Follow Vogue Arabia

Dip Powder Nails are the Chip-Resistant Manicure You’ve Been Waiting For

If you were to list the qualities of your perfect manicure, we imagine it would go a little like this: vibrant color, staying power, chip-resistant, and gentle on the nail beds and cuticles. Gel and acrylic nails, which are durable and an ideal canvas for nail art, can nonetheless fall short in the gentle department. Regular nail polish, by comparison, will last about eight days at a push. So does the perfect mani even exist? Possibly. That’s where dip powder nails come in.

dip powder nails

Photo: Desiree Mattsson. Vogue Arabia, May 2024

Celebrity manicurist Julie Kandalec, who counts Jessica Chastain and Camila Cabello as regular clients, explains that dip powder manicures involve a layering process where colored powder is placed between resin, before being sealed with a top coat. The result is a highly pigmented nail color that won’t chip off for weeks, nor harm your natural nail beds.

If that has piqued your interest, consider this your beginner’s guide to the manicure technique. Below, experts break down everything you need to know about dip powder nails.

How dip powder nails work

The process is fairly simple. Once the nails are cleaned and prepped, your nail tech will apply a bonder for the powder to adhere to and a base coat, before dipping the nail in acrylic powder. Excess powder will be brushed off and you can dip your nails again (and again) to achieve your desired thickness and color. You’ll then wait for two to five minutes for the product to harden, before applying the activator to “cure” the nail. Finally, everything is then sealed with a top coat.

The pros

The main benefit of a dip powder manicure is its durability: it can last a really long time and is chip-resistant. Kandalec says that you can expect your dip powder mani to last anywhere from two weeks to a whole month. Other benefits, according to New York-based dermatologist Hadley King, include its accessibility: you can either go into a nail salon for the treatment or DIY with the many dip products available to buy. You also don’t need UV light to cure the nails into place.

The cons

Durability can come at a price, as both King and Kandalec acknowledge that dip powder nails are very difficult to remove. If not done properly, it can really damage your nail beds.

You’ll also want to be mindful about how your salon uses powder containers. Kandalec explains that if your technician is dipping your finger into the same container as other people, you risk infection – even if your hands and nails have been sanitized beforehand. Plus, bacteria can still be airborne and she says it can be difficult to disinfect your hands in a salon setting. For this, she recommends technicians sprinkle powder or take a small amount of product into a separate container to dip your finger into. Once you’re done, they should never put it back into the original container and instead should throw away the excess.

King says that an allergic reaction is possible, so you may want to do a patch test to make sure you won’t have any sensitivity towards the powder. Also, application and upkeep need to be precise, or else the end result could look too bulky, or require you to get them filled in.

Dip powder nails vs gel polish

As mentioned previously, dip powder nails don’t need a UV lamp to cure. Instead, you simply set it with an activator and top coat. Dip powder nails are also much thicker than gel, and can potentially last longer.

Dip powder vs acrylic nails

While dip powder nails and acrylic nails have many similarities, Kandalec says that the main difference between the two is the application process. The dip technique involves applying layers of colored powder to the nail between layers of resin, before it is sealed and activated with a top coat. This process is repeated until you get your desired color, shape and thickness. With acrylic nails, you mix liquid with a powder to form a semi-liquid product that can be patted and shaped onto the nails for your specific design and color. It hardens in about three minutes before it is filed into your final desired shape.

DIY dip powder nails

While there are many dip powder products and starter kits available for purchase, Kandalec recommends leaving your dip manicure in the hands of a professional nail technician. “If you are doing it at home, most likely the products you are getting [are] from online distributors like Amazon and AliExpress, and might not have been tested,” she says. “[They] can cause severe issues in a very short period of time. She adds that a trained professional will know to keep the product off the skin and know the proper curing time, so that your new mani will last as long as possible. Plus, a professional will use tools that are sterile while working, which is a must.

How to remove

Similar to gel polish removal, Kandalec says that removal of dip powder involves soaking the nails in acetone to dissolve it. Your nail technician will first use a nail file to file down the powder on your nails before you soak the rest of the product in acetone for about 15 minutes. Then they’ll use a tool or buffer to gently remove the excess.

Is it safe?

Yes, dip powder is totally safe for your natural nails – as long as the application and removal process is done correctly. “Damage comes from the person, not the product,” says Kandalec.

Originally published on

Read Next: Stone Nails Are the Quiet Luxury Manicure to Try This Season

View All
Vogue Collection