Dip and acrylic nails are the most popular alternatives to gel nails among artificial nail enthusiasts. Both are easy to apply and stunningly gorgeous. Moreover, they last longer than gel nails.
However, they can be confusing, especially for beginners. So, we’ve developed this guide to explain the differences and help you choose the best option.
Is Dip Powder the same as Acrylic Powder?
No, dip powder and acrylic nails are different. Although they are made from similar polymers, the dipping powder is more finely ground than acrylic polymer, resulting in more natural-looking nails.
The application process also varies significantly. For instance, dip powder application requires a resin-based material, while acrylic nails require a liquid monomer.
What’s Dip Powder?
Also known as SNS nails, a dip powder manicure involves dipping the nails into a special colored powder. Alternatively, an experienced nail technician may brush the dip powder onto the nails.
Then the nail tech uses a clear sealant as a top coat, forming long-lasting artificial nails that you can wear for up to a month.
How to Apply Dip Powder
The dip powder process differs slightly from other manicures, though nail preparation is the same.
- Prep the nails: Prepping involves washing the nails with soap and water to remove dirt and oils, pushing back the cuticles and clipping the hangnails, and buffing the nail surface. You can also use a primer to dry the nail surface.
- Apply bonder: Bonder helps the product adhere more strongly to the nail plate. It also reduces the risk of lifting.
- Apply base coat: The base coat is a resin-based agent similar to superglue. Brush it onto the nail plate as if applying traditional nail polish. It’s the “glue” that holds the powder to your nails.
- Apply dip powder: Dip the nail into the dipping tray (which contains powder). Work one nail at a time, brushing off the excess powder before moving to the next nail. You can re-dip nails 2-3 times for more opacity.
- Apply activator: The activator is the magic ingredient that transforms the dipped nail from a powdery mess to a painted look.
- Apply a top coat: Allow the product to dry for 5-10 minutes, then shape and file the nails to the desired style. Finally, apply a top coat.
Dip Nails Pros
- Strong and durable
- You can dip your nails at home.
- No need for UV or LED technology.
Dip Nail Cons
- They are expensive
- Challenging removal process.
Is Dip Powder Bad for Your Nails?
No, a dip manicure isn’t any worse than other artificial nail products. Indeed, you can apply the nails every month without issues. However, beware that the removal process may harm the natural nails. It involves soaking the nails in 100% acetone, which can corrode the natural nail plate.
What are Acrylic Nails?
Acrylic powder nails are a combination of a liquid monomer and powder polymer. The two form a paste that bonds strongly to the natural nails. Then you can shape the nail before allowing it to harden. You can use extensions for longer nails or add art to beautify the nails.
Acrylic Powder Application Process
Applying acrylic nails is the simplest of all artificial nails, though you need some experience to get the liquid-to-powder ratio right.
- Nail preparation: Remove old nail polish, push back the cuticles, and trim the nails to the smile line. Then buff them to remove snags. You may also apply primer to dehydrate the nails for stronger adhesion.
- Prepare an acrylic bead: Dip the nail brush into the monomer liquid and tap it on the side to remove excess liquid. Then dip it into the powder, picking enough product to form the perfect acrylic bead.
- Apply the acrylic bead: Starting just above the cuticle, extend the bead gently to the nail tip. Then smooth out the edges. Note that acrylic nails are thinnest at the cuticle area and thickest at the free edge. Repeat the process for all your nails.
- Allow to dry: Acrylic nails dry naturally, fully hardening in 10-20 minutes. A clicking sound when you tap the nail indicates it’s completely dry.
- Finish up: File along the edges and tip for picture-perfect nails. Then apply regular nail polish or gel nail polish for surface protection. Remember that gel polish requires LED or UV light to dry. You can apply nail art to beautify the acrylics.
Acrylic Nail Pros
- Strong and durable
- Cheaper than other false nails
- No need for LED or UV light
Acrylic Nail Cons
- Challenging to remove
- Long-term use damages the nail bed.
Is Dip Powder the Same as Acrylic Powder?
No, dip powder is not the same as acrylic powder. They share many similarities and even have the same ingredients. However, they’re different in a couple of ways.
For instance, dip powder is more finely milled. Also, dip nails are lighter and more natural-looking nails.
What’s the Difference Between Dip Powder and Acrylic Powder?
The main difference between dip and acrylic nails is that the dipping powder is more finely ground. Additionally, the application processes are substantially different.
To apply acrylic nails, dip the brush in a liquid monomer, then the powder, before applying it to the nail.
Meanwhile, to apply dip nails, you “paint” the nail plate with the base product (an equivalent of liquid monomer), then dip your nails in a jar of dip powder. Alternatively, you can brush the powder onto the nails.
Dip Powder Nails vs. Acrylic Nails: An In-Depth Comparison
Hopefully, you’ve gathered enough from the preceding section to choose between dip and acrylic nails. If not, here’s a head-to-head comparison to help out.
Which is Easier and Faster to Apply?
The process of applying dip nails is slightly different from acrylic nails. First, you need a bonder for dip nails, which you can do without when applying acrylics. Secondly, dipping powder requires a base product rather than liquid monomers.
Finally, to apply dip powder nails, apply the base coat and then dip the nail in the polymer powder.
Meanwhile, to apply acrylic nails, create a bead by dipping the brush into the monomer liquid and then the powder polymer. Then spread the bead onto the nail plate. So, dip nails are easier and faster to apply.
Curing Dip Nails vs. Acrylic Nails: Which is Easier to Cure?
The curing process is the same for dipping nails and acrylic nails. Both cure naturally at room temperature, transforming into a hard protective surface.
Also, both cure quickly, typically in 10-15 minutes. Gently blowing the nails with a fan accelerates the curing and hardening process.
However, the actual curing process and time may vary depending on the specific materials. For instance, you can use gel polish on dip powder and acrylic nails.
But you need LED light or a UV lamp to cure gels. In that case, you must wait for the dipping or acrylic powder to dry before applying gel nail polish.
Dip Nails vs. Acrylic Nail Removal: Which One is Easier to Remove?
Generally, dip nails are easier to remove. The removal process is also less damaging to the nails. Two reasons make dipping powder nails easier to remove. First, they’re more lightweight than acrylics. Therefore, you don’t need as much filing as the acrylic removal process.
Secondly, dip nail adhesives are more susceptible to solvents. They contain cyanoacrylate, which breaks down easily in the presence of acetone or regular nail polish remover.
Unfortunately, acrylic adhesives are very stubborn. So, you must soak the nails in acetone for longer. Also, you must file acrylics more aggressively.
Dip Powder Nails vs. Acrylic Powder Nails: Which are More Beautiful?
There’s only one winner here – dip nails. Although derived from the same materials, dip powders guarantee beautiful, more natural-looking nails.
This is why dip nails rival gel nails for modern manicures. Both are lightweight and closely resemble natural nails.
Unfortunately, you cannot say the same about normal acrylic powder nails. They’re thicker and bulkier. So, it’s easier to notice that you’re wearing fake nails.
Dip Nails vs. Acrylic Nails: Which One is More Comfortable?
Generally, dip nails are more comfortable. They’re more lightweight and more natural looking. So, they exert less weight on your fingers and give you greater self-confidence knowing your nails look natural.
This doesn’t mean that all acrylic nails are uncomfortable. Indeed, some nail techs are so good with acrylics that it feels like you’re wearing gel nails. However, it takes greater effort to achieve that level of comfort.
Dip Powder System vs. Acrylic Nails Durability: Which Lasts Longer?
Acrylic and dip nails are equally strong as they’re made from the same products. However, dip nails are more durable, lasting up to four weeks, whereas acrylic nails typically last 2-3 weeks.
This is one of the biggest advantages of dip nails over acrylic powders. The flexibility reduces the risk of chipping and cracking. Therefore, your nails stay intact longer despite regular fist clenching or lifting heavy items.
Dip Powder vs. Acrylic Powder: Which is Safer for Your Nails?
All artificial nail products are unhealthy for natural nails. However, dipping nails are less damaging than acrylics.
First, we’ve seen that gel nail adhesives break down more easily. So, you don’t need to soak your nails too long in acetone or nail polish remover, thus causing less damage to the nail beds. Secondly, acrylic nails are extremely rigid, thus more likely to tear the natural nails under stress.
Dip Nail Extensions vs. Acrylic Nail Extensions: Which is Better?
Both acrylics and dip nails make strong and beautiful plastic nail extensions. However, the extensions differ in a few ways.
Dip extensions are more lightweight, flexible, and natural looking. Also, they last longer and are easier to remove. However, they are more expensive. Meanwhile, acrylic extensions are strong and durable. But they are rigid and unnatural.
Powder Dip Nails vs. Acrylic Nails: Affordability
Acrylic nails are more expensive to install than dip nails. It typically costs double the price of dip nails. For instance, whereas regular dip nails cost $20 to $50, acrylic nails cost $40 to $100, on average.
The huge difference is that acrylic nails offer more style options. You can shape the nail into stilettos, coffins, almond shapes, and many others.
Unfortunately, dip nails don’t offer similar flexibility. Of course, the prices also depend on location, technician expertise, specific ingredients, and more.
Can you Use Acrylic Powder as Dip Powder?
Unfortunately, no. You should not use acrylic powder as dip powder. The main reason is that mixing the acrylic powder with resin (dip powder base) creates a chunky unmanageable compound unsuitable for dipping or sculpting.
A few DIYers do it nonetheless. However, it takes more work to control the consistency and thickness of the powder, resulting in serious adhesion and durability issues.
Can you Use Dip Powder as Acrylic powder?
Yes, you can use dip powder as acrylic powder. However, it’s not advisable as dabbing monomer in dipping powder creates an inconsistent bead that’s difficult to shape. Also, spreading the unconventional bead is difficult, potentially resulting in poorly done acrylics.
Which is Stronger, Dip Powder or Acrylic?
Dip nails and acrylic nails are equally strong. The polymers are the same except for texture. So, the strengths are similar once both products dry.
However, dip nails are thinner and more flexible, whereas acrylics are thicker and more rigid. Therefore, dip nails typically last longer because they’re less likely to break from stress.
Dip nails are not similar to acrylic nails. The polymers are almost identical, except the dipping powder is more finely milled. However, the liquids are different.
While acrylic nails require liquid monomer, dip nails use a resin-based glue-like material. The application process, flexibility, safety, and prices also vary.