If you’ve ever heard the term “polymer powder,” you might be super confused. The term sounds like something fancy used in a scientist’s lab (and in some cases, it is), but what the heck does it have to do with nails?

No worries! Keep reading to learn more about polymer powder and what exactly it is.

What is a Polymer?

We’re going to get a little bit science-y here. A monomer is any synthetic or natural substance with larger than usual molecules (also known as macromolecules) that bond together to create a single polymer chain, which is usually very strong. Everyday examples of polymers are silk, nylon, and epoxy resin; there’s quite a bit of variety in polymers, and no two are the same.

Because this is such a broad category, there are many things that are considered polymers that you wouldn’t have even thought of, like rubber ducks!

How Do Polymers Bond Together?

Monomers, the building blocks of polymers, are stuck together with a special kind of bond, called a covalent bond. This basically just means that the atoms of the monomers share elections amongst themselves, which keeps them interlocked. Many times, there is a liquid that helps polymerize (bond) the macromolecules together.

Using silk as an example, the silk-making caterpillars form the silk base (monomers) and then polymerize the fibers to a liquid with their spit, which allows the silk to be spun. Bet you didn’t know that about your favorite silk pajamas!

What do Polymers Have to do With Nails?

Fairy Glamor Dip Nails

Polymers are a massive deal in the nail world. You’ve probably heard of acrylic nails, but what do you think that acrylic powder is made of? Polymers! The powder’s base is an acrylic polymer that bonds to form the infamous rock-hard acrylic nails we all know and love.

Dip powder is also acrylic polymer-based, which is why dip powder lasts weeks longer than traditional nail polish. Because polymers are larger molecules, acrylic and dip nails are thicker than the standard nail polish; gel nail polish contains polymers, too!

So What is Nail Polymer Powder?

Nail polymer powder is a rarer term, but it’s the same thing as acrylic or dip nail powder. Be sure to click if you would like to learn more about the difference between acrylic and dip powder!

What Activates Polymer Powder?

In order to polymerize, there needs to be a special activator; this is where monomer liquid comes in. The monomer solution contains acrylic monomers that bond together to the monomers in the acrylic powder, creating a cement-like liquid that quickly dries down. An acrylic brush is dipped into the monomer fluid, then into the acrylic to form a “bead,” and is finally patted down onto the nail/nail form/nail tip.

In dip nails, the process is the same, just with dip powder activator, another kind of monomer liquid, except it is painted on top of the powder that is bonded to the nails. In this case, the activator acts as a curing mechanism rather than a liquid-forming mechanism as with acrylic powder.

Instead of worrying about separate acrylic and dip powders, why not combine the two? Be sure to view our Fairy Glamor 2-in-1 dip and acrylic powder collection. We’ve got over 150 colors to pick from, so you’ll be sure to find “the one.” We also just launched our subscription service, so order now!

Fun fact: polymers undergo a process called “dehydration synthesis” while bonding together. This means that water is released from the chemical reaction, which is why acrylic beads dry down so quickly; it’s because all the water is evaporating.

Need More Nail Help?

Here at Fairy Glamor, we take care of our customers and readers, which is why we have an entire library of help guides on our blog. Be sure to check them out if you have any questions about nails!

Quick Recap

  • Polymers are monomers (large macromolecules) that have been covalently bonded together to create a strong material, such as nylon, rubber, and silk
  • Many polymers in powder form require a liquid to activate them, not just nail powders
  • Nail polymer powder is also known as acrylic or dip powder and requires an acrylic monomer-based liquid to activate and harden
  • Fairy Glamor is the bomb dot com
October 08, 2021 — Fairy Glamor
Tags: question


Ky said:

Thank you for explaining the science behind the process. It is such a relief to find a company that is willing to explain this process to those of us non-professionals who aren’t looking to get licensed, but are looking into the art of creating beautiful sets on our self.

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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.