How to Remove Dip Powder Nails: A Step-by-Step Guide

Note to self: Add tinfoil to the grocery list.

(Image credit: EFETOVA)

Whether your gorgeous dip powder manicure was done at home or in a salon, there will come a time when you need to remove it—and if not done properly, the process can be tricky. Fortunately, with the right tips and supplies, you can DIY the removal of your dip nails at home. We spoke to Danny Haile, the CEO and founder of Hand & Nail Harmony—the parent company of Gelish Professionals and Morgan Taylor polish—to get some insight about how to safely remove your dip manicure.

For background: A dip manicure involves a form of acrylic powder being applied to the nails, no gel lamp needed. The removal process is straightforward, but you'll need to be patient and thorough. It’s critical to follow these steps properly to avoid any damage to your nail bed. Here are Haile’s simple instructions.


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  • Nail file (180/180 grit)
  • Cotton balls
  • Aluminum foil
  • Acetone
  • Nail oil
  • Orangewood stick (optional)

Step 1: File Your Nails

If you have nail tips on, YouTuber Kate's Nails recommends clipping down the nails to your natural length and then following the rest of the steps.

Haile uses a 180/180 grit file to “break the seal and remove the shine.” Be cautious to not file too far down on the nail, just enough to rid the entire top layer of the dip. Kate explains that the shine you're removing is the top coat, but "you can also file a little bit more if you want to go into the color." Get ready to collect a lot of shavings—I recommend filing over a napkin or surface that can be wiped down.

Step 2: Soak Your Nails in Cotton

Take your cotton balls (or any kind of cotton wool, really) and soak it in acetone. When picking the type of acetone, make sure you get something that is specific for artificial nails—like the Gelish Artificial Nail Remover, which is pure acetone and made to soak off polish.

Once the cotton balls are fully saturated, “place the cotton section onto the nail and wrap the foil securely around the finger.” Make sure the foil is snug so that no acetone escapes.

Step 3: Wait

And now, we wait. Depending on how thick or long your dip nails are, you may need to adjust the time you let your nails soak for. Danny recommends keeping the cotton/tinfoil combo on for 10-15 minutes and repeating as needed. Which is where the patience comes in. It's important to let the dip be soaked in the acetone in order to peel it off without causing discoloration or damage to the nail.

Step 4: Strip the Dip

You know you’ve soaked your nails long enough when the dip begins to soften. Then, gently pull off the product.

At this point, if you still have the dip on your nails, repeat steps 1-3 until they're bare. Don't worry if the polish starts getting gummy during the removal process—this is normal and just means it's working. To help speed up the process, Kate takes a file and gently shaves it across the nails to help the polish peel.

Step 5: Hydrate Your Nails

"Cuticle oil is a must!” says Haile. After you just spent all that time soaking your nails in some very drying acetone, it’s important to get hydration back into your skin and cuticles. Our picks of the oils to use.

Now that you’ve got fresh, bare nails, the options are endless for your next manicure. The removal process is just as important as the application, because when done correctly, “you won’t have any damaged nails and can re-do them in the same day."

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Alexis Gaskin

Alexis Gaskin is a Freelance Beauty Writer for Marie Claire who can often be found painting her nails to match every outfit. She covers beauty, skincare, and fat fashion and will get distracted by any and all Halsey-related content or anything glittery.