How to Protect Nail Polish While You Sleep

by Grace Phan ; Updated September 28, 2017

It's no fun to fall asleep with a shiny, perfect manicure, only to wake up and find it's marred or smudged. Even though your nail polish may look and feel dry, it is often still setting for up to 12 hours. Take steps during and after painting your nails to protect your polish while you sleep.

Paint your nails at least 12 hours before going to sleep. Nail polish takes 12 hours to completely set, even when applied in a salon. Apply the polish in thin layers, allowing it to dry for one minute between coats, and apply a top coat when it is complete.


  • Do not shake your nail polish bottle before application. This creates bubbles and makes the product thick. Thick nail polish does not fully set, and is most prone to creasing.

Turn the tap water on to the cold setting and put your hands under it, keeping your nails out of the force of the direct stream. Allow the cold water to run down your hands and nails for three minutes. The cold water will set your manicure.

Apply a thin layer of top coat to each nail one hour before you go to bed. Use a strengthening top coat that is not intended to dry quickly. Quick-dry topcoats can dry out the nail and cause the polish to crack.

Pour a dime-sized amount of cuticle oil onto your fingertips. Massage it over each nail to hydrate them. A moisturized manicure will last longer without chipping or creasing. Use a cuticle oil containing vitamin E for best results.

Wait 12 hours before heading to bed after your manicure for best results.

About the Author

Grace Phan is a trained hairstylist and aesthetician with a penchant for natural and DIY beauty. At the age of six she was skimming from her parents avocado supply to whip up face masks, and hasn't looked back. A graduate of the Atlanta Institute of Aesthetics, she loves working with all hair textures and skin types to create routines that can be practiced at home.