Are Dip Powder Manicures Bad For Your Nails?

If you've visited any nail salon recently, you've probably noticed how popular dip powder manicures have gotten in recent years. Although gel and acrylic manicures have dominated the nail trends for years, dip powder nails are the newest trend you need to know about.


Even though dip powder manicures have just seemed to pick up steam, it's anything but new. According to PopSugar, the dip powder style of manicures has been around since the 1980s. These manicures have become more popular since they claim to be healthier for your nails than gels and acrylics. When getting a gel or acrylic manicure done, you expose yourself to UV rays and weaken your nails when removing them. For this reason, dip powder manicures have become the go-to for those looking for something less harsh on the nails.

However, even dip powder manicures have downsides you should consider before your next appointment. When deciding which manicure to get, you should know all the pros and cons to better understand which technique is the best for your nails.


Are dip powder manicures bad for you?

Although there is no evidence to say whether dip powder is better or worse for your nails, there are risks to be considered. According to professional nail artist Mazz Hanna, one of the top concerns of dip powder is whether or not it is sanitary. Even though you shouldn't, several salons will use the same powder pot when dipping customers' fingers. Although this isn't the case in all salons, dipping several customers' fingers into the same powder raises the risk of bacterial infection. The risk of bacterial infection mostly comes down to the sanitary procedures taken by each manicurist (via The Zoe Report).


According to Elle, one of the other concerns with dip powder is the chemicals involved. Often compared to acrylics, dip powder manicures involve many harsh chemicals that need to be handled by professionals. The base chemical of dip powder is the same as those in acrylics. Like any procedure that involves high-grade chemicals, they come with their own set of risks and chances of irritation. For this reason, dip powder manicures need to be handled by someone with experience handling these chemicals.

What is the safest manicure technique?

Even though most manicure techniques have risks to consider, there are still ways to beautify your nails with little to no damage.

According to Orly, the safest type of manicure is a regular manicure or a french manicure. Since both techniques only involve swiping polish over the nail, they do not require any damaging or risky technique. Another safe option would be trying press-on nails. These nail designs can be applied and removed as much as you like, as they are removable with nail polish remover. The downside is that they are short-term options that can get easily chipped in just days.


When comparing gel, acrylic, and dip powder manicures, the general rule is that they can be safe if handled by a professional and done less often. Since they are long-lasting manicures, there is no need to get them routinely changed out. According to Easy Nail Tech, they're suitable if you let your nails breathe between uses and limit your use of acetone to remove them.

How difficult is it to remove dip powder nails (and will your nails be damaged)?

According to board-certified dermatologist Shari Lipner, M.D., Ph.D., it's actually 100% acetone that is used in the removal process of dip powder nails that is the most harmful aspect of doing them. "It peels off layers of [the] nail and thins the nails over time," Dr. Lipner reveals. "The acetone can also irritate the surrounding skin" (via The American Academy of Dermatology Association).


If you're wondering how long it takes to remove dip powder nails, it takes longer than removing gel, according to experts. "Overall, gel polish is much easier to remove than dip powder," manicurist Chelsea King reveals to Allure. "They both need to be soaked off, but dip powder will take longer." Apart from this, gel can be removed by applying cotton balls soaked in acetone, while dip powder needs to be soaked directly in acetone. Filing the dip powder off could prove harmful and a waste of time, so we don't recommend that approach.

Is it okay to get dip powder nails regularly?

Since dip powder nails can last anywhere from three to six weeks, you might wonder how often you can get them done — and experts have weighed in. "It's not dangerous to apply a dip powder every month. However, to remove these manicures, you need to put 100% acetone on your nails, which can damage your nails," says board-certified dermatologist Shari Lipner, M.D., Ph.D., tells The American Academy of Dermatology Association. Adding to this, Dr. Lipner recommends letting at least a month pass by before getting another manicure of this fashion.


Of course, the frequency of your visits to the nail salon to get dip powder nails heavily depends on your nails and how healthy they are to begin with. "Our nails are made up of layers of keratin, a protein that's also found in our hair and skin," board-certified dermatologist Rhonda Klein, M.D., shares with Prevention. "As we age, the cells in our bodies produce keratin at a slower rate, which can cause the nails to weaken and appear dry and dull." To ensure your nails are as healthy as possible, make sure you intake enough protein and calcium on a daily basis.

What is the sprinkling technique, and is it safer?

While having different clients put their nails in the same powder pot is bound to spread bacteria, some salons use separate pots (in which they put some of the powder) for each client. "Dip is perfectly sanitary in a salon if you allocate a separate disposable portion of the powder to a specific client rather than dipping the client's nails in the whole pot," celebrity manicurist Rita Romain explains to


However, there is another option that is more environmentally friendly as it doesn't use new disposable pots for each client. "You could also sprinkle the powder over the nail using a tool, making sure that excess doesn't fall in the pot where the product is," Romain says. The American Academy of Dermatology Association also suggests this method, as it is much more sanitary and less wasteful. If your nail technician does this to each client, there's a much lower chance of spreading any bacteria or causing infection.

Can you be allergic to dip powder nails?

If you're trying dip powder nails for the first time, experts agree that doing a test nail should be something your nail technician advises. "An allergic reaction may occur hours to days after your manicure," Shari Lipner warns (via The American Academy of Dermatology Association). A sign you might be allergic to the base or the powder is "swelling, itching, discolored skin around the nail, or fluid-filled bumps on the skin around the nail." Because of this, get just one nail done when you do it the first time, and give yourself five to seven days before you get a full set.


Apart from getting an allergic reaction around your nails, people often notice eye redness, as well as rashes and swelling on their faces. "The rash can occur wherever the chemical allergen comes into contact with the skin," board-certified dermatologist Hadley King tells Allure. "Because we inadvertently touch our eye area multiple times during an average day, and because the skin in this area is thin and sensitive, skin allergies to nail products often show up in the eye area."

Do dip powder nails put you at risk for skin cancer?

UV lamps, which are regularly used for manicures, have become controversial due to their potentially harmful effects on health. "Some studies suggest that the risk is clinically significant, and there have been a small number of case reports linking the use of UV nail lamps to the development of skin cancer on the hand," consultant dermatologist Dr. Justine Kluk tells Refinery29. "Other studies have concluded that the exposure risk is negligible and that thousands of individuals would need to use one of these lamps regularly for one to develop a squamous cell carcinoma (a type of skin cancer) on the back of the hand." 


However, many have chosen to ditch gel nails and opt for something that doesn't require UV lamps — like dip powder. Nevertheless, the chemicals in the products this nail technique requires are also problematic, making dip powder a poor substitute.

Is the base coat for dip powder nails dangerous?

In order to make the powder stick to your nails, a base coat is required, and the type of base coat needed is everything but healthy. It contains cyanoacrylate, which is one of the main ingredients in Super Glue. According to Mount Sinai, cyanoacrylates can cause significant skin irritation, and their use in cosmetics is heavily restricted in many countries.


Cyanoacrylate is also used in eyelash extension adhesives, which certainly seems much more dangerous. However, even though the ingredient is harsh and can potentially harm skin and nails, using it as intended shouldn't result in any irritation. That said, a base coat with cyanoacrylate definitely makes dip powder nails much more damaging than good old regular nail polish. And in case you're wondering, gel and acrylic nails don't use a base coat with cyanoacrylate, but the nail glue for press-on nails contains it.

Can you get dip powder nails while pregnant?

At the time of writing, there isn't much information on the safety of a dip powder manicure during pregnancy. Because of this, it's generally understood at present to be safe to use while pregnant. Still, considering that certain questionable chemicals (like cyanoacrylate) are involved in the process, it's hard to believe a soon-to-be mom would risk it. Apart from the glue, the previously mentioned sanitary application could also be a problem, as no one, nonetheless someone carrying a child, wants to end up with a nail infection after their manicure.


Experts in the industry agree that pregnant people should avoid toxic ingredients, and they should always let their nail technicians know that they are pregnant. "It's very important for the pregnant mom to visit a non-toxic nail salon where there is less exposure to toxic chemicals and where the specialists are also gentle, and the studio is vigilant about cleanliness," nail care expert Amy Ling Lin explains to Verywell Family. Since dip powder nails seem to have good and bad sides, we recommend that anyone pregnant wait until the baby is born before they get them.

Ultimately, no, dip powder nails are not bad for your nails, but no nail technique or product is perfect, so stay alert when getting your manicures — and don't be afraid to halt the manicure if you feel like something is off.