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 • Nails  • Nailcare Guides  • *Exactly* How Long Does A Full Set of Acrylic Nails Take?
how long does a full set of acrylic nails take acrylics

*Exactly* How Long Does A Full Set of Acrylic Nails Take?

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Main Image – marinafrost/Adobe

With their unparalleled versatility and durability, a full set of acrylic nails are the G.O.A.T if you want a manicure that really lasts. More durable than a powder dip and stronger than a gel nail mani, acrylics are *perfect* for those who need a mani that lasts.

Now, they might stand the test of time on your nails (okay, so they will last for around 6 – 8 weeks depending on wear and tear), but how long will it take to *actually* get these little beauties onto your nail?!

Live That Glow HQ spoke to Kayla Bramlet, the Director of Education and Training for Frenchies Modern Nail Care, and BIPOC pro nail artist Syreeta Aaron to go beyond the realm of time to answer all of your burning questions about how acrylic nails are applied, the maintenance, how often they need to be filled, the downsides to acrylic nails, and the best practices for ensuring longevity.

So sit back, relax, and prepare to unravel the secrets and top tips of acrylic nails.


How long does a full set of acrylic nails take?

The good news is, you’ll be in and out of the salon within around 90 minutes after a full set of acrylics – pretty quick, hey? Of course, this will all depend on the condition of your nails when you arrive at your appointment, the level of experience your nail tech has, and whether you are going for a plain nail or a full-on design.

This includes the time it takes to prep your nails, apply the acrylic, and add any polish or nail art. Some nail techs say they even can do this in around an hour. Bonus!

Kayla tells us, “the process of having a full set of acrylic nails applied can take anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half. At Frenchies, we perform a natural alternative to acrylics to eliminate the toxic chemicals used in an acrylic service.

“Our gel extension manicures take 70 minutes and include cuticle clean-up and soft gel nail extensions that deliver the shape and length you desire -finished with your gel polish colour of choice.”


What are acrylic nails?

Just like getting your favourite gel manicure or dip powder nails, acrylic nails are a *fab* way to embellish your natural nails, adding length, strength, and your own personal style.

The difference here though is that acrylic nails are crafted from a blend of liquid monomer and powdered polymer and carefully sculpted to perfection by skilled technicians.

Acrylic nails are really versatile, allowing you to add elements like French tips, gems, glitter, shimmer, foils, and hand-painted art.

Think instant longer nails (hello stiletto nails), intricate designs, vibrant colours, and cool designs like polka dots or wavy nails.

So, indulge in the allure of acrylic nails and let your fingertips steal the spotlight!


how long does a full set of acrylic nails take

Image – Darya Lavinskaya/Adobe


How are they applied?

Now for the technical bit.

But don’t worry, we’ve got the lowdown on how acrylic nails are applied:


Step 1: Your nails will be prepared for acrylic transformation by filing to the desired shape and lengths – whether it’s a chic stiletto or a classic square. Your cuticles will be gently pushed back, revealing the pristine canvas for your mani.


Step 2: A dehydrating solution will be applied to the nails to remove any moisture or oils and ensuring a solid foundation for the acrylics. Next, a primer will be applied to promote adhesion and longevity.

Remember, durability is key!


Step 3: The acrylic powder (polymer) is mixed with the acrylic liquid (monomer) to create a creamy and workable consistency. This will be applied to your nail near the cuticle and gently stroked towards the tip to create the nail.

Unlike gel polish, UV light is not required to cure the acrylic mixture.


Step 4: The process is repeated on each nail, transforming before your very eyes! Once hardened, you can choose the colours and nail art you want!


Step 5: The artwork will be sealed using a top coat.


Et, voilà!


And what about acrylic nail tips?

If you want to add length to your nails, you can either opt for a tip or a form.

A tip is basically moulded plastic that has been shaped to look like a nail, and it’s typically attached about halfway up the natural nail and stuck on with special nail glue.

If you have short nails to start with and continue to get refills while letting your own nails grow, you can eventually cut off the tip and get the acrylic formula put directly onto your nail. Yay for those who want to grow their natural nails!


how long does a full set of acrylic nails take

Image – Ekaterina Pichukova/Adobe


How often do they have to be filled?

Aside from the application process, acrylic nails need to be filled every 2-3 weeks which, depending on your regular beauty regime, is quite the upkeep!

However, you’ll be pleased to know that as long as any lifting of the acrylic is filled in, a set can be worn for six to eight weeks before they need to be removed.

And the cost? The average cost for a full set of acrylic nails is around £25 (between $30 and $35), this isn’t taking into account any nail art or designs you may want.


Are acrylic manicures *actually* bad for your nails?

Don’t get me wrong, I *love* a set of pristine acrylic nails, but they don’t come without their risks. They should always be applied by a professional or someone who has trained in the application of acrylics.

Acrylic removal is part of the issue here as it can be quite harsh on your delicate nails (think nail files, a cuticle pusher and a whole lot of acetone). More on this below.

Overall though, acrylics can cause *some* damage to your nails, making them feel thinner, dry, and brittle. From skincare to hair dye, everything needs a good base – including your nails.

We advise using a hydrating and protecting nail cream and cuticle oil in between your appointments to make sure your nails stay strong and healthy.


how long does a full set of acrylic nails take acrylics

Image – marinafrost/Adobe


How do you remove them?

Due to their makeup, acrylic nails need to be soaked off for removal. And just a reminder that this is definitely better done in salon since your nail tech will be able to do this with the minimum of damage.

If you’re set on taking your nails off from home though the first step is to use nail clippers to remove any excess length from your acrylic tips, before using a nail file on the surface of your nails to file off your top coat.

Syreeta explains, “it’s always best to file off the top layer of the artificial nail.”

The expert adds, “when filing your nails, it’s important to remember not to file too deeply into your natural nail.”

Then, you’ll need to either soak your nails in soak-off remover or use cotton ball soaked in the solution and foil to wrap over each of your fingernails.

It can take 15-20 minutes for the acrylic to properly lift from your natural nail and we *cannot* stress enough how important it is to resist the temptation to pull the acrylic from your nail before it is properly softened.

The final step is to prep your nails for your next nail appointment!


Image – Harsa/Adobe


The takeaway

Acrylic nails are undoubtedly NEVER going to go out of style, so you might as well have all of the facts before you book your appointment!

Whether it’s a classic French manicure, a cool holographic set, the latest Barbiecore trend, or you go for an intricate design, you’ll want your acrylics to look their best so make sure to always follow your nail tech’s advise for maintaining healthy nails, never pick your artificial nails off, and keep to your appointment schedule.

Now get picking that next design!



Meet the experts

Kayla Bramlet is the Director of Education and Training for Frenchies Modern Nail Care, a fast-growing national non-toxic nail salon franchise. Bramlet also owns a Frenchies franchise location in Lakeville, Minnesota.


BIPOC pro nail artist Syreeta Aaron is a brand educator for the globally-famous nail polish brand LeChat and has had a nail tech career spanning 17 years.






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Senior Beauty Editor

Laura Kemp started her journalism career as a news reporter for one of the largest newspaper groups in Europe before moving into features and editorial writing. Combining her love of hard-hitting journalism with her passion for beauty, she’s now Senior Beauty Editor at Live That Glow. When she’s not writing, researching, or interviewing her favourite experts, you’ll find Laura practicing her downward dog or drifting on her paddleboard.

Expertise: Hair care, nails
Education: University of Salford

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