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How Long Does It Take to Get Your Nails Done: A Timeline

by Sherri Owens

It can take between 30 minutes to 2 hours to get your nails done. The exact time will depend on the type of manicure, the chosen design, the tech and more.

As a nail tech, I've handled every type of manicure and pedicure imaginable. Due to this, I can estimate how long any procedure will take.

In this post, I will address how long it takes to get your nails done regardless of the kind of manicure you get.

How Long Does a Basic Manicure Take?

A basic manicure is the standard process. It involves soaking your hands in warm water, followed by buffing and cleaning the cuticle.

The nail polish is then applied. It goes in the order of base coat, polish color, and then the top coat. A cuticle oil may be applied as well.

Typically, a standard manicure will take around 30 minutes. However, if the nail salon includes exfoliation and a hand massage, it may take a little longer.

turquoise mani

Image by @nailsunflower_1 via Instagram

How Long Does a French Manicure Take?

A French manicure follows the same procedure as a standard manicure. However, here the nail technician will use a beige or pink nail polish to match your natural skin tone.

Once this is done, the tech will begin to apply white tips to each of the nails. This is a hand-drawn process and the technician has to be very careful to get the curve of the tip just right.

So, this kind of manicure takes a bit longer than the traditional one. You can expect it to take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour.

simple french manicure

Image by @nelsonbaybeauty via Instagram

How Long Does a Reverse French Manicure Take?

A reverse French manicure is where the half moon is painted at the base of the nail. Now, unlike with the traditional French mani, you don't have to use natural looking nail polish here.

Instead, you select two colors that work well together. One of these may even be a gloss or glitter shade, depending on the look you're going for.

This type of manicure may take about 45 minutes to an hour or a little longer as the half moons have to be drawn with precision.

yellow and nude reverse french manicure

Image by @jadeadamsbeautyx via Instagram

How Long Does a Full Set of Gel Nails Take?

A gel manicure is similar to a standard one. However, here you use a gel polish. This gel polish has to be cured under UV light twice. As such, takes a bit longer than the traditional nail service.

Once this has been done, the top coat is then applied.

From start to finish, the application time is around 45 minutes. Once again, if there are additional services like massage or exfoliation, then the process is going to take longer.

colourful set of gel nails

Image by @taguhi_semirjyan via Instagram

How Long Does an American Manicure Take?

If you have a medium-length nail and want your nails to look as natural as possible, an American manicure is a great choice for you.

Here, the polish is applied so that it's identical to your natural nail bed and the tips. This means that the entire process can take 30 minutes to 45 minutes, much like with a standard mani.

Now, in case you are wondering why anyone would bother with such a procedure, the answer is simple. It helps to keep your nails look natural but at the same time creates a more polished and sophisticated look.

American Manicure

Image by @danih_tricociuniversity via Instagram

How Long Does It Take to Get Nail Acrylics Done?

Do you want to choose acrylic nails? Then, keep in mind that it's more difficult to estimate how long acrylic nails take to get done. This is because the time depends on the type of acrylic nails you want.

The application part of the process is fairly quick. The powder and liquid is dabbed onto your fingernails and the desired shape is formed.

If you have short, natural nails, the nail technician may use nail forms on them. This helps to lengthen the nails and can help to make broken nails look nicer as well. This process can add to the overall time.

In some cases, nail tips may be added instead. They are a more permanent accessory for acrylic nails. Each tip is applied with nail glue.

Once this dries, the nail tech can continue shaping and painting the acrylic nails.

What really takes the most time, though, is shaping the artificial nails. If you want very long nails or an unusual shape, this will take a longer time. In some cases, this can take as much as two hours, particularly when you consider that the tech has to apply polish as well.

If you keep your acrylic nails simple and as close to the natural nail as possible, this may take as little as an hour to do.

Purple Get Nail Acrylics

Image by @_evelinasnails via Instagram

How Long Does a Dip Powder Manicure Take?

If you're looking for a happy medium between acrylic nails and a gel manicure, there is dip powder.

To begin with, your nails are prepped. Then, a bonder is applied - this helps the nail polish product stick to the nail better. This way, you don't have to worry as much about the polish lifting as you do with an acrylic nail.

The base is applied and your nail is dipped in the powder. The nail may be dipped more than once depending on the end result that you're looking for.

Overall, this kind of manicure should take about 40 minutes. The more layers you have, the longer it will take.

Dip Powder Manicure

Image by @jami.nailed.it via Instagram

How Long Does Nail Art Take?

This is perhaps the most difficult kind of manicure to estimate a time duration for. This is because the time it takes will depend entirely on the nail design you have chosen.

If it is a minimalist design, the total process may take around an hour. On the other hand, if the nail salon tech has to draw complicated design or fix jewels or other embellishments, it will be significantly longer. It may take up to two hours at a time.

indian nail art

Image by @evirahayu_hennamakassa via Instagram

How Long Does It Take to Get Your Nails and Toe Nails Done?

So, how long will it take to get your nails done if you're also getting a pedicure?

On its own, pedicures can typically take about 40 minutes to an hour to complete. They usually take a bit longer than manicures.

This is because most nail salons have a more involved process for pedicures.

With a gel manicure or acrylic nail set, much of the time is used for painting the nails, applying the coats, etc.

When it comes to pedicures, the nail salon tech has to make sure that your feet look good too, not just your toe nails.

The skin on your feet tends to be tougher and drier. Due to this, your feet require a lot more pampering and primping than your hands.

This is why you often have to soak your feet for longer and then have them scrubbed thoroughly.

Since toe nails and the cuticle surrounding the nails can be tougher, the technician may have to spend more time trying to soften and snip these away.

Only then can they begin to paint your nails.

In case you were wondering, you can get an acrylic nail set on your toe nails as well. If you choose this process, you can add another half an hour or so to the overall process.

If you want to get both your fingernails and toe nails done at the same time, you will need to check with your nail salon.

If their schedule allows it, they can have two techs attend to you at the same time. In this case, you should be done in little over an hour.

If you want to have each procedure done individually, your appointment may run anywhere from 90 minutes to 2 hours.

pedicure with white and glitter polish

Image by @nails_by_joss_cr via Instagram

How Can You Be Certain of How Long It Will Take to Get Your Nails Done?

Your best bet is to call the salon and ask them. They will be able to give you a closer estimate.

With services like a standard manicure, they will probably be on the money about guessing how long your appointment will take.

When it comes to acrylics, though, this will depend on the style and design. As such, it's possible for them to underestimate or overestimate how long it will take.

What Can Impact the Length of Your Appointment?

There are different factors that can determine just how long your appointment can take:

The Technician

The tech does play a pretty important role here. If he or she is new or not very experienced, it can take longer for them to get it right. On the other hand, if the tech is a pro, they will be able to get the job done a lot faster.

If You Have Bare Nails or Not

If you already have hard gel or acrylic tips, these will need to be removed before the new nails or polish can go on.

In most cases, you have to let your nails soak for about 15 minutes in acetone and the tech has to gently remove the polish.

If you have real nails with no polish on, the tech can simply start prepping your nails right away.

The Condition of Your Nails

If you are a nail biter, your nails may be worse for wear. The same holds for people who work with their hands.

In this instance, the tech will have to file down and do extensive work on your nails before they can begin painting them.

On the other hand, if your have longer nails that have been well cared for, there will be less work to do.

The Type of Manicure and Design

As we have already discussed, the type of manicure as well as the design and style you choose can play a major role here.

Depending on what you have chosen, the process can take 300 minutes all the way up to 2 hours.

How Often You Get Manicures

If you're someone who gets manicures every couple of weeks, your nails will be primed. The cuticle and the nail bed will be in good condition.

Not to mention, there is likely to be less damage as well. This allows your tech to get through your appointment more quickly.

There you have it: an answer to how long it takes to get your nails done. It doesn't matter what kind of manicure you want, these estimates will be accurate in every instance.

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