I'd be pretty steamed if I'd just paid for a manicure and it took a detour to Smudge City after having more than five hours of drying time. But there are a few ways you can avoid this type of annoyance. To find out what they are,

  • The most likely culprit of this crime against cuticles is thick, gloopy nail polish. Nail polish thickens over time, making it more difficult to spread smoothly and dry quickly. If you notice a consistency that's uneven or tacky, toss the bottle. (And at the nail salon, give the polish bottle a roll to gauge it.)
  • Another cause of smudged polish is applying too much polish, or not allowing time for the polish to start to dry between coats. If you brush on too much polish or go for a second coat too soon, you're asking for trouble.
  • If you have your nails done by someone else: I wouldn't ask the nail salon for a refund, but I do think it's worth bringing up the smudges next time you're there. For instance, you might say, "I love coming here because you always do such a wonderful job with such-and-such. Last time, though, it seemed like the polish took a really long time to dry, and I woke up with sheet marks on my nails. Any idea why that might have happened?" That way, you're still friendly, and presenting the issue as something that the nail salon might be able to solve.
  • Finally, keep it all in perspective. Smudged nails are minor annoyances, so don't stress out about them.