Once a luxury, manicures are becoming more of a nuisance the deeper we get into self-isolating. Between cracking and grow-out, you're probably wondering how to remove dip nails at home, now that salons are closed due to coronavirus concerns.
First, it helps to know what exactly dip powder nails are. Think of them as something between a gel mani and acrylic nails. According to Jackie Truong, cofounder of LeChat Nails, the process involves sealing polymer powder directly onto your nail plate, which helps create a strong layer of color. That's why dip powder typically lasts up to three or four weeks. So a crucial part of removing it, then, is making sure you break through that dense coated layer.
Despite this, it's actually fairly easy to do yourself without damaging your nails—in fact, it's extremely similar to how you'd remove gels on your own. Just repeat after us: No peeling! That's a surefire way to accidentally take off layers of your nail along with the color, which will leave you with weak, brittle nails that could take months to recover. Instead, follow these two foolproof ways for how to remove dip nails at home.
Method 1: Wrap your nails in acetone-soaked cotton and foil.
If you've ever had to take off your own gels in a pinch, Truong says you'll be very familiar with these steps. Except, unlike gels, you won't need to scrape the color off as much. The process requires minimal materials, most of which you'll likely already have on hand if you paint your own nails.
Step 1: Gather your materials.
You'll need pure acetone (regular nail polish remover won't work here), aluminum foil, cotton balls, a 180-grit file, orangewood sticks, a buffer block, and cuticle oil. Make sure to cut your foil into small squares that will fit around the tip of your finger, then cut your cotton balls into pieces big enough to cover your entire nail.
Step 2: File down polish.
Start by gently pushing your cuticles back with an orangewood stick. Then, using the grittier side of your nail file, buff away about two thirds of the polish from your nails, being careful not to file all the way down to your nail bed. Brush away any excess dust.
Step 3: Apply cotton and foil.
Working on one nail at a time, lay a two-by-two-inch square of foil under your finger. Saturate a cotton ball with your acetone remover and place it on top of your nail. Tightly wrap the foil around the cotton ball, and repeat on each nail.
Step 4: Remove foil.
After 10 to 15 minutes, remove the foil one nail at a time, wiggling it along with the cotton ball back and forth while you pull it off. Using the orangewood stick, gently push off any excess that is left behind. Rewrap and soak if any dip is still hanging on. Don't pick at it.
Step 5: Buff and nourish.
Once the majority of the dip is removed, use your nail file to gently buff the entire surface of all your nails. Brush away any dust and follow with a soft buffing block. Then apply a cuticle oil like LeChat Nails Nobility Cuticle Oil to your nail beds and massage into each of your nails.
Method 2: Soak off your dip powder.
This helpful hack is a favorite of YouTuber Favrielle Brooks. It requires less time than foils, but know that it's a bit messier.
Step 1: Gather materials.
You'll need a large bowl, two sheets of paper towels, two plastic sandwich bags, 100% pure acetone, and cuticle oil.
Step 2: Heat water.
Fill the bowl with water about halfway, and microwave it for about two minutes. You want the water to be hot but not scalding so it doesn't burn you.
Step 3: Prepare paper towels.
Take one paper towel, fold it in half, and place it in the bottom of each of your sandwich bags. Then pour in enough acetone to saturate the paper towel.
Step 4: Protect your hands.
Cover your hands in cuticle oil, leaving your nails bare. You could also use hand cream, but oil makes a better barrier. This will help prevent the acetone from drying out the rest of your hands while your polish soaks.
Step 5: Soak.
Set a timer for four to five minutes. Place your hand inside the sandwich bag and nestle your nails in between the folded paper towel. Then put the whole bag into the hot water. Move your hand in a scrunching motion along the paper towel to break up the polish. Repeat on other hand.
Step 6: Finishing touches.
Rinse away any residue and acetone, and then buff away any lingering dip polish with a nail file. If any is stuck by your cuticles, gently use a cuticle nipper to chip it off or try soaking for another minute. Buff again, and finish with cuticle oil on all your nails.
Dip Nail Removal Aftercare
No matter which method you choose to remove your dip powder, you should give your nails some downtime in between manicures to prevent them from breaking and becoming brittle. Directly after removal, apply some cuticle oil or a heavy-duty hand lotion to nourish your nails and cuticles, since acetone can be extremely drying.
It’s also worth investing in some good aftercare products to keep your nails and cuticles hydrated and healthy, like Essie's Apricot Cuticle Oil and Sally Hansen's Hard as Nails Strengthener. Use them daily to keep your nails hydrated, long, and strong.
Bella Cacciatore is the beauty associate at Glamour. Follow her on Instagram @bellacacciatore_.
Originally Appeared on Glamour