How Long Does it Take to Get Your Nails Done?

In this super fast-paced world, time is money! We are constantly looking for ways to tighten up our schedules and get more out of every minute of the day.

Still, there are some parts of life that just take more time if we want to do them right. Healthy cooking, working out at the gym, and getting your nails done is just a few examples.

But how long does it really take to get a manicure, and are there ways to speed up the process without cutting too many corners on quality?

Today we’re looking at the time factor when it comes to getting your nails done, and we hope to offer some insights that will help you save some precious hours every week.

Typical Manicure Time

The first thing we think of when maintaining and beautifying our nails is the classic manicure. We go to our favorite salon (or take a big risk by trying out a new one) and sit down for a complete treatment that is usually pretty relaxing and enjoyable.

It’s a whole experience, and people who don’t get manicures will never understand! There’s nothing like being treated well and taken care of, and you always walk out feeling great.

For most of us, the time and money investment for a normal manicure is 100% worth it, but how much time do we really tend to spend at the salon?

According to an article from Elle, a basic manicure really doesn’t take that long, with most treatments only requiring about 30 minutes of your time in the chair.

You will often spend a few minutes having your hands soaked and washed in soapy water in order to soften up the nails and clear away any dead skin cell buildup.

From there, the nail tech will put about 5 to 10 minutes of work on filing and buffing the nail, ensuring that the shape is perfect to complement your hands and your chosen style.

Finally, the last portion of the treatment will be focused on applying the nail polish itself, which can comprise up to three or four coats, based on your preferences and the quality of the materials. Cuticle oil is applied at the very end, for good measure.

That’s a lot that can be done in about 30 minutes! Provided you go to a reputable nail salon and have a clear vision of what you want, you can be in and out even faster than that.

Taking good care of your nails at home is a smart way to save some time at the salon.


Extra Flourishes and Finesse

Of course, some folks fully enjoy the pampering aspect of a manicure and want to make it last as long as possible, which we totally understand. 

Many nail places offer additional mini-treatments for a bit of extra cash, and they can add anywhere from 5 to 35 minutes of time depending on where you go and what you choose.

One of the most popular add-ons is the gel manicure, which tacks on another 15 minutes or so to the normal treatment.

In this process, the technician goes through the steps of the typical manicure, then adds a coat of gel polish that creates an appealing glossy layer to the nail. That polish is then cured twice under a special UV light, which essentially “bakes” the polish into place.

From there, yet another top coat of gel is added for extra protection. As a result, the manicure lasts between two and three times longer than a typical treatment, which is worth the additional 15 minutes spent in the chair.

Similar to the gel manicure process is the relatively new shellac manicure. This refers to a patent-pending nail product that combines normal and gel polish into one compound, saving you a bit of time and giving you the same effect as a gel manicure.

This method is not yet super popular, but we expect it to gain some traction in the years to come, granted it proves to be safe and healthy for our nails.

As far as some of the classic designs go, French and American manicures are still some of the most requested treatments and take just a bit of extra time to accomplish.

We all know the signature looks of these manicures, and they only take about 45 minutes when performed by a professional, so it’s definitely worth the wait.

Finally, if you really have some time to burn, definitely look into the acrylic overlay manicure, which can take up to an hour and a half!

What is so great about this technique that takes such a long time? It’s the combination of liquid monomer and powder polymer that protects your nails with a tough outer coating, not to mention a very sleek look that is tough to replicate with normal nail polish.

These are all great options, and worth trying each one at least once to see how you like them. Then, determine if they’re worth spending that extra time at the salon. You never know if a certain style really clicks with your vibe until you try!

Doing it Yourself

There’s nothing quite like getting your nails done in a professional setting, but there’s also something to be said for taking the DIY route with the home manicure approach.

We’ve all been there and done that, but is it possible to save any time by avoiding the salon and just doing it at home?

The truth is that you can’t compete on the clock with someone using both their hands and working from an opposite angle to you.

They have the advantage of perspective, precision, and the professional experience that you probably don’t have, despite having done many home manicures.

Between washing, buffing, filing, painting, drying, and painting again, you are going to be spending at least twice as long on a manicure if you do it on your own.

In our experience, it can take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour to do a home manicure, and that’s if you are really moving things along. Allure details the process here.

In reality, you’ll be changing channels, sending text messages, and doing who knows what else while trying to focus on your nails. In other words, you’ll have distractions.

There’s also the added factor of nail polish removal, which we tend to overlook when getting our nails done professionally. This can be an annoying, labor-intensive process that most of us just don’t want to deal with on a regular basis.

Don’t get us wrong - there’s a comforting enjoyment to the home manicure process that brings us back to a simpler time. But now that the stakes are higher and time is of the essence, we need to speed things up and get the job done fast.

For this reason, many people in the professional community or those running busy families are more than willing to spend 30 minutes at the salon to do things right and save some time.

A Way Faster Solution

While we all dream of a world where classy manicure treatments were 100% free of charge and complete in less than five minutes, it’s likely we’ll have cities on Mars before that happens.

Our next best bet, however, is press-on nails, which are super easy to apply and come in a ton of great styles. Ovals, stilettos, coffins, and more, there are tons of options out there.

Not only are they a breeze to put on, but the best press on nails only take around 10 minutes for the entire process. That is a huge time saver that can’t be denied!

According to an article from the popular blog Brunette On a Mission, there’s a great case to be made for press-on nails in the modern world.

While we’re not focused on price in this article, it needs to be said that the average cost of a set of press-ons is only around $10, which is just a fraction of what you’ll pay at a salon.

Averaging out at 10 bucks and 10 minutes, it’s hard to deny that press-on nails are a great alternative to the traditional nail salon treatments you’re familiar with.

On top of all that, press-ons are actually way better for your nail health than the constant application and removal of nail polish.

Do yourself a favor on all fronts (cost, time, and health) and look into some press-on styles that suit you. You may be pleasantly surprised at what you find!


Manicures are a one-of-a-kind experience when you’re in that “treat yourself” frame of mind.

However, it just isn’t realistic to go to the nail salon every few weeks and shell out the cash and time to get those treatments done regularly.

That’s why you should absolutely look into press-on nails and see the benefits for yourself. What are you going to do with all that extra time?


Brunette on a Mission



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