Cost To Maintain Your Gel Manicure

August 8, 2023

If you love having impeccably polished nails that last, then you’re probably no stranger to gel manicures. These shiny, resilient, and long-lasting manicures use a special type of nail polish that’s cured under UV or LED light.

This type of manicure can stay chip-free for up to three weeks, making it a highly sought-after choice for many. But have you ever stopped to think about how much you’re spending to keep up with this beauty routine? The costs can quickly add up, especially if you live in a pricier area like Burbank, California, or elsewhere in Southern California.

Average Cost of a Gel Manicure: What You’re Likely to Spend

Across the United States, the average cost of a full set of gels is $51.29. However, this price only covers the cost of a basic gel manicure service. This includes the application of the gel polish and the curing process under a UV or LED light, which helps to solidify the polish and give it a long-lasting, glossy finish.

Additional treatments, like nail strengthening layers, nail art, or embellishments, add to this basic cost. These prices also don’t include tips, which are expected in service industries. Tips tend to be around 15-20% of the total cost, so make sure to factor that into your budget.

Geographic Price Differences: Southern California versus Everywhere Else

If you’re living in the southern region of the Golden State, your wallet might feel the pinch a bit more than in the rest of the country. In places like Burbank, the standard price for a gel manicure can easily range from $55 to $75 due to high operational costs, living expenses, and a generally higher demand for beauty services. This means that if you’re refreshing your manicure every three weeks, you could spend over $1,300 a year!

In states like Indiana, where the cost of living is lower, a gel manicure averages around $34. Maintaining your manicure every three weeks here would only cost about $600 a year – a big difference compared to the costs in Southern California.

What Factors Influence the Cost of Gel Manicures?

The cost of a gel manicure varies widely based on more than just the location of the salon. Some factors contributing to the cost of a gel manicure include:

  • Salon type: For those seeking gel manicures, private nail technicians or smaller salons offer a cost-effective alternative to luxury hotels or spas. At budget-friendly shops, standard gel nails range from $35 to $40, and with art or jewels, it’s around $45 to $60.In comparison, average nail salons charge $45 to $55 for standard gel and $60 to $75 for gel with art/jewels. Luxury hotels or spas can be pricier, ranging from $60 to $80 for standard gel and $85 to over $100 for art/jewels.
  • Salon reputation and quality: High-end salons with excellent reputations often charge more for their services. These salons use premium products, have highly trained technicians, and provide a luxurious experience.
  • Nail technician’s expertise: Experienced and highly skilled nail technicians usually charge more. Their expertise often leads to better results and a manicure that lasts longer.
  • Products used: Premium, high-quality gel polishes, base and top coats, and other nail care products can drive up the price of the manicure.
  • Additional services: Basic gel manicures typically involve nail shaping, cuticle care, gel polish application, and curing under a UV or LED lamp. However, additional services like nail art, French tips, specialty shapes, repairs, or treatments can increase the cost.
  • Removal process: Gel polish requires a specific removal process to avoid damaging the nails. This usually involves soaking the nails in an acetone solution and gently removing the polish. Some salons include the cost of removal in the initial service; others charge an additional fee of $10 to $20 per session.

The Cost of Going Pro: Why Technician Expertise Matters

When it comes to getting a gel manicure, the skill and expertise of the nail technician can impact the quality of the result, the longevity of the manicure, and the overall cost.

  • Quality of application: A highly skilled nail technician has mastered the art of gel polish application, ensuring the polish goes smoothly and evenly. This not only enhances the finished look of your manicure but can also increase its longevity. Amateur application may lead to bubbles, uneven layers, or edges that can lift and chip.
  • Proper curing: The process of hardening the gel polish under a UV or LED light is a crucial step in a gel manicure. A knowledgeable technician understands the time needed for curing to avoid under or over-curing, which can affect the durability of your manicure and the health of your nails and surrounding skin.
  • Safe and gentle removal: Gel polish removal is a process that, if done incorrectly, can damage the natural nail. Experienced technicians know how to safely remove gel polish to minimize potential harm to your nails.
  • Customization and problem-solving: An experienced technician can advise on color choices, nail shapes, and designs that best suit your lifestyle and nail health. They’re also better equipped to handle any unexpected issues that might come up during the application or removal process.

Upkeep Essentials: The Regular Costs You Might Not Think About

Keeping your gel manicure looking its best isn’t just about the initial application. You might not have considered some regular costs associated with upkeep, including:

  • Reapplication: Gel manicures last approximately two to three weeks before they start to chip or peel. Regular salon visits for reapplication are a big part of the upkeep cost.
  • Nail hydration: Gel manicures can be dehydrating for your nails. To counter this, using a nail hydrating product regularly between manicures is recommended. A good-quality nail oil or hydrating cream can cost between $5 and $20.
  • Cuticle care: Healthy cuticles are crucial for a neat-looking manicure and overall nail health. Cuticle oils or creams help keep them moisturized and prevent peeling or hangnails. These products generally cost between $5 and $15.
  • Home Maintenance: You may also need a few basic nail care tools at home for upkeep when you can’t get to a salon. This can include nail files for any chips or snags and buffer blocks to maintain shine. These costs can vary widely based on the quality of the products you choose, but budget for about $10 to $30 for these home care tools.

How to Prolong the Life of Your Gel Manicure

Gel manicures are a worthwhile investment in your style. To keep your investment looking its best between visits to the salon, use these tips:

  • Avoid harsh chemicals: When using cleaning agents like bleach or ammonia, wear rubber gloves to protect your nails from exposure to chemicals that can weaken the gel polish.
  • Be gentle with your nails: Do not use your nails as tools for opening packages or scratching surfaces. Treat them gently to prevent accidental damage.
  • Avoid soaking your nails: Prolonged exposure to water can cause the gel polish to lift. When doing dishes wear protective gloves.
  • Don’t pick or peel: Resist the temptation to pick or peel the gel polish, as this can damage your natural nails and cause the gel to lift prematurely. It can also lead to lasting nail bed damage, making it harder for future gel treatments to adhere.
  • Apply a top coat regularly: Applying a thin layer of clear top coat every few days helps maintain shine and protects the gel manicure.
  • Avoid excessive sun exposure: Prolonged sun exposure can cause gel polish colors to fade. Wear sunscreen on your hands when spending time outdoors.

Is a Gel Manicure Worth It?

While it can be a pricey habit, especially in higher-cost areas of the country, the long-lasting, chip-free shine and the convenience of not touching up your nails every few days make it worth the price.

If regular gel manicures are not in your budget, they can be an excellent option for special events like weddings or work functions.

However, before deciding on any beauty treatment, always consider your budget, weigh the pros and cons, and choose a salon that prioritizes the health of your nails.