Discovering This Dip Powder Nail Kit Has Transformed My DIY Manicures

If you love at-home manicures but usually end up with messy results, a dip powder nail kit will be your best friend.

Discovering This Dip Powder Nail Kit Has Transformed My DIY Manicures
Photo: Adobe Stock

There's something so gratifying about DIYing your nails, achieving salon-like results, and saving money in the process. That's why a few years ago — even before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic — I chose to leave my salon manicures behind and start doing my nails at home. At first press-ons were my go-to, but I've been trying other DIY manicure options recently.

I first branched out into at-home gel manicures. I've improved my technique with practice, but my application still often looks pretty messy. Typically I find that the color looks thick and uneven, and my mani lasts for only days compared to weeks at the hand of a professional. Between feeling dissatisfied with my gel results and wanting to give my nails a break from press on tips, I ended up falling down a rabbit hole of dip powder nail content on TikTok.

What exactly is dip powder?

If you're unfamiliar, dip powder is a nail system that allows you to simply dip your nails into a colored powder for a long-lasting chip-free manicure — and it's quickly become one of my favorite ways to do my own nails. Similar to gel, a dip powder manicure can last up to three weeks with proper application. But unlike with gel manicures, dip powder nails don't require a UV/LED lamp to cure, making dip powder a great alternative if you're concerned with skin damage from UV rays. (

Inside a typical dip powder kit, you'll find a base adhesive, both colorless and colored powder, an activator to harden the powder, and a topcoat to give your nails a glossy finish. While dip powder is commonly used on natural nails, it can also be used with nail tips similar to acrylic. You'd just apply the false nail tip with glue and apply the dip powder as normal. (If you're wondering, I haven't gotten to the point and doing dip powder tips but I'm working toward it.)

Because of hygiene concerns, a nail technician in a salon may opt to apply the dip powder to your nails using a brush or pouring it on your nail from a small cup or jar versus dipping your nail straight into the dip powder. However, if you're flying solo doing your dip powder nails at home, you can feel free to dip your nails directly into the powder.

If you're thinking, 'this sounds cool, but how do you remove dip powder nails?' You'd basically need to soak off the dip powder with acetone similar to how you would with acrylic nails. The key difference is dip powder nails typically soak off quickly (in as little as 10 minutes in my experience) because they aren't as thick as acrylic nails. (

How to Use a Dip Powder Nail Kit

Generally speaking, the process for doing dip powder nails is pretty simple. My go-to dip powder nail kit is from NailBoo, however the process is pretty much the same no matter which dip powder kit you choose. Here are the steps I've found work best, adapted from instructions that came with the dip powder kit and NailBoo's video tutorial.

  1. Start by thoroughly washing your hands with soap and water. Wipe your nails with alcohol or acetone (to remove any oils or residue), clean under the nails, and push back cuticles with a wooden stick or steel cuticle pusher.
  2. Apply a thin layer of the base to one of your nails. Immediately dip your nail into the builder powder (a colorless dip powder, sometimes referred to as the foundation powder) at a 45-degree angle. Repeat on all 10 nails. Brush off any excess powder with a fluffy nail brush.
  3. Apply another layer of the base and then immediately into a color dip powder of your choice. Repeat on all 10 nails. You can repeat this step multiple times to create a richer color. I've found that dipping once in the builder/foundation and twice in the color dip powder creates enough color payoff. Pro Tip: When dipping into the powder, your nail should appear fully covered and shine-free. If your nail still looks wet, dip back into the powder without applying any additional base.
  4. Apply the activator to each nail.
  5. After allowing the activator to dry for two to five minutes, buff the top layer of the nail (with a 100/180 grit buffer) to create a smooth, even surface.
  6. Apply another coat of the activator and let nails dry for an additional two to five minutes.
  7. Apply a thin layer of top coat.

My Best Advice for At-Home Dip Powder Nails

If I'm being completely honest, I made many rookie mistakes my first few times DIYing dip powder nails. For starters, my base layer was too thick, and it flooded the cuticle area. This made the dip powder get on my skin and made the cuticle area look bulky and unnatural. Now, I apply very thin layers, wiping the excess onto the neck of the bottle before applying to the nail. The key is to make sure that your nails are fully covered in the base without using too much product.

Another beginner mistake I made was dipping my nails way too many times into the base and powder, which left them looking super bulky and uneven. The good thing about dip powder nails compared to my gel manicures is that buffing the nail can help them look less bulky. However, that dip powder nail tip can only take you so far. Overall, less is more when it comes to achieving a flawless dip powder manicure. As mentioned, one layer of builder powder and two layers of color dip powder is enough to cover my nails fully — anything more than that looks too thick. (

Of the at-home nail methods that I've tried, I've found dip powder nails to be one of the better options for achieving a lasting manicure. It takes some time to perfect, but it's totally worth it in the end.

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