Having a stunning manicure can be a game-changer in your self-confidence levels. When your nails look great, you feel like you’re ready to take on anything. Acrylic and dip powder are both ways to up your mani game… but can you use acrylic powder for dip nails?

What is Dip Powder?

Long Almond Pink Glossy and Glittery Nails

Dip powder is a finely-powdered type of acrylic, usually resin-based, in which a nail is dipped into (hence the name) to coat the nail in a strong-hold color. Dip powder lasts MUCH longer than regular nail polish, which usually only lasts 2-3 days without chipping and looking messy, as it can last 1-2 months if done the right way (you will need to do fill-ins as your nails grow). Dip powder will usually come in a little pot; these containers are easy to store and stack, making building your collection simple.

What do I Need for Dip Nails?

Here are the materials you need to complete a dip manicure:

How do Dip Nails Work?

Dipping is a pretty straightforward process once you get the hang of it, but there’s a lot of science going on that you probably don’t even notice.

The nail must be adequately dehydrated in order for the dip manicure to last, which is why buffing and applying the nail dehydrator are such crucial steps. Then, a base coat is used to protect the natural nail, and a bonder (a resin-based glaze) is painted on top; lucky for you, we’ve specially formulated a 2-in-1 base and bond. The finger is then pushed into the powder, which sticks to the bonder. The Base & Bond is applied on top of the dry powder, then inserted into the powder again. Any excess powder must be brushed off at the stage to avoid bumps. Then, the activator, a monomer liquid, is smoothed on top. This starts the “polymerization process,” in which the molecules of the dip powder bond together and become very strong. You can add a top coat for extra protection at that point, and that’s it!

A complete set of dip powder will take around 20 minutes. But, of course, if switching colors, attempting nail art, or doing something fancy, it might take longer.

Click to view our in-depth guide to applying dip powder the right way.

What is Acrylic Powder?

Acrylic powder has a very similar chemical composition to dip powder. In fact, they are both resin-based and act similarly when switched around. However, they aren’t the same thing and should not be treated as such.

Acrylic is used to build a fake nail on top of the natural nail, usually to add length. Although you can use a false nail tip to create the same effect with dip powder, acrylic is traditionally built on a nail form, giving you the freedom to choose your nail’s length. Additionally, acrylics are a more popular service in salons than dip powders.

Acrylics last 2-3 weeks without needing a fill-in and are very strong. The likelihood of chipping an acrylic nail is pretty slim. However, the acrylic can pop off, snap, lift, or crack if not applied correctly or if you slam your nails into a car trunk (not a fun time… speaking from experience).

What do I Need for Acrylic Nails?

Here’s what you’ll need in order to complete an acrylic set:

  • Nail clippers (your natural nails must be short)
  • Cuticle pusher
  • Nail file or drill
  • Nail dehydrator
  • Base coat
  • Nail forms
  • Monomer liquid
  • Nail forms
  • Acrylic brush (this is our favorite)
  • Acrylic powder of your choice
  • Paper towel
  • Top coat

We have over 150 colors and finishes of high-quality Fairy Glamor dip and acrylic powders. Click to view our full product catalog.

How does Acrylic Work?

Because acrylic has a similar chemical composition to dipping powder, it reacts in similar ways.

Acrylic, like dip powder, requires a dehydrated base in order to work. The oils on the fingernail will interfere with the polymerization process if left. The base coat will help protect your natural nails and allows the acrylic to stick better. Unlike dip powder, acrylic only requires a monomer liquid in order to bond to the nail. Be warned, monomer STINKS, and it isn’t safe to do acrylic nails in a confined space with no airflow. Once the brush is saturated in monomer solution, it is dipped into the acrylic to form a “bead.” This bead is placed on the nail and laid out onto the nail form in order to produce the desired thickness and length. Once the acrylic is dry, it is buffed out with a nail file or drill to the desired shape, as well as to remove any lumps and bumps. The top coat is then added to protect and add shine.

Depending on the length and style, acrylic will take longer than dip powder, usually around 45-60 minutes. Additionally, acrylic is much harder to get down and can take dozens of tries to get right. Therefore, we recommend dip nails over acrylics if you want a one-and-done way of doing your nails at home. However, if you have your heart set on doing acrylic nails, click to view our guide on getting acrylic right.

Comparing and Contrasting Acrylic and Dipping Powder

Acrylic and dip powders are similar but not the same. They have different functions, require different materials, and have a slightly different chemical composition even though they are both resin-based. Dip powder requires a bonder and an activator in order to work, while acrylic only needs an activator. Acrylic takes longer, but there’s more freedom to adding length than with dip.

Can You Use Dip Powder as Acrylic?

Traditionally, dip powder is a finer powder than acrylic and has less body to it. It has a higher concentration of pigment than acrylic does and is weaker than acrylic because it rests on the natural nail or a false nail tip, meaning it will be easier to break than standard acrylic. However, it is possible; you might just need two layers.

Can You Use Acrylic as Dip Powder?

It’s much easier to use acrylic powder as dip powder than the other way around, and you don’t even need a bonder! Just paint a thin layer of monomer liquid onto the natural nail and quickly dip it into the acrylic powder before it dries. Repeat this process until you have your desired opaqueness and thickness. This might take 3-4 dips as acrylic has less pigment than dipping powder, making your nails super thick, which can be uncomfortable for some people. Trial and error is the best test!

Wait! We Have Some Exciting News...

GIF of Fairy Glamor dip/acrylic powders

If you clicked to view our product list earlier, you probably noticed that all of our powders say they’re used for both acrylic and dipping and might be a little confused. Fairy Glamor is unique because we specially formulated a 2-in-1 powder that can be used for both acrylic forming and nail dipping, saving you tons of time on shopping around, money on buying duplicate colors, and space as you only need one container for both processes. Overall, you get way more bang for your buck!

We don’t currently offer a monomer liquid, but it’s on our product bucket list. Make sure to register a Fairy Glamor account and sign up for our newsletter to keep updated on new product drops, sales, and limited-time deals. You can also view our blog to find tips and tricks, help, nail inspo, and newsletters.

Quick Recap

  • Dip powder requires nine items to successfully complete, while acrylic requires 12
  • Dip powder is faster than acrylic, especially if you’re doing it yourself
  • Both acrylic and dip powders are resin-based, making them hard when exposed to an activator (dip activator and monomer liquid)
  • Nail dip is more pigmented and has less body than acrylic powder
  • It’s easier to use acrylic powder as dip powder than it is to use dip powder as acrylic
  • Fairy Glamor powders are 2-in-1 and can be used for both acrylics and dip nails
September 28, 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.