Will Rubbing Alcohol Work As A Nail Dehydrator? Let’s Find Out




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Sometimes when you run out of things, you just don’t have the time to restock, so you often try to find an alternative. This might be the case with you and your nail dehydrator, but I will help you to find a way to work around this minor setback. That’s why we’re going to talk about whether alcohol can work as a nail dehydrator. 

Rubbing alcohol can work as a nail dehydrator. The Isopropyl in the Alcohol evaporates quickly so it will speed up the evaporation process when mixed with the oils and moisture in your skin. If you have acetone in your possession, then this can also work as a nail dehydrator. 

Continue reading to find out why nail dehydrators are important as well as how other substances can work as a dehydrator. You will also learn how these substitute substances can help in other parts of your nail polishing regimen. Lastly, you will learn how to rehydrate your nails once they have been painted. 

Why Do I Need to Dehydrate My Nails?

Your nails need to dehydrate to prevent the moisture from your cuticles and nails from interfering with the formula of your polish. 

You should apply your nail dehydrator before applying regular nail polish, gels, and gel polishes. You can also use them before adding acrylics to your fingers as their adhesive quality can help if you are prone to lifting. 

What Can I Use as A Nail Dehydrator?

Rubbing Alcohol

If you have ever heard the hack of submerging your phone in alcohol to remove water, then you will understand how alcohol interacts with water. It can be used as a dehydrator because alcohol bonds well with water. 

Alcohol evaporates at a faster rate than water so it will help to leave your nails and the surrounding area dried and prepped for polishing. Ensure to get alcohol with at least 91% isopropyl. 


Acetone is another solution that evaporates quickly. Placing it on your nails will allow its moisture to mix with the acetone. Once the acetone evaporates so too will the moisture on your nails and in the surrounding area. 

Nail polish remover will not work as it only has a small amount of acetone. You will need 100% acetone for it to be effective. 

Eternal 100% Pure Acetone – Quick Professional Ultra-Powerful Nail Polish Remover for Natural, Gel, Acrylic, Shellac Nails and Dark Colored Paints (8 FL. OZ.)

Acetone And Alcohol Mixture

If you have alcohol on hand but it isn’t with 91% isopropyl you can mix it with some acetone to work as your dehydrator. The combination will do a quicker job of evaporating the water than allowing the water to dry by itself.

Benefits of A Nail Dehydrator

Better Manicure Quality

The nail dehydrator dries your nail plate which creates a smoother surface for your polish coats to stick to. Nails with moisture and oil on them will eventually mix with your coating and promote chipping and lifting. If you’re like me who is prone to chipping their nail polish the moment I step out the salon door, then you’ll understand how important it is to give yourself the best possible chance to have even smooth polishing for as long as possible. 

Kills Bacteria

This also serves as another reason to use rubbing alcohol as a dehydrator. Nail dehydrators contain some alcohol. The isopropyl in the alcohol is not only drying, but it also kills the bacteria in and around your nails.

 It protects you from getting any sort of infection from your polish as oftentimes your skin carries tiny cuts and pricks you aren’t aware of. It is especially necessary since you’re dehydrating after having your nails buffed which sometimes causes tiny tears in the skin around the nails. 

Longer Lasting Polish

Nail dehydrators help your polish to adhere to your nails. The longer your polish adheres to your nails, the longer you can keep your nail polish. This is especially true if you’ve had a gel polish. 

Personally, I find that a few chores around the house are enough to start wearing away my nail polish. So if you need it to stick longer, it’s best not to skip the dehydrating stage. 

Difference Between Primer and Dehydrator

The benefits we discussed before describe some of the functions of a primer. I’ll explain how they are different so that you can see the value of adding both to your manicure regimen.

Adhesive Function

While the nail dehydrator helps the polish to adhere to the nails, the primer’s formula is made specifically for the purpose of reacting to the chemicals in your nail polish to form a strong bond. You will find that your nail polish lasts longer when you have added primer. Your dehydrator is usually placed on your nail then the primer is added on top. 

If there are any of the two that you can take out of the process, it would be the nail dehydrator, as it has dehydrating properties that can strip the skin and nails of oils and moisture just as effectively. However, it doesn’t hurt to leave the extra step in because the dryer your nails, the smoother with longer-lasting effects. 

Bacteria Killing 

Also, the percentage of alcohol is greater in dehydrators. The bacteria cleaning process will be easier with a nail dehydrator or even with the solutions we described above for nail dehydrator alternatives. 

Rehydrating Tips 

Cuticle Oil

While dehydrating your nails are ideal for a flawless finish to your manicure, allowing your nails to remain dry is not recommended. Use the following tips to rehydrate your nails after you have finished applying, polishing, gels, or acrylics.

Nail & Cuticle Care by CND, SolarOil for Dry, Damaged Cuticles, Infused with Jojoba Oil & Vitamin E for Healthier, Stronger Nails

Ensure you or your nail technician uses cuticle oil after your nails are finished. Cuticle oil strengthens your nails which is perfect for those who repeatedly have them painted. Nail polish and gels can make your nails brittle over time. 

It is best to ensure that your nails are getting enough fortification to withstand the rigors of dehydrators, buffing, and polishing every few weeks. It will also prevent skin, cuticle, and nail infections. 

We already spoke about how the dehydrator kills the bacteria before you add the nail polish. However, nail polish can infect your skin and nails especially during prolonged wearing of nail paints. 


Ensure to frequently moisturize your hands to help keep them hydrated, especially after washing and drying. Ensuring your skin retains its moisture will also help your nail polish to last longer. 

You can use hydrating products such as Shea Butters, Cocoa Butters, and Coconut Oils. Using these will also add nutrients to your skin and fortify your nails. 

Sheamoisture for Ultra-Healing for Dry Skin 100% Raw Shea Butter for All-Over Hydration 10.5 oz


Using dehydrators is quite beneficial to your manicure regimen as it will help you to have a flawless, professional look and feel for your nails. If you don’t have a nail dehydrator on hand, you can use rubbing alcohols, acetones, or a combination of the two. Ensure that after the process is complete, you rehydrate your nails so that your nail will last longer and your skin remains healthy. 

If you want to read more about taking care of your nails you can look here.


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