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How to Properly Remove Dip Powder Nails at Home

Follow these steps to avoid damaging your nails.


Is there anything better than a trip to the nail salon? (Maybe a few things, but not many.) I honestly don’t feel complete unless I have my nails done — cuticles trimmed, chips repaired, hangnails remedied, and topcoat (usually dark red or nude) applied. While some might consider the nail salon a waste of money, I consider it vital self-care. 

As a nail care aficionado, I’ve watched a lot of trends come and go. Recently, however, it seems like there’s a new one every week. There’s the standard manicure, acrylic nails, gel nail polish, shellac nails, and more. How’s a girl ever supposed to choose which manicure is best? 

The latest nail care innovation is dip nails, a manicure method that involves powder and gives your nails super strength. But the question isn’t just, “What are dip nails?” It’s also, “How the heck do you remove them?” The answers to both questions are below. Read on for the 411 on this newest manicure style, plus instructions for removing dip nails.

What Are Dip Nails?

Dip nails are similar to gel nail polish in that they provide extra protection to your natural nails, last longer than a classic manicure, and tend to look cleaner and brighter. For a dip nail manicure, the nail technician will apply a primer before dipping each nail into a finely-ground powder in a color of your choice. (That dipping action is where the name comes from.) The nail artist will then set the powder with a clear protective top coat on the top of your nail, often a gel polish. They’ll seal this shiny top coat with a UV light. (This sealing step is identical in gel and dip manicures and is essential for ensuring the longevity that makes these treatments so popular.)

Dip nail manicures are relatively new, so not every salon currently offers them. They tend to be quicker than gel manicures and have a distinctive look — some people love the look of dip nails, while others prefer gel. Check photos of dip nail manicures online and from your salon before you forsake your classic acrylic manicure (or whatever else you prefer).

How Do I Remove Dip Nails At Home? Nail Tips To Follow

Dip nails are essentially layers of powder and resin, which is why they’re so long-lasting. It can also make them a bit of a pain to remove, especially at home. But don’t lose hope — removing dip nails without a nail technician is possible. 

Gather Your Tools for Dip Powder Removal

The first thing to do is gather the necessary tools. You’ll need a nail file, a nail clipper, a small bowl of acetone, and a cuticle pusher to remove dip nails without causing damage to your nails, skin, and cuticles. If you don’t have all of these tools, you can purchase them at most pharmacies or beauty stores.

Trim and File

Next, use your nail clipper to trim the extra edge off your dip nails. Cut them as close to your natural length as possible. Then, use your nail file to sand the layers of resin and powder until it feels like there’s only a thin top layer of powder between the file and your natural nail. Doing this will reduce the time it takes to fully remove the dip (and thus, help to avoid ruining your nails from overexposure to pure acetone).

Acetone Soak-Off

Next, fill your small bowl with acetone. You’re going to soak your nails in the acetone to break down and loosen the resin, which will make the remaining polish much easier to remove. This may take longer than you think — don’t worry, it’s totally normal. I recommend soaking your nails in the acetone for at least ten minutes for it to be effective.

Scrape Off the Nails

When the final layer of resin and acrylic powder has been loosened with the acetone, use your cuticle pusher to scrape it off. I recommend using a wooden cuticle pusher. It’s gentler on your nails and is less likely than a metal or plastic cuticle pusher to scrape the natural nail underneath the powder. (If you struggle with this step, it’s likely a sign that your nails need to soak in the acetone a bit longer.) 

The key here is to be patient. It might take a while, but don’t rush it — yanking or ripping the final layer off your nails can cause damage to your nail beds (and be very painful). Going step-by-step through the process is a must.

Post-Dip Nail Wellness

Once the dip nails are removed, treat your nails and the surrounding cuticles with some TLC. Removing any sort of glued-on manicure can be damaging to your natural nails and the nail beds below them, so practicing good aftercare is smart no matter your manicure type. First, trim and file your nails to their desired shape. You may have to use your nail file for buffing the nail and remove any final bits of resin or powder. Apply a quality cuticle oil to your cuticles — this will help hydrate and heal the area around your nail beds, which can be irritated by the nail removal process. Finally, consider applying a strengthening polish to your natural nails to help them grow back strong and healthy. 

Other DIY Dip Nail Removal Techniques

Let’s say you don’t have acetone nail polish remover or you want to go another route in your dip nail removal process. The internet is full of other DIY solutions — like filing or ripping off the nails or using olive oil or distilled white vinegar — but I have one word of advice about those removal techniques: Don’t do it. (This advice is shared by pretty much every nail art expert.)

Ripping or filing off the nails without employing the above techniques can cause serious damage to your nails. While olive oil and distilled white vinegar might sound good, they aren’t strong enough to get the job done. In fact, if you can’t commit to the above at-home process, I advise skipping at-home nail removal altogether and letting a nail tech do the work. As experts, they’ll remove your manicure in the safest and most effective manner.

Dip Nails vs. Other Types of Manicures

So, what’s better: dip nails or gel nails? What about acrylics? While there are pros and cons to every type of manicure and pedicure, the best one is really a matter of personal preference. Just like the nail shape and color you choose, the style of manicure is entirely up to you: There are no wrong answers here.

Dip nails have the benefit of a faster application than either gel nail polish or acrylic nails – while still maintaining the quality and longevity of both types of manicure. However, some people feel that dip nails don’t look as natural as gel manicures, and you can’t get them filled in the way you can for acrylic or gel nails. When you want a new set, you must fully remove each dip nail and get them done all over again.

The color availability of each style of manicure can also make a difference. Your salon might have the exact shade you want in their gel colors but not in their dip powders (or vice versa). 

Time for Some TLC

So, what type of manicure will you get the next time you head to the salon? Getting my nails done is one of my favorite self-care rituals, and as far as I’m concerned, they can keep coming out with a new style of nail polish every year — and I’ll just keep coming back for more. Whether you choose to go with dip powder, gel nails, acrylics, or any other type of manicure, the important thing is that you do what make you look and feel your best. At the end of the day, nothing is more important than that.

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