How long do acrylic nails take to get? What you need to know

So you want to get a new set of acrylic nails done. But how long do acrylic nails take?

It depends.

Here’s the short answer:

Acrylic nails take 45 minutes. That’s for a complete set of overlays. Acrylic extensions (medium length) take between 45 minutes to an hour. If you want longer nails, polish, and/or elaborate nail art, this could need up to 2 hours.

You have an idea of the amount of time involved in getting your nails done. Great!

Now let’s have a look at some of the key factors that can affect how long it takes to get your nails done.

The experience of your nail technician.

The level of experience your manicurist has can be a huge factor in how fast you can get your nails done.

New nail technicians often do a great job, but it takes them longer to do a manicure because they don’t have the speed that comes with years of experience.

An expert manicurist with a lot of experience like Bui (the artist who does Cardi B’s nails) can get nails done in around 20 minutes.

But don’t expect that!

You’ll be lucky to find someone who can work that fast in a regular nail salon!

1960s nail shape

The nail shape you want.

Round and almond nail shapes are pretty standard.

As you’d expect, they are the quickest, easiest nail shapes to get.

They are also the closest nail shape to your natural nail and tend to last longer.

If you want coffin, ballerina, or stiletto-shaped nails there’s a lot more filing and precision involved which makes the process longer.

The length you want

A short to medium set of overlays (where the acrylic is applied over the natural nail only without adding any length) will be 45 minutes.

A medium-long set of nail extensions should take about an hour to an hour and 15 minutes.

The longer you want your nails, the more beads need to be applied and the more filing needs to be done, so the more time you’ll spend.

Short nails are always going to be faster and may last longer.

The condition of your nails

If your nails are in pretty good condition, the prep work at the salon should be fairly quick and easy.

However, if one nail or all your nails are in bad shape then chances are that prep is going to be longer.

If you already have extensions that need to be removed, this is going to add at least 20 to 30 minutes to the total appointment time.

If you have very short nails it may also add time on (to make an artificial nail tip).

The type of polish you want

If you are having colored acrylics done or you want to leave your nails clear, this won’t be a factor for you.

But if you do want colored nail polish on top of the artificial extensions, you’ll need extra time.

Factor in the time for you to choose a color, and the type of polish.

Regular nail polish dries slower than gel nail polish, so I’d recommend going for a gel polish manicure if you want to save a little time.

Gel polish also lasts longer.

Nail art

glitter polish nails

If you want nail art, this is going to add time to your appointment.

The time to do your chosen design will depend on the experience your nail tech has of doing that kind of design and the intricacy of the design itself.

It also depends if you want art on one nail or more.

If you are unsure about the design, show your nail technician first and let them give you an idea of how long for them to complete the design you want on each nail.

Your nail tech should be able to give you a good idea of the time.

How long does it take a beginner to do acrylic nails?

Beginners usually need around 3 hours to do a full set of acrylics.

This is because when you are first starting out, you are still learning and trying to master all of the techniques.

Getting used to how to hold the brush and how to sculpt needs a lot of time so don’t worry if it’s taking forever at first.

Of course, you will speed up a lot with more practice.

How long does it take to learn acrylic nails?

It takes around 2 months to learn to do acrylic nail extensions.

Most courses that teach you how to do acrylics last for 2 months.

However, if you are learning on your own you may be quicker or slower depending on how much you practice.

How long does it take acrylic nails to dry?

hairdryer 3

It takes around 10 minutes for acrylic nail extensions to dry.

You can check them by giving them a gentle tap on a hard surface. If they make a clicking sound, they are dry.

The warmer the room, the faster your nails will set.

It doesn’t matter if it’s acrylic powder, that dries in 10 minutes, too.

Once fully dry, they should last at least three weeks.

How long does it take to remove acrylic nails in a salon?

Before you get acrylic nails, you may need your old set removed.

Acrylic nail extensions should take 20 minutes to remove in a salon.

You should allow 20 to 30 minutes in case the acrylic is a little stubborn.

If you are removing your own nails at home, allow 45 minutes to get the job done.

How long does it take to get acrylic nails for the first time?

The first time you get acrylics, it should take around 45 minutes to an hour.

This is assuming that your nails are in good condition and you want a medium length and a standard shape.

If you want longer nails, nail art, or an elaborate shape (like coffin, ballerina, or stiletto) then this will add time.

2 hours is the maximum time you should be spending in the nail salon for elaborate long nails.

How long does it take for acrylic nails to dry without UV light?

You don’t need UV light to dry acrylic nails, because they dry naturally in the air once exposed to acrylic liquid monomer.

Acrylic nails take 10 minutes to dry without the use of UV light.

How long does it take for acrylic nails to lift?

Your acrylic nails will naturally lift a little after two to three weeks.

If you experience lifting before your nails are 2 weeks old, something has gone wrong during the application process.

How long does it take to soak off acrylic nails?

nail soaking bowl

In a salon, it takes around 20 minutes to soak off acrylic nails.

At home, add a little more time, up to 45 minutes is normal.

How long does it take to get ombre acrylic nails?

Ombre nails take a little longer than regular acrylics.

That’s because the nail technician will have to mix 2 different colors and create a blend.

You should allow at least 1 hour and 15 minutes for a full set of acrylic ombre nails.

How long does it take for acrylic nails to come off naturally?

This depends on your nail growth rate.

Without fill-in appointments every two to three weeks, your acrylic nails should grow out naturally in around eight weeks.

If you don’t want to go to a nail technician to remove the tips, you can keep cutting and filing them down to make them look more natural and be less painful as they grow out.

How long does it take to soak off gel acrylic nails?

Gel acrylics or acrygels as they are sometimes known, are made from part gel part acrylic.

Allow around 20 to 40 minutes to soak off a full set of acrylic gel extensions using acetone.

You should have a break from artificial nails every 3 months.

How long does it take to get certified to do acrylic nails?

This depends on your location and the type of training course you want to do.

In the US around 200 hours of classroom time or 5 weeks of training is enough to become a certified nail technician.

You will need a GED or a high school diploma to train, and you can find out the exact requirements by visiting the department of health’s website for your state.

How long does it take for nails to go back to normal after acrylic?

If you have weak, brittle, or damaged nails from wearing acrylics, you will need some time for your natural nails to return to normal.

It can take between 4 to 6 months for your natural nails to fully recover from any damage caused by acrylic nail extensions.

You can use a nail strengthener to help protect your nails while they recover from damage.

Most of the damage associated with acrylics is caused by acetone, so you may want to look at alternative removal methods in the future.

How long does it take to get used to acrylic nails?

Allow anywhere from a few days to a week to get used to acrylic nail extensions.

You need to allow time to train yourself to not use your nails as tools.

You’ll also want to master how to put on jewelry, fasten buttons, and open cans with your new nails.

If your nails are long and you do a lot of typing, you may need to adjust the way you type and the way you hold your phone to make texting easier.

Pro tip – use the sides of your thumbs!

How long does it take to get good at acrylic nails?

This depends on how much effort and practice you put into it.

If you have a good knack and a steady hand, you could get really good in just a couple of months.

For others, it may be 6 months to a year before you feel you’ve really mastered the skill.

How long does it take to do acrylic nails with designs?

That all depends on how simple or intricate the nail designs are.

Simple, minimal designs with polka dots are the quickest and easiest to do.

One of my favorite designs is just 3 simple dots (in different colors) at the base of each nail.

This can be done in about 5 minutes and is super easy.

If you want something with a little more wow factor like marbling, gold leaf, ombre backgrounds, painted characters, or gems, allow anywhere up to 2 hours.

Final thoughts:

Acrylics can be done in any time frame from 20 minutes to a couple of hours. Depending on the desired shape, length, and complexity of the design.

The average time to get acrylic nail extensions is around 45 minutes.

Removal can be done in 20-40 minutes using acetone.

If you’re doing your own acrylics at home, allow yourself plenty of time, to begin with.

The time you need to get the job done will gradually improve.

Remember to have a break every three months for optimal nail health!

I hope that you found this article covering how long does acrylic nails take helpful.

Please feel free to save it until you get a set of acrylic nails or share it with anyone who may be thinking about getting acrylics.

Until next time!


  • Phoebe Meadows

    Phoebe Meadows is a self-proclaimed nail addict, always on the lookout for the latest trends and techniques. When she's not creating stunning nail designs, you can find her researching the latest nail care products or experimenting with new techniques.