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POV: You’ve been getting the same salon manicure every few weeks since freshman year of college and it’s getting really pricey. Well, it doesn’t have to be that way—dip powder nails are long-lasting, inexpensive, and toootally DIY-able at home.
A dip powder nail kit contains everything you need to give yourself an easy at-home manicure. “A good kit should include a bonder, bass, activator, cuticle oil, brush cleaner, and colored dip powder in addition to an instruction manual,” says salon owner and manicurist Syreeta Aaron.
Dip manicures are different from regular polish, gel nail polish, press-ons, and more for a lot of reasons, but mostly because of how the actual application works, says salon owner and manicurist Anastasia Totty. Unlike press-on nails where you have to find an option that fits your exact nail size, dip powder instead conforms to the shape of your nail.
Rather than using a brush as you would with a polish, you're literally just dipping your nail in powder, as the name would suggest. The powder then sets and dries instantly. Aaron says dip powder is pretty easy to use, and that the manicure lasts longer than regular nail polish.
What are dip powder nails?
If you're new to various kinds of nail kits, you might be scratching your head, wondering what dip powder nails even are. Trust me, you're not alone. To put it simply, dip powder is a system that requires you to dip each nail in a colored polymer powder, says Aaliyah Smith, a celebrity nail artist and Founder of NailBiz. Afterward, an activator polish is applied, which acts as a top coat. Unlike other kinds of nails, you won't need to cure them with a UV light or anything.
What is the difference between dip powder nails and gel nails?
Dip powder is made from polymer, which is also frequently used to do acrylic manicures. The powder doesn't need to cured with a UV light to see unlike gel polish. On the other hand, gel nails use a gel base instead that needs to be cured in order to not smudge, says Smith.
What is the difference between dip powder nails and press-on nails?
Press-on nails are pre-made nail tips that are usually made with a design on them beforehand. They're applied using glue that goes on the nail plate and on the back of the press-on. "There are also now advanced systems such as the Apres Nail Gel-X System, which applies a whole press-on nail using a soft gel and LED light to cure," Smith adds.
Dip powder nails literally use a colored powder to apply full-coverage color to your nails. They also tend to last a lot longer than press-on nails, which can fall off after a few days if not secured well with a glue.
How long do dip powder nails last?
On average, dip powder can last anywhere from three to four weeks, Smith says. It's best practice to do regular maintenance on your nails every two weeks, she adds. If you're buying a kit for at-home use, check the product details to see how long you can expect your manicure to last.
How do you apply dip powder nails?
Prep your nails: To apply dip powder nails at home, start by washing and drying your hands so you have a clean base. From there, push back your cuticles with an orange wood stick and file the natural nail down to remove any shine. Once you have a shine-free base, shape the nail and apply the bond to the entire nail plate. This step will dehydrate the nail plate for adhesion purposes, Smith notes.
Base, dip, repeat: Apply your base in thin layers, leaving a small amount of space from the cuticle. Then, dip your nail into a natural or clear powder, and brush off any excess. Repeat this two to three times so that the layers of powder are thin enough for a smooth application.
Apply gel, and dip again: Your gel base can go closer to the cuticle, but it shouldn't go directly on it, Smith says. Once it's applied, dip your nails into your preferred color powder. "Dip at a 45-degree angle for best results, and get closer to the cuticle with every dip," Smith says. "This prevents the cuticle area from looking bulky."
Return to your base coat: Once you get your desired color, add your base coat again and pour clear powder over the entire nail, Smith says. After that, you're ready to polish.
Polish with seal protect: As a final step, file, shape, and buff your nails. Then, apply alcohol to remove any remaining dust or lint and apply a seal protect. You can repeat this step once more after two minutes, and then add a few drops of oil to your cuticles.
How do you remove dip powder nails?
To remove dip powder nails, simply file off the top layer, and soak your nails in acetone for ten minutes. If the smell bothers you, place a towel over the bowl. After soaking, gently scrape off any remaining polish using a cuticle pusher.
Below, see the best dip powder nail kits of 2023, recommended by nail experts:
Dip Powder Starter Kit
This kit, loved by Aaron, is perfect for beginners because of the detailed instruction manual it comes with. The guide covers everything from pro tips and safety reminders to step-by-step breakdowns on how to use the products.
It includes a gel base, bond, dry sealer, gel top coat, and transparent dipping powder. Plus, this set is paraben and cruelty-free.
Reviewers love how high-quality the kit is and note how easy it is to use. Testers also say that the powder doesn't emit harsh odors, and that the formulas prevented their nails from breaking over time.
Color Dip Powder Starter Kit
Kiara Sky's dip powder starter kit is super high-quality, and Aaron's a fan of it, too. It's a bit pricey, but if you really want a salon-level manicure at home, this is your best bet. It makes a great gift to the resident nail artist in your life. Plus, each jar of product can last for up to 40 manicures.
The kit claims to provide up to 28 days of no chipping, along with a glossy finish. And to promote stronger, healthier nails, the dip powder is also infused with vitamins and calcium.
Many reviewers agree that despite the higher price point, it's worth the buy because of how long their manicures last. Additionally, they find the directions easy to follow and believe they can achieve salon-like results. Still, some testers say the products have a strong smell that may be bothersome to others.
Premium Dip Nails Starter Kit
A classic white mani never goes out of style, and to achieve the perfect one, people are huge fans of professional-grade brand Nailboo. If you want a small, no-frills kit with one color, this one's a great option. It includes everything you need, and nothing more—a base coat, top coat, activator, build powder, color powder, and shaping tools.
The powder is highly pigmented and can create a long-lasting manicure that lasts for up to six weeks. It's also odorless and doesn't require a UV light or curing.
Reviewers say that this product dries fast, meaning less wait time between coats. Many also note that it adds strength to their nails and doesn't require a lot of effort to remove. However, some testers say they experienced chipping within the first week.
Dip Powder Nail Kit Starter
For all you pink manicure devotees, this kit—loved by thousands of five-star reviewers—is for you. It has 20 different shades, most of which are variations of pink. But, you'll also get some nudes, grays, and glittering shades of red for when you feel like mixing things up.
This kit adds strength to your nails and is said to create manicures that hold up for up to 28 days. It's also paraben-free, cruelty-free, and odorless. Bonus: the formula dries quickly without a UV light.
Testers say their nails have grown back stronger after using this dip kit. They also feel like they're getting salon-like results for a fraction of the price. Some reviewers say that beginners may benefit from watching tutorials online, though, rather than reading the instruction manual.
Glitter Dip Nail Starter Kit
People love the quality and ease of using this brand. Every kit comes with five different colors, but this particular kit is a fan-favorite because it's all about glitter. The sparkling shades are gorgeous, but Dipwell also offers tons of other fun color collections like neon, pastel, and even one that'll glow in the dark.
The kit can last for up to 30 manicures and contains highly-pigmented powders. You can expect minimal odor and anywhere from three to six weeks without chipping.
Reviewers say it may take one to two times to get the hang of the kit, but once you do, you can get professional-looking manis in no time. Testers especially like how easy it is to remove. Still, some say that the glitter can get clumpy, making it hard to apply to nails.
French Nails Dipping Powder Kit
The Binnail kit includes pink, clear, and white powder to help you achieve the perfect French manicure. It also comes with a base coat, top coat, and activator that dries quickly and leaves your nails super shiny. It's a quick and easy way to achieve a classic look.
Dip Powder Nail Kit Starter
This kit has 30 colors, giving you the most bang for your buck if you live by the life motto that variety is the spice of life. With hundreds of five-star reviews, dip powder beginners are huge fans of how easy this affordable kit is to use.
Dip Powder Nail Kit
Packed with 20 fun, bright colors, this kit practically screams "beach vaca." With thousands of five-star reviews on Amazon, people love the bang you get for your buck here. For just $50, it's surprisingly high-quality.
Jelly Dip Powder Nail Kit
ICYMI, jelly nails have been so trendy this year. This kit from Azurebeauty will give your nails that super high-gloss finish that everyone's after right now in six chic nude shades.
Pastel Color Dip Powder Nail Kit
There are plenty of nail kits out there with bold colors, but if you prefer cooler tones, consider this pastel kit. It comes with 20 different colors, a top coat, a base coat, a brush restorer, a nail file, and more. The non-chip formula will leave you with a stunning manicure for 21 days or more.
Color Changing Nail Dip Powder Kit
Why choose one color when you can rock two? This kit comes with six colors that change shades when exposed to changes in temperature. They're chip-resistant and lightweight, meaning you can keep your mani at salon-like quality for 21 days or more.
Dip Powder Nail Kit Starter
Whether you want a shine, glitter, or matted finish, this kit has it all. You'll also get a wide range of colors within the pink to blue scale that can be worn for any occasion. If you want to get creative, mix things up and use two shades on a single nail.
Dip Powder Nail Kit
Whether you're still loving the fall vibes or you're ready to transition to more holiday-based looks, this kit is sure to meet your festive needs. These six colors will last you up to 28 days or more. The colors were made using only 11 ingredients, which is also what makes them almost odorless and skin-friendly.
Dip Powder Nail Kit Starter
If you prefer larger kits, this one from Morovan comes with everything you need such as powder, a liquid set, and a gel brush replacement. Unlike other kits, this one also includes a drill and several attachment heads. The drill is quiet, portable, and won't overheat.
How We Chose The Best Dip Powder Nail Kits
For the past few months, Women’s Health editors, including editorial assistants Sabrina Talbert and Addison Aloian, have been researching the most popular and top-rated dip powder nail kits. Our team also consulted manicurists Syreeta Aaron, Anastasia Totty, and Aaliyah Smith for the story.
Meet the experts
Syreeta Aaron is a Lechat educator, manicurist, and brand ambassador
Anastasia Totty is a Lechat educator, manicurist, and brand ambassador
Aaliyah Smith is a celebrity nail artist and founder of NailBiz
Read more about the best nail products to shop now
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