What's a Dip Manicure?

I have always loved doing my nails and the confidence boost of having great looking nails. My mom and my grandma have always had beautiful nails and I remember as early as second grade saving up my money to buy nail polish from the Avon catalog. My nails have always been a point of pride and so I've kept them polished for my whole life. As an adult that looked like gel polish every week, but the longest I could keep my nails looking good was about 4 days. Last year I started going to the nail salon to get dip manicures and it's been life changing. My nails always look good and I only worry about them about once a month. I get so many questions about the dip manicures so today I'm sharing what they are, how they work, what they cost, why I love them and more!

Last Fall I was feeling pretty exhausted. I was working a lot, stressed with the upcoming holiday season, and really just worn out. My counselor suggested I find some "me time" and I wasn't sure what I wanted that to look like. I decided to go get my nails done and try the "dip manicure" that I had been hearing about. I had it done and have stuck with it ever since! I don't spend much time at the hair salon or getting my lashes done, but I have decided that getting my nails done is time I'm willing to spend. It's my one hour of me-time where I am forced to do nothing - I can't even play on my phone! I love that my nails are always photo ready and it just feels good to look down and see them pretty and polished. Scroll down to see some of the colors and designs I've done in the last few months and read all about dip manicures. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Dip Manicures

Where do you go to get your nails done? XO Nails in Liberty, Missouri.

What is a dip manicure? A dip manicure is a long lasting manicure done by dipping the nail in a pigmented powder. The nail tech applies a base coat and then dips the nail in a powder. The powder is then sealed with a liquid polish and dipped again in the jar of your chosen color. Nails are typically dipped 3-5 times and then a final sealant is applied on top. The dip hardens and is buffed for shine and evenness. A "dip mani" typically lasts three to four weeks. A top coat is applied and sometimes the tech will also apply a gel polish on top. 

What’s the difference between dip and gel? Gel nails use UV rays to seal in your polish while the dip nails use a pigmented powder. Dip nails tend to be thicker and the gel seems to be more flexible. A dip will last longer and look nicer longer. 

Difference between dip and acrylic? Unlike acrylic, a dip manicure does not make use of any special chemicals to help it harden. Acrylic nails are much harder and more rigid and I don't think they look as natural, plus acrylic more expensive. You also can't backfill a dip. You have to remove the dip before having them done again. Both are thicker than a normal nail and you can choose your shape with both techniques.

How do you find the time to remove and redo? I plan on about an hour and 15 minutes every time I get my nails done. I only go every three weeks and it's worth it to have my nails look great all of the time. It's also my time to prove that I can find some "me time" of about an hour at least once a month. 

How long does it take and how much does it cost? The entire process takes 45 minutes to an hour and can cost anywhere from $30 to $50, depending on the location and salon. Designs will cost a little more. 

I tried it and it ruined my nails? I would only recommend getting your nails dipped if you plan to keep it up. Your nails will get a little thinner over time and it's not a one time process. Your nails will be weaker once the dip comes off because they have been covered for weeks and they do file the top of your nails as part of the removal. You'll have a recovery period for your nails to grow back full thickness after you stop doing the dip.  You can ask for an only soak removal and that is better for your nails, but it takes longer. You can soak them off yourself, but I don't recommend it. If you don't plan to keep up with dip nails, I would go with a gel manicure. 

How do you remove it if you want to take it off? Your best bet is heading back to your salon to have the powder manicure professionally removed. They will soak your nails in acetone and file off the powder. If you want to do it yourself, file off the topcoat layer and then soak your nails in a bowl of warm acetone with a paper towel. Scrub your nails against the wet paper towel as they soak. Then use a cotton ball and acetone to scrub it off. 

How do you choose which color each time? I typically go with white- just bright white. But everyone other time I will hop on Pinterest and look up minimalist nail designs or something for inspiration. 

What shape do you choose?
I typically go with a squ-oval shape. It's rounded but not super round. I like them more rounded rather than square most of the time. I also always ask for them to be as short as possible. My nails grow quite a bit between appointments so the shorter they start the better. 

How is it sanitary is each nail is dipped in the same container from different people? You can ask your nail technician to paint or pour the powder directly onto each nail if dipping in the same container grosses you out. Because it's powder no bacteria can grow- the bacteria and viruses need water to survive. 

How hard is it on your nails? It's much better for your nails than acrylic, but a lot of it depends on your technician.  I would say it is something you have to commit too- not an on and off thing. If you keep them on your nails will end up a little thinner but it's fine because you always have to dip on top. 

How do you get design with dip? They add them with gel polish at the end. 

Do you have to put them under the UV light to dry? No UV light is needed, but my nail salon does a coat of clear gel polish on top at the end and then uses a UV light as well. 

How long does the dip last? Does it chip? I have only had my dip mani chip once and that was because the dip application was very thin that time. Otherwise the nails just grown out and the dip polish grows with them. They will get a little dull or scuffed, but they stay looking great until you go back in. It's the grow out that makes me go back in. You can see three weeks of grow-out below. 

What is the name of the white they use on you? I just ask for a true white.

Does your white dip turn yellow or get stained? It can. I've stained my white nails with sharpie and hair dye and they can yellow a bit. I recommend wearing gloves when you do anything like gardening, dishes, or hair color to keep your nails in the best condition. 

Is it hard to use your nails when they are that thick? I have heard from other people that they think the dip is too thick. I would say that is just your nail technician. You can have them thicker or thinner. I've definitely had them too thick and too thin. When they are too thick it is hard to scratch an itch or use your nails and it can feel like the dip is pulling on your nails a bit. When they are too thin they can chip. There is a happy medium and you do get used to them. 

Is there a DIY version you can do at home? There are dipping powder sets you can purchase and use yourself at home but since I haven't used any I can't recommend one over the other. I do have a friend that does her own and they look great, but I enjoy the down time and having someone else stress over making them look good. 

Does it peel off like gel nails after you have had them on for a bit? I've never had mine peel off. They more grow out when my nails do. Like I said above, I wouldn't recommend trying to peel them off. 

I hope these questions and answers about dip manicures helped answer your questions! If you have any others feel free to leave them in the comments or shoot me an email. I'd love to help!


  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post! I like having my nails done, but my real nails break pretty easily and I don't like the damage that acrylic does to them. Your nails always look amazing so i'm definitely going to look into this after reading your post.

  2. This was really helpful! My nail tech just recommended I try it, instead of gel, and I had never really heard of it. I'm going to Europe for a month and she said this should last most of the trip and not peel or lift like gel does after a couple weeks. Thank you!

  3. Where did you get your ring at that is in the pic with the light blue polish? Your nails look great!

  4. It's from JCPenney - http://bit.ly/2CRIl8s


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