How To Build An Apex With Dip Powder

3 min read

We're dishing out all the deets about the apex method for dip nails—which is an effective way to strengthen your nails by giving them a nice, rounded structure, and get close-up ready curve perfection.

Apex, what's that?

If that's the first thought that came to mind... well, today's your lucky day!

If you've been dealing with ugh-inducing uneven nail bed or flat nails that easily break, it's time to provide 'em with the natural-looking, durable curves and symmetry they deserve once and for all.

BONUS BENEFITS: The apex method also helps the cuticle area become less bulky. And that'll help you cut down on your filing and buffing time. (We always love finding ways to get our time back!)

Now, let's get down to the nitty-gritty of how to build an apex with dip powder (and more).

What is the nail apex?

Put simply, It's the arch over the stress area of your nail plate.

Where is this stress point we speak of?

As illustrated below, it typically sits in between the free edge and the middle of the nail bed.

To know its exact location, do this: Press your nail's free edge.

See a white, faded area? Bingo! That's the stress point you're looking for. It's the weakest point of your nail plate. The good news is, you can strengthen it by building up your dip powder in multiple layers.

According to salon owner, educator, and award-winning nail stylist, Katie Barnes:

"The position of the apex varies in different shapes and lengths. In general, the apex will sit in the back 1/3 of the nail enhancement however the longer the enhancement, the higher and further back to the cuticle the apex is but not too far back so it creates an unsightly hump that will create no strength. If your apex placement is too far forward and your upper arch line is not straight, it will pull the free edge downward over the fingertip and create weakness."

How to build an apex with dip powder—the right way

Click here for the full tutorial of this nail enhancement.

In a nutshell, you start with a small strip down the middle of your nail. Then you progressively cover a wider area with each layer of the Base & Finish Dip Nail Powder & Dip Color Powder.

Here's your cheat sheet of the nail apex placement.

Take note that the arch tapers down into thin layers toward the cuticle area and the sidewalls. Be careful not to overdo filing down the sides of your nails that already have a thinner layer of dip products. Most importantly, avoid getting your dip products on your cuticles as this may lead to premature lifting.

Easy as 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8, right?


Then you might still have these lingering questions on your mind. (And we'll do our best to answer them!)

1. Do I really have to apply all 8 layers to build an apex with dip powder?

For maximum support that'll keep your nails from bending, yes.

But if you're concerned about your dip nails ending up on the thick side, you can also do a partial apex.

The most popular apex method consists of 5 layers only.

  • 1st Layer: Small strip halfway down the nail
  • 2nd Layer: ¾ of the way up the nail
  • 3rd Layer: ¾ of the way up the nail, extending almost all the way to the sides
  • 4th Layer: Entire nail
  • 5th Layer: Entire nail

Some DipWell users have reported success in maintaining a not-too-thick apex by skipping a few layers of this modified apex.

You can do layer 1, 3, 5. Or layer 3, 4, 5. Or any other mash-up of layers that works best for you.

Others stick to the oft-recommended 5 layers, but they make sure they do 5 (or even more) layers of thinner coats.

2. Do short nails need an apex?

Short answer: Length doesn't matter. ;)

It's all about proper nail apex placement.

But feel free to do a modified version of the apex method as mentioned above.

It all boils down to personal preference.

Have you already tried building an apex with dip powder? Share your own tips and tweaks at DipWell's Dipper Club. We'd also love to see your epic apex pictures. Tag us on Instagram @dipwellnails and use our official hashtag #DoYouDipWell.

If you're an apex newbie, best believe this method will make a huge difference in your dipping game. It's a slam dunk!