Dip powder (also known as SNS) has been on the market for a few years now and is only gaining popularity, especially as a DIY service. However, doing your own nails doesn’t always turn out right; why do your nails hurt after a dip powder service?
Keep reading to find out potential reasons for the pain and how to get rid of it.
How Does Dip Powder Work?
If you don’t care about the science of dip powder, you can go ahead and skip this portion, but we think it’s important to understand just what’s happening on your nails; it is your body, of course, and you only get one of those.
Both dip and acrylic powders are resin-based acrylic powders, meaning that they turn into a liquid and then quickly harden to a cement-like composition. By no means are dip and acrylic powders the same (in fact, you can read more about this on our blog, “Can You Use Normal Acrylic Powder for Dip Nails?”), so we'll just talk about dip powders here.
Unlike acrylic, dip powder doesn’t require a damaging base layer called toluene, a harmful chemical often found in nail glue. Our 2-in-1 Bond&Base liquid grabs and sticks the dip powder to the nail for two dips (some lower-quality dip powder may require you to go in for even 3 or 4 dips). At the same time, the activator, which has the same base as the monomer solution used to build acrylics, quickly seals and protects the dip powder by conducting a process called polymerization; basically, the molecules of the dip powder bond together to create a tough layer over your nail beds.
Once the polymerization process is done, you can leave it at that, or for added shine and protection, add our Fairy Glamor gel top coat; we especially recommend this step for glitter dip nails since the surface will be rough and might catch on a few kinds of fabric.
How do I Properly Apply Dip Powder to My Nails?
Dip powder is arguably much easier to learn than acrylics; all there is to do is paint the nail, dip it in the powder, and then repeat. If you’re good at painting your nails with regular polish or gel, you’ll probably be great at dip nails.
The process is pretty simple:
- Push your cuticles back
- Buff your nails to remove the shiny top
- Swipe an alcohol wipe or apply a nail dehydrator to the nail beds
- Apply Fairy Glamor 2-in-1 Bond&Base; you need to be EXTREMELY careful to not get this over your cuticles or skin next to your nails as the powder will stick
- Gently dip your finger into the dip powder at a 45-degree angle and hold it there for 2-3 seconds
- Repeat steps 4-5 with the rest of your fingers
- Repeat steps 4-5 for a second layer of powder
- Apply a thin layer of activator over each nail
- Finish with an air-dry matte top coat or gel glossy top coat
Need a more in-depth explanation? Click to view our guide on how to apply nail dip powder at home.
Dip powder expert but are getting cloudy nails? Be sure to check out our “How to Make Dip Powder Shiny and Glossy” blog for remedies.
Why do My Nails Hurt?
If your nails hurt after applying dip powder, there could be a few reasons as to why.
If you’re using a low-quality, cheapo brand, there’s a good chance that an ingredient (or ingredients) that’s causing your nail beds to ache. Although banned by the FDA, methyl methcrylate, also known as MMA, is a cheap alternative to higher-quality acrylic, like polymethyl methacrylate (AKA PMMA). Although MMA is illegal to put into any kind of beauty product, the FDA’s beauty regulation budget is so small that they don’t actually check dip powders for MMA before they hit the shelf, meaning that there are tons of products out there that still contain the harmful ingredient.
MMA was banned because it can severely damage the nail bed; unlike PMMA-based powder, MMA requires the natural nail bed to be totally shredded down in order to adhere properly. Once it’s stuck, it is STUCK, and doesn’t come off easily with acetone. Additionally, MMA is so difficult to break that if the nail is jammed in something, the MMA won’t break, but the natural nail bed will, causing immense pain and possibly a bacterial infection that causes you to lose your entire nail.
Fairy Glamor uses no MMA in any of our products, but we can’t say the same for lesser-quality dip powders. Make sure you only use our dip and acrylic powders to protect yourself from permanent nail loss.
Too Much Filing
This is the most common reason as to why your nails hurt after a dip application. Buffing your nail beds is an extremely important part of dip nail prep, but you can definitely overdo it. Your natural nails have multiple layers, and you only want to remove the top one. Anything more than that and you could severely damage your nails and cause pain.
When you remove too many layers of the nail, the dip powder and liquids can actually penetrate the remainder of the nail and even go down to the skin beneath the nail bed, causing soreness. If you start to feel your nails hurt while applying dip, you should stop immediately before you cause any serious damage.
Use a light grit nail file to buff your nails down. Using a coarse one can go wrong very quickly, and you want to have as much control as possible.
Cuticles Pushed Back Too Far
The second most common cause of achy nails is cuticles that are pushed back too far. The cuticle is composed of dead tissue that grows out as the skin on your fingers replaces itself (we’re basically snakes… gross) and needs to be pushed back before doing any kind of manicure. You can even clip the cuticles if desired, but you need an extremely steady hand to do this; cutting too much off will lead you with a bloody, painful mess that you can’t apply any sort of product to until it heals.
Behind the cuticle is the eponychium, which has blood flow and is alive. When you push your cuticles way back, you begin to push back the eponychium, which will hurt as soon as you push too far, and even more when you apply the dip products.
The same goes for any other damage to your nails or surrounding areas. You shouldn’t apply any type of manicuring product to an area with a papercut, hangnail, burn, or other damage. Even if you think that your paper cut is far enough away from the nail to do anything, accidents happen, liquids run, and powder can get everywhere; it’s better to play it safe than sorry.
Careful liquid and powder application is a big deal. Where you place that Bond&Base, especially, has a huge impact on whether your nails will hurt or not. The bonder in the Bond&Base is what the dip powder sticks to, and if you get it on your cuticle or the surrounding skin, you might feel some pain when your nail starts to grow out or while you’re trying to remove the dip manicure.
Your nails might even hurt on a day-to-day basis after a messy application. Keep in mind that the dip powder is very rigid and won’t bend the same way your skin does, so if the skin on your fingers is pulled at all right next to where your dip powder is bonded to, it might ache a little.
The only way to prevent this from happening is to really take your time with your manicure. CAREFULLY push your cuticles back and quickly wipe off any liquid that gets onto your skin. The bonder contains the main ingredient in the popular Krazy Glue, so don’t try to wipe it with your fingers. If you’ve ever used Krazy Glue before, you know exactly what I’m talking about. The stuff is no joke!
Poor Removal Technique
If your nails hurt after removing your dip powder or if you applied dip right after taking a previous set off, there’s a good chance that you’re doing something wrong removal-wise.
Here’s how to take off dip powder:
- File off the top layer of the dip to remove any top coat and super hard powder
- Soak your nails in a bowl of pure acetone (non-acetone remover will not work) for 10-20 minutes OR dip cotton balls into acetone and stick them over your nails, covering your fingers in aluminum foil to keep the cotton in place
- The dip powder should flake off at the point; if you have any stragglers, you might want to file again and repeat the process
- Be sure to rehydrate your nails and skin after this process with a hand cream and cuticle oil