How Long Does a Manicure Take? Guide on What To Expect


A manicure takes some time out of your day, typically between 30 to 45 minutes for a basic one. This isn't just about making your nails look good—it's also good for your nail health.

If you go for special manicures like gel or acrylics, it'll take longer, maybe up to an hour or more, especially if you choose fancy nail art or extra treatments. 

Want to know the best way to use your manicure time for both great-looking nails and healthy ones? Keep reading to find out!

Types of Manicures

How Long Does a Manicure Take

Manicures cater to the enhancement of your nail health and appearance, involving not just the application of nail polish but comprehensive nail services from filing to moisturizing. Each manicure type varies in duration and the technique is tailored to suit your nail care needs.

Basic Manicure

This usually takes about 30 minutes and includes filing your nails into your preferred shape, managing the cuticles, and applying moisturizer to nurture your nails and skin. The session ends with a layer of nail polish to give your nails a neat, polished look.

Gel Manicure

Gel manicures involve applying gel polish and curing it under UV light, which can last up to two weeks without chipping. The curing process is quick, taking about 30 seconds to a minute per layer. Expect the entire gel manicure to take around 45 minutes to an hour.

Also read our guide: What Is Gel Nail Polish? A Detailed Guide to Long-Lasting Nails

Shellac Manicure

This type blends traditional nail polish with gel, offering durability and gloss. While similar to gel manicures, shellac is usually quicker to apply and remove. You can expect a shellac service to take approximately 45 minutes, including the curing time for a durable finish.

Acrylic Nails

For those seeking length, acrylic nails are the go-to. During an acrylic manicure, a mixture of liquid monomer and powder polymer is applied to create a hard protective layer over your natural nails, which can then be shaped and polished. An acrylic overlay manicure may take up to 1.5 hours, depending on the design complexity.

Paraffin Wax Manicure

A paraffin wax manicure deeply moisturizes and softens the skin, which can be beneficial for dry hands. During this treatment, your hands are dipped into warm paraffin wax, wrapped, and left to soak in the warmth, typically lasting around 15 to 20 minutes. It's a therapeutic addition often combined with other manicure services for enhanced nail health and comfort.

Manicure Variations

How Long Does a Manicure Take

Choosing the right manicure is important for keeping your fingernails looking good and staying healthy. You might like the classic style of a French manicure, the subtle look of an American manicure, or the pampering you get with a spa manicure. Nail professionals can cater to what you're looking for.

French Manicure (45-60 minutes)

The French manicure is all about the polished, white-tipped look that's perfect for any occasion. Here's what it involves:

  • Base: Pale pink or clear layer
  • Tips: White polish
  • Finish: Top coat for shine This manicure needs careful application, so it can take around 45 to 60 minutes.

Check out our guide: Why The French Nail Is Still Popular Till Now

American Manicure (30-45 minutes)

The American manicure goes for a natural style with:

  • Buffed nails for a healthy shine
  • Polish that blends with your natural nail color This approach takes less time, usually between 30 to 45 minutes, and gives you a refined look.

Spa Manicure (60-90 minutes)

For a bit of luxury, the spa manicure includes extra treatments:

  • Care: Meticulous nail and cuticle attention
  • Extras: Relaxing massages and treatments, like paraffin wax A spa manicure is the most indulgent, often taking between 60 to 90 minutes for all the relaxing extras.

Enhancements and Extra Features

How Long Does a Manicure Take

When you want to jazz up your manicure with enhancements and extra features, remember that these creative touches will impact not just the look and cost but also the time your manicure will take.

Adding Creative Touches and Details to Your Nails

  • Basic nail polish application: Typically takes 30-45 minutes
  • Detailed nail art: Can add 15-60 minutes, depending on the complexity

Artistic designs like patterns, stripes, or images take time and skill, so they'll lengthen your manicure session. Even small extras like gems or foil mean your nail artist will need extra time to meticulously apply them.

Also read: 

Post-Manicure Maintenance

To maintain the quality of your manicure and prevent nail damage, regular maintenance is crucial.

Using cuticle oil can keep your nails hydrated and extend the life of your manicure.

For removal, especially of gel nails, professional assistance is recommended to avoid damage.

Touch-ups can help in managing chipping and extending the manicure’s aesthetic appeal.


Getting to know how long manicures take can help you fit them into your schedule. A quick, basic manicure could be done in 30 to 45 minutes. If you choose something like gel or acrylic nails, it'll take a bit longer.

Plus, nail art can add time but makes your nails uniquely yours. Taking care of your nails after your manicure is key to keeping them healthy and making your look last.

If you're short on time or just want a fresh look without the wait, consider using press-on or glue-on nails from BTArtBoxNails. They're a fast, easy way to get stylish nails at home, no appointment needed. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the typical duration of a gel manicure process?

A gel manicure usually takes about 45 minutes to an hour. This includes nail preparation, gel application, and curing time under a UV or LED lamp.

How long does it take for a manicure to dry completely?

For a regular manicure, drying time can be around 10 to 20 minutes, but for gel manicures, the nails are cured under a lamp and are dry immediately after.

What’s the average time required for a pedicure and manicure combo?

Combining a pedicure with a manicure typically lasts between 60 and 90 minutes, depending on the services you’re getting.

For someone new to manicures, what is the expected time investment?

If you're new to manicures, allocate approximately 30 to 60 minutes for a basic treatment, but it's a good idea to allow extra time to understand the process and make selections.

How long should I expect a basic manicure to last before it needs refreshing?

A basic manicure can last from one to two weeks, but longevity depends on your nail’s growth rate and how well you take care of your nails.

What is the duration of an acrylic nail application at a salon?

The application process for acrylic nails at a salon can take between 1 to 2 hours. This includes nail preparation, application of the acrylic, shaping, and drying.


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