Dip powder nails have been around since the ’80s, but it’s only in the last couple of years that they’ve started to gain popularity through social media. More and more salons are now offering the service. They’re not quite as labor-intensive as a full set of fake or acrylic nails, but there’s definitely more to them than your average manicure.

A full set of dip powder manicure can cost somewhere between $30-50, depending on the location and the salon that you visit. It’s worth remembering that it usually costs more if you’re getting nail extensions or gel-based designs on top along with your dip powder treatment too.

You can also try and DIY dip powder nails at home, but you probably won’t get the same results that you’d get from your salon.

How are dip powder nails applied?

Despite the name, in a salon your dip powder nails shouldn’t actually be dipped into anything for hygiene reasons. If the salon you’re going to is dipping multiple different client’s nails into the same pots of powder, it’s probably a sign that they aren’t following sanitary practices when it comes to their services. It might be best to head for another salon.

Even if you’re DIY-ing, it’s still not the best idea to be constantly dipping your nails into the same pot of powder. Germs and bacteria can easily build up (especially in current times when we’re all being encouraged to wash our hands and use sanitiser more often than ever).

At worst, the powder should be removed from the container and your nail dipped into a powder that way, before the remaining powder is discarded. Best practice is for the powder to actually be painted onto your nails rather than dipped.

After removing old polish, shaping your nails, buffing them to a smooth finish and tidying up your cuticles, it’s time for the powder to be applied.

Your nail technician will paint a pigmented powder onto your nails that’s sandwiched between a base coat and a sealant. The name comes from the DIY version, where you add base coat, dip your nails into a jar of acrylic in your chosen colour and add a sealant on top. There isn’t any UV or LED light “curing” that takes place as part of the process.

The in-salon process isn’t a million miles away from the usual methods of acrylic and gel nails, and usually takes 45-60 minutes to be completed in full. As the powder doesn’t need to be cured or applied in layers, this usually makes it a quicker service than gel or acrylic nail extensions.

What do dip nails look like?

They look pretty similar to other types of longer-lasting manicures like gel or acrylic. Some people say that dip powder nails aren’t quite as flat/thin as gel on the nails and don’t look quite as natural. If you’re not worried about the natural look (hello 2-inch-long-stiletto-nails), then dip powder could be a good choice for you.

Are they safe?

Some salons won’t offer dip powder nails as they believe they’re not the best choice for your nails. Cheaper dip powders can contact a chemical called MMD which damaged your natural nails and is banned in some US states. Check with your salon what brand they’re using when you make your appointment and do a little research before you head for your appointment.

In general, as long as it’s a reputable product that’s being used and you follow the correct aftercare advice, dip powder nails are as safe for your nails as other extension products like acrylics or gels. When they’re applied in-salon by a professional, they can ensure that the chemicals are used safely and that there’s no harm done to the nail plate or skin if not properly applied.

The lack of LED or UV light in use can help to quell people who might be worried about the impact of these lights on ageing or causing damage to their skin (though the risks of this are thought to be fairly minimal).

Will this manicure help my own nails to grow?

Whilst dip powder nails won’t help your nails to grow specifically, they do add a protective layer over your own nails which can help to keep them protected. This can mean less breakages which over time means stronger, longer nails.

How long do dip powder manicure last?

Dip powder nails last 2-4 weeks. They’ll either grow out (in a similar way to other nail coverings) or start to chip and look a little unkempt. At this point you can either choose to get them removed (and either kept off, or a fresh set applied) or you can get them infilled. If you’ve ever had any other type of nail extension, you’ll probably be familiar with this process.

It’s basically a shorter version of the full dip process that’s just used to fill in the gap between your nail and cuticle where the acrylic powder has grown away from your nail bed. It’s usually cheaper and takes less time than applying a full set.

How do you remove dip manicure?

Dip powder nails are removed in a similar way to gels or acrylics. All you need is to soak them off in acetone (ideally in a salon) and then scrape off the remaining powder to avoid damage to your nails. Often a salon will use an electric drill to speed up the process which obviously isn’t something that you can replicate at home.

Picking or pulling at your nails should be a no-no to remove them as this can really damage and weaken your own nails. Regularly having full removals and reapplications can be difficult for your own nails too.

Once you do remove your dip powder nails, take the time to take care of your nails and rehydrate them with a good quality cuticle oil and hand cream.

If you’re already trying out gel and acrylic nail products, then dip powder nails are something that’s worth trying out. They last longer than gel and are quicker to apply than acrylics, so you might find that this middle ground is exactly what you’ve been looking for.