The Dip Method for Acrylic Nails

Dip method nails are easy to do at home or in a salon.

Photo: Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images

No matter how you like your nails to look, modern acrylic enhancements make it easy for you to have it your way. Professional salons and home kits offer an array of products that let you customize the length and shape of your nails. Getting your dream nails isn’t without drawbacks, though. Some types of artificial nails discolor, others aren’t especially durable and some acrylic powders and liquids have strong fumes that can cause discomfort. One system, the dip method, is gaining popularity because it has fewer of these disadvantages.

Four Fabulous Fakes

First there were liquid and powder acrylic nails and fiberglass nail wraps, then gel nails, then acrylic dip nails. Although the chemical process is similar for all, the technique varies with the type of nail. Liquid and powder is just what it sounds like; a chemical in liquid form combines with one in powder form to produce imitation nails. Fiberglass wraps don’t actually wrap around the nail; they adhere to the surface of the nail to strengthen it. For gel nails, the technician applies and shapes a special gel, then cures it under UV light. Dip, or “dip and tip,” nails use a chemical activator and very fine powder.

Dip Into the Details

Several manufacturers make dip systems. While the exact steps aren’t the same for all systems, the general process is similar. You coat your nail with adhesive and then dip it into very fine acrylic powder. If you need a second coat, you add more adhesive and dip again. When you’ve built up enough acrylic, you finish off the nail with a sealant. Using two colors of power -- pink on the entire nail and white on just the tip -- produces a classic French manicure with little effort. You can even use this method without adding a nail tip to your natural nails.

An Acrylic Advantage

Dip method nails have several advantages over other acrylic nails. The chemicals used in the product are nearly odorless, lessening the chance of respiratory discomfort. The acrylic material dries quickly, making it possible to do a full set of nails in about half the time of the other methods. Dipped nails don’t change color when exposed to certain types of light, making them a good choice for people who use tanning beds. Dipped nails are just as durable as their liquid and power and gel counterparts, too.

Not Too Deep

Dipped nails come with their own problem, though. Because the powder comes in a large container, it’s easy to dip too deep and deposit an excess of product on the nail. This results in extra time spent filing and shaping the nail, or worse, having to start over. To prevent dipping too deep, pour some powder into a smaller, shallower container. This way it’s impossible to press the finger in too deep. This also solves the problem of possible cross contamination if more than one person uses the same container. The shallow container holds just enough for one application and can be cleaned before it’s refilled for the next person.

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