How to Dry Gel Nail Polish

How to Dry Gel Nail Polish

There are several types of nail polish that you can use today, and gel polish is one of the most popular. Gel polish is made up of acrylic oligomers and monomers, which bond together when they are placed under UV light. The process, which is known as curing, only takes a matter of seconds, turning the gel into a chemical-resistant and hard coating. There are so many different colours and styles of gel nail polish to choose from today, yet one thing you may be interested to learn more about is how gel nail polish dries, which is what we will reveal in this guide.


Bluesky LED UV Nail Lamp


What are the benefits of gel nail polish?

Before we dig deeper into drying gel nail polish, let’s take a look at some of the different reasons why this has become such a popular option.

  • Gel nail polish is easy to remove.
  • The application is odourless, whereas acrylic nails can be a little bit potent during the application.
  • You can use gel nail polish to extend the length of your nails if you have tips underneath. This is a natural and effective way of strengthening your own nail and encouraging your nails to grow. 
  • You do not need to worry about your nails smudging, as gel nail polish dries very quickly under the UV light, which we will discuss in more depth below. 
  • Gel nail polish can last between three and four weeks without fading, peeling, or chipping. You don’t have to worry about any scratches or dents.


How do you dry gel nail polish? Will gel nail polish air dry?

A lot of people wonder whether they can simply allow their gel nail polish to air dry. Unfortunately, this is not possible. Oxygen gets in the way of curing gel nails. The air will stop the molecules in the gel from binding together and hardening, and this is why you simply cannot let gel nails air dry. It won’t work. But don’t panic, as this does not mean that the process is a complicated one.


How to Dry Gel Nail Polish - Bluesky Cosmetics

Curing your gel nail polish

When it comes to drying your gel nail polish, curing is actually the most appropriate term. You cannot simply flap your hands in the air and hope for the best. Instead, they need to be cured. 

Curing is a term that is used to describe the chemistry behind the process of toughening or hardening a material - in this case, the gel polish. You can cure your gel nail polish by using either an LED lamp or a UV lamp.  If you're using Bluesky products, we advise using the Bluesky lamp for best results (due to the products being tested & formulated with our lamp).

It is easy to cure your gel nail polish. All you need to do is apply the polish, and then place your hand under the lamp, and press the ‘on’ switch. Keep your hand still and leave it underneath the light until the lamp goes out. The gel nail polish lamps that are available today have been designed so that the light only stays on for the length of time required to harden the nail polish and not any longer. 

With most of the lamps that are available on the market today, you will be able to cure your whole hand at once. There are then some models which, when used, you can do your fingers and thumbs separately.


The difference between UV and LED lights when drying gel nail polish

You may be wondering whether you should choose an LED or UV lamp. There are not many differences between the two, yet LED lamps do tend to be a bit quicker when it comes to drying gel nail polish. 

We will help you to understand how they both dry gel nail polish so that you can get a better understanding. The UV light is the active product in both the LED and UV light source. It is this light that will start the drying process and will ensure your nails are hardened without any chipping or smudging. 

Traditionally, UV wavelengths are used to cure gel nail polish. A range of UV wavelengths, which are known as photoinitiators, are emitted by the light, which will compound in the gel. This is then converted into the energy that is needed so that the process known as polymerisation begins. This is when molecules within the gel are attracted together, making the gel harder and creating the coating that we are all familiar with. 

So, what about LED lights? Well, they work in a very similar way. The only real difference is that the wavelengths they give off are much narrower and have more energy, and this is why the drying process can be activated quicker with an LED lamp.


Getting a great gel nail finish

So, let’s take a look at the steps entailed to get a great gel nail finish:

  1. Remove old nail polish completely and clean your nails.
  2. Use a cuticle stick to push back your cuticles and prepare the nail beds. 
  3. Use a gentle nail file to shape the nails. 
  4. Lightly buff your nails with a buffer block so that the polish has a good surface to adhere to. 
  5. Remove any residue and use a nail cleaner to wipe your nails clean.
  6. Apply the gel polish base coat. Make sure it is a thin layer.
  7. Dry your base coat under the light.
  8. Apply a thin layer of gel nail polish.
  9. Dry this under the light.
  10. Repeat these steps.
  11. Apply a thin layer of top coat.
  12. Dry the top coat under the light.
  13. Use a lint-free nail wipe or nail cleanser to take off any tacky surface.
  14. Massage some cuticle oil in for a professional look.


How to Dry Gel Nail Polish - Bluesky Cosmetics


How long will it take for gel nails to dry?

You will be pleased to hear that it does not take very long to dry gel nails. It is certainly a lot quicker than drying regular nail polish with the flapping your hands in the air approach.

Our lamp cures in 60 seconds.However, it does depend on the gel nail polish you have applied and the thickness of the layer can impact how long it takes. 

When you are painting your nails using gel polish, applying several thin coats is the best approach. The coats need to be as thin as you can possibly make them. If you do not do this, it can take longer to cure your nails and they may not cure properly if the layers are extremely thick. 

You need to cure after every coat, rather than simply curing your nails once all of the coats have been applied. This includes curing your nails after you have applied the top coat and the base coat. 

When you purchase a lamp for drying gel nail polish, it will indicate the drying time on it. There are some that can take as long as two minutes. While this does not seem very lengthy on the surface, it can feel quite long after a while.


How often do you need to change the bulbs in your lamp?

The light intensity of your light bulbs is going to get lower as time goes on. If you do not change the bulbs in your lamp, it will not cure your gel nails properly anymore, so this is a vital part of the process. 

How regularly you need to change your bulbs will depend on how often you are using your LED or UV light. If you are using your lamp on a daily basis, the bulbs should be changed every two to four months. 

However, if you are only doing your own nails at home, you are not going to need to change the bulbs on a regular basis. One thing you will need to do, though, is make sure you wipe the nail dust off the bulbs in your lamp after us, as this can impact how effectively they perform. 


Purchase your gel nail polish from Bluesky Cosmetics

You can purchase your gel nail polish today from Bluesky Cosmetics with our LED nail lamp to dry your gel nail polish effectively. We have a stunning selection available for your nail polish needs, with a huge assortment of colours for you to select from. 

We also have gel polish subscriptions, starter kits, removal products, top and base, and much more, ensuring that all of your needs are covered. 

We offer a 10% discount when you place your first order, and we have designed our website so that you can easily get the products you need by simply adding them to your basket and following the simple checkout process.


If you have any questions about any of the products that we have for sale, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us for more information. You can reach us via and we will get back to you as soon as possible. 


  • Bluesky

    Hi Mike! Our Gel Polish must be cured under LED or UV light :)

  • Mike

    Hi! I was wondering if the gel nail polish will not harden under other wavelengths. Is it only UV or will these chemical compounds harden under normal light as well and it just takes longer?

  • R. Roberts

    The information provided for drying the gel polish was very helpful. It was not appreciated not being aware of the difference

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published