Essence Nail Art Drying DropsThe number one complaint for nail polishes wearers has to be how long it takes for your manicure to dry. It can take up to forty minutes for your manicure to be completely dry if you’re doing a base coat, two coats of color and a top coat. That is a long time to not use your phone or do pretty much anything. There is nothing worse than thinking your nails are dry before then, touching something, and smudging your freshly painted nails. Ugh.

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Any product that promises to speed up drying time is definitely worth a shot. At-home gel manicure kits allow you to use your hands once you’re done with the steps, but the process involves a lot of coats and a lot of “curing” under the light. The easier option for regular nail polish wearers is quick-drying drops. They claim to speed up the drying time of your polish so you can get back to your routine faster, but do they actually work, or are they just a gimmick? I decided to put them to the test.

I chose Essence Nail Art Express Dry Drops, $2.99. They cost less than your average bottle of drugstore nail polish, so they are waaaay less expensive than investing in an at-home gel manicure kit. Here’s the description from the Essence website:

“Sometimes every second counts. With express dry drops, nail polish dries in 60 seconds! The fast-drying formula includes vitamin E and almond oil to nourish nails and cuticles.”

A dry manicure in a minute and some bonus cuticle nourishment? Sounds amazing. To use them, you use the dropper applicator to apply one or two two drops over freshly polished nails.

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For test one, I applied two coats of nail polish, then rubbed my nails on a tissue to see what would happen. (FYI: I’m using Revlon ColorStay Gel Envy Nail Enamel in Wild Card, $7.99) Note that I applied the polish alternating between fingers on different hands for more accurate results. Here’s what the tissue looked like: Nail Drops Tissue Comparison Seconds There are some smudges on both sides, but you can see there are a lot few on the side the drops were used. Here’s what the hand looked like that I used the nail quick-drying drops on: Nail Drops After Seconds Not bad. There are a few smudges on two of the nails, but pretty good. Note that I did not clean up the edges of my nails after any of the applications. Here’s how the hand without the drops compares:No Nail Drops After Seconds You can see more prominent smudges and there is a piece of tissue stuck on my pinky nail. Plus, there is a lot of tissue fluff on most of them. Here’s a side-by-side comparison:Nail Drops Seconds Comparison The manicure on the left looks pretty good, while on the right my nails are fuzzy and they have lost their shine.

Click the next page to see how the drops worked after five minutes! For my second test, I used the drops after five minutes. I chose five minutes because that seems like a reasonable amount of time to wait for your nails to dry. I kept with the same application as before and used two coats of color.  Plus, I alternated painting fingers on each hand. Here’s the tissue test:Nail Drops Tissue Comparison Five Minutes F The tissue is mostly clean on both sides. However, there is a spot on the side I did not use the nail drops with. Here’s what my nails looked like:Nail Drops After Five Minutes They actually looked pretty flawless. There were no tissue imprints. With a quick clean up of the edges, I could easily have worn this until it chipped. Here’s what the other hand without the quick-drying drops looked like:Regular Nails Five Minutes They aren’t any smudges that go to the bare nail but you can see that I’ve got a lot of tissue fluff transfer and there are some smaller smudges. To see how dry my nails really were on the hand that I used the drops, I tried a few different everyday tasks that can result in major nail smudges. I put my hands in gloves, washed them with soap, used my phone and stuck them in a bag. This is what they looked like: Nail Drops Washing Hands Touching Stuff They’re looking good still. My nails were really dry after the five minutes and I could do everyday tasks without ruining my freshly painted manicure.

Verdict: The proof is in the photos. It is easy to write the nail drops off as a gimmick when you hear about them, but they do make a difference. Considering you only use one or two drops and the bottle costs $2.99, it is a great value. And they take even less effort to apply than you actually polish.

(Photos: Heather Cichowski/The Gloss)