Beauty Tips

What Is a Dip Powder Manicure

There’s just something about having a fresh manicure that makes me feel so put together. Whether I’m opting for Hailey Bieber-inspired glazed donut nails, some spooky season nails, or just a regular nude set, every two to three weeks, I march into my local nail salon, ready for my nail tech and I to create magic. I’m an acrylic full-set girl through and through. But, after spending hundreds of dollars each month on full sets and gel manicures, my love affair with the services left me with cracked, fragile nails.

Then, a co-worker mentioned dip powder nails to me. As a self-professed beauty lover, I pride myself on staying on top of the latest fads in the makeup, hair, and nail world, but I had to admit defeat—I had never heard of the trend and was eager to find out what it entailed.

I was riddled with questions, mainly, “Is it safe for my nails?” which were in serious recovery mode post-acrylic. I Googled the best salons in New York City that offered the procedure and took a trip down to Snow Fairy Nail Spa to see what the hype was all about.


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To start, Anna, one of the nail technicians in the salon, removed all nail polish from my nail using acetone before pulling out her electric buffing machine to smooth out any rugged areas on my nail and create a clean canvas for the powder to stick to. After cutting and shaping my nail—I opted for an oval shape instead of my usual squoval—and pushing back my cuticles, it was time for the fun to begin. Anna brushed on a primer, then swiped on a clear polish. While there were an array of powder colors to choose from (pink, nude, purple, etc.), my heart was set on the pale orange shade I saw upon arriving at the salon, so I chose to go with that.

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My dip powder nails after one week.

Nerisha Penrose

To my surprise, the dip powder manicure process was fairly simple: Anna dipped each finger into the clear, finely-milled powder, brushed off the excess powder, set it with a clear protective polish, and repeated these steps until my nail was fully coated and hardened. After applying OPI’s Freedom of Peach, Anna sealed each nail with a gel top coat and placed my hands under a fan dryer. The process took about an hour and a half in total—and for $51, the manicure was still in tip-top shape after a week of fumbling through my handbag for my keys, typing on my laptop, and washing my hands around the clock.

“But is it healthier than gel manicures?” you’re probably wondering.

“They are similar in that both provide an extra layer of protection to natural nails,” says licensed nail technician, Harli G. “Dip nails don’t require UV/LED light and are typically a much quicker process to apply from start to finish. Gel nails tend to look a bit more natural on the nails than a dip powered enhancement, so I prefer gel manicures.” Are you ready to switch to dip? Here are a few things to consider.

Can you DIY dip nails?

While nail dip powder seems harmless, they still contain harsh chemicals that pose a health risk. “I would never recommend doing either of these treatments as a DIY at home because, for both treatments, there are chemical products that can harm skin or the nail plate if not properly applied. Even professional-grade products and products marketed for at-home use contain harmful chemicals, so it’s just safer to go to a professional for both gel and dip treatments,” Harli advises. When in doubt, err on the side of safety.

How long do dip manicures last?

As a result, nail dip manicures can be cost and time effective. “For busier clients, dip powder is a great option as they last 3 weeks or longer, depending on the level of at-home care after the manicure,” Lily, a nail technician at @zilythenailbar, tells us. This is almost twice the longevity of your standard gel manicure.

Do all salons offer dip powder?

Check your salon before you make an appointment. “A huge risk for dip nail manicures is sanitation. It is incredibly unsanitary for multiple clients to dip their fingers in the same container of powder. Even pouring the product over multiple clients’ nails and allowing the product powder to fall back into the container is an easy way for nail infections to be passed between clients. If you notice techs applying the dip powder in either of those ways, leave and go to a different salon,” warns Lily. Ultimately your health and safety are of utmost importance, so it’s critical to do some research and due diligence beforehand.

Can you get dip extensions?

For years people have gravitated towards full set acrylics to achieve long nails until now. Dip powder still allows nail techs to add nail extensions. In fact, “Dip powder is more lightweight than acrylic, which allows it to wear and tear better and last longer,” Lily shares. Once the nail tech adds fake nail tips, they will file the nail down to the requested shape and then use the “dip” technique to apply a thin layer of colored powder to the nail.

How do you remove dip manicures?

Manicures can be harsh on your nails—to minimize its impact, don’t try to remove your manicure yourself. “With all nail enhancements, there’s a risk of your nail plates becoming dehydrated and brittle. The removal process is crucial. In my experience, most issues with poor natural nail health result from nail enhancements, particularly dip nails, and stem from attempts at a DIY removal at home. It is always safest to go back to the salon and have a licensed professional remove any product for you,” Harli emphasizes. We know picking at a manicure is tempting, but it’s just not worth the health consequences.

How should you take care of your dip manicure?

Outside of your manicure, being thoughtful and gentle towards your hands goes a long way. “Excess exposure to chemicals such as those found in household cleaners can lead to weakened enhancements or brittle natural nails. I always recommend wearing protective gloves to protect the enhancement, your natural nails, and the surrounding skin from weakening, which could lead to painful breakage. Restoring hydration after the treatment and during the wear time will help many problems arising from dip powder enhancements. Try to apply cuticle oils and high quality moisturizers multiple times a day,” Harli suggests. We all know how important moisturizing is, so ensure your hands get the same treatment. Here we’ve done the research for you, the best cuticle serums on the market:

OPI ProSpa Nail & Cuticle Oil
OPI ProSpa Nail & Cuticle Oil
Credit: Courtesy
SolarOil Nail & Cuticle Care
CND SolarOil Nail & Cuticle Care
Vitamin E Nail & Cuticle Oil
Sally Hansen Vitamin E Nail & Cuticle Oil
Milk & Honey Cuticle Oil
Cuccio Milk & Honey Cuticle Oil

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