I’d Given Up on Home Manicures—Until I Found an Obscure Brand of Nail Polish

Downtime

I Finally Found a Quick-Drying Nail Polish That Actually Works

The only downside is that it’s $22 a bottle.

Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Amazon and Getty Images Plus.

This is  One Thing , a column with tips on how to live.

As someone who works from home in a uniform of yoga pants and a messy bun, my DIY manicures are one habit that makes me feel like less of an unkempt troll. I don’t stop at simple polish and topcoat. Over the years, I’ve accrued enough equipment—nail-drying fans, lacquer thinners, cuticle pushers, Czech glass files—to open my own salon. But for a while, I let my manicure habit fall by the wayside. My nails just took too long to dry. Even the best-reviewed quick-drying topcoats have left my nails tacky and damage-prone for hours. Sometimes I’d wake up the morning after I’d painted my nails with sheet indents in the polish. It felt like such a waste.

Things changed, though, last Christmas, when my chemist sister-in-law gifted me a starter kit from a company I’d never heard of called Dazzle Dry.

They make a four-step “gel-like” manicure system. Use the prep solution, then base coat, polish, topcoat; then wait five minutes. Your nails will, the packaging promises, be chip-proof for seven days. Yeah, sure, I thought. I’ve heard that before. But the color I received was pretty—an iridescent green called Dragonfly—so I followed the steps at my kitchen table and then set my timer.

Five minutes later, I tentatively touched a nail. Pretty dry, but what if I dug the edge of my nail into the fresh polish? Would it really hold up? Reader, it did. Not only that, but I immediately slammed my hand into a cabinet and it didn’t even leave a dent. I could do things like button my jeans and still have a perfect manicure.

Dazzle Dry has a wide range of colors, but nothing particularly fancy (for example, no chrome nail polish). Also, it’s rather pricey. A standard bottle is $22, which is twice the cost of other indie brands beloved by manicure nerds, like ILNP or Cirque Colors, which run $10 to $12 each. (Add the cost of one Dazzle Dry to that of the other four steps of the “system.”) That’s why I like the Dazzle Dry minis, which are small $10 bottles that allow me to go nuts on new colors. My polish lasts the promised seven days, but changing colors is half the fun, so I rarely let it go the full week. My favorite is the Be Bright Mini Flight, which comes with five neons for the perfect Skittles nails (or “clown hands” as my husband calls them). I also love Starstruck, Midnight Express, and Pistachio. Now that I don’t have to be tediously careful on manicure day, I can change my polish to match my mood as I please.

Beauty

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