Don't deny it: You've probably watched those videos of someone's nails being dipped into fluffy-looking powder on Instagram. They're just so fascinating to watch. But it's 2019, and now's the time to try the trend that's been dominating your Saved folder: powder dip nails.
And if you're curious about the trend, you're hardly the only one: according to Pinterest, searches for powder dip nails were up 442 percent in 2018. They're very similar to acrylics, according to New York City-based manicurist Alicia Torello. "There's the liquid hardening agent and the powder. The point of differentiation is in the fact that powder is the pigment and [it's] mixed with acrylic polymers." Powder dip nails are not only similar to acrylics, but to a gel manicure as well. "Dip powder nails are somewhere between a regular mani and a fake nail. We can consider them a diet acrylic, celebrity manicurist Erica Marton told Glamour. "Instead of using UV rays to seal in your polish, the color comes from a pigmented powder."
To begin, wash your hands as you would with a regular nail polish manicure. Once the nail is prepped with a base coat, add a few swipes of activating liquid to the nail. Then, dip into the powder using a brush, and swipe on your nails, continuing until the color is opaque. Afterwards, buff and file the powder to smooth it out, and add in a top coat to seal and add shine. "The process is not as messy if the right tools are used to execute," Elizabeth Garcia, a New York City-based nail artist, says. "A full manicure should take approximately 45 minutes to one hour."
Compared to gel and classic nail polishes, dip nails "are a lot quicker of a process than gel," nail artist Harli G notes. "The dip treatment provides a thicker level of protection to natural nails, and it typically lasts three to four weeks, whereas normal polish last one to two weeks." And in terms of finish, "there’s no waiting for these to dry unlike polish. These need no UV light like gel polish, there is no odor at all, and they can last up to four weeks," Torello adds. Another benefit? No harsh smell, due to the acrylic polymers that contain "larger molecules and produce low odors," cosmetic chemist Ron Robinson explains.
And unlike gel, powder nails are way easier to touch up and remove, too. If a section comes off or your mani chips, you don't have to soak full nail off. Since it's powder and resin, it holds great in water, according to Garcia.
In terms of safety, dip nails might make a huge difference in the health of your hands. "Since there are no UV lamps used, this might be safer for the skin around your nail," Robinson notes. "But the same batch of powder dip should not be shared with multiple people to avoid contamination."
You can avoid that — as well as general social interaction — by doing your own mani with the help of an at-home kit. "There are a few systems that you can buy, and the process is pretty straightforward," Torello says. "The only downfall is the removal process and the fact that nails can sometimes be on the thicker side. After the dipping process. you can buff down the nail to even it out and make it thinner." Be sure to have a buffer on hand to smooth out nails. Manual ones will do the trick, and are typically included in the kits.
Intrigued? Scroll ahead for the best at-home sets to try before booking an appointment.
Dipping Nail Starter Kit
This set includes everything you need: bonder, base, activator, sealer, and brush softener.
Color Dip Starter Kit
Red Carpet Manicure
Providing over 21 days of lasting wear, this kit contains a vibrant red shade of red.
French Tip Acrylic Power Dip Nail Kit
Made for the more advanced dipper, this set contains four different powder colors along with cuticle oil for a true salon experience.
Dip System French Starter Kit
The powders in this Kira Sky kit are lightweight, giving a natural feel and finish.