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How Long Do Gel Nails Last? Our Experts Answer Your Questions Truthfully

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.

Nail Polish Type

How Long Does it Last? Mani

Colour gel nail polish

Up to 3 weeks*

Glitter gel nail polish

Up to 3 weeks

Top & base coat gel polish

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

Approximately 1 week

How Long Does Gel Polish 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.

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."

Tinu Bello Mylee Senior Brand Ambassador

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 Gel Nail Extensions Last?

Our gel extensions will also last up to 3 weeks. This includes Builder Gel, Magic Extender Gel, and Fix 'N' Flash Tips.

But the longer you go past 3 weeks, the further forward the apex of the extensions will move.

This puts more pressure on the nail 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.

How Long Should You Wait Between Getting Gel Nails?

This is a common question we get asked, and we've found there's a big misconception around the fact that you should let your nails 'breathe'. To put it simply, you don't.

Gel polish isn't damaging to your nails unless it's applied or removed incorrectly, so you can get gel nails as often as you like without needing to wait in between sets.

In fact, wearing gel polish can provide a protective barrier for your nails, preventing them from becoming weak and brittle due to everyday bumps and knocks. It's just super important that you apply and remove it correctly to avoid any damage.

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.

You can follow our video tutorial below on our recommended method for removing gel polish at home, or head over to our How To page for more deets...

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 & Top Coat

@myleebeautyofficial Looking to perfect your Mylee mani in 2024? Then keep on watching 🤩 📹 - @cmdxbeauty shows us how she creates her signature base using Mylee essentials 💅 P.S you can shop these and more in our New Year, New Mani Sale for up to 40% off! Link in bio to shop the sale now 👀 #Mylee #nails #gelnails #nailtrends #naillooks #nailfinds #nailhowto #nailart #naildesign #festivenails #sparklynails #glitternails #nailartideas #nailideas #winternails #newyearsnails #nye #nynails ♬ original sound - Myleebeauty

A very common mistake when applying gel polish 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 Cure 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*

Regular Gel Polish

60 seconds

Base Coat

60 seconds

Top Coat

60 seconds

Builder Gel

60 seconds

Magic Extender Gel

60 seconds

*Using a Mylee Pro Salon Series Convex LED Lamp

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.

"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"

#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, it 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.

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.

*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 around 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 quickly.

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 a Brand Ambassador for Mylee. 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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