Dip-powder manicures: Everything you need to know about the long-lasting nail-polish trend

Leora Arnowitz

As just about anyone who has seen me during the past few weeks knows, I recently got my first dip-powder manicure. And I haven’t been able to stop talking about it since.

Powder manicures have been all the rage for a while, and I’m late to the game – but not that late. More and more salons are adding them as an option, but you still can’t find it everywhere.

A powder manicure, or a dip-powder manicure, is similar to a gel manicure in the way it’s made to last for weeks at a time, but unlike gel, there are no UV lights involved, which doctors have warned can be dangerous. Many beauty bloggers laud powder manicures for lasting longer than gel, and unlike gel, the powder doesn’t really peel off.

The process for a powder manicure is fairly simple. A manicurist first removes any polish you have on your hands, uses an electric buffer to clean up your nails, paints each nail with a clear adhesive and dips each finger in a finely grated pigmented powder of your choosing. Depending on your manicurist and nails, your nail tech may dip your finger two or three times in the pigment before finishing off with the clear substance that dries almost immediately. After each powder coat, the manicurist will brush the excess powder off your hands with a blush brush and then eventually send you to wash your hands to remove any excess powder. Like with gel, your nails will be dry immediately and look a bit thicker than they would with a regular polish manicure.

If you’re thinking about trying powder, there are a few things you should know. Here’s the rundown:

Powder manicures cost more

Since they last much longer than a regular manicure – some say up to a month in total –powder manicures are more expensive than your typical manicure, and they’re often pricier than gel, too. Obviously prices vary depending on the salon you go to, but in New York City, for example, a powder manicure can cost you anywhere from $30 to $50. If you’re used to paying a certain price for gel at your local salon, it’s safe to assume powder will cost you a bit more.

It takes a while

Getting a powder manicure takes anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour (plus wait time if you go to a busy salon), so this isn’t something you can do quickly before a big event. It's longer than the process for getting a gel manicure, plus you have to add time if you had powder or gel on your nails beforehand that needs to be removed.

Results can definitely vary

Given my level of excitement over my powder manicure, I talked to a lot of my friends about my new discovery, and while most either hadn’t tried it or had similar success stories to share, I also heard some less-than-stellar reviews. One good friend tried powder before her wedding and was disappointed when all her nails chipped quickly. Another had gotten fabulous long-lasting powder manicures at least half a dozen times but once had hers peel off in chunks when she tried a different salon. I saw the variance firsthand when I noticed the powder coat on my index finger cracked after a few days. I was concerned since my other nails looked perfect and went back to the salon, where all the nail technicians closely examined the crack, which was honestly hard to see. A technician redid the nail and took a picture of the crack to show to the manicurist who originally did my nails, remarking to me that the coat was too thick and she wanted to show the rest of the salon employees what had gone wrong.

You need to have it removed

Even if your manicure looks incredible weeks after getting your powder put on, you’ll likely want to get rid of it eventually because your nails have grown out or you’re sick of the color. When the time comes, your best bet is heading back to your salon to have the powder manicure professionally removed. There are a few YouTube instructional videos on how to remove a powder manicure at home, but it’s time-consuming and requires heavy-duty nail polish remover you likely won't have handy. Your best bet is to head over to your salon and wait while an expert soaks your nails in acetone and wraps your fingers in foil, leaving you unable to do much with your hands for a minimum of 15 minutes. Then, the powder gets pulled and filed off. If you have some stubborn nails, your manicurist may pull out that electric buffer again to help. And, of course, all this will cost you too – at least a few dollars. This whole process might also leave your nails weak and brittle once all is said and done.

But yes, dip manicures really last

At the end of the day, barring a bad manicure, a powder manicure should last you for a good couple of weeks. According to the website for SNS, a powder brand, dip manicures last "14 days or more in real-life use." For me, it was 18 days before I was ready for a change. It can be longer – or shorter – depending on your nails and how the process goes for you.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Dip-powder manicures: Everything you need to know about the long-lasting nail-polish trend