A Newbie's Quick Guide To Dip Nails

6 min read

Whether you're a gel polish gal looking to elevate her nail game.

Or a classic polish chick keen on tying a different type of manicure.

(Perhaps somebody who simply wants to break the nail biting habit?)

Either way, we've gathered all the must-knows before you dip into a new nail-pampering regimen.

This guide's got the whole shebang for the dip nails noobs—the good, the bad, and the pretty.

Let's get started with the questions you should be asking.


"What's a dip powder manicure? And what's so good about it anyway?"

Asking the important questions. We dig that.

The short answer: Dip powder mani is the sweet spot between gel polish and acrylic nails. Some have called it a "diet acrylic".

The long-ish answer: Gel polish, dip powder, and acrylic nails belong to the same family. But more like cousins than sisters.

Wanna get sciencey for a bit? Here we go...

- Gel comes in different forms. It can be hard and lengthening or soft and strengthening. Hard gel can NOT be removed using the soak-off method; soft gel can. And then there’s gel polish. It’s applied like the classic polish, but it still needs to be cured like the hard and soft gel.

- Traditional acrylic is a compound of monomer liquid (usually ethyl methacrylate monomer) and polymer powder. You use a brush to form this mixture into a gel-like “bead”, apply it onto your nails, and shape as desired.

- Now, dip powder is a form of acrylic powder that you can pour over your nails. Or just as the name suggests, simply dip your entire nail into the powder. Another notable difference between traditional acrylic nails and dip powder nails is the bonding agent. Dip Powder nails require nail adhesives and hardening agents (in polish form), whereas traditional acrylic nails entail monomer liquid.

Did we mention that dip powder is a lot more fine-grained than traditional acrylic powder? Yup! This allows for a silky-smooth application.

And when applied to your nails, dip powder is more durable than gel and more flexible than traditional acrylic. Yowza!

If you wanna go all technical about it, here's a nifty chart for you.

Will the dip powder method do damage to your natural nails?

Not at all... unless you have zero patience when it’s time to remove your dip nail polish and opt to pry it off your nails... which might rip layers of your actual nails. Ouch!

Done right, removing a dip powder mani is pretty easy-breezy—with no nail-damaging scraping involved!

Stick with us, and we’ll talk about the process later.


"So... can I do dip powder nails myself? Or should I go to a pro?"

Asked another way:

Do you want the most hygienic system to saving $1,000 a year?

To help you answer that thousand-dollar question, let's see how salon and at-home manicures stack up against each other.

Sanitary Issues

Salon Service:

If at some point you fell down the rabbit hole of googling information about dip powder, you've probably seen some pictures of fungus-infected nails. Eew! That’s why you need to be hyperalert when having your dip powder nails done at a salon. 

Do they dip customers’ fingers in the same jar as everybody else?

Does the nail technician brush or pour the dip powder onto the nails—without the powder dust getting sprinkled back to the same jar?

These are the hygiene issues that you should keep in mind when looking for nail salons that offer dip powder manis.

DIY Dipping:

When you do your own dip nails at home, you don't run the risk of getting infected from contaminated dip powder used by dozens of other customers before you.

With a DIY dip system, all you really need is the perfect at-home manicure station, and you’re good to go.

No anxiety included!

Cost Concerns

Salon Service:

Annual cost for an average of 17 visits = $1,105

DIY Dipping:

Annual cost for an average of 30 manis per kit = $70

Calculate the difference and—Holy guacamole!— that's a whole lotta savings for salon-quality nails done in the comfort of your own casa. 

Need we say more?


a.k.a. How to nail a dip mani ;)

Feeling excited to try on dip powder nails yet?

Then we’ll keep this short and super sweet, so you won't have to wait much longer.

Here's the nitty-gritty of applying and removing dip powder.


What you need:

- Cuticle pusher

- Nail buffer

- Nail file

- Liquid polishes: Bond, Base, Activator, and Sealer

- Acrylic powder: colored and clear

- Soft brush to remove excess powder

- Alcohol

- Lint-free cloth

In a nutshell:

You prep your nails, cover them with a bonder and base coat, and dip 'em into the acrylic color powder. Apply another coat of Base, dip yo' nails into the acrylic clear powder, and put the finishing touches with Activator and Sealer. Voila! Pretty, pretty nails that won't smudge and chip as soon as you get up from your chair.

You're more the visual type? No worries, we gotchu.

Take a look at these easy-to-follow tutorials for beginners (with images).

How to apply a color dip manicure

How to apply a dip french manicure

How to apply a neon tip dip manicure

How to apply a half-moon dip manicure

How to apply a matte dip manicure

If you want to zoom ahead to a more advanced, next-level nail look (you go, you!), you can opt for marble dip nails, ombre dip nails, multi-color negative space dip nails, gradient dip nails, jade dip nails, and faux tips dip nails.

If you don't nail it the first time, we promise, you'll only get better at it.

Here are more how-tos to help you out.

The down-low on lifting, and how to stop it from ruining your mani

Get maximum shine on your dip mani

Cuticle Care 101: How to care for your cuticles—the safe way


What you need:

- Pure acetone

- 180/100 course grit buffer or file

- Cuticle pusher

- Cotton

- Tin foil

This bears repeating: Don't peel off your dip powder manicure. Just don't. Pinky swear?

You don't have to with the SUPER SAFE foil-wrap soak-off method.

Buff it, wrap it, soak it, remove it. Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

It only takes less than an episode of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel before you're ready for new Insta-worthy dip nail colors. Ooh, the possibilities!


And there you have it.

Now you know the deal about dip powder nails and other manicure options.

You also learned what’s good about at-home sessions and what to watch out for in salon visits.

You have all the tutorials you need to usher you into your dip mani journey.

For a full 3rd party review of DipWell's system, click here!

Ready to get started on *finally* having long-lasting, less time-consuming, and less expensive manicures? 

Achieve this holy trifecta of your dream nails with an all-you-need dip powder starter kit or build-your-own-bundle dip powder nail kit.

Welcome to the world of dip nails! We can't wait to see you hit your #nailgoals.

HOT TIP: For a chance to be featured on our Instagram page, share your experience and manis with us. Tag @dipwellnails and use #DoYouDipWell.