Though someone may not be able to tell whether your nails are dip or acrylic, they have many differences in cost, staying power, and process.
Read our Acrylic vs. Dip Nails guide to decide which manicure you should get, or even if you can do one of them at home!
Acrylic vs Dip Nails
Acrylic nails have been around for a long time. They lengthen the nail and have trendy designs and patterns, but there is a newcomer in the nail market: dip nails.
Dip nails are an easy and fun process to get your nails done, plus they may be cheaper and quicker. They are also easier to do at home yourself.
Check out the table below for a quick breakdown of the main differences between the two:
|— Lengthens nails and can create different shapes|
— Nail polish is almost always used
— Takes 30 minutes to 2 hours
— More difficult to do at home
— Takes around 10 minutes to dry with UV light, or up to 1 hour without light
— Lasts up to 2-3 weeks
— Heavier and tends to be more artificial-looking
— Costs between $40 to $100 at a salon
— Typically more damaging to the nailbed in the long-ter8
|— Can lengthen nails and create shapes when you use false tips|
— No nail polish, unless applied after sealing
— Takes 45 minutes to 2 hours
— Easier to do at home
— Takes 2 to 5 minutes to dry (no UV light needed)
— Lasts up to 4-6 weeks
— More lightweight and more natural-looking, depending on how many coats you apply
— Costs between $30 to $80 at a salon
— Less damaging to the nailbed
One big difference between the two is the process itself.
Dip nails involve applying a base glue to your nails, then dipping your nails into powder. This process is repeated one or two more times (or more depending on how thick you want your nails to be), then you finish off with a glossy topcoat and file your nails to the desired shape.
Another main difference is that dip nails don’t use nail polish – the color is in the powder itself. Some people choose to apply nail polish over the top, but it’s important to make sure the powder is sealed first.
Dip nails can be done over your natural nailbed or add plastic tips if you want to create longer nails or unique shapes like acrylics typically do.
In addition, dip nails are a straightforward process that is much easier to get the hang of if you want to do them at home. No more worrying if you paint on your skin or miss a spot!
Acrylic nails combine a liquid polymer and a powder polymer to create a thick gel that is applied to your nail and formed into the nail shape you desire.
Acrylics often use plastic tips to create a stronger and more uniform shape, but you can also just use your natural nail or a nail form.
Unlike dip powder, nail polish is applied over the top of acrylics. Because of this, you can typically create more intricate nail art with acrylic nails.
Removal & Damage
Dip nails can be tough to remove, and if not removed by soaking in acetone in 10-15 minutes, they can cause damage to your nails and require filing them off.
That said, the consensus seems to be that dip nails typically cause less damage to your nailbed than acrylic nails.
Since dip nails aren’t as thick as acrylic nails, less damage is caused to the nailbed once you remove them.
Similar to acrylics, you can refill dip nails once they grow out after a few weeks. Plus, the removal process is similar as well.
In short term, they don’t do much damage to your nails, but they can cause damage if you have acrylic nails in the long term.
The filing and curing process can weaken your nails if done consistently over time.
Removal is similar to that of dip nails, you’ll need to soak your nails in acetone for a period of time until they come off easily.
Dip nails look thinner than acrylics and are typically only for solid colors, with no fancy designs or patterns since nail polish isn’t used in the process.
However, there are a growing number of tutorials that utilize designs, like decals placed over the top or even nail polish over the top after the powder is sealed.
Dip powder is more flexible and typically more natural-looking than acrylic. You can choose how thick or thin your dip nails are based on how many coats you decide to apply.
With acrylics, it’s more difficult to create a thinner nail that looks natural.
Acrylic nails can be more intricate and have unique designs and patterns if desired.
They do usually have the appearance of being fake nails, whereas dip typically looks more natural and like a real nail.
For the most part, dip powder nails are slightly cheaper, costing around $30–$80 for a manicure at a nail salon depending on your area.
Acrylic nails are usually slightly more expensive, costing anywhere from $40–$100 for a manicure at a salon.
That said, dip nails are much easier to do at home, so you can save even more money if you want to do them at home. Acrylic nails can be pretty difficult to learn how to do at home, while dip nails are pretty straightforward.
A dip powder kit that has everything you need to get started typically costs $25 – $50 upfront depending on the supplies included. Since you don’t need a UV light, upfront costs are cheaper than other kits.
Which Lasts Longer, Dip or Acrylic?
Another reason some prefer dip nails is longevity.
Dip nails tend to be stronger than acrylics, so they are less prone to breaking and often last longer because of this.
That said, both nail styles will grow out and need to be refilled once they do. You can fill both dip and acrylic nails without removing the manicure entirely.
Overall, we’d recommend trying out both nail styles to get a feel for which you like better.
Many people prefer dip nails because they are stronger and less prone to breaking, not to mention they are easier to do at home (and in turn, much cheaper).
If you want cute nails on a budget, you can grab a dip nail kit and try it out from the comfort of your home. There is a slight learning curve, but it’s much easier to learn than acrylic nails.