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 • Nails  • Nailcare Guides  • What *Exactly* Are Dip Powder Nails?
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What *Exactly* Are Dip Powder Nails?

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Main Image – Victor Torres/Stocksy

You may have heard of dip powder nails but still might not actually know what they are. Well, the clue is actually in the name – ‘dip’ into ‘powder’ is basically the crux of it, resulting in harder nails. Clever huh?

But how does it actually work? How much does it cost? And, come on, what’s the catch? Keep scrolling to read tips from nail experts Kate Williamson and Jenifer Pierce.


What are dip powder nails?

Simply put, a dip powder manicure involves dipping your nails into a coloured powder which is then sealed with a topcoat. “Dip powder is essentially coloured acrylic powder that mixes with a glue-style resin that cures without any kind of lamp,” explains Williamson.

Dip powder nails can be done in-salon or at home, however experts advise leaving it to the professionals. “At-home kits are available but I strongly recommend a trained professional as they would give an expert finish with the least risk,” Williamson warns.


How long do they last?

Pierce says it depends on your lifestyle. “Dip nails tend to last 2 weeks but can last upwards to 3-4 weeks depending on the day-to-day activities of the individual,” she says.


How much does it cost?

On average, in-salon dip nails in the UK will cost around £40. In the US, prices vary between $30-$50 while at-home kits can cost $20-$40.


Is dip powder good for your nails?

It’s the billion-dollar question! The good news is there is no UV required because there is no UV or LED light used for curing. “As long as your nail tech knows how to apply and remove properly, dip powder isn’t damaging,” says Pierce.


Black woman's hand and fingers with manicure and colorful nails dip powder nails

 Image – Lucas Ottone/Stocksy


What are the drawbacks?

First of all, they can take a while to remove. Also, you can’t simply get them touched up or infilled, they have to be redone at every appointment. “It has to be soaked off each time, so if you’re pressed for time this might not be the best option,” Pierce says.

Other drawbacks include the risk of not being removed properly, risking your nails getting damaged and potential allergic reactions to the acrylic or adhesives.


Which is better, normal acrylic or dip powder nails?

“The original acrylic is the strongest by far especially if you are looking for added length and structure on the nail,” says Williamson. “This is because you can build the apex on the nail, which offers the structure extra support.”

She adds that a dip powder manicure might be more beneficial on natural nails that are shorter in length. “It also gives the opportunity for growth especially if you are a nailbiter,” Williamson says.

Pierce says no option is ‘better’ than the other. “It’s entirely up to the client,” she explains. “Some enhancements may work well for others. Dip powder tends to be on the thinner side.”


How nail techs apply dip powder nails

“I start by prepping the nail to remove oils,” says Pierce. “Then I apply a base coat and let them dip. After the layers have been dipped, I use an activator to set and harden. Then I shape and add designs.”


How to remove dip powder nails

The standard expert advice would be to remove your dip powder nails in-salon to ensure it’s done thoroughly. Pierce says she uses a cotton ball saturated in acetone to remove them.

However, if you’re intent on removing them at home, gently file the surface of your nail to break the seal of your topcoat.  Next, soak your nails (and only your nails – no fingers if possible) in acetone for 5-7 minutes.

Once the powder has come loose, use an orange stick or cuticle pusher to push it off but don’t push too hard. Finally, rinse your hands and give them a good cleanse with a foaming hand soap to remove excess powder and the acetone smell.


Portrait of brunette girl with long hair looking away in front of white background dip powder

Image – Victor Torres/Stocksy


The takeaway

So, if you’re in the mood or market to try something new with your nails that literally involves dipping your nails into powder, dip powder nails are the way to go.

You’ll be looking to pay around the average price of a gel manicure and, depending on how much you use your hands, your manicure could last up to 4 weeks. Bonus.

There isn’t an infill option with dip powder nails – you’re either in or you’re out – and they don’t add extra length. However, if you need sturdier nails or you’re a nail biter then dip powder nails might be a good option for you.

There are home kits available but the experts advise you to book a salon appointment instead. Well, you don’t have to ask me twice to treat myself.


Meet the experts:

Kate Williamson has been a beauty expert for the past 15 years working across high profile, private and celebrity clients. A regular contributor to film, fashion and commercial shoots. She specialises in skin, nails and body makeup.


Jenifer Pierce is the head nail tech at The Green Room Agency.


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Beauty Editor

The former Beauty Editor of Glamour UK, Philippa has been a beauty and lifestyle journalist for over 16 years, picking up countless tips and tricks from makeup artists, hair stylists, dermatologists and celebrities. In that time she’s written for names like Cosmopolitan, The Sunday Times Style, The Telegraph, Grazia, Refinery 29 and Byrdie. Philippa lives in the UK with her husband, two children and their hyperactive cockapoo, Paddy.

Expertise: Makeup, hair care
Education: Oxford Brookes University

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