DIY Dip Powder How To (Even If You Can’t Paint Your Own Nails)
I spent the better part of the past year using press-on nails, but dip powder nails have always been my favorite.
On a whim, I decided to try doing my own dip powder manicure at home for convenience and cost. Although I went to beauty school, I cannot paint my own nails at all. Like, it’s dire. I’m the worst nail painter ever and have never kept a manicure I did myself at home. Press-ons bypassed this technical problem for me because I got really nice pre-painted ones from Etsy and a big pack of ten sets of short French manicure nails from Amazon (which I covered with a matte topcoat). And they were really polished and really fast.
Despite having received dozens of SNS/dip powder manicures, I couldn’t remember any real protocol for them. I knew there was a brush-on part, dipping, and then a top part that seemed like it dried instantly. There were dipping techniques that seemed possibly important, like stacking coats to be thinner at the bottom. So I googled “dip powder how to” and “dip powder steps,” but I found nothing. I joined some Facebook dipping groups and got lots of advice.
Everyone recommended Revel Nail Kits, which run about $35-40 and come with the dip color of your choice. However, I am impatient and often regret straying from Amazon. Going by reviews, most dip powder kits seemed unworkable and it was intimidating.
Ultimately, I settled on a dip powder kit that I think was crucial in my successful dip powder nail attempts. It had a semi-encouraging four-out-of-five stars in most iterations — of which I found three. The first MEFA kit comes with three pink or peach colors and a clear powder:
The second comes with pink, purple, and blue dips, along with clear:
The third includes a French set of dips as well as a useful sparkle shade. It has a vibrant pink sparkle, a French pink, and a white for tips (and clear):
All three kits have rotating coupons, and the third of the three currently has $5 off its $38 price, making it a very reasonable $33 with free two-day shipping if you have Amazon Prime. Of all the kits on Amazon, it is usually the least expensive and has the largest sizes of what are in my opinion high quality elements. My recommendation is the third kit with French manicure options, but it’s subjective — I don’t like the blue or purple option very much, and I love the sparkle option. I ordered the third kit but have not yet received it. (It’s also cheaper right now with the coupon.)
Each kit has four liquids, numbered and color-coded as seen in the thumbnails: (1) Brush Saver (for bottle maintenance), (2) Base, (3) Activator, and (4) Gel Top. Each also has a clear powder and three colors as opposed to the majority of kits which either provide one color OR cost between $60 and $100 for the same-ish four color set up. I also purchased a basic black powder as well as a Kiara Sky color that has become my go-to and is fortuitously my favorite nail color in memory — “Strike Gold.” It currently costs $10.50:
Initially, I tried to buy powders and the liquids separately, but those (SNS) were inaccurately labeled and did not work as listed. It also cost about the same for one color and two liquids, so I would have been better starting off with one of the MEFA sets. Although if money is not an object or you go in knowing you want to invest in a specific system, Revel is very well liked in dip powder groups.
MEFA kits also come with a neat and easy-to-follow instruction sheet which made 110% more sense to me than the PDF for SNS Nails I found on the internet. The kit has a great straightforward feel about it, where each bottle is numbered and named in big letters and matches the picture in the short instructions. There’s some wiggle room, but the procedure is very basically:
♥ Base + clear or color or glitter powder (three times);
♥ File off rough edges, bumps, etc;
♥ Two thin coats of Gel Top
At one point, there’s an instruction to wait 30 seconds, but I don’t recall which one and usually it takes me 30 seconds to move to the next step anyway. Your first attempt may be rough, but by the second try, I was really happy with my nails despite my inability to paint them with any form of wet polish. A lot of groups swear by “capping the ends,” but I haven’t figured out how to do that yet.
Files are good to have on hand, and I bought a ten-pack of heavy duty ones previously from Wish.com. I also have liquid latex, a stamp, a squeegee, and plates from Wish.com that I haven’t dug out yet, but I think it would work really well even for a beginner. Previously, I paid $40-50 for SNS/dip powder sets (no tips) and $7 per accent nail for nail art. The cost of the entire kit with three color options is $33, so it works out a lot less expensively to DIY dip powder and I’m confident even terrible nail painters can do it.
If you get into it, you can also order more powders and nail art accessories pretty inexpensively from Wish. Other than that, it’s been pretty great — I love the art options for press-ons, but they made wearing a faja hard and sometimes came off at inopportune times (like in the kitchen). Comfort-wise, I find dip powder to be easier and overall more comfortable since my nail plate is super petite and I wear my nails short.
I haven’t tried too many off-kit powders, but my Kiara Sky powder goes on way more smoothly than the other brand I got in black (and at $10.50, it’s on par with drugstore polish). I’d be inclined to use Kiara Sky powders for future color investments. On the occasions I get a chip, I just redip the whole nail from scratch.
One last thing to bear in mind is that opening a fourth bottle seems onerous, but the Brush Saver (1) will keep your Base (2) from getting stuck shut — and take care not to drip base on the threads or you will glue your base shut.
Overall, SNS/dip nails at home look difficult even if you’re a veteran of salon dip powder manicures. But they’re functionally easier and longer lasting than painted manicures, and the MEFA kit has made dipping super easy for me.