshly painted nails. 

But since UV light doesn’t work for drying regular nail polish faster, are there any methods that can?

Well, there are, and here are 3 of them:

Nail fan

A nail fan may seem like a silly tool, but it’s pretty handy if you’re in a hurry.

It’s a tabletop fan where you can place your hand under, and a gentle gust of warm air will come out. It helps evaporate the solvents in your nail polish, cutting down the drying time by 30-40%.

Making the days of blowing on your fingers, hoping to dry your manicure faster, are over.


A hairdryer will work the same way as a nail fan does. It will blow air onto your nail polish to speed up evaporation.

Just make sure to switch to the cool air setting if your blow dryer has one. 

If not, put it on a low heat setting and move the hairdryer often so you’ll avoid burning your fingers. Also, too much heat can melt the polish off, so alternate between each hand when drying.

Nail polish drying spray

Applying another layer of product over wet nail polish may seem counterintuitive. But nail polish drying sprays can help cut back its drying time.

That’s because drying sprays contain fast-drying silicones that add a protective layer over your nail polish. While also allowing the solvents to evaporate quicker.

It’s not a surefire way of preventing your manicure from smudging, but it beats waiting for over an hour for your polish to set.

CHECK OUT: How to dry gel nail polish without UV light

The final takeaway

Regular nail polish will always be here to stay because of its easy application and how it makes your nails look pretty.

But waiting for your manicure to dry will make you wish your UV light could make the process faster.

Unfortunately, regular nail polish only needs to be air-dried to set, so any type of UV lamp wouldn’t affect its drying time.

Besides, it seems that nail polishes that contain gel are the only ones that need curing under UV light since other types don’t need to undergo a photoreaction to create a long-lasting manicure.

So with the help of other tools and a little bit of patience, your regular manicure can come out flawless.

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