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How Long Do Acrylic Nails Take?

Updated: Feb 14, 2023

Ready for a new set of nails? If you love rocking different nail looks and nail art, acrylic nails are an especially popular option. Wondering how long do acrylic nails take? The answer depends on several factors. At Posh Salon and Boutique, we’re nail experts who love educating others on things all nail and beauty related. Let’s take a look at how long it takes to do acrylic nails!

how long do acrylic nails take

Acrylic Nails Timeframe and Process

So how long does it take to do acrylic nails? The short answer is usually about 45 minutes to an hour and a half, for a full set of acrylic nails.

If you haven’t had acrylic nails before, this may seem like a long process. However, getting acrylic nails can be a fun process. Nail care is self-care: pamper yourself by having your nails expertly prepped, cleaned, and prettied up. Posh Salon is a soothing atmosphere, and getting your nails done is a relaxing treat.

If you prefer natural-looking nails, an experienced nail tech can apply acrylic nails in as little as 20-30 minutes. If you prefer nail art (such as rhinestones and/ or designs), the process will be longer. A simple rule of thumb: the more elaborate the acrylic nails, the longer it takes to apply.

But what is the exact process of getting acrylic nails done?

Prepping Your Nails

Before any acrylic solution or nail extensions are even applied to your nails, a nail expert will examine and prep your nails first. She will look at your real nails to evaluate their health and address any issues, to ensure your nails are healthy and provide an ideal base for acrylics. Any remaining polish will be removed, your nails will be buffed, and your cuticles cleaned and trimmed.

Time Saving Tip: Prep Your Nails Beforehand

Squeezing in a nail appointment can be tough sometimes. With work, school, family, etc., it can be hard to find enough free time. To save on time at the salon, prep your nails before you go, by removing any remaining polish and filing them down.

Sculpting The Acrylic Solution

After prepping your nails, the nail tech will begin mixing, applying, and sculpting the acrylic solution to your nails. The solution is expertly sculpted into the shape and style of your choice. For example, if you desire squoval nails (square/ oval nail shape) the acrylic is shaped accordingly.

Have naturally short nails but want long claws? Nail extensions can be applied using the acrylic solution and nail glue.

Time-Saving Tip: Know Your Design Before the Appointment

While you can decide what kinds of nails you want while at the appointment, have an idea beforehand of what nail look you want to achieve. Browse magazines, Instagram, or ask your friends for ideas. Pinterest is also a great resource for different nail looks and where you can easily organize your nail ideas. Have your nail ideas saved to your phone or printed out and share them with your nail tech. Posh Salon is here to help you achieve the nails of your dreams! If you’re unsure of how you want your nails to look, ask us for ideas. We know the latest styles and trends and are happy to discuss which nails will look great for your personal aesthetic or professional look.

Drying Acrylic Nails

Acrylics air dry quickly on their own, via an evaporative process. Acrylics usually need to dry for about 10 minutes. When acrylics are dry they make a clicking sound when tapped together. If your acrylics make a hollow sound, let them dry further.

Applying Polish

Once acrylics are fully dry, the polish of your choice is applied. Regular nail lacquer or gel polish can be applied to acrylics.

Nail Art

Want a unique look? Acrylic nails are great for nail art, for add-ons such as rhinestones, intricate designs, or nails with a unique theme (such as a sports team, school, holiday, etc.) With nail art, expect your appointment to be longer.

Maintaining Your Nails

Voila! Your acrylic nails are now complete. Acrylic nails usually last six to eight weeks with proper care, though this can vary from person to person, depending on how fast your nails grow. To maintain the look and longevity of acrylics, get fills, or touch-ups.

What Is A Fill?

As your real nails grow underneath the acrylics, this can leave your acrylics looking a little funky. Nail growth under acrylic can also lead to breakage. With a fill (also known as refill), old polish is removed and new acrylic is added near the base of the nail. Fills transform grown-out acrylics, making them look like a new acrylic set.

It is generally recommended you get fills every two to three weeks, though this varies depending on how fast your real nails grow.

Fill Process

The fill process involves the following steps:

Clean and Prep

Just like with getting a fresh set of fake nails, your nails will be cleaned and prepped before any solution is applied. Your nail tech will thoroughly remove all old polish will nail polish remover. Then the base of your nails, where there is a gap in the acrylic, will be buffed down and cleaned with a nail file, electric file with sanding bands, and cuticle pusher. The buffing process ensures that cuticle is thoroughly clean and that the acrylic is now smooth and blends into your real nail.


To ensure that the acrylic will properly adhere to your nail, your nail tech will first apply nail dehydrator to the natural nail, to remove excess oil. Once the dehydrator dries, primer or binder is then applied to the natural nail only. You can think of nail primer or bonder as “sticky tape” for your nails, so the acrylic remains securely once applied.

Acrylic Mixture

Once the bonder is dried, acrylic mixture is then applied carefully over your real nail. The nail tech will mix acrylic polymer and acrylic monomer, which forms small pearls. Using a brush, the nail tech will blend the new mixture evenly onto your nail and into the existing acrylic. The result? The grown-out gap is gone and now looks like one complete acrylic nail, once dry.

After the acrylic completely dries, the nails will be shaped into the style of your choice. The nail tech will buff your nails again to ensure a smooth surface for color and any designs.

Apply Polish

The color(s) of your choice is applied, as well as any nail art. Now your nails look brand new!

How Long Do Fills Take?

The time it takes for acrylic nail fills can vary, depending on how grown out your nails are. Refills generally take about the same amount of time as getting a full set, though experienced professionals can sometimes perform fills in a half hour or less.

Removing Acrylic Nails: How Long Does It take?

It takes about 20 to 30 minutes to remove acrylic nails at a salon. This involves soaking the nails in 100% acetone. Once the nails loosen and are removed, your real nails are filed and buffed, which takes about 10 minutes.

While you can remove acrylics at home, this may take longer if you are inexperienced in removing fake nails.

How Acrylic Nails Are Removed

Acrylic nails can be removed in several ways. Here’s how acrylic nails are typically removed at salons:

Acetone Soak Method

Your nails are soaked in acetone until the acryl dissolves. Then any remaining acrylic is carefully cut off with specialized nail tools, with leftovers then filed off.

Tinfoil Method

A cotton ball soaked in acetone is applied to your nail and then wrapped in tinfoil. The wrap stays in place until the acryl dissolves.

Sensitive to Acetone? Soak Your Nails in Hot Water

Acetone contains strong chemicals that can cause skin and nose irritation in some individuals. A chemical-free is to soak them in hot water. This can be done at home and can take about 30 to 45 minutes. The key is patience: don’t forcefully pry at the acrylic, or you can damage your nail bed. Soak your nails until you feel the acrylic start to lift and loosen. Then gently begin to remove the acrylic. If you feel any pain, soak your nails again to further soften them.

Acetone Free Nail Polish Remover

Contrary to popular belief, not all nail polish removers contain acetone. Non-acetone nail polish removers usually contain the solvents isopropyl alcohol, ethyl acetate, and propylene carbonate. While these are solvents like acetone, these three are less harsh and less drying. With non-acetone remover, expect to put in more time and elbow grease to remove acrylics. The key is patience.

Make It A Girl’s Day Out

We understand that you might be hesitant to sit for an hour or so to get your nails done. But as the saying goes, time flies by when you’re having fun, so transform your salon appointment into a girl’s day out! Invite your friends and all go out to have your nails done together. Nail salons are great places to socialize and just have fun while having your nails beautified---it’s a win-win!

Bridal Packages

Need to get ready for the big day, or another special occasion? If you’re engaged, gather your bridesmaids together and enjoy a day having your nails, makeup, and hair beautified for your special day. We offer several bridal packages so we can help you and your bridesmaids look your most beautiful from head to toe.

how long does it take to do acrylic nails

Acrylic Nails FAQs

Still, have questions? We have answers.

Can I Apply Acrylics On My own?

While you can apply acrylic on your own, it can be difficult for first-timers. If you’ve never had acrylic nails before, we recommend having them done professionally. Why? Expert nail techs know how to properly and safely mix the acrylic solution and apply it to your nails. It’s not uncommon for salons to fix up or remove DIY acrylic nails that didn’t bond correctly and/ or cause pain and discomfort. By going to a professional salon, your nails will be done right the first time.

How Do I Avoid Nail Breakage and Infections?

Get regular fills and keep your nails clean. If your nails start to lift, visit a salon so they can be safely removed. Never forcefully pull at nail extensions, as you risk damaging your nail, as well as experiencing severe pain and/ or infection.

I Have A Missing Nail, Can I Have An Acrylic Applied Over It?

Missing nails can be unsightly, so you might be tempted to cover it up with a fake nail. However, the acrylic solution needs something to adhere to your actual nail. Applying acrylic to an exposed nailbed can cause infection, so it’s best to let your real nail heal and grow back.

Acrylic Toenails: How Long Does It Take?

Yes, you can get acrylic nails for your toes. Getting a full set of acrylics on your toes usually takes about the same amount of time as acrylics for your fingernails; the application process is the same, as is getting refills. The lifespan for acrylic toenails tends to be shorter, lasting about three to four weeks. As with acrylic fingernails, the same care should be taken with toenail acrylics: regular fills and cleanliness.

Do my real nails need a break from acrylics?

Contrary to myth, nails do not breathe. Your nails receive oxygen and nutrients carried within blood vessels. While you don’t need to skip acrylics or polish to let your nails “breathe,” it’s smart to monitor your nails’ health. If your nails show signs of discoloration, peels, ridges, bumps, and keratin granulation (extreme dehydration of the nails), then you should give your nails a break from polish and acrylics.

Ready For New Nails? Visit Posh Salon

No matter your go-to nail look, Posh Salon is here to keep your nails clean, healthy, and eye-catching. Take a break from the daily hustle and bustle and schedule an appointment with us. Unwind after a long day and let us beautify your nails.

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