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How Long Do Gel Nails Last? Mylee's Nail Experts Reveal All

Written by: Ellie Simmons



Time to read 8 min

There's not much we love more than a fresh mani. But how long do gel nails really last?

A Google or TikTok search will bring up all sorts of different answers, from as little as a few days to as long as a month (HINT – these are both wrong). 

So, we've brought in our gel nail experts to set the record straight on this one and give you the *most realistic* answer.

Scroll down to learn all there is about how long gel nails last, and we've thrown in some tips and tricks to make them last even longer, too.

How Long Do Gel Nails Last?

Let's cut to the chase – you can expect your gel nail polish to last up to 3 weeks at a time. 

Assuming you've followed all the right nail prep before and do good nail care after applying your gel polish, this is totally achievable.

It's important to note, however, that this time frame could (and usually does) vary depending on a range of factors. Everyone's nails are different, and everyone's lifestyles are different – both of these will play a role in how long your gel nails last.

If your nails grow at a quicker rate, then you'll likely need to apply new gel polish sooner than someone with slower-growing nails. Similarly, if you do a lot of manual work or are more active in your everyday life, then the polish will wear off faster.

With gel extensions, the longer you go past 3 weeks, the further forward the apex of the extensions will move. This puts more pressure on the nil tip, so you want to remove or take down the nail extension to re-balance your nails and keep the apex in the correct position to maintain a strong mani.

Your nail health and the condition of your nails also come into play. Healthy, well-looked-after nails will hold the polish better than weaker, brittle nails.

But you can generally expect your gel polishes to last around this 3-week mark, if you’re not removing your polish.

How Long Does Normal Nail Polish Last?

Regular nail polish lasts much less time. It's one of the biggest benefits of wearing gel polish vs normal nail polish.

Though it depends on the quality of the product and how well you look after your nails, our nail experts say regular nail polish typically lasts around 1 week before it starts to chip and wear away.

How Long Do Builder Gel Nails Last?

For our Mylee Builder Gel-wearers, you can also expect your gel extensions to last up to 3 weeks before having to be removed or infilled.

Once again, the exact length of time your Builder Gel will stay put depends on all the factors we mentioned above, such as the strength and health of your natural nails and how well you look after them.

The Lifespan of Other Types of Gel Nail Extensions

On top of Builder Gel, there are also other forms of gel nail extensions available at Mylee that’ll also last up to the same 3-week mark.

Both our Magic Extender Gel and Fix 'N' Flash Tips will stick around for the duration of this time before needing to be removed, infilled or re-applied.

Nail Polish Type How Long It Lasts
Gel Nail Polish (Includes Colours, Glitters and Base & Top Coats) Up to 3 weeks
Builder Gel Up to 3 weeks
Magic Extender Gel Up to 3 weeks
Fix 'N' Flash Tips Up to 3 weeks
Regular Nail Polish 1 Week

How to Make Gel Nails Last Longer: Insider Tips from Our Nail Experts

Of course, you want your gel nails to last as long as possible! So, to help you out, we've put together a few tips from our nail experts on how to make your gel nails last longer.

Whether your gels keep chipping away and you need some advice on how to prevent this, or you just want to keep your mani looking immaculate for even longer – here are our top tips:

1. Always Apply a Base and Top Coat

A very common mistake with gel polish application is skipping the base and top coat.

When you apply gel polish, or any type of nail polish for that matter, the base coat acts like an anchor to stick your mani down and make it last as long as possible. The top coat should be applied last and will act like a protective barrier.

Together, they act as a sort of sandwich with the gel colour as the filling – keeping it in place for extra long-lasting wear. If you're skipping your base or top coat (or both), then you're shortening the lifespan of your mani.

2. Make Sure You Cure Your Mani for the Correct Amount of Time

This is a really important step in helping your gel manicure reach that 3-week mark. 

The gel polish needs to be cured a LED lamp for the correct amount of time so that the formula sets.

Type of Gel Polish Curing Time (Mylee LED Lamp)
Regular Gel Polish 30 to 60 seconds
Base Coat 30 to 60 seconds
Top Coat  30 to 60 seconds
Builder Gel 60 seconds
Magic Extender Gel 60 seconds

"The wattage of a lamp only measures the amount of electricity it draws in, not how effectively it uses that power. So, you can actually achieve a better cure with a lower-watt lamp, depending on other factors like bulb efficiency and location"

This step is also really important for the safety of your mani. If it isn't cured properly, this opens up the risk of reactions occurring with the polish touching your skin.

Always, always, always cure for the correct amount of time.

3. Protect Your Nails from Strenuous Activities

If your hands are exposed to more demanding activities, like manual work, washing up, or exercises that involve putting pressure on your hands can all cause the gel polish to wear away sooner.

Wearing gloves can be a good option in some cases to help protect your mani. Grab yourself a pair of latex gloves, and you can keep washing up, gardening or doing whatever activities you need without worrying about your nails.

4. Look After Your Cuticles

Keeping your cuticles moisturised and in good condition can help to prevent the lifting and peeling of the polish from the nail bed. 

Applying cuticle oil to your nails after you've finished your manicure, and daily after that, will help keep them moisturised and healthy.

5. Do Regular Nail Care

It's not just your cuticles you should be looking after, but all of your nails and hands. 

Hand cream is important for keeping your hands and nails hydrated and should be applied at least once a day. This will also prevent any dryness and chapping of the skin.

It's important to note that you should never apply hand cream or oils to your nails before gel polish application – this will prevent the gel polish from adhering properly to your nails. 

Wash and dry your hands before and after the gel application.

How to Remove Gel Polish At Home

When it's time to remove your old gel polish, it's key that you follow the correct process. The method you use to remove your polish will depend on the type of gels you're wearing. 

Head on over to our How to Remove Gel Polish page for handy video tutorials on the different types of removal processes and our blog post on removing gel polish at home includes great step-by-step guides.

The Verdict: How Long Do Gel Nails Really Last?

To wrap up – you can expect your gel nails to last up to 3 weeks at a time

As we mentioned, there are a few different factors that can affect how long they'll stay put, such as the growth rate of your nails and how well you look after them. 

But, generally speaking, your gel manicure should last for around 21 days.

Taking steps to properly care for your nails before and after each set of gels will help them last as long as possible, and our top tips are here to provide a helping hand.

We have a whole collection of nail care tools that make creating and maintaining a beautiful mani easier than ever, so be sure to check the range out!

Please note: this time frame is based on Mylee's gel nail polish products.


How Long Do Gel Nails Last On Toes?

A gel pedicure will usually last longer than a gel mani. You use your hands a lot more, but your toes are mostly tucked away in your shoes, therefore not being submitted to the hardships your hands go through. You’re also less likely to extend your toenails, so the main reason you’ll want to change your gel pedi would be the growth.round 3 weeks. Just be sure to follow all the regular prep and aftercare!

Why Does My Gel Nail Polish Peel Off?

There are a few possibilities here. Dirt or oil on the nail can prevent proper adhesion to the nail bed, so you should always ensure your nails are clean and dry before gel application. Keep your cuticles trimmed and moisturised, too. And always make sure you're curing your gel polish for the correct amount of time underneath your Mylee lamp to ensure the gel formula is set.

Why Do My Gel Nails Only Last A Week?

If you're not using a base and top coat, this can prevent the gel polish from sticking to your nails properly and will cause it to chip sooner. Ensure you're curing the gel for the correct amount of time, too – if it's not set properly, then it won't last the full 3 weeks. It's also worth considering how well you look after your nails and if your lifestyle is having an effect. If you're more active and do a lot of manual work, this can cause your gels to wear away quicker.

How Often Should I Get a New Set of Gel Nails?

As long as your nails are healthy and you’re doing proper application and removal, you don’t really ever need to take a break between manis. Of course, you’ll want to remove or infill your gel nails when natural growth occurs, but other than that, you can always keep gel nails on.

Ellie Simmons

Ellie is the Brand Manager at Mylee, where she immerses herself in all things gel nails. 

Alongside being a skilled and certified nail technician, Ellie's expertise extends to gel manicures and nail extensions. Her heart and soul are devoted to all things nail-related, and she loves flaunting her own long, natural nails with captivating nail art. 

Ellie's ultimate favourites are iridescent and sparkly designs!

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