How to protect nail polish while you sleep

Written by ann mazzaferro
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How to protect nail polish while you sleep
Let your polished nails dry thoroughly between coats to prevent smudging. (Elizabeth Hachem/Lifesize/Getty Images)

The manicure that seemed like a great idea the night before is a smudgy mess by the next morning. While painted nails can add some polish and pizazz to your outfit, a good night's sleep can leave your nails with smudges and indentations from your sheets. The best way to protect nail polish while you sleep is to take your time painting your nails, allowing for adequate drying time between coats. It may take a couple of tries, but just remember: if at first you don't succeed, dry, dry again.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Allow nails to completely and thoroughly dry between coats, and paint nails several hours before going to bed. Apply multiple, thin coats of polish instead of one thick, opaque coat. Thick coats will only dry at the very top, leaving them malleable and susceptible to smudges.

  2. 2

    Apply a thin layer of clear top coat after your nails have completely dried. Not only will the top coat add shine to your nails, but it will protect them from smudges, chips and dents while you sleep. As with all nail polish, let the coat dry completely before going to bed. While it may feel dry in a few minutes, top coats can take several hours to dry completely.

  3. 3

    Replace your nail polish regularly. The shelf life for most nail polish is one to two years, after which it turns gummy, sticky and stringy. Your nails will not dry properly with nail polish that is too old, which will lead to smudges.

Tips and warnings

  • Do not go to bed wearing moisturising gloves for several days after applying nail polish. The proximity of fabric to your freshly painted nails all but assures that you will wake up with smudges.

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