How Long Does A Gel Manicure Take?

In this day and age, with its hustle and bustle to get things done and reach goals, a nail appointment should fit into your busy schedule. Thus, many people would like to know how long does a gel manicure take?

How Long Does A Gel Manicure Take?

A regular gel manicure can take between 40 to 60 minutes. The time depends on how the specific nail tech prepares the nails and what the clients want to do. Complicated art, removal of a previous set, or adding nail extensions can bump up the time of a gel appointment to 90 or 120 minutes.

To be sure you are on schedule and attend all vital school meetings, or work deadlines, you should know how long a gel appointment will take and what factors might change the duration of your appointment.

A Standard Gel Appointment Duration

a nail technician is doing a manicure

Getting your nails done is like getting a massage – it relieves stress and gives your mind a break from daily planning and load. Unfortunately, not all of us have the privilege of hanging around in beauty salons all day and need to know how long an appointment will take.

Getting a gel overlay will take you between 40 and 60 minutes. The change in time will depend on where you get your nails done. Some salons have a policy that the nail techs must spend 10 minutes preparing the hands and nails before applying the gel. This is quite nice, as the better, the nails are prepared, the longer the set will last.

The following things can change the duration of your gel appointment from 40 to 60 minutes:

  • The speed at which the nail tech works at
  • The gel product the nail tech uses
  • The extent to which your nails need to be prepared

Some experienced nail technicians know the drill when it comes to gel applications. They work fast but clean and can give you a perfect gel overlay in 40 minutes. Whereas another nail tech might spend a few extra minutes to ensure you have a fabulous result.

Different gel products need various applications and other curing/drying times. This could affect the duration of your gel application but only by a few minutes.

Someone who goes for regular manicures and gel sets usually only needs a little preparation before getting a gel overlay. On the other hand, if you go for an overlay once a year or less often, the preparation might take 10 to 15 minutes longer.

The best way to determine how long a gel set will take you is to call the salon you want to go to and ask. If you have a set time, you need to tell them precisely what you would like to do and if it would be possible to get it done in the time that you have available.

Factors That Will Change A Gel Appointment Duration

A few things during a gel application can extend your appointment up to two hours. If you want to add these things and don’t think it would impact your gel appointment duration, think again.

Removal Of Previous Gel Set

You often have a gel overlay and would like to remove it before adding a new set. Gel removal can take around 15 minutes, depending on the art and thickness of your set. Gel removal should be timely, as this could ruin your nails if done incorrectly. Thus, for any appointment for gel where you need removal also, you should set out around 60 to 90 minutes for an appointment.

Adding Complex Nail Art

The best thing about gel nails is the ability to go wild with nail art. The downside is that this can take up much time depending on the extent you go to. Fine art, which the nail tech needs to draw per hand, takes the most time, mixing colors and different layers of color to create the art you crave.

Art can take 10 to 40 minutes extra and extend your appointment to 90 or 105 minutes.

Adding Nail Extensions

A gel overlay is more reliable than a regular gel manicure. It can be done quickly with extensions. However, it will add to the duration of your appointment by 30 to 45 minutes extra. This will depend on the experience of your nail tech, the extension type, and the length you want.

The different types of extensions and their durations:

  • Builder gel extensions – 30 to 45 minutes
  • Soft gel nail extensions – 20 minutes

Builder gel takes longer as it needs more skill, and the gel is formed on the natural nail from scratch with only a form around the finger. On the other hand, soft gel extensions are already created out of soft gel, only adhered to the nail, and shaped according to the client’s needs.

Additional Treatments With A Gel Overlay

You won’t usually find treatments that go with a gel overlay, but you can ask the nail salon to add them. Paraffin hand wax, hand massage, full manicure, and hand masks. These moisturize your skin, calm the muscles, and give you a great experience.

However, they will add to your appointment length. A wax or hand mask will take up the most time, or if you request a full hand massage of 30 minutes. This could bump up your appointment time to two hours.

What Would Be The Longest Gel Manicure?

a toying waiting next to a clock

Taking everything we mentioned into consideration, the gel manicure that will take the longest will consist of the following steps:

  • Removal of gel and nail extensions
  • Preparing the nails for a new set
  • Apply builder gel extensions
  • Adding a gel overlay
  • Free-hand nail art and gems

Not only will this appointment cost you a fortune, but it can also take you more than two hours to complete.


A gel overlay is not one of the overlays that take the longest. Still, it can be if you choose a slow-working nail tech, want a lot of bling and nail art, and add additional treatments to your regular gel appointment. However, you can make it happen if you are rushed for time and only have 45 minutes.