Acrylic vs Dip Nails: What Is The Best Choice?

A trip to your favorite salon usually means a choice between gel nails and acrylic nails. They’re both pretty popular options. But there are other nail art options that give your nails the star treatment.

Why not experiment with acrylic powder, gel manicures, extensions, or dip nails. Then, sit in your favorite salon and let the technicians pamper you with some exciting new nails.

But which one do you try?

Today, we’re going to look at acrylic vs. dip nails. Although acrylic and powder nails look almost identical, they have key differences.

So carry on reading to find out more.

What are acrylic nails?

Acrylic nails are synthetic manicures that use a combination of powder polymer and liquid monomer to create their long shape and French manicure style. A nail technician uses a brush to mix the combo and shape it on the nail.

Unlike gel nails, no LED lamp is needed to cure the nails; they are left to air dry unless you add a gel topcoat.

acrylic nails
Acrylic nail manicure, source: Pinterest

Although the nails may appear soft at first, acrylic nails will become harder and substantially more durable over the treatment session.

After that, the nails technician can shape, file, and polish your acrylic nails to your preference.

What are dip nails?

Although dip nails are not a new trend, they seem to have become trendy again over the last couple of years. Instagram and TikTok are probably to blame for this.

You might have heard dip manicures referred to as SNS manicures or Signature Nail System. Whatever the name, dip nails remind me of a cross between acrylic nails and a classic manicure.

dip powder nails
Dip powder nails, source: Pinterest

Dip nails start with applying a base coat and then dipping your nail in colored nail powder. Be careful in choosing the nail color, as this will be the color of your manicure.

Or, you might find your nail technician brushing dip powder over the nail until it’s at its desired thickness, usually for hygiene reasons. A top coat of clear nail polish then seals the nail.

These nails are pretty hardy and should last about a month without chipping.

4 key differences between dip and acrylic nails

Knowing when to choose acrylic vs. dip nails means understanding the key differences between the two. Although they both leave you with a stunning manicure, you’ll find they differ in cost, durability, application, and removal of the nails.

So, let’s dive in.

1. Acrylic nails require glue

I love dip nails because they don’t call for any of that harsh, toxic, and chemically loaded nail glue. Not only is this harmful to your natural nail bed, but it makes acrylic nails even harder to remove.

2. Acrylic nails have a shorter shelf life

As I mentioned above, dip nails should last you a good month; lasting longer than acrylic nails.

But don’t be disheartened; you’ll still get a good two to three weeks out of your acrylic nails before any touch-ups are needed. But dip nails last just that little bit longer.

3. Dip manicures need thinner layers

Acrylic layers can come out a little chunky compared to dip powder manicures, so when deciding between dip powder nails vs. acrylic, you’ll want to consider that.

To reduce the chance of infection, dip powder nails use thinner layers that end with a sleeker result.

This sleeker layered dip powder process also means your nails have more room to breathe, as the thin layers are less likely to damage your natural nail ned.

4. Dip powder nails may contain harmful ingredients

Just as acrylic nail glue can include toxins and chemicals, so can dip nails when nail technicians choose cheaper nail dip powders. Unfortunately, these powders can contain MMD, a banned chemical in New York City that can be very dangerous to natural nails.

Always ask the nail salon which brand they use for your dip powder nails, and be sure to check the ingredients when buying your own dip powder. As a rule, it’s the very cheap products that are usually inferior and likely to damage your nails.

Acrylic vs. dip nails: The cost of each

Of course, the salon’s location and individual prices may vary. But in general, a standard dip powder manicure can cost between $30 and $50.

Unfortunately, acrylics tend to be more expensive, costing roughly double.

What’s better and why: dip nails vs. acrylic

I’m sure regular salon goers will have their opinions on the best manicure, but we’ve got some ideas to help beginners.

Check out the pros and cons below;

  • Although acrylic nails and dip powder nails look almost identical and pretty chic, dip powder nails do come with a more natural look.
  • Dip powder nails also have the edge as they don’t need a UV light to become hard and dry. Even without this extra light, dip manicures will also last longer and be stronger than acrylic nails.
  • But don’t assume acrylic nails don’t have their benefits. If you’ve got fragile, brittle, or short nails, then acrylic nails are a perfect fix. Got a big night out or wedding coming up, then acrylic nails could be an option.
  • Acrylic nails are also a handy tool to stop yourself from chewing your nails. However, despite both dip and acrylic nails offering a protective coating for the natural nail bed, acrylic nail glues can harm the nail bed with harsh toxins and chemicals.
  • When deciding on acrylic vs. dip nails, think about what look you want. For example, you may want to choose dip powder nails if you’re looking for a classic block color or ombre nail effect.
  • But, if you want a see-through, lighter, or less opaque design, acrylic nails are better suited to this.
  • Although dip nails are hardier, the acrylic nail can be more beneficial for experimenting without damaging your nails because they are a nail extension rather than your own nail.