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 might be an alternative manicure type to try that lasts even longer than gel nails: dip powder nails.

Dip Powder Manicure
Courtesy OPI

How does a dip powder manicure work?

Sure, it's a cliché that Southern women always have their nails polished—but in my case, it's absolutely true. My manicure type of choice? Dip powder, hands down. I've had dozens and dozens of gel manicures in my life, and none have ever lasted as long.

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.

That first time, it lasted four weeks. A whole month! Then I learned a secret, and now I can 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.

As for the secret, it's tucked safely below—but first, here's what to expect at the salon.

1. 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).

2. Before each nail is dipped, it must be coated in a clear adhesive liquid "polish," which binds the color powder to your nails.

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 your 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 being 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, 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 will be disposed 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!

How do you 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. Don't even think about picking it off at home. Your nail beds won't be forgiving.

Can you paint over dip powder nails?

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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