Everything You Should Know About Dip Powder Nails (and Is It Bad for You?)

The durable manicure is said to last chip-free for up to a month.

The thought of a gorgeous manicure that lasts for three weeks is pretty appealing—and that’s exactly what you’ll get with a “dip” manicure. Its name comes from the process itself since you apply a clear adhesive base to the nail, then dip your finger into a fine acrylic powder before repeating several more times. The result is a shiny, super durable mani that you can enjoy for a few weeks before heading back to the nail salon

Curious about whether this manicure is right for you? Or if it’s all too good to be true and dip powder is bad for your nails? Here’s what you manicurists want you to know.

How Long Does a Dip Manicure Take?

Carve out about 30 minutes of time at the salon if you’re getting a dip manicure. The manicurist will shape your nails and perform some cuticle care, then dive into the dipping process, which involves applying a layer of clear adhesive, dipping, then repeating several more times to build up opacity. “Next, [your manicurist] applies the sealer, which activates and cures all layers of powder together,” says Alena Monson, a professional nail artist and founder of What’s Up Beauty and Nails

Every nail tech has their own approach to finishing a dip manicure. Some use an E File tool to smooth out the nail surface while others use a coarse nail filer and/or buffer. The last step is to apply one or two layers of a top coat. A lot of manicurists choose gel since it cures quickly and has a super glossy finish. 

If you’re going back for a dip fill, the process might be a little shorter. However, if your manicurist prefers to start fresh then you’ll need to soak off the nails and then begin the dipping process, which takes longer.

How Long Do Dip Nails Last?

Dip nails are known for their incredible durability and it’s not uncommon for them to last two or three weeks. Some people can even get longer wear out of them if they’re gentle with their hands. “You will likely notice your nails growing out and an exposed cuticle before the product chips or falls off,” ​​Monson notes.

Are Dip Nails Damaging?

Every manicurist has their own thoughts about dip manicures. Some, like Monson, advocate for dip nails because of the durability and the protective coating that it creates over naturally thin, weak, or brittle nails. “Dip is not inherently bad for your nails and offers superb protection to your natural nails with vibrant colors and finishes,” Monson explains. “When you have the dip off, treat your cuticles and nails to some moisturizing before you reapply the dip.”

Other manicurists are more hesitant to recommend dip manicures because the removal process can be harsh on nails when performed poorly. The biggest culprit is aggressive overuse of an E File tool, which can lead to thinning, dryness, damage, and weakened nails. 

Celebrity manicurist Mazz Hanna seconds this point. She says, “I have personally seen nails that have been severely damaged by dip.” Her recommendation is to work with a nail tech that you trust and to maintain that relationship. And just like your hair or skin, our nails can change over time. Your manicurist can work with you to recommend products that are best for your unique situation. 

Other Things to Know About Dip Powder Nails

There Are a Lot of Nail Dip Colors 

You might think that opting for dip limits your color options, but that’s not true. These acrylic powders come in an endless variety of hues ranging from neutrals to true reds to fashion colors like green, purple, and neon yellow. They also come in shimmer or chunky glitter varieties for more pizzazz. 

The Nail Bed Tends to Look a Little Thicker with Dip 

Because you’re creating several coats over your natural nail, dip nails tend to look a bit thicker compared to a simple gel manicure or even acrylics. That said, a skilled nail tech can create a natural-looking, smooth appearance that’s not overly thick.

You Can Create Designs Over Dip Nails

One of the perks of a dip manicure is that you can still create some beautiful designs over the nail. Celebrity manicurist Tee Hundly says, “You can add nail art using gel polish, nail bling, [nail stamping], and many other options.” Usually, you’ll apply a clear gel top coat over any designs or 3D art and then cure it to lock everything in. 

It Requires Some Ongoing Maintenance 

Getting a dip manicure is sort of a slippery slope. Once you get your first one, you’ll want to either head back to the salon for a fill or a complete refresh. Even if you plan to only get a dip mani once, you’ll still need to have it professionally removed with salon-quality acetone and/or an E File nail drill.  

You Can Apply Dip to Any Nail Length

Dip manicures can be performed whether you have short nails or super long talons. If you have short nails, your manicurist can even add tip extensions to create more length, then apply the dip powder on top. You won’t be able to tell that part of the nail is fake. Your nail tech can preserve the tip when it’s time to get a fill or start from scratch. 

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