How Long Does It Take to Get Your Nails Done?

How long does it take to get your nails done
A salon’s type of service, its design, and the nail technician’s skill level determine how long it takes to get your nails done.

Nail care and beauty treatments have become increasingly popular in recent years. When it comes to self-care and pampering, getting your nails done is a popular choice for many individuals. Whether it’s a basic manicure, an intricate nail art design, or a relaxing pedicure, the process of nail care can be a delightful and rejuvenating experience. Many individuals are now opting to get their nails done regularly as a way to express themselves creatively and enhance their overall appearance. However, one common question that arises is, “How long does it take to get your nails done”.

The time it takes to get your nails done depends on several factors, including the type of service, the complexity of the design, and the skill level of the nail technician, etc. Generally getting your nails done correctly takes 30 minutes to 2 hours approximately. In this article, we will explore the factors that can affect the time variation, and some tips for time management properly. By understanding these factors, you will be better equipped to plan your time accordingly and make the most of your nail care experience.

Basics of Nail Care Process

Before diving into the specifics of how long it takes to get your nails done, it’s essential to have a basic understanding of the nail care process. Nail services typically include a combination of manicures, pedicures, and various nail enhancements. Manicures focus on the care and beautification of the fingernails, while pedicures cater to the toenails. Nail enhancements can include services like gel extensions, acrylic overlays, or nail art.

Basics of the nail care process

While the exact sequence and steps involved can vary depending on the salon and the type of service requested, a typical nail care appointment includes the following:

  • Nail preparation involves removing existing nail polish, shaping the nails, and filing them to the desired length and shape.
  • The technician will push back or trim the cuticles, removing any excess skin or hangnails around the nail bed.
  • Many nail salons offer a relaxing massage during the treatment to promote relaxation and improve blood circulation.
  • In a pedicure, this step usually includes scrubbing the feet to remove dead skin cells, followed by the application of moisturizer. In a manicure, it may involve exfoliating the hands and applying lotion.
  • The technician will apply a base coat, one or two coats of nail polish, and a topcoat to seal and protect the color.
  • Depending on the type of polish used, drying time may vary. Traditional nail polish can take anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes to dry, while gel or shellac polish often requires a UV or LED light to cure and set.

How Long Does It Take to Get Your Nails Done?

While the time required for nail services can vary based on some factors such as types of services, complexity of the design, and the skill level of the technician, it’s helpful to have a general idea of how long certain treatments usually take. Here is a breakdown of approximate timeframes for common nail services:

Basic Manicure: A Refreshing Start

A basic manicure is a popular choice for those seeking a quick and simple nail care treatment. A basic manicure typically takes around 30 to 45 minutes to complete.  It typically involves cleaning, shaping, and buffing the nails, followed by applying a base coat, color polish, and top coat. The duration of a basic manicure can vary depending on several factors:

Basic manicure a refreshing start
  • Nail Length and Shape: The length and shape of your nails play a significant role in determining the time required for a basic manicure. Shorter nails tend to require less filing and shaping, thus reducing the overall time. Conversely, longer nails may need additional time for filing and shaping to achieve the desired length and shape.
  • Cuticle Care: Cuticles are the thin, protective layer of skin surrounding the base of the nail. Proper cuticle care is essential for healthy nails. Some individuals may have overgrown or dry cuticles, requiring extra attention and time during the manicure process.
  • Polish Drying Time: One crucial aspect to consider is the drying time of the polish. Traditional nail polish may take a bit longer to dry, while newer gel polishes or dip powders cure quickly under a UV or LED lamp. The drying time can vary between 5 to 15 minutes, depending on the type of polish used.

Nail Extensions: Enhancing Your Nail Length

Nail extensions are popular for individuals desiring longer nails or those with weaker natural nails. On average, nail extensions or enhancements may take 1.5 to 2.5 hours or longer. There are various methods for nail extensions, such as acrylic, gel, or fiberglass. The duration for nail extensions depends on several factors:

Nail extensions enhance your nail length
  • Nail Extension Technique: Different nail extension techniques have varying time requirements. Acrylic nails typically take longer to apply due to the multi-step process involving liquid monomer and powder polymer. Gel extensions or fiberglass overlays may require curing under a UV or LED lamp, which can influence the overall time.
    • Complexity of Nail Design: If you opt for intricate nail designs like 3D nail art, hand-painted patterns, or embellishments, it will add more time to the nail extension process. These designs often require the nail technician’s artistic skills and attention to detail, which can extend the overall duration.
  • Nail Technician’s Skill Level: The skill and experience of the nail technician are crucial factors in determining the time required for nail extensions. A skilled technician will be able to work efficiently and effectively, reducing the overall duration without compromising the quality of the result.

Gel Polish or Shellac Manicure: Long-Lasting Color

Gel polish manicures have gained popularity in recent years due to their longevity and chip-resistant properties. Expect a gel or shellac manicure to take around 45 minutes to an hour. Here are some factors that influence the time required for a gel polish manicure:

  • Preparation and Application: The process of a gel polish manicure involves nail preparation, including cleaning, shaping, and cuticle care, similar to a basic manicure. However, the application of gel polish requires additional steps, such as applying a base coat, curing each layer of polish under a UV or LED lamp, and finishing with a top coat. The curing process can take a few minutes for each layer, resulting in a longer overall duration.
  • Removal of Previous Gel Polish: If you already have gel polish on your nails, the removal process can impact the total time required for a gel polish manicure. Gel polish removal typically involves soaking the nails in acetone or using special gel polish removal wraps, which can add an additional 10 to 20 minutes to the process.

Pedicure: Relaxing and Refreshing

A pedicure is a wonderful way to pamper your feet and keep them in top condition. A basic pedicure usually takes between 45 minutes to an hour. The duration of a pedicure can vary based on the following factors:

Pedicure relaxing and refreshing
  • Foot Care: Pedicures often involve additional foot care steps, such as exfoliating dead skin, removing calluses, and moisturizing the feet. The time required for these foot care treatments can vary depending on the individual’s needs and the condition of their feet.
  • Nail Care: Similar to a basic manicure, a pedicure includes nail cleaning, shaping, and cuticle care. The length and shape of the toenails, as well as the condition of the cuticles, can influence the overall duration of the pedicure.
  • Massage and Relaxation Time: One of the highlights of a pedicure is the relaxing massage that follows the foot and leg treatment. The duration of the massage can vary depending on the salon’s standard or the specific package you choose, adding extra time to the overall experience.

Gel pedicure

Unlike gel manicures, gel pedicures take longer than basic pedicures due to the curing process under a UV or LED lamp. On average, a gel pedicure can take anywhere from 1 to 1.5 hours.

Gel pedicure

Acrylic nails

Acrylic nail extensions or overlays usually take 1 to 1.5 hours. This process involves applying liquid and powder acrylic to extend the nails or create overlays, shaping and filing them, and then adding nail polish or other decorations.

Acrylic nails

Nail art/designs

If you want intricate nail art or designs, the time required will depend on the complexity of the design and the skill level of the nail technician. It can range from an additional 15 minutes for simple designs to several hours for more elaborate artwork.

Nail art designs

Fill or rebalance

If you have artificial nails and need a fill or rebalance to maintain them, it usually takes around 1 to 1.5 hours. This involves filling in the regrowth area, reshaping the nails, and applying a new layer of polish or gel.

It’s important to note that these time estimates can vary depending on the individual salon, the nail technician’s speed, and any additional services or treatments you may choose, such as a hand massage or nail treatments. Therefore, it’s always best to consult with your nail technician or the salon for a more accurate estimate based on your desired service.

Fill or rebalance

9 Factors Influencing Time Variation

While we have discussed the general timeframes for different nail services, it is essential to understand that there can be variations depending on several factors. These factors can affect the overall duration of the nail service and should be taken into consideration:

Factors influencing time variation
  1. Salon Policies and Availability: The policies and procedures of the salon you visit can impact the time it takes to get your nails done. Some salons may have multiple technicians working simultaneously, allowing them to accommodate more clients and reduce wait times. On the other hand, if the salon is busy or short-staffed, it may take longer to receive your nail service.
  2. Appointment Type: Booking an appointment in advance can save you time, as it ensures that a dedicated slot is reserved for you. However, walk-in appointments may require some waiting time, especially during peak hours or busy days.
  3. Skill and Efficiency of the Nail Technician: The skill level and efficiency of the nail technician can significantly impact the time it takes to complete your nail service. Experienced technicians who have mastered their craft can work more efficiently and effectively, reducing the overall duration without compromising quality. It is worth noting that some nail technicians may work at a slower pace to ensure precision and attention to detail, which can increase the total time required.
  4. Customization and Design Complexity: If you opt for customized nail designs or intricate patterns, it is important to communicate your preferences to the nail technician beforehand. Complex designs may require additional time for planning, sketching, and execution, resulting in a longer overall duration.
  5. Client Preferences and Interactions: Your own preferences and interactions with the nail technician can influence the time it takes to get your nails done. Engaging in conversations, requesting specific adjustments or modifications, or seeking additional services during the appointment can extend the duration.
  6. Service type: The type of nail service you choose plays a significant role in determining the duration of your appointment. A simple file and the polish session will generally take less time compared to more complex services like gel extensions or intricate nail art.
  7. Nail length and condition: The length and condition of your natural nails can also impact the duration of your appointment. If your nails are short and in good condition, the technician will spend less time shaping and preparing them compared to someone with longer or damaged nails.
  8. Additional services: If you opt for additional treatments such as nail art, nail extensions, or intricate designs, expect your appointment to take longer. These services require more precision and attention to detail, which can extend the overall duration of your nail care session. Nail art, for example, may require extra time for the technician to create intricate designs using different colors, patterns, and techniques.
  9. Busy salon hours: The time of day and the overall busyness of the salon can affect the duration of your nail appointment. During peak hours or on weekends, salons may have a higher volume of clients, resulting in longer wait times and potentially slower service. If you prefer a faster experience, you might consider scheduling your appointment during off-peak hours or on weekdays when the salon tends to be less crowded.

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6 Tips for Time Management

If you’re looking to optimize your time at the nail salon and ensure a smooth and efficient experience, consider the following tips:

  1. Plan Ahead and Book Appointments: Scheduling your nail appointments in advance ensures that you have a reserved time slot and reduces waiting time at the salon. By planning ahead, you can also choose a time when the salon is less crowded, which can help expedite the process.
  2. Communicate Your Preferences Clearly: When discussing your nail service with the technician, clearly communicate your preferences, including the desired nail length, shape, color, and any specific designs or modifications you have in mind. This will help the technician understand your expectations and work efficiently to achieve the desired results.
  3. Opt for Simpler Designs: Choosing simpler nail designs can save time during the appointment. While intricate designs can be stunning, they often require more time and precision. Opting for a simpler design or accent nail can help streamline the process without compromising the overall aesthetic appeal.
  4. Limit Distractions: During your nail service, it is helpful to limit distractions to allow the technician to focus on the task at hand. Avoid excessive phone usage, engaging in lengthy conversations, or requesting frequent interruptions. This allows the technician to work more efficiently, reducing the overall duration.
  5. Arrive on time: Arriving on time for your appointment ensures that the technician can start promptly and complete your service within the expected timeframe. It also helps maintain the salon’s schedule and prevents delays for other clients.
  6. Follow aftercare instructions: Properly maintaining your nails after the appointment can help extend the longevity of your manicure or pedicure. This means following any aftercare instructions provided by your technician, such as avoiding activities that can chip or damage the polish.


1. Is it painful to get acrylic nails?

Poorly applied acrylics can be painful, especially if they’re too thick or the technician hasn’t used the glue properly. It’s also essential to ensure that your nails aren’t too long – overly long nails can cause pain when walking or doing everyday activities.

2. How long should a full set of nails last?

A full set should last about four to six months six to eight weeks. After eight weeks, it’s time to take them off and do a new set.

3. Do gel nails damage your nails?

Although gel manicures can be beautiful and long-lasting, they can be tough on nails. Gel manicures can cause nail brittleness, peeling, and cracking, and repeated use can increase the risk of skin cancer and premature skin aging on the hands.

4. How often is it OK to get your nails done?

However, professionals suggest leaving two to three weeks between each manicure and pedicure is ideal for keeping your nails in the best shape. Within this time frame, your nails and cuticles will begin to dry and grow jagged. Most nail varnishes or coats will also begin to chip away.

Final Thoughts

The duration of a nail care appointment can vary depending on several factors, including the type of service, the condition of your nails, the skill of the technician, and additional treatments requested. By understanding these factors and familiarizing yourself with the typical timeframes for different nail services, you can better plan your schedule and make the most of your time at the salon. Remember to communicate your preferences, arrive on time, and follow aftercare instructions to ensure a pleasant and efficient nail care experience.

It’s important to keep in mind that these factors are not exhaustive, and the actual time it takes to get your nails done can vary depending on individual circumstances and the specific salon you visit. Some salons may have different techniques or equipment that can speed up or slow down the process. Therefore, it’s always advisable to consult with your chosen salon or nail technician directly to get a more accurate estimate of the time required for your desired service.

Key Points

  • Basic manicure includes nail preparation, cuticle care, hand massage, exfoliation, moisturization, and polish application.
  • Gel or shellac manicures often take slightly longer than a basic manicure due to the additional steps.
  • Basic pedicure includes nail preparation, cuticle care, foot scrubbing, moisturization, a brief foot massage, and polish application.
  • The duration of nail extensions or enhancements can vary significantly depending on the technique used, the design’s complexity, and the technician’s skill.
  • The expertise and efficiency of your nail technician can influence how long it takes to complete your desired nail service.
  • Some nail salons may have specific policies or procedures that can affect the duration of your appointment.
  • Scheduling an appointment in advance allows the salon to allocate dedicated time for your service.

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