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What's the Difference in Manicures: Dipping Powder Nails vs Gel Nails

What's the Difference in Manicures: Dipping Powder Nails vs Gel Nails

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Grey Turtleneck | Oatmeal Cardigan | Madewell Patch Pocket Denim Skirt | Vince Camuto Over The Knee Boot

For as long as I can remember, I have always had my nails painted. My mom always has her nails painted, so it was 100% normal to me and 100% weird to not have your nails painted. Now we didn't go to salons...I mean learning to paint your nails is kind of like a rite of passage. We would go to the nail salon a couple times a year, but for the most part, I just painted my nails once a week and called it a day! Side note- if this is you, my current favorite cruelty free and 9 Free nail polish is Londontown Lakur. It is going to be more pricey than your average bottle, but it is also better for you! My favorite top coat is Seche Vite - I've been using it for over 10 years! There's truly nothing like it.

Okay anyway, back on topic. As a blogger, it is a lot easier and time efficient if I just go get my nails done. Not only does it last longer than when I paint it myself, but it also forces me to relax - I can't check Instagram or respond to emails.  (lol) Circa the early 2000's, acrylic tips/nails were THE LOOK. I was never allowed to have them (which I'm happy about actually), but man did I want them. I loved the clickety clack of the nails, so I just grew mine out super long. I loved it! My piano teach did not.

Flash forward to today and I need nail polish that will stay with me through dish washing, photo shoots, and more.  That is what was appealing to me about dipping powder. I first got dipping powder for my wedding and I am so glad that I did. From October 2016 to September 2017, I got dipping powder every 3 weeks. I was never a "go and get your nails done" person, but I turned into one. Around September of last, I did a collaboration with MiniLuxe and that's why I got gel for the first time. Minluxe doesn't offer dipping powder, because it does not support strong and healthy nails, but they do have gel. I started getting gel an I felt an almost instant change in my nails. With dipping powder my nails felt strong, but as soon as it was removed, my nails were paper thin and had little breaks throughout my nail and nail bed. With gel, my nails are strong with or without polish! They don't last as long as dipping powder, but my nails feel better! But is it actually 100% better for you...? I recently began researching the difference and was quite surprised. Here's my findings:



Average Cost: $40-$45 in Dallas proper, can find slightly cheaper in the suburbs

Application: First an electric file is used on top of your nail then the manicurist completes a series of painting clear polish on and dipping your fingers in a tub of powder. Once it's down around 3 times, they file again and seal with a final coat.

Removal Process: By soaking nails in acetone and filing it down. (Picking it off is the worst thing you can do, but I've done it)

Wear Time: It's a hard plastic nail but just on your own nail, not a fake nail, though you can get it with tips. I can wear mine for 3 weeks before going back to get them re-done. But, after 2 weeks the nail length bothers me and i end up trimming and filing them myself, which sometimes causes them to pop off in certain places.

Certifications of this product: Nontoxic - it is just powder and no scent, plus the majority of them are cruelty free. My favorite brand is Kiara Sky.

Pros: The amazing length of wear time, the flawless finish, its ability to withstand dish soap, acetone, and sunscreen without ruining. Additionally it doesn't need a UV light to cure the polish.

Cons: If you bump it just right, you can actually cause a crack in the nail polish, as it is hard like plastic. If this happens, the polish will eventually just fall off of that portion, sometimes ruining a manicure. It is also pretty hard to remove and can be super harmful to your nail bed.

My thoughts: I love this for beach trips, vacation in general and super busy months. I actually get dipping powder for last December, because I was so short on time and dipping made more sense.




Average Cost: $35-$40 in Dallas proper, can find slightly cheaper in the suburbs

Application: A series of painting and curing the polish with a UV light, usually around 4 or 5 times, including base and top coat.

Removal Process: By soaking nails in acetone and removing them with a tool. Most of it just glides right off.

Wear Time: It looks and feels like normal nail polish, but wears longer than the average paint. I can wear mine at max 2 weeks, but usually there is something wrong with them at that point.

Certifications of this Product: Most of the big names are not cruelty free or nontoxic. CND Vinylux Shellac is cruelty free and vegan, though.  

Pros: It isn't as hard on your nail beds and the removal is easier.

Cons: You are actually putting your hand in a UV light, aka a mini tanning bed...not ideal. I've read some tips to put sunscreen on the top of your hands, but most of the time that is washed off or covered in lotion or something, I'd think. Your hands (and neck) age the fastest, so keep this in mind. It also doesn't last as long and as the mani gets older, the polish near your nail bad starts to slightly turn up and catch on things.

My thoughts: I love how it doesn't weaken my nail beds and promotes strong nails. It also looks more natural.


Which is my favorite longer lasting manicure? Honestly, I'm not sure. When I decided to write this I thought for sure my answer would be gel; however, I'm just not sure that is the case. Gel is great because it doesn't weaken nails, but quite honestly I'd rather have not-so-strong nails instead of skin cancer. Side note- some salons use UV light that covers your entire hand and others use UV light that only covers part of your fingers. Either way, it's not the best thing for you. I use sunscreen in my daily make up routine, but having to put it on the back of my hands before I go "relax", seems a bit much don't you think? Additionally, Dipping powder is usually only around $5 more, but lasts around a whole week longer than gel, if not more. Like what?? Talk about a better value! I was kind of confused because most dipping powder advertisements say it promotes healthy nails and is overall better for you, but my question is better than what? Fake nail acrylics?? Well, most things are. (lol) I don't know. Which trade off is worth it? What's your opinion on the matter? 

Want to try fun nail art that is cheaper than going to a salon? Try ManiMe Custom Press-On Gel Nails for $5 off with discount code ELLEMULENOS!

P.S. Dipping Powder is also referred to as NexGen, as they were the first ones to really do it. Also Gel is often called shellac, though they are slightly different. Only CND has the true shellac brand. Think of it as Kleenex vs Puffs!

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