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What Is A Full Set Manicure? [All You Need To Know]

A manicure can mean a lot of different things. Gone are the days when a manicure was just a simple lick of nail lacquer. All those manicure terms can be a little confusing if you don’t know what they mean, and if you want to treat yourself with one, what do you even ask for? What about a full set manicure even? What is this, and what does it entail? Well, here is everything you are going to want to know before you get one.

So, what is a full set manicure? A full-set manicure is a broad term for the application of any additional nail product. This can be acrylic, nail polish, gel, or even dip powder. A full-set manicure isn’t an actual, or specific, type of nail application but rather refers to a more generalized manicure approach.

In other words, a full set manicure is a term that could theoretically be used for every, or any, type of manicure.

It could provide nail extension or even overlay (for strength). Or it could just be style and art.

So if you are new to the nail game and want to brush up on the basics of what could be included in this service, you are in the right place.

Below, I will give you a quick rundown of the different nail applications, how much they cost, and whether you can save a few bucks by doing them at home.

What Does A Full Set Manicure Consist Of?

A full set manicure will generally consist of a base coat, middle layers (the colors), and a protective top coat. However, what is included will entirely depend on your chosen nail application.

Each has different steps, products, and even different lasting power.

So, let’s run through the top four nail applications you can easily find in your local salon and what they actually consist of.


Acrylic overlays are one of the most popular false nail applications. You will find that most nail salons will offer an acrylic nail service.

A mix of a powder polymer and a liquid monomer, an acrylic overlay takes around 1 hour and 30 minutes to apply. 

Your nail technician will start cleaning your nails before they slowly layer up the acrylic overlay, creating a strong and protective nail.

Each layer is cured using UV light, which can make this a bad choice if you have sensitive skin.

If done well, an acrylic nail manicure can last anywhere from 2 to 3 weeks and must be removed using a high-quality acetone solution.


A gel manicure is just as long-lasting as an acrylic manicure, but it takes far less time to actually apply – 45 minutes on average. 

A gel manicure is very similar to a traditional nail polish manicure.

Once your nails have been cleaned and your cuticles trimmed, your nail technician will apply a nourishing base coat.

On top of this, you will then have a coat, or two of gel polish applied. 

Gel polish, like acrylic overlay, is cured using UV light. Again, this can make this a bit of an iffy choice if you have sensitive skin that doesn’t react well to medium exposure to UV light. 

Once the gel polish has cured, a layer of protective top coat is applied to help your new manicure last as long as possible. 

Dip Powder 

Dip powder manicures are slightly newer to the beautician scene, and they do have a good few more steps than acrylic or gel manicures.

As with all manicures, this one starts by cleaning and trimming your nails and cuticles, but your nail technician will also need to use special products to remove as much moisture as possible from your nails.

Moisture is the enemy of long-lasting dip powder manicures.

Dip powder nails, like gel and acrylic, can be applied directly to your natural nail, or you can include tips to boost your nail length; this is when these will be attached.

Dip powder manicures use a mixture of dip powder and bonder (which is like liquid glue). Your nail technician will apply different layers of these products to create a sturdy and secure dip powder nail.

Unlike gel and acrylic, dip powder does not need UV light to cure.

Once the dip powder layers have dried, a layer or two of protective top coats are applied to boost this manicure’s staying power – which can be anywhere from 3 to 6 weeks.

Nail Polish

A traditional nail polish manicure is simple. It only takes around 30 minutes to do, but it does only last around 1 week.

It consists of a quick cuticle and nail tidying before applying a nourishing base coat to protect your nail from staining and then two or three layers of your chosen color.

Once that has dried, a quick swish with the top coat is applied, and you are ready to go.

How Long Do Full Set Manicures Last?

Each different full-set manicure has a different life span. Acrylic last around three weeks, Gels also around three weeks, Dip powder is a good one for long-lasting power coming in anywhere from 3 to 6 weeks, and traditional nail polish only sticks it out for a generous seven days.

How To Ensure Your Full Set Lasts

But there are some things you can do to keep your full set manicure in tip-top shape and looking beautiful for as long as possible.

Avoid Water Contact

Prolonged contact with water, especially warm soapy water, will soften and weaken any nail application you have applied.

So, if you want your manicure to last as long as possible, avoid contact with water.

If this isn’t possible, invest in a good quality pair of rubber gloves to keep your hands and nails protected when they are in the water.

Use Premium Products

Scrimping on your products can ultimately cost you more money over time.

If you want the best quality and long-lasting nails, you need to use high-quality products that have been made to last.

Yes, they are pricier, but over time you’ll end up saving money when, instead of having to redo your nails every week, you’ll only need a touch-up every month, maybe even two months.

Follow Application Steps

This one seems simple enough, but many of us, especially those doing their nails at home, may skip steps to save time.

Don’t do this.

Follow every step to the letter.

Each one is there for a reason, and by skipping these steps, you are likely to experience prematurely flaking and splitting manicures that look awful and barely last at all.

Where To Get A Full Set Manicure?

Lucky for all of us, most salons provide a variety of manicure services that would encompass a full set. Though the more challenging or advanced full sets may not be available depending on where you go.

Traditional nail polish manicures will be available in every single beauty salon you step into unless they only specialize in one specific manicure application.

Gel and acrylic nails are pretty common and can be found in most salons.

As for dip powder nails, this application is a little fresher on the beauty scene. Because of this, not every salon will offer this service.

If you have your heart set on a dip powder nail full set manicure, make sure to ring ahead and ensure your salon can even do them.

Can You DIY A Full Set Manicure?

You can DIY a full set manicure. Though your expertise, knowledge and product availability will dictate what kind if full set you can do.

The great thing about manicures is you can easily find at-home starter kits on the Internet, and in the long run, it may even save you a lot of money by doing them at home.

Amazon is awash with full set, at-home kits, and you can easily purchase nail polishes and sometimes even gel nail products in your local pharmacy.

Just be sure to choose a good quality kit with high-quality products for your at-home, DIY full-set manicure, or you could end up spending more money to replace nails that won’t stay put.

If you are not sure what brands are reliable, it always pays to ask local nail technicians what products they trust.

Some technicians will be more than happy to recommend a reliable and premium brand to you.

How Much Is A Full Set Manicure?

A full set manicure can cost anywhere form $15-$120 (sometimes more) depending on where you go and what you ask for. The average price tends to be around $50.

The price of your full set manicure will be influenced by the location of the salon, its reputation, and even what type of manicure you choose.

However, I can give you a rough outline of what these manicures may cost you, but just be prepared that they could end up costing you more if you go to a premium salon and ask for a plethora of nail art additions.

In A Salon?

If you are going to a salon, you can expect that most full-set manicure prices will differ from one place to the next, but here is a quick average price list to help you on your way.

  • Nail Polish – $15 – $50
  • Gel Nails – $35 – $120
  • Acrylic Nails – $35 – $120
  • Dip Powder Nails – $40 – $95
  • Shellac Nails – $30 – $70

At Home?

If you choose to DIY your full set manicure, you will want to know that the initial costs may seem a little steeper than just going to a salon to get your manicure done.

However, within a few short weeks, you’ll already be saving money.

Again, you’ll want to go with a pretty reliable and high-quality brand, and many kits can cost anywhere from $50 to a good couple of hundred for an all in beginners kit, regardless of your nail application choice.

However, if you are going for a nail polish DIY manicure, you can purchase the products for this for $20 in a pinch from a local pharmacy or even online. 

Are You Ready To Get A Full Set Manicure?

If you are ready to pamper yourself rotten, a full-set manicure is a good place to start. It is not as commitment heavy as a brand new hairdo but lasts long enough to enjoy a beautiful full set of nails. 

The only trouble you will have is deciding which nail application you want and whether you want any little arty extras.