Follow College Fashion on Twitter!

4 Easy “Nail Hacks” That Really Work


I’m a not-so-secret nerd – I blame it on being brought up in the Silicon Valley – and, as such, one of my favorite websites is Lifehacker. Apart from computer and tech advice, it also gives ‘life hacks’ – basically, small things you can do that will improve your quality of life, whether it’s How to Tell if Something is Really a Deal on Black Friday to 10 Stubborn Food Myths That Just Won’t Die.

OK, so the website Lifehacker has nothing to do with nail polish, but I love the concept of ‘life hacks,’ and there are some that are directly applicable to nail care. Here are my four favorite ‘nail hacks’ that will make your life so much easier:

1. Use a White Coat for Bright, Opaque Polish

Essie Blanc polish

You know what I hate? Runny, thin nail polish. In my opinion, every nail polish should be 100% opaque by the third coat – hah, wouldn’t that be nice? Unfortunately, many of my beloved neon shades used to take 4-5+ coats to achieve this, which was a total pain.

Now, I can achieve an opaque look with three coats using any nail polish – as long as I use white underneath. Anytime you’re having issues with an un-pigmented formula, just use an opaque white (I like Essie’s Blanc, $6 at Amazon) and then put one or two coats of your regular polish on top.

The white polish provides a blank canvas and really shows off even the most un-pigmented formulas. Best of all, you can’t even tell a white coat was used – all you’ll see is perfect coverage!

2. Use Cold Water to Speed Up Drying Time

Water on nail polish
image via Beauty Fool

I really did not believe this until I tried it – really, you’re going to tell me something as basic as running my nails under cold water will help me dry them? But it actually does work!

Once your nails are halfway dry (dry to the touch, at least) run them under cold water for about 30 seconds. I don’t know the science behind it, but somehow this makes nails dry so much faster! Try it yourself and you’ll see.

3. Restore Goopy Polish with Nail Polish Thinner


I’ve already written about how every girl needs some of this in her stash, but let me reiterate: nail polish thinner is a a godsend.

I notice, especially with base and top coats, that polish will get goopy halfway down the bottle. I know that I don’t want to throw away that goopy half, especially if I’ve spent $8 on it! A drop or two of nail polish thinner (I use Seche Restore, $7.95 at Amazon) and your formula will be as good as new again.

4. Taking Off Glitter Polish with Cotton Balls & Foil

During the cold months, I love, love, love glitter polish. What I don’t love is removing it – it always used to take me forever.

But the video above shows you an easy way to do it, using nail polish remover (she uses pure acetone, but normal remover also works,) cotton balls (she uses felt, but cotton works just as well) and aluminum foil – start in at around 1:36 – which will save you so much time and energy when dealing with glitter polish!

What do you guys think?

Do you have any favorite nail hacks? What are they? Have you used any of these? Tell me everything and more in the comments section!

Posted on on November 25, 2011 / Filed Under: Beauty & Hair / Tags: , , , , ,

Blog Widget by LinkWithin

30 Responses to “4 Easy “Nail Hacks” That Really Work”

  1. 1
    November 25th, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    Definitely trying the water thing!

  2. 2
    November 25th, 2011 at 6:52 pm

    After your polish has dried a little, use cuticle oil… It keeps you from getting the dreaded sheet marks since it keeps polish from feeling tacky. Plus, you can even coax minor smudges and dents out with a finger tip.

  3. 3
    November 25th, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    Even though Seche products are great, I’ve heard some people avoid it because of the toluene. Since most of my nail polishes are 3 or 4 free, to maintain that integrity, I use Beauty Secrets Nail Polish Thinner from Sally Beauty instead. It works just as well and then you don’t add toluene to your polishes when you thin them.

  4. 4
    November 25th, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    Use Seche Restore for old polishes from before the companies changed the formulas and removed certain harmful chemicals. Seche Restore adds back in one of those harmful chemicals after it’s dried out. For new-formula (3- or 4-free), use something like the thinner from Sally’s instead.

  5. 5
    November 25th, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    To thin goopy nailpolish I just use a drop of nailpolish remover! Nice article, definitely going to try the first hack!

  6. 6
    November 26th, 2011 at 1:30 am

    yikes maya, don’t use nailpolish remover! it actually ruin your nail polish.

  7. 7
    November 26th, 2011 at 2:49 am

    The nail polish remover (just a drop or two) has always worked for me, and it’s never ruined my polish.

  8. 8
    November 26th, 2011 at 11:00 am

    I agree, use nail polish remover to thin polish!

  9. 9
    November 26th, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    The tin foil thing also works to remove Shellac gel polish.

  10. 10
    November 26th, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    My boyfriend races and they have a process for strengthening the metal in the engine called heat cycling. Basically, you allow everything to get really, really hot and then allow it cool down, changing the composition of the metal… or something like that. So of course as he was telling me this I tuned him out a bit and started imagining how I could apply this to me so that it made more sense (hey at least I tried). While I was painting my nails one day, and getting very frustrated that although seemingly dry, my nail polish was still sort of pliable. I decided to heat cycle to harden them. I heated them up (CAREFULLY) with a lighter and then dunked them in ice water… IT WORKED WONDERS. Now I don’t really know the scientific reason for this but really does work great. Give it a try.

  11. 11
    November 26th, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    I love this post. It is my all-time favorite. I now know what colors actually look good on me, instead of having to trust my color-blind best friend. :P

  12. 12
    November 26th, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    Im definetly trying the cold water thing today!!! I love this blog:)

  13. 13
    November 26th, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    Just got Shellac nails for the first time yesterday. Love them! The spa I went to has been experimenting by putting clients’ own non-Shellac color on underneath the UV coat, with good results. Next time, I’m going to ask to try it too.

  14. 14
    November 26th, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    I do #1 a lot. I had no idea about the cold water thing though! Since I do my nails 1-2 times a week, I’ll definitely try it out!

  15. 15
    November 26th, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    THANK YOU for not saying to add nail polish remover… for anyone who’s heard that, it makes nail polish even worse. But nail polish thinner… yes!

  16. 16
    November 27th, 2011 at 2:54 am

    I’ve had good luck with using nail polish remover instead of nail polish thinner, but i only used it with polish that was almost out, i wouldn’t use it with nice polish=/ also, the cold water (at least for me) made my nails matte which wasn’t what i was going for.

  17. 17
    November 27th, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    Great ideas!! I will def have to try some of them!

  18. 18
    November 28th, 2011 at 6:50 am

    It sounds kind of gross, but if you bump your nail and ruin it before the polish has dried, put a little spit on your finger and run it over the polish to help smooth it back out. I forgot the exact science, but it works wonders!

  19. 19
    November 28th, 2011 at 8:10 am

    A white nail polish is also the perfect base coat for those insanely staining but oh so fab green and blue colors!

  20. 20
    December 4th, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    I’ll never buy SECHE VITE’ again cus of the whole gooe situation, nor it’s polish thinner. I hate when expensive products don’t keep its promise to work for months as the label states. Top coat + it’s own brand thinner= $$ RELLY?

  21. 21
    December 4th, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    Other then SECHE VITE }:-( I like what u mention in ur blog. But instead of letting the water run trough ur fingers…I’ll recommend to fill up a bowl w/cold water place it n the freezer for 10 min. And then put ur finger n the bowl…WORKS FOR ME :) and it’s faster!

  22. 22
    July 10th, 2012 at 12:21 am

    I tried the white undercoat on my neon pink which didn’t show up as bright as I would’ve hoped on my natural nails but after I painted just one coat of it over white nails it showed up crazy bright and neon!! Definitely one of my favourite tricks :)

  23. 23
    October 1st, 2012 at 3:34 am

    My Fiance loves her Stylfile range. She uses the S-File and S-Buffer at home. When she’s out and about, she’ll use her emergency file and buffer on her keyring.

  24. 24
    July 2nd, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    you can also spray cooking spray on your nails to help them dry quickly! like pam or regular store-brand sprays. i never thought it would work, and it makes no logical sense, but it finishes drying nail polish really quickly. of course, then you have to wash off the oil (ick) so the cold water trick may come in handy there too!

Links to This Article

Leave a Reply


* Comment Rules: CF is a positive place and our comments section is no different. Constructive criticism is fine, but if you're rude, we'll delete your comment. Please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name and do not put your website in the comment text, as both come off like spam. For more info, see our Comment Policy. Have fun & thanks for adding to the conversation!


* Want a custom avatar to show up next to your comments? Sign up for a free Gravatar.