Anyone who regularly gets manicures knows how maddening it is to smudge a nail minutes after you've paid a professional to paint them. That's why dip powder manicures are so impressive.
The long-wear powder polishes can go up to four weeks chip-free and don't need to be set with a UV light. But even though dip powder nails last longer than gels, and no lights are involved during the service, they do have one thing in common: Removing a dip powder manicure requires making another trip to the salon.
The good news is that there's a second similarity between dip powder and gel manicures: It is possible to do a DIY removal at home for both.
"The fastest and most hassle-free way to remove dip powder at home is to soak your nails in a small bowl of acetone," says Joy Terrell, the owner of Powder Beauty Co., a luxury L.A. salon that specializes in the service. "Another option is a steam off removal machine. However, I've both experienced and heard mixed reviews when it comes to removing dip powder this way."
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What you shouldn't do is try to peel off a powder manicure. "There's a general misconception that if chipping or lifting occurs, it's [dip powder polish] is ready to come off, but even if this happens you still have to soak," explains Terrell. "When you peel or pull it off, the top layer (or sometimes layers) of your nail plate comes off with it."
Here, Terrell goes through how to remove dip powder nails at home without damaging your nails. Check out the three simple steps.
Your Dip Powder Removal Tool Kit:
Step One: File Down the Top Coat
Start off by filing or buffing the shiny top coat layer off your nails. Using an emery board ($3; walgreens.com), gently go back and forth in a side-to-side motion across the nail bed until it's dull and covered in white dust. This is an indication that the top coat is broken down.
Step Two: Soak Nails in Acetone
Next, soak your nails in a bowl of acetone ($4; walgreens.com) for 10 to 15 minutes. "I like to place a steaming hot towel over the bowl to speed up the process," Terrell says.
Step Three: Wipe Remaining Powder Polish Off
Once all of your fingers have soaked, take an acetone-soaked cotton ball ($2; target.com) and wipe any remaining powder off of your nails. Unlike gel polish, you won't have to scrape any remaining bits off, so typically the chance of damaging your nails is minimal.
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Dip Powder Manicure Removal Aftercare
Once your dip powder manicure is completely wiped away and your nails are clean, Terrell recommends taking a 7 to 10 day break every 2 to 3 months if you're regularly getting long-wear manicures.
In the meantime, keep your nails healthy with a nourishing, strengthening treatment, plus daily cuticle oil ($6; target.com). "Cuticle oil should be applied to the nails daily to keep the nails and cuticles hydrated," says Terrell. "Our cuticles protect our nails and should be healthy. Also, cuticle oil can extend the life of your manicure."