By Erin Lukas
Dec 27, 2018 @ 10:00 am
matteozin - stock.adobe.com

A gel manicure that lasts two weeks is impressive, but one that can hold up for a whole month? Pinch yourself because you're not dreaming. Enter dip powder nails: a long-wear manicure that lasts up to four weeks without using a UV light to set the polish.

This manicure is perfect if you chip a nail every time you wash the dishes, or if you're worried that regular gel manicures are ruining your nails. Even though dip powders are having a moment right now because the process is totally 'grammable, the concept is nothing new. Dip powder manicures have been around for awhile, but they were formally dubbed "glue manicures" because of the adhere that's used to help the powder stick to the nail. 

Before you make dip powders your new go-to at the salon, we got the lowdown from two experts on what to expect when you get one and whether or not this manicure is bad for your nails. 

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"With dip powder, the actual color of the clients' manicure is the color of the powder their nails are dipped into," Joy Terrell, the owner of Powder Beauty Co., a luxury L.A. salon that specializes in the service, says. 

The entire process takes 45 minutes to an hour and can cost anywhere from $30 to $50, depending on the location and salon. 

The first step of a dip powder manicure is prepping the nail. This includes cuticle care, cleansing, and dehydration. Terrell says that this is all done dry because the powder best adheres to dehydrated nails. After the cuticles are pushed back and the nail plate is clear, a dehydrating product like 99-percent alcohol is used to wipe nails clean. Next comes the actual dipping. 

Once a clear adhesive is applied to the nail, it's dipped into a clear powder, which serves as the base, and followed by a colored that creates the pigment. A third dip into a sheer powder protects the pigment. In between each dip, the excess powder is brushed away from the nail and a coat of the clear adhesive is applied.

"Clients with longer nails or more active lifestyles require additional coats of color for added strength," Terrell says. 

Once the dipping is done, the nails are buffed and filed down to a smooth finish, and a top coat is applied. Terrell says that the powder can alternatively be poured onto nails. 

VIDEO: How to Properly Remove Your Gel Manicure

 

Much like a gel manicure, dip powder nails can be removed at home by soaking the nails in acetone for 10 minutes and wiping it off with a paper towel. However, the powder doesn't always slide off easily, which is bad news for your actual nails. 

Dr. Dana Stern, a board certified dermatologist and nail specialist in New York, says that the removal process can damage the underlying nail plate. If soaking them in acetone for 10 minutes doesn't work, the nail is going to become more thin when the powder gets scrapped off. The electric files that salons use before soaking nails in acetone is also extremely rough on nails. 

Regularly putting your nails through the aggressive removal process can also damage the nail matrix, which manifests in lumps, bumps, and white patches on the nail plate. Cuticles can also get infected. The easiest way to avoid this is by giving your nails some breathing room once a month between dip powder manicures, just like you would with gels.  

And when your nails are naked, treat them with a strengthening treatment or a nourishing oil. Dr. Stern has an on-the-go pen that's a part of her three-step Nail Renewal System. It makes it easy to stay on top of giving your nails the extra TLC they need.  

As far as how sanitary dip powder manicures at salons are?

"As we know from Seinfeld, double dipping is never a good thing," explains Dr. Stern. "The salons seem to be aware of this and are now either pouring the powder onto the nail, painting the powder on, or dipping the nail into individual disposable containers of powder."