A manicure that lasts a full two weeks can sometimes seem like a miracle. That's why when dip powder nails hit the scene, they sounded like a godsend. A mani that's supposedly easy to DIY and lasts longer than gel nail polish? Sign us up. But what is it about dip nails that makes them so long-lasting? And are they safe? Also, can you get cool nail art ideas with them or are they single colors only? We turned to celebrity manicurists to get all the info. Read on to discover everything you need to know about dip nails.
What are dip powder nails?
Dip powder nails are somewhere between a regular mani and a fake acrylic nail. We can consider them a “diet acrylic,” says celebrity manicurist Erica Marton. Between base coat activator and a topcoat sealant, you dip your nails into a little jar of powder in your chosen color (SNS and Revel are the two most popular and vetted manufacturers) for a mani that could last three to four weeks (with no UV light required).
The trend isn't exactly new per se—it's actually been around for years—but social media is quickly popularizing the process and helping it stage a comeback. In recent years a large majority of nail salons have started offering the service.
Watching the dipping in action is very ASMR-y, but warning: If you have this done at a salon, you won't get to actually dip (or, at least, you shouldn't). Instead, a nail technician will brush the powder onto your nails to keep things hygienic between customers. Otherwise you risk getting an infection.
Are dip powder nails safe?
Now, for the other shoe to drop: Dipping powder isn't exactly the healthiest choice you can make for your nails. Some popular nail salons, like Vanity Projects in New York City, won't include the technique on their menus. While more brands, like OPI, now offer options for dip powder manicures, if your salon doesn't use a credited manufacturer, it could contain dangerous ingredients.
“Some cheaper dip powders can contain MMD, which is extremely harmful to natural nails and banned in NYC,” says Vanity Projects' Ariel Zuniga.
Dip powder is closely related to acrylic powder, and both require a removal process that is tough on your nails. Dip powder, however, doesn't use any acrylic nail glue, which can include questionable chemicals. Dip powder also uses thinner layers, which could help reduce your chance of getting an infection or damaging your nail beds.
How do dip powder nails work?
Directions will vary slightly by kit, but the process of applying dip powder nails is generally something like this:
Apply a base coat to your nail.
Dip your wet nail into a jar of powder.
Tap and brush off excess powder from your nail.
Repeat the dipping and brushing until you achieve your desired color and opacity.
Polish with a sealant and your nails will be instantly dry.
Here, beauty blogger Cristine of Simply Nailogical gives a helpful tutorial on how to do a dip nail manicure at home.
Should you try dip powder nails?
If you're already fond of more permanent mani solutions, Marton contends that there's no reason you shouldn't give dip powder a shot. “They're equally healthy to gels and basic acrylics that are already out,” she says. Just make sure you're checking packaging and asking your manicurist what brand they're using.
Another thing to consider is how you like the finish of your nails. Gel manicures look more like traditional nail polish on—meaning they work better for nail art designs—while dip nails tend to look a little thicker on your nail and lend themselves well to solid colors and ombré finishes.
The best dip powder nail kits
Want to try DIY'ing a dip manicure at home? Check out a few of our favorite dip nail kits our editors and pros swear by, below.
$35.00, Red Carpet Manicure
$49.00, Revel Nail
$45.00, Revel Nail
How do you remove dip powder nails?
Just like gels or acrylics, removing a dip powder manicure requires more time and patience than swiping remover on a cotton ball. “There's no easy way to remove dip powder nails quickly,” says Zuniga. “We recommend using an electric file and soaking off the remaining product with acetone,” i.e., similar to gel nail removal. Of course, the best way to remove them is to go back to your nail tech; otherwise you risk damaging and weakening your nails. If you are planning on removing dip powder nails at home, though, look to our step-by-step dip nail removal guide to ensure the least damage possible.
And no matter if you remove them at home or at the salon, you should try to give your nails some downtime in between to prevent them from breaking or becoming brittle. Zuniga's advice? Invest in some good nail after-care products to rehydrate your nails and keep your cuticles moisturized. A few of our favorites include Essie's Apricot Cuticle Oil and Sally Hansen's Hard as Nails Strengthener.
Leah Prinzivalli is a beauty writer in New York City. Follow her on Instagram @leahprinz.
Originally Appeared on Glamour