To be honest, I’ve never been a fan of dip powder or acrylic manicures. I’ve always loved the fun designs everyone got and how amazing they looked! However, each time I gave acrylic or dip powder nails a try, I was left with very dry and weak nails that kept breaking for weeks. Not too long ago, I started learning more about the chemicals that are in products we use constantly like nail polishes, and looked for alternatives. Below are the reasons why I don’t get dip powder & acrylic manicures + what I do instead.
Why I don’t like dip powder & acrylic manicures
It weakened my nails (a lot)
My nails have never been the strongest, but they weren’t that bad. They used to break quite a bit and that never allowed me to have long nails – which I didn’t mind. However, every time I got acrylic, dip powder, or even gel, my nails were very weak and twice as likely to break… it took them a month after getting the powder removed to heal and get to how they were before.
Dip powders dehydrate nails
Dip powder manicures are better than acrylic but they’re still damaging. There are no long-term effects of dip powder manicures, however, there is a temporary effect and that is that it dehydrates the nails.
Removing the gel, acrylic, or dip powder nails is not easy. The nails need to be soaked in acetone for 10 to 30 minutes. Acetone can strip the natural oils from the nails and the cuticles, leaving them prone to breakage and splitting. This can definitely have a long-term effect if used a lot over time.
What’s interesting is that an easy fix for dry & brittle nails can be to get another manicure, which only starts a cycle of unhealthy nails. Of course, there are ways to prevent your nails from getting dry and weak, but I found those techniques to be quite time-consuming and it wasn’t worth it for me.
They felt thick & bulky
I didn’t like how thick and bulky my nails felt. Sure, they looked great but I couldn’t type right or grab things – I felt uncomfortable.
I don’t know about other states or countries, but in New York, Manhattan to be specific, it costs about $60 without tip to get a dip powder manicure done. Sure it lasts about 3 weeks, but then you also have to pay about $10 to get them removed…
I only got this manicure done for special events like New York Fashion Week, but in the long run, it was too expensive to keep up and not good for my overall health.
Acrylic contains toxic chemicals + UV light is required
In that sense, dip powder is a bit better than acrylic because it doesn’t require UV light. Studies have shown that the UV light emitted from nail lamps slightly increases your risk of developing skin cancer; it’s even been found that in less than 10 minutes under the gel lamp, “a person’s hands receive an energy dose equivalent to the day-long recommended limit for outdoor workers,” according to the Journal of American Academy of Dermatology. – (This is a quote directly extracted from this article).
Furthermore, acrylic contains formaldehyde, which has been classified as a known human carcinogen. We are already constantly exposed to carcinogens, so if I can limit and reduce my exposure by not getting these manicures done, I will.
Dip powder isn’t necessarily safer
While dip powder doesn’t require UV lights to cure and dry, it still contains harsh chemicals that pose a health risk. Dip powder nails require a base coat of cyanoacrylate. This is the main ingredient in Krazy Glue. Forms of this ingredient are restricted for use in cosmetics in Canada and classified as an irritant by the European Union. This Zoe Report article goes more in-depth regarding dip powder nails and their safety.
It can be unsanitary
Some salons don’t carry the dip powder treatment because of concerns over sanitation. If the technician asks you to dip your finger in the container, complain. That is an easy way to pass nail infections between clients. Even sprinkling powder on top of the nail and letting the excess fall back into the pot, increases the risk of bacterial contamination, which can lead to infection. I’d rather not risk it.
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What I do instead
I only use 7-free nail polish
As I mentioned before, I became interested in learning more about the chemicals and products I put on my body and how they can affect my health. To my surprise (but not really), traditional nail polish is packed with seriously harmful chemicals.
Essentially, there are seven really harmful chemicals and their effects on your health are below:
- Toluene can cause neurological issues.
- Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP) is linked to reproductive and hormonal disruptions.
- Formaldehyde can lead to respiratory and skin irritations and is a known carcinogen.
- Formaldehyde Resin might cause skin irritations or nail discoloration.
- Camphor can cause symptoms like nausea and dizziness.
- Triphenyl Phosphate (TPHP) might act as an endocrine disruptor.
- Xylene can affect the liver, kidneys, and respiratory system.
I use nail polish almost every single week… so I knew something had to change.
7-free nail polish brands you can try
Dazzle Dry | $20
Dazzle Dry is the first clean nail polish brand I was introduced to. I immediately loved them because of how quickly the nail polish dries, which makes it hard for my clumsy and impatient self to mess up my at-home manicure. It also lasts a long time, just like a dip powder manicure would – around 3 weeks.
They’re cruelty-free, non-toxic, free of harmful chemicals & hypoallergenic. The only downside is that they can expensive, at $20+ per bottle.
HABIT | $12
I haven’t tried HABIT nail polishes personally, but I have friends who have and love their products. They have 60+ shades, which are vegan, cruelty-free, and infused with Myrrh extract to improve nail strength. Plus, their packaging is so cute!
Zoya | $8
I have tried Zoya before and really liked it. They are also 10-free, which is amazing! However, the nail polish doesn’t really last as long (around 1-2 weeks) for me. I have only tried light colors and I needed to apply multiple layers for the colors to show, but maybe that doesn’t happen with dark colors.
They do have over 600 colors which is crazy! If you’re looking for a specific color they absolutely have it. Zoya also carries other nail products that are all free of harmful chemicals.
Ella + Milla | $8
Ella + Milla actually took it to the next level and created nail polishes that are 17-free. I didn’t even know there were that many chemicals to avoid! You can find Ella + Milla at CVS which is super convenient. I get mine from Amazon.
In my experience, their nail polish lasts a decent time (around 2 weeks) and doesn’t chip as quickly as other brands. The fact that they’re only $8 and don’t chip as easily, makes them my second pick after Dazzle Dry.
Pear Nova | $13.50 – $20.50
Pear Nova nail polishes aren’t only 7-free, they’re 10-free, which is even better! Aside from having regular nail polish, they also sell gel lacquer. You still need a UV lamp but at least they’re 10-free. So if you want the gel effect without the harmful chemicals, this is the brand you should go for!
On a side note, if you like lip liners, Pear Nova has great “lip stylos” or thick lip liners as I call them. I got them in my Ipsy bag and will be buying more.
I will keep trying more brands and add them here. As always, make sure to follow me on social media where I post very similar content. If you want to support me, the best way to do it is to subscribe to my newsletter – I’d greatly appreciate it.