Dip nails have become a huge trend over the last couple of years, and it’s no surprise. Dip nails are as strong and durable as acrylic nails, but they’re super quick and easy to do, unlike many other techniques.
Many people started doing dip nails at home because of how easy it is and how beautiful they come out.
Dip nails are done using a special dip powder. The powders come in different colors, and you paint a base coat onto your nails and dip them directly into the tub of powder, creating an even coat that hardens and results in beautiful, smooth nails. No UV lights or special tools are required!
If you’re looking to do dip nails at home, you do need to purchase dip powders, which can get pricey. What if there was some other powder you could use instead of dip powder that worked the same way?
We’re talking about good old acrylic powder! Acrylic powder is widely available at beauty supply stores and costs far less than dip powder. It’s also made of pretty much the same ingredients.
Acrylic powder is intended to be used to build acrylic nails using a monomer that mixes with the acrylic powder.
So, can you use acrylic powder as dip powder? It turns out that you can. The two products are almost identical, with a few small differences. You can totally use acrylic powder the same way you’d use dip powder with a few small changes in the process to get yourself a gorgeous set of nails on a budget.
In this post, we’ll go over the differences and the process you should follow if you decide to use acrylic powder in place of dip powder to do your nails at home.
Are Acrylic Powder And Dip Powder The Same Thing?
Many people wonder if acrylic powder and dip powder are the same things. They are almost identical, but there are some important differences that you should be aware of.
Of course, the acrylic powder is not sold for dipping. Instead, it is supposed to be mixed with a monomer to create a bead (a paste) that you spread over the nail to create a thick, long shape. But because the ingredients in acrylic powder are so similar to ingredients in dip powder, the two can be used interchangeably.
Both dip powder and acrylic powder contain similar polymers that harden when they are mixed with an activator (also known as a monomer). However, dip powder also contains resins, which are basically glue, that are not present in the acrylic powder.
Resin, or glue, is an important component of creating dip powder nails. So, if you’re not using dip powder and instead opting for acrylic powder, you’ll need to incorporate glue into your process.
This is fairly easy to do as you can buy nail glue which contains very similar resins to dip powder and use that on your nail. We’ll go over the steps in more detail in a few moments.
What’s important to remember is that you’ll need to use nail glue if you are using acrylic powder instead of dip powder.
Aside from that, the differences are minimal. Dip powders are usually a little finer and more ground down than acrylic powders. But in practice, you’ll hardly notice the difference.
Both powders require an activator to be applied at the end. This activator is basically the monomer that acrylics are traditionally used with. It’s a chemical that hardens everything when mixed with acrylic powder.
In dip nail kits, the activator is sometimes called a top coat or a sealer. Regardless of the name on the label, it’s the same chemical as the monomer you’d traditionally use while doing acrylic nails.
How To Dip Your Nails With Acrylic Powder
Creating a beautiful set of dip nails using acrylic powder is an easy process. Here is everything you’ll need to get started:
- Nail prepping tools: nail file, buffer, cuticle pusher, clippers, alcohol wipes
- Nail glue (like this one)
- Acrylic powder (we recommend a clear color because it’s the most versatile)
- Dip activator (like this one)
- Soft brush
- Nail polish or gel polish if you want to add color to your nails (optional)
- If using nail tips, you’ll need those as well (optional)
Once you have everything you need, follow the steps below:
Prep Your Nails
When creating any sort of nail art or nail sets, always spend time properly prepping your nails. This will be the make or break of your manicure!
When nails are prepped correctly, your sets will last weeks longer, won’t chip, and will look much more professional. So don’t skip this step.
To prep your nails, you’ll want to:
- Trim them using nail clippers to get them to the size and shape you want
- File them to smoothen out the edges and perfect the shape
- Use a cuticle tool to push back and remove cuticles and skin accumulation on the surface of the nail
- Buff the surface of your nail to remove any shine – this will help the acrylic powder stick better and stay longer
- Lastly, wipe your nails with some rubbing alcohol to remove any oils, dust, or dirt.
Apply Tips (Optional)
If you are using nail tips to add some length and drama to your nails, do this now. To apply nail tips, follow the instructions on the package.
Usually, you’ll need to use your nail glue to stick them onto the tip of your natural nails and wait a few minutes for the glue to dry.
If you are doing nail tips, you’ll need to reinforce them by creating a “structure” with your dipping powder. This will place a little bit of extra acrylic material over the seam of your false tip to keep it secure. Follow the steps below:
- Once the tips are on securely, and the glue has dried, apply a little bit more glue from the center of your nail all the way through the tip.
- Dip it into your acrylic powder.
- Shake off the excess powder and use a soft brush to buff off any extra powder.
- Proceed to the steps below.
Glue and Dip
This is where you begin to dip your entire nail into the acrylic powder. This process is exactly the same as with dip powder, except you will be using nail glue instead of the “base” coat.
Remember, regular dip powder already contains nail glue within it, so if you’re using acrylic powder, you’ll need to add nail glue from another source.
You will need 2-4 layers of nail glue and acrylic powder depending on how thick and strong you want your nail to be. Here are the steps:
- Paint a thin layer of nail glue over your whole nail, making sure not to get any on your skin or cuticles
- Dip the nail into your acrylic powder tub at a 45 degree angle, making sure to cover the entire nail
- Remove your finger from the acrylic powder and tap your finger with your other hand to shake off any excess powder
- Use a soft brush to gently wipe away any extra powder
- At this point, the acrylic powder mixed with glue will create a semi-hard layer on your nail.
- Repeat this process for a second layer by applying more nail glue over that layer and dipping it into the powder again
- You can repeat this a few more times depending on how thick you want your acrylic layer to be. We don’t recommend going over 4 layers.
Once you’re happy with the thickness of your dipped nails, it’s time to harden them. Dip powder and acrylic powder both require an “activator” – a type of monomer chemical that mixes with the polymers in the powder and sets it in place, making it virtually indestructible for a few weeks.
Simply follow the steps below:
- Apply a thin layer of your activator over each nail and let it dry for at least 2 minutes.
- Once your nail feels hard and solid, you can make any final changes to its shape: file it or buff it down if needed.
- Now apply a second layer of the activator and let it dry for 2 minutes. Your nails should be hard and strong at this point.
If you’ve been using a clear acrylic powder, you’ll probably want to add some color to it at this point. Now that your dipped nails are finished, you can treat them like any other nail.
Feel free to put regular nail polish, gel polish, or any other decor on them like you normally would.
As you can see, you can successfully use acrylic powder as dip powder by swapping the base coat for a nail glue and adjusting your application process slightly.
You can create a stunning set of dip nails using acrylic powder without spending a lot of money on getting a whole dip powder kit. We hope this article was helpful in your beautiful nail journey!
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