are dip and acrylic powders the same

The short answer to this is no, acrylics and dip are not the same.

When it comes to dip nails and acrylic nails, it can for sure be tough to see the difference between the two. Both methods result in beautifully styled nails, but they definitely aren’t the same. Depending on your preferences and needs, one may be a better choice for you than the other. Here are a few things to keep in mind with regard to dip powder versus acrylic nails.

When you get acrylic or dip nails, you’ll see some similarities. They’re both very durable, making your nails feel far stronger than your natural nails do. They’re smooth and shiny (unless, of course, you go for a matte option). Dip and acrylic come in an infinite number of colors, and designs or trends of all kinds can be applied. Essentially, on an aesthetic level dip and acrylic have a lot in common. This is great because you basically have two different options to achieve the same look. To the untrained eye, nails with dip versus nails with acrylics can be tough to tell apart.

applying dip nail powder

Differences Between Dip and Acrylic Nail Powder.

One of the biggest differences in the final results of dip and acrylic nails is the difference in flexibility. Like we mentioned, both nail enhancements are durable, but dip is significantly more flexible than acrylic. A nail with flexibility is beneficial, as it’s less likely to break. Acrylics do tend to break, which is a major frustration for those who have them. If given the choice, it’s usually best to go for a durable, yet flexible nail option.

Another difference between dip and acrylic nails is that acrylics usually include plastic extensions to lengthen the final result, and dip does not. It’s not impossible to add length to dip nails, it’s just far less common, as adding length is the norm with acrylics. This is any easy way to help tell the two apart- if someone has particularly long nails, they probably have acrylics.

Finally, the dip and acrylic processes use different chemicals and processes. You may be aware of this, but the application of acrylics is quite different from dip. The acrylic materials are combined and then spread over the nail, whereas dip nails involve literally dipping the nail into a pot of colored powder, and then sealing it with a liquid activator which closely resembles clear nail polish.

Different chemical and ingredient makeup of dip and acrylic nail powder.

Dip and acrylic nail powders contain very similar ingredients however they contain different ratios of certain chemicals. Each brand differs in what additional ingredients they add and what ratios they use for their powders, which is why you can try one brand and have completely different results while using another. Not only do dip and acrylic powders have different textures (dip powder is typically thicker than acrylic powder) but they also also apply differently.

For instance, most dip and acrylics contain different mixes of acrylic ester polymers, which is group of chemicals that fall under the acrylic class. In fact, most dip and acrylic nail powders are made up of over 90% acrylic ester polymers. You might be wondering: "well, then how the heck are they all so different!". The answer is that acrylic chemicals contain different types of monomers and polymers, such as Polyethylmethacrylate and Polymethylmethacrylate, and nail brands use different ratios of acrylic polymers.

Here's a general chemical makeup of an acrylic nail powder.

  • Polyethylmethacrylate (60%)
  • Polymethyl Methacrylate (20%)
  • Benzoyl peroxide (<1%)
  • Vitamins (<1%)
  • Glitter
  • Pigment

And here is a general chemical makeup of a dip nail powder.

  • Polyethylmethacrylate (40%)
  • Polymethyl Methacrylate (40%)
  • Benzoyl peroxide (<5%)
  • Titanium Dioxide (<2%)
  • Vitamins (<1%)
  • Glitter
  • Pigment

As you can see, dip and acrylic nail powders are made out of different ratios of acrylic polymers. They can also contain different acrylic polymers from the typical Polyethylmethacrylate and Polymethyl Methacrylate however these are the most common. Acrylic polymers are typically clear (have you ever seen acrylic glass?) so titanium dioxide is used to create a deeper, more solid color.

In the past, a different acrylic called methyl methacrylate (MMA) was used in acrylic nail powders (also in acrylic monomer liquids) however in the last few years it was determined unsafe for humans, so it is not longer allowed by the FDA. Avoid any powders or liquids that contain methyl methacrylate. It has a very similar name to polymethyl methacrylate however they are very different substances. 

Here is a quick summary of the differences between dip and acrylic nail powder.

  • Dip and acrylic powder contain different chemicals and ingredients.
  • Acrylic can be used to extend nail length, dip cannot.
  • Acrylic colors can be easily blended together, dip colors cannot.
  • Dip nails are easier to apply than acrylics.
  • Dip nails are more flexible than acrylics.
  • Dip nails are applied by dipping a finger into the powder, while acrylics are applied with monomers and a brush.

In Conclusion, Dip and Acrylic Nail Powders are Different.

Not only are dip and acrylic nail powders made of different ingredients, the application process and end results vary.

Just like most things in life, it doesn’t hurt to try all of your options to see what you truly prefer. Maybe you’re more interested in acrylics, but give gel a go, too. The two are a delicate balance of similar and unique, so you may be surprised by which route you favor.


April 22, 2021 — Fairy Glamor
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Fairy Glamor designs unique 3-in-1 dip and acrylic nail powders in Galveston, Texas. We're a 100% family owned business that was founded in 2020 and went from making handmaking powders in our spare bedroom to shipping out of a big warehouse. We believe in both quality and affordability--that's why our powders are used by both professional nail technicians and in homes. Our unique colors are hand-designed to give you gorgeous manicures that'll make your nails feel magical.