An In-Depth Comparison: Dip Powder Vs. Acrylic Nails

Key Takeaways
  • Dip powder nails do not require UV or LED curing; they air dry, while Acrylic nails air dry and do not require curing lamps.
  • Dip powder nails generally have a milder odor compared to acrylic nails, making them a preferable option for those sensitive to strong odors. In contrast, Acrylic nails can have a strong and potentially irritating odor due to the use of liquid monomers.
  • Dip powder nails tend to be thinner and more flexible compared to acrylic nails, while Acrylic nails can be bulkier and thicker.
  • Both dip powder and acrylic nails offer a wide range of colors, designs, and finishes for customizable nail styles.

Let’s face it, we love getting our nails done. There are few things as enjoyable as a fresh set of nails that you can show off.

It’s a great way to freshen up your look and make you feel polished and fancy!

If you’re a regular at your nail salon, or maybe you only get them done for special occasions, you’ll know how hard it can be to choose a style for your nails.

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Before You Get Started | Dip Powder vs. Acrylic Nails

  • Sculpting Flexibility: Acrylic nails offer the flexibility to sculpt and shape the nails to the desired length and style.
  • Strength and Durability: Dip powder nails may not be as strong and durable as acrylic, making them more prone to chipping or breaking.
  • Complex Designs: Creating intricate sculpted designs can be challenging with dip powder due to its texture.
  • UV or LED Light: Unlike acrylic nails, dip powder nails don’t require UV or LED light for curing, which can be gentler on the skin.
  • Color Options: Dip powder has a limited range of color options compared to acrylic.

What’s even more confusing is that you can get different types of manicured nails now too, from gel polish to dip nails and acrylic nails.

So, how do you pick? Well, we’re here to tell you all about dip powder and acrylic nails, what the difference is, and which is best! 

What Are Dip Powder Nails?

Dip powder nails are a relatively new service available at the nail salon.

Unlike other treatments, these nails are applied by dipping the nail into a colored powder, or by brushing the dip powder onto the nail, before topping with a clear sealant over it.

This can give you a long lasting manicured look that stays fresh and chip free for weeks. 

Dip powder nails are kind of a hybrid between gel polish and acrylic nail extensions, as you get the flexibility of gel nail polish on your natural nails, and the strength, durability and long lasting feel of acrylic nails. 

Due to the nature of dip powder, this style has to be applied very carefully, and the nails need to be prepped and cleaned beforehand.

Then, a bonder is applied so that the powder can adhere to the nail, and the base is brushed over the nails.

After this, the nail is dipped into the powder, with the excess brushed off, and redipped for a more intense color. To finish, a topcoat is applied to harden the nails and ensure that the look lasts. 

What Are Acrylic Nails?

Acrylic nails are by far the most popular and well known nail service available.

This technique is widely used across the globe, and goes on top of natural nails to extend the length, shape and improve the overall appearance of the nails.

Acrylic nails are applied with a combination of a liquid monomer and a powder polymer that creates a sort of paste that is then bonded to the natural nail and shaped.

Once filed, colors and designs can be applied over the top, and the nails may last for 3-4 weeks with proper maintenance. 

With acrylic nails, you are able to add length, thickness, shape and strength to the nails, to make them look exactly as you want, whereas with gel polishes, you are only applying the gel to the natural nail to harden it, and you cannot extend or improve the shape. 

Quick Guide to Dip Powder vs. Acrylic Nails – Finding Your Perfect Fit

  • Application: Dip powder nails involve a bonding liquid and colored powder, while acrylic nails are created from a liquid monomer and acrylic powder mixture.
  • Extension Length: Acrylic nails are suitable for longer extensions, whereas dip powder nails are generally limited in length.
  • Odor: Dip powder nails have minimal to no odor during application, whereas acrylic nails emit a noticeable odor.
  • Fills: Dip powder nails require more frequent fills as natural nails grow, whereas acrylic nails may need regular maintenance as well.
  • Design Complexity: Dip powder nails can be challenging for intricate sculpted designs, whereas acrylic nails allow for creative sculpted designs.

Pros & Cons of Dip Nails

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The beauty of dip nails is how quick and easy they are to apply. This can be done in just a few minutes, and it does not even require a professional to create these nails.

If you value your time, and you don’t want to sit in a salon for over an hour to get your acrylic nails done, then dip powder nails will be for you.

They’re just as durable, and last longer than gel polish, and don’t need to cure under UV lights time after time until they’re ready to go.

They can last up to a month long and are not prone to chipping during this time when applied professionally. 

With dip nails, you also have a range of color choices to pick from, and you can have a fresh, clean cut and stylish set of nails ready to go in no time at all. 

The drawbacks of dip nails is that due to the nature of the application, they can look slightly bulkier or thicker than other nail styles, especially if you do not tap excess powder off before using the sealant. 

In addition, if you get these nails done at a salon, then you will want to ensure that the salon uses different dip bowls for each client, rather than letting them place their fingers straight into the product pot, as this can spread germs and is completely unsanitary. 

Also, some people can be allergic to dip powder as it can contain allergens and cause irritation on the nails.

Finally, another drawback of dip nails is that the removal can be tricky.

You need a good soak off to remove these nails once set, but sometimes it all doesn’t come off entirely, and you would have to file it off, which can be damaging to your natural nails. 

Pros & Cons of Acrylic Nails

There are many advantages of having acrylic nails, which is what makes them so popular.

For instance, due to the chemical make up of the acrylic, the nails can be very strong, durable and last for a long time, without breaking like natural nails often do. 

When applied properly and professionally, these nails can also offer a layer of protection for the real fingernail underneath.

In addition, acrylic nails completely cover the natural nail, which can conceal any issues, breakages or undesirable nails. 

Acrylic nails can look very chic and stylish, and are one of the cheapest nail services on offer, as they are so widely available and practiced in most salons.

However, this service is not without its drawbacks. 

For instance, one of the main cons of acrylic nails is that they can be damaging to the nail beds due to their hardy nature.

Yes, they last a long time, but they are so hard to get off, and you need to use strong acetone to soak them off, which has a strong chemical scent and fumes. 

Acrylic nails can also cause infections or allergic reactions to the components of the acrylics, and the natural nails will sometimes feel weak, become brittle, dry and thin after having acrylics applied and removed often. 

Which One Is Safer For Your Nails?

In terms of safety and with your natural nails in mind, dip powder is safer for you than acrylics are.

This is because this method does not use harsh, strong chemicals like acrylics do, and it is simply a mild bond to hold the powder in place.

The chemicals involved with acrylic nails are also very strong, pungent and damaging, which is why your nail tech wears a mask to apply these types of nails. 

Keep in Mind

  • Maintenance: Plan for the level of maintenance you’re willing to undertake, as both methods may require regular fills and upkeep as natural nails grow.
  • Removal Process: Be aware of the removal process, as dip powder nails are generally easier to remove and gentler on natural nails compared to acrylics.
  • DIY vs. Professional Application: Consider whether you prefer DIY options or professional application, as dip powder kits are available for at-home use, while acrylic nails may be more challenging to apply by oneself.
  • Odour Sensitivity: Consider your sensitivity to odors, as dip powder nails are generally odorless, while acrylic nails emit a noticeable odor during application.
  • Chemical Exposure: Be aware of the level of exposure to chemicals during the application, which is reduced with dip powder nails and, more significantly, with acrylic nails.

Which One Is Easier To Apply?

In addition to being safer, dip nails are easier and faster to apply, as you do not have to wait for the nails to cure time after time before the color is even applied.

Dip powder can also be done by yourself rather than at a salon, as it does not require any special training or skills to apply this style of nails. 

Which Lasts Longer Acrylic Or Dip Nails?

This is where acrylic nails win over dip nails, as they are so strong and durable.

Acrylics are slightly longer lasting than dip powder nails as they are an artificial nail, whereas dip powders are often simply applied to the natural nail.

However, this does depend on who applies the nails, as professional services will last longer than if you did it yourself. 

Is Dip Powder Less Damaging Than Acrylic? 

Is Dip Powder Less Damaging Than Acrylic? 

Dip powder manicures are less damaging than acrylic nails, but they can still be damaging, as the effect of the powder does tend to dehydrate the nails.

However, with a little oil and some TLC, your nails should recover in no time.

Acrylics on the other hand are much thicker, which means that nail beds are more prone to breaking, and you can get fungal infections as the natural nails cannot breathe underneath the acrylic. 

Pro Tip

Reflect on your style preferences. Acrylic nails offer a wide range of color options and creative possibilities, making them suitable for those who love nail art. Dip powder nails may be preferred by individuals who prefer a more natural or minimalist look.

Which One Is More Affordable? 

Dip powder is not as widely available or as well known as acrylics, and so this service is often slightly more expensive than acrylic nails.

On average, you can expect to pay abou $30-$45 for an acrylic manicure, whereas dip nails can be anywhere between $30 and $60.

However, prices may vary depending on location, the nail technician, the salon and the style that you choose.   

Acrylic Or Powder Dip Nails: Which Feels More Natural?

Image by @nailsby__tessa via Instagram

In terms of what feels more natural between acrylic and powder dip nails, many individuals find that powder dip nails tend to feel lighter and more flexible than acrylic nails.

This is because acrylic nails are constructed using a liquid and powder mixture that sometimes feels thicker and less flexible.

Powder dip nails are created by dipping the pins into a colored powder and often have a more lightweight and natural feel.

However, it’s important to note that personal preferences can vary, and what feels more natural to one person may not be the same for another.

Additionally, the skill of the nail technician and the quality of the products used can also influence the overall feel and comfort of the nails.

Is Dip Powder Easier To Remove Than Acrylic?

Yes, dip powder nails are generally considered easier to remove than acrylic nails. The key reasons are the difference in material thickness and the removal process.

Dip powder nails are typically thinner and more porous than acrylic nails, which makes them, soak off more quickly during an acetone removal process.

This process is gentler on natural nails and requires less filing and buffing, reducing the risk of damage to your nails.

However, it’s essential to follow proper removal procedures and, if unsure, seek professional nail technician services to ensure a safe and efficient process for either type of nail enhancement.

Conclusion – Which Is Better: Dip Powder Or Acrylic Nails?

To conclude, we recommend that you try a dip nail manicure next time you head to the salon. Acrylic nails are tried and tested.

Sure, they look great, but they can be so incredibly damaging to the nails that you need to take a break from appointments from time to time or your nails will be dry, brittle and prone to breakage. 

Instead, try a dip powder nail manicure. It’s faster, easier to apply, and you can do it yourself with a dip powder kit.

What’s not to love? Try your own dip powder nail manicure with one of these easy to use kits today! 

Ariel Coleman

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