Once You Try a Dip Powder Manicure, You Might Never Go Back to Gel Again

Why? It lasts four weeks, for starters.

Raise your hand if you have enough time, funds, and nail color inspo to get your nails redone every two weeks. No one? Not even you in the back? It's not surprising. Getting your nails done can feel like a chore, especially when there are a thousand other things on your to-do list. That's why when gel nail polish first debuted, manicure enthusiasts everywhere got on the UV-lighted bandwagon. Nail color that can last up to three weeks? Genius.

If you're in the camp of the-longer-lasting-the-better, there's an alternative manicure type to try that lasts even longer than gel nails: dip powder nails.

Dip Powder Manicure
Courtesy OPI

What Is A Dip Powder Manicure?

I've had dozens and dozens of gel manicures in my life, and none have ever lasted as long as dip powder. The first time I got a dip powder manicure (SNS, as it was almost exclusively called back then), I was instantly smitten. All the other manicure types faded into the background. For a nail color lover, it was game-changing stuff.

Dip powder is applied by dipping your nails into a colored powder or brushing the powder onto your nails. A base coat is brushed on first so that the powder adheres.

A dip powder manicure can last up to four weeks. Then I learned a secret that I'll reveal below, which lets me stretch it to five weeks, at least. This secret is so good that the nail technician genuinely looks confused when I tell her it's been over a month—and then she immediately asks who did my nails. The nail world is competitive, y'all.

What To Expect At The Salon

Here's what to expect at the salon when you request a dip powder manicure:

  1. Before each nail is dipped, it must be coated in a clear adhesive liquid "polish" that binds the color powder to your nails.
  2. After being cleaned and shaped, your nails are dipped into a pot of finely milled powder that's colored in your nail shade of choice (right now, I'm rocking "You've Got That Glas-gow" from OPI's Scotland collection, which comes in the brand's Powder Perfection formula).
  3. After two to three coats of powder, the technician files and smooths the now-polished nails in order to achieve a natural-looking finish.
  4. The manicure is finished with a top coat, and you're on your merry way.

It typically takes about 45 minutes to an hour, and it costs anywhere from $35 to $50.

Is Dip Powder Bad For Nails?

What's pointedly not been mentioned? That pesky UV light. Anti-aging buffs, rejoice. Dip powder nails require no exposure to UV light to seal and cure the color. As a result, the process is typically quicker, and you never feel the burning sensation like when gel polish is activated by the light. Plus, the skin on your hands is kept UV damage-free.

For some, dip powder has raised concerns about sanitation in the nail salon, with fingers being dipped into the same pot and whatnot. More salons are now combating the issue by pouring the powder directly onto nails, painting it on with a brush, or pouring the powder into an individual pot that is disposed of after use. Make sure to request it specially, just in case. Disclaimer: I'm going two years strong with dip powder manicures, and I've had zero problems.

Any technician would recommend skipping the manicure altogether if you're dealing with open cuts or wounds on your fingers, as well as if you're dealing with any sort of fungal or bacteria issues on your nails. Better safe than sorry.

Some people are allergic to the adhesive for dip powder. If you have swelling, itching, or discoloration around your nails, have the dip powder removed at the salon and switch to an alternative.

How To Remove Dip Powder Nails

It's important to remember that you'll need to return to the salon in four weeks to get the polish professionally removed, like gel polish. You can try soaking your nails in pure acetone for 10 minutes, but if that doesn't do the job, don't even think about picking off the dip powder at home. Your nail beds won't be forgiving. The nail salon will file away the top layer before soaking your nails in acetone.

Because removing dip powder requires using a harsh chemical, many dermatologists recommend giving your nails a break before the next manicure. You can use a gentle nail polish for brittle nails in the interim.

Can You Paint Over Dip Powder?

The secret I was talking about earlier? Store-bought gel top coat. I'll apply a coat of Essie Gel Couture Top Coat over the dip powder polish once a week to ensure the edges (around your cuticles and at the tips) do not lift and the manicure remains chip-free. Not to mention, it gives a boost of added shine that makes it look spankin' new.

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