A close-up shot capturing the hands of a client holding a magazine, while a nail technician delicately paints vibrant colors onto their nails.

How Long Does A Nail Appointment Take?

Do you love getting a manicure but find yourself always rushing out the door of the nail salon? Getting a full set of nails or a pedicure involves many steps and can take some time depending on the services you request.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: A basic manicure takes around 30 minutes, while a basic pedicure takes about 45 minutes. More detailed services like acrylic or gel manicures, nail art, and drying time can add 30 minutes or more to your appointment.

In this article, we will provide a detailed breakdown of all the steps involved in a nail appointment from start to finish. We will look at basic services like regular manicures and pedicures as well as more complex offerings like acrylics, gels, and nail art.

You’ll learn what to expect at a typical appointment, average time for each service, factors that influence duration, and tips to get the most out of your manicure or pedicure.

What Happens During a Basic Manicure

A basic manicure appointment typically takes 30-45 minutes from start to finish. During this time, the nail technician will work to shape and beautify your nails. Here’s an overview of what you can expect.

Greeting and Consultation

The appointment starts with a warm greeting from your nail tech. Together, you’ll discuss the service and any preferences you have for nail length, shape, or color. The tech will also inspect your nails and cuticles and may ask questions about your current nail care routine.

Cuticle Care

Next, the nail tech will get to work caring for your cuticles – the skin surrounding the nails. They’ll soak your hands in a finger bowl of warm water to soften the cuticles. Then they’ll gently push back and trim any excess cuticle growth with a cuticle pusher and nipper.

Shaping Nails

Once your cuticles look tidy, it’s time to shape your nails. The tech will file each nail using a nail file or electric nail drill to achieve your desired length and shape. Filing removes roughness and snags while evening out the nails. This step is key for creating a polished look.

Applying Lotion and Massage

Now to pamper your hard-working hands! The nail tech will apply a hydrating lotion or cream and massage it into your hands and nails. The massage relaxes muscles, increases blood flow, and allows the lotion to penetrate deeply. It’s an indulgent treat during the service.

Color Polish

The final step is a fresh coat of nail polish. After buffing nails to a shine, the tech will neatly apply your choice of nail color. Many salons offer hundreds of trendy polish shades! As the polish dries, it forms a chip-resistant, protective layer on nails.

The finished manicure will have you walking out with a perfect pop of color.

While appointment lengths vary salon to salon, 30-45 minutes allows ample time for each step of a thorough, rejuvenating basic manicure. You can expect to leave with healthy, beautiful nails that make a statement!

What to Expect During a Basic Pedicure

Foot soaking

The first step in a basic pedicure is a relaxing foot soak, usually 10-15 minutes, to soften the skin and cuticles. Warm water is infused with essential oils or bath salts to create a spa-like experience and prep the feet. Sit back and enjoy this soothing part of the process!

Removing old polish

Next, the technician will use a nail polish remover to take off any old nail polish or residue on the nails. This ensures a clean canvas for the new polish later. Some salons may gently push back or trim cuticles during this step too. This can feel slightly uncomfortable but is over quickly.

Trimming nails

Once the old polish is removed, the nails are trimmed and shaped. Nail clippers and files are used to trim nails to your desired length and shape the edges. The technician will likely ask if you want your nails trimmed straight across or rounded at the edges.

This step tidies up the nails and prevents any snagging or sharp edges.

Exfoliating feet

Now it’s time to exfoliate! A foot scrub containing sea salt, sugar, or other exfoliants is massaged all over the feet and ankles to slough off dry, dead skin cells. This leaves feet smooth and soft. Exfoliation can be one of the most invigorating parts of a pedicure!

Applying lotion and massage

After exfoliating, a hydrating foot cream or lotion is applied and worked in with a thorough foot and calf massage. Who doesn’t love a good massage? This both relaxes the feet and legs and moisturizes the skin. The massage typically lasts 5-10 minutes.

You may even drift off during this blissful part of the pedicure!

Painting color polish

Time for the fun part – picking the perfect polish color! After discussing your preferences with the technician, they will neatly paint your toenails with the polish. Most salons have a wide selection of colors and finishes to choose from. Once applied, the nails are left to dry completely.

This usually takes 10-15 minutes. Some places may use a UV or LED light to set the polish faster.

There you have it – a relaxing, rejuvenating basic pedicure! The whole process usually takes 45-60 minutes. With regular exfoliation and nail trimming, a pedicure every 4-6 weeks is recommended to keep feet looking and feeling their best. Happy pampering!

How Long Do Acrylic and Gel Nail Services Take

Getting a fresh set of acrylics or gels can elevate your look, but the process requires some time investment. Depending on the service, appointments can range from 45 minutes up to 90 minutes. Understanding the timeline for each type of manicure or pedicure helps set proper expectations.

Gel Manicure – 45-60 Minutes

A basic gel mani clocks in around 45-60 minutes start to finish. Technicians first prep the nails by shaping them and removing shine from the natural nail plate. After applying primer, the gel polish layers go on, each cured under an LED or UV lamp.

The service wraps up with cuticle care and hydrating lotion.

Gel Pedicure – 60-75 Minutes

With extra time needed to soak and scrub feet, a gel pedi takes 60-75 minutes. The process resembles a gel manicure, only technicians pay special attention to calluses and dry skin during the exfoliation stage. Cured gel polish completes the pampering service.

Acrylic Full Set – 60-90 Minutes

Of all nail services, a full set of acrylics requires the most time at 60-90 minutes. The sculpting process truly tests a tech’s skills and patience. Each nail undergoes preparation, then acrylic powder and liquid are blended and applied to extend and shape the nails.

Once cured, they are filed and polished to perfection.

Acrylic Fill Ins – 45-60 Minutes

Fill-ins take less time because technicians only apply acrylic where new growth occurs instead of sculpting entirely new tips. The streamlined process of filing, filling gaps, shaping and polishing takes 45-60 minutes.

Proper maintenance with timely fill-ins preserves the acrylics so they last longer.

Salon visits for nails require some time budgeting, especially for heavier services like acrylics. But the results can be well worth the investment for flawless, eye-catching nails. With regular upkeep, your manicures and pedicures will have you sandal-ready year-round.

Add on Time for Nail Art and Design

Simple nail art – 10-15 minutes

When getting your nails done, simple nail art like a single color french tip or basic nail polish design often takes an extra 10-15 minutes in addition to the base manicure (Byrdie). This includes quick and easy designs like polka dots, basic flowers, or single color ombre.

The process involves cleaning nails, pushing back cuticles, shaping nails, applying base and color coats, adding the simple art or tips, and finishing with a top coat. While simple art is fast, it still adds a nice touch.

So if you want a basic design, plan for your manicure to take 45-60 minutes total.

Complex nail art – 30+ minutes

More intricate nail art like landscape scenes, 3D designs, or nail jewelry often takes 30 minutes or longer for application on top of the base manicure, according to nail experts (Healthline). This includes techniques like acrylics, intricate patterns, rhinestones, chrome powder, hand-painted portraits, and gradients using multiple polish colors.

The artist must meticulously paint each nail, allow proper drying time between steps, and seal the art properly so it lasts. So for fresh-looking beach scenes or sparkling nail bling, you’re likely looking at 60 to 90 minutes at the salon.

Nail stamping – 15-20 minutes

Nail stamping has grown in popularity for its ability to quickly apply professional, creative designs like animal prints, floral motifs, and geometric patterns to nails with minimal effort. The process uses a metal plate engraved with hundreds of pattern outlines along with a scraper and stamper to transfer pigment onto nails (InStyle).

Using nail glue, it takes a skilled artist only about 10-15 minutes to neatly position and seal each decal on every nail. However, proper nail prep is vital so decals adhere correctly. While quick and customizable, decals won’t last quite as long as acrylic or gel manicures.

So for hassle-free nail adornments, decals are ideal when you have 30-45 minutes for nails.

What Factors Impact the Length of a Nail Appointment

– Number of services requested

The number of services requested is one of the biggest factors that impacts the length of a nail appointment. The more services you want done, the longer your appointment will take. Some common nail services that add time include:

  • Manicure
  • Pedicure
  • Gel manicure
  • Gel pedicure
  • Acrylic/dip powder nails
  • Nail art/design
  • Paraffin wax treatment

As a general rule, a basic manicure takes 30-45 minutes and a basic pedicure takes 45-60 minutes. More elaborate services like sculpted acrylics can take 90 minutes or longer. The best way to estimate your appointment time is to tell your tech everything you want done when you book.

– Experience level of nail technician

The skill and speed of your nail tech will impact how long your nail appointment takes. An experienced, efficient tech can cut down on service times, while a newer tech may take longer perfecting techniques.

This is especially true for specialized services like intricate nail art or sculpted acrylic nails. Before booking with a new tech, feel free to inquire about their level of experience.

– Salon wait times

Depending on how busy the salon is, you may need to wait a bit for your appointment to start. Most salons book back-to-back appointments, so if the previous client runs late, your start time will get pushed back too.

Ask the salon about their policy on late starts – some will comp you time off your service if you have to wait. Opting for early/late time slots can sometimes help avoid long waits.

– Drying time for polish and acrylics

There is built-in dry time required for many nail services. With regular polish, you need to allot 10 minutes for your mani to dry. For gel polish, the curing time under the UV or LED lamp is around 30 seconds per coat.

A full gel manicure requires 2 coats for color and 1 coat of top coat, so the curing time is 2-3 minutes total. For acrylic or dip powder nails, the setting time tends to be 15-20 minutes. For these services, patience is a virtue! Rushing the drying process can ruin your nails.

– Extent of foot care needed for pedicure

If you regularly get pedicures, your feet will likely just need a quick tidy up by the nail tech. But if you’ve skipped foot care for awhile, your pedi time may be longer. Soaking toughened skin, scrubbing calluses, and trimming overgrown nails all add steps.

Be honest with your tech about the state of your feet when booking so they can reserve enough time in their schedule. Regular pedicures every 4-6 weeks will keep maintenance easy.

The typical nail appointment lasts between 30-90 minutes depending on the services requested. Allow extra time if you are a new client or if you have let foot care go for awhile. Booking early morning or late evening slots can sometimes allow your tech to take more time.

And opting for a single service like a manicure or pedicure will have you in and out the quickest.

Tips to Make the Most of Your Nail Appointment

Arrive early to browse colors

Arriving 5-10 minutes early allows you to leisurely browse the hundreds of nail polish colors and options. Salon walls are lined with color wheels and the latest shades like Essie’s 2023 “Play The Field” green metallic or OPI’s “Bubble Bath” classic pale pink.

Discuss ideas with your technician or simply relax in the massage chair before your appointment.

Communicate desired length and shape

Be very clear about your desired nail length and shape. Bring inspiration photos to prevent any misunderstandings. Some popular options are the classic rounded edge, sharp and angular stiletto or oval almond shapes. Many salons like Bellezza Salon also offer gel extensions if you want longer nails.

Pick quick drying products to reduce time

Standard nail polish can take upwards of 30 minutes to fully dry which lengthens appointment time. Opt for newer LED gel polish that only requires 30 seconds under the light. Or choose quick dry drops and sprays formulated to dry polish in 5 minutes, reducing wait time.

Opt for regular polish if you’re in a rush

A full gel manicure with base coat, color and top coat requires more time to apply and properly cure each layer. If you’re in a rush, go for regular nail polish which only needs a few strokes of color and can be dried quickly with drops or spray.

Stay off your phone so technician can work quickly

It may be tempting to check your phone during your service, but avoid it if possible. Nail technicians recommend putting phones away so they can work closely on nails without you accidently bumping the table. This allows them to complete filing, cuticles work and polish application faster.


Now that you know how long a basic manicure or pedicure takes and what factors add time to your nail appointment, you can better plan your visit. A typical appointment ranges from 30 minutes for a basic manicure up to 90 minutes or more if you get multiple services.

Communicate any time constraints you have with your nail technician and avoid complex designs if you are in a hurry. With the right expectations, you can relax and enjoy the full nail salon experience or get an express service during your lunch break.

Knowing the average duration for the most popular nail services offered will ensure you don’t walk out with a half-finished manicure because you ran out of time.

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