Thanks to dip powder and gel formulas, there's a manicure standard that we've become accustomed to. We're used to having chip-free polish that can go weeks after a salon appointment without looking ragged. But as it happens with most things that become the new normal, we began to seek ways to game the system: What if you could knock down the price and commute time of these services by getting a similar finish at home?
For this purpose, I turned to powder dip kits. Dip manicures use a combination of colorful, fine-grain powder, adhesives, topcoats, and buffing to achieve a sturdy, acrylic-like finish. This method has become popular because the results last just as long as an in-salon gel or acrylic job, but without the curing lights and faux tips. I rounded up a few kits — some geared for nail pros, others for amateurs like me — to see if I could level up my monthly manicure process.
Most of the kits took some trial and error. But after I got the hang of layering base, powder, activators, bonders, and topcoats, I was seduced by the results: A glossy mani that lasted much longer than my favorite drugstore polish. What's more, the stronger, reinforced finish made tasks like tearing into impossible shrink wrap shockingly easy. Though most kits are an investment (ringing in at about $100), they come stocked with enough powder to cover 30 manicures per jar. That's less than a dollar a manicure, considering many kits are stocked with at least three jars of color.
Read on to see which kits will turn you into a pro with practice and which are best for beginners.