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What Are Dip Powder Nails?

Consider this the ultimate cheat sheet to this long-lasting manicure.
November 16, 2022

From acrylic nails to gels to gel extensions, there are quite a few options to choose from when it comes to getting your nails done. Another preference amongst beauty lovers is dip powder nails thanks to their powder application that can last upwards of a month without chipping. 

If you’re not familiar with dip nails, read on as we share everything you need to know about this type of manicure, including benefits, drawbacks and how it compares to up against other nail services.

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What Are Dip Powder Nails?

Dip nails fall somewhere in between acrylic and gel nails and they happen to be one of the most long-lasting nail polish techniques out there. Like the name suggests, dip powder nails involve dipping your nails into colored powder that coats the nail like a traditional polish. 

Similar to any other manicure service, dip powder nails begin with removing all traces of nail polish, filing and shaping your nails and pushing back your cuticles. Then, the nails are buffed and wiped clean to remove any oils that can cause chipping or lifting.

After that, a clear base coat is applied to the nail to prep for the dip powder. Keep in mind that while they look similar, this isn’t the same type of base coat you would use for regular nail polish or a gel manicure. Immediately after applying the base coat, your nail technician will brush or pour the dip powder onto your nail.

Next, they’ll dust off excess powder and apply another layer of base coat before repeating the “dipping” process until you have an even layer of opaque color. Once you’re happy with the color, the nail tech will follow up with a layer of clear powder and a coat of sealant. 

To finish everything off, they’ll file your nails down to ensure the dip powder is smooth and flat. After a quick hand washing, your dip powder nails are ready for their top coat. Your salon may use a standard topcoat or a UV gel topcoat to finish your nails.

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Dip Nails vs. Gel Nails

The biggest difference between these two nail services is that dip powder nails do not need to be cured under a light while gel nail polish does. Dip powder creates a hard layer over your nails, strengthening them, whereas gel nail polish is a bit thinner and malleable. Many enjoy dip powder nails because they can last upwards of a month sans chipping. Gel nails typically last two to four weeks without chipping.

Dip Nails vs. Acrylic Nails

While dip powder and acrylic powder are both synthetic nail enhancements, dip powder is chemical-free and works on natural nails or for longer nail enhancements. Acrylic powder is a chemical, known for its harsh smells thanks to the monomer that binds the acrylic to your nails. 

Acrylic is better suited for fixing broken nails and nail lengthening services because you can shape it. Typically, dip powder is a color used to paint your nails while acrylic is a compound used to lengthen and shape your nails with gel nail polish or natural nail polish being applied on top.

The Benefits of Dip Powder Nails

When it comes to dip powder nails, the pros definitely outweigh the cons. Check out the top five benefits of dip powder nails.

1. You Can Paint Over Dip Powder Nails 

Yes, you can paint over dip powder nails and it’s a really good hack to try if you’re trying to grow your nails. Ask your nail technician to do one coat of clear dip powder and then apply a normal nail polish or gel nail polish over it. This will make your nails feel stronger, allowing you to grow them out.

2. Dip Powder Makes Your Natural Nails Feel Stronger

Dip powder creates a hard, protective layer over your nails. So if your nails are weak or feel like they’re going to break, using dip powder is a great way to strengthen them as they heal and grow stronger. 

3. Dip Powder Nails Are Less Prone to Chipping

As we mentioned, dip powder forms a hard, protective layer over your nails which also means they’re less likely to chip. If a chipped manicure is your biggest pet peeve then dip powder nails may be a good way around this. 

On the off chance that your dip nails do chip, it’s because some part of the prep before applying the powder is falling short. Your nails may be oily when the powder is applied or it’s getting on your cuticles. 

4. Dip Powder Works Well for Creating Gradient and Ombré Nail Designs

Thanks to the granules that make up dip powder, they’re great for creating gradient designs like ombré nail art. Rather than using a brush to blend the colors, your nail technician will apply a base coat and powder to the tip of your nail to create the gradient effect.  

5. Dip Powder Nails are DIY-Friendly

If you want to attempt salon nail services at home, dip powder nails are a great place to start because they don’t require special equipment like a UV light or an e-file (an electric tool used for removing nail enhancements). All you need is the right base coat, dip powder, a top coat and finally, a nail file. Practice makes perfect but we recommend focusing on the prep before you paint your nails to ensure your dip manicure doesn’t chip or lift.

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The Drawbacks of Dip Powder Nails

While there are several benefits to choosing dip powder nails, there are also cons of dip powder nails.

1. Dip Powder Can Be Unsanitary 

The biggest con around dip powder nails is that they can become very unsanitary depending on how your salon applies it. If your nail technician is dipping each finger into the pot of dip powder, that’s a red flag. It’s extremely unsanitary and means the dip powder contains the germs and bacteria from every person who picked that color before you.

Unlike gel and traditional nail polish where the chemical composition makes it hard for bacteria to grow inside the bottles,  dip powder is a completely different story. Ideally, your nail technician should pour enough powder for your nails into a single-use container to dip your nails in or the powder should be brushed on.

2. Dip Powder Can Still Damage Your Nails

If you’re removing your dip powder nails incorrectly or pulling them off your nails, they’re definitely going to cause damage. The only way you should be removing your dip powder nails is with acetone and soaking them off.

3. Dip Powder Can Discolor and Stain Your Nails 

If the dip powder that’s applied to your nails is old or expired, your nails may turn yellow or discolor. This can also happen with some sunscreens and self-tanning products that get on top of your dip powder nails or under the nails. If this is a consistent problem with your dip powder nails, try a different brand of dip powder because it’s likely the formulation.

Are Dip Powder Nails Safe?

When everything is kept sanitary, dip powder nails are perfectly safe. Since they don’t require a UV light or harsh chemicals like acrylic, you could even argue that they’re safer than other common nail services.

How Much Do Dip Powder Nails Cost?

Prices will vary based on the salon you go to, but dip nails can cost anywhere between $30 and $60 for a standard manicure. Of course, this cost can increase depending on where you live and how popular the service is there.

How Long Do Dip Powder Nails Last?

On average, dip powder nails can last anywhere from two weeks to a month. Technique is going to make all the difference if you’re looking to go a month with your manicure. The nice thing about dip nails is that since they’re less prone to chipping, once your manicure has grown out, it will still look polished and clean.

How Do You Remove Dip Powder Nails?

Removing dip powder nails at home is very similar to removing acrylic nails or gel extensions. First, file down the dip powder to break the surface, then soak your nails with acetone, cotton and foil. Let the acetone sit on your nails for fifteen minutes and the powder will dissolve into a jelly-like substance that you can easily scrape off your nails.

Next: How To Do Galaxy Nail Art Even If You're Not A Pro

Edited by: Reece Andavolgyi, Photo Credit: iStock

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