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What Is The Difference Between Powder Nails And Acrylic Nails?

Difference Between Powder Nails And Acrylic Nails

So, what is the difference between powder nails and acrylic nails? Powder nails use a resin-based super glue, whereas acrylics require monomer. The main difference lies in the way they are applied over the nails. Both of them looks almost the same, but there is a difference, and it lies in the application. Acrylic nails last longer than powder nails due to the composition.

In the past, you would happily apply a coat of nail polish, which will go well with your dress and jewelry. The nail polishes came in various hues and shades, and different brands promoted their product with features like safety, variety, and durability. These polishes come in gloss and matte finish, which got air-dried.

Soon, gel nail polish came into this fashionable space and got touted as being more alluring in terms of sheen and durability. However, these types of polish had to get cured with UV and LED lamps.

They were expensive, compared to the regular polish, and metallic glitters got introduced along with other color dyes. These gave your nails the bling look, and depending upon the occasion; you had many options to choose from.

It’s Origin

Nail treatment originated as early as 3500 BC in ancient Egypt. Well-off women got their nails treated with henna, while others dyed with pastel and natural shades. Men prepared for war by painting their nails and body parts. Noblemen got their nails painted in black, and the common men in green color.

Origin of nail polish can get traced to ancient China during 3000 BC, which got made from egg whites, gum arabic, bee wax, gelatin, and vegetable dyes. Their women dipped nails in this dye for hours and left it to dry.

Red and pink were some standard tints available in those days. Much later, during the Zhou Dynasty, women got their nail polish enveloped with gold and silver dust to signify their social status.

In China, during the Ming Dynasty period, it was fashionable to grow long nails, and they got protected with gold-plating. In South America, the Incas got known to do nail art by painting eagles on their nails.

Growing your nails to be long and curly has been in vogue during the Egyptian civilization. Later, the Chinese were known to manage long nails, and then they were also attributed to the invention of nail polish.

This got made from egg whites and bee-wax. Later, they got their nails coated with gold and silver dust. It was a status symbol when people grew long nails in those days. It got indicated that they were not involved in doing regular household chores and had others; you got them assisted.

Historians also state that these long nails got guarded with protections made of gold, studded with precious stones, tortoise shells, and wood. Some cultures, even today, believe that having long nails indicates their social stature.

Nail Extensions

While in the “form” method, the artificial nails get fixed on the entire length of your nail! In the tip method, the joint gets covered with gel, acrylic, or polish.

Why Do You Need Nail Extension?

In case you are unable to grow your nails properly and wish to do nail-art, you will require these extensions. The reasons could be as under:

  1. The nails are brittle and hence crack or break when they grow a little.

  2. You could have the bad habit of biting your nails, and hence it is difficult to grow nails.

  3. Even if your nails grow, their tips are not fashionable enough for you to nail-art on them.

  4. You are not comfortable with long nails but wish to do nail art for a particular event or occasion.

Types Of Nail Extensions

There are various types of nail extensions in the market today. Let us look at them, their pros and cons, and their average costs.

Acrylic Nail Extensions

These types of extensions get made from monomer liquid with a mixture of polymer powder. This paste gets glued to the entire nail or the tip, hardens, and such nails lasts for 3 to 4 weeks.


  1. Such nails are useful for people whose nails are brittle and cannot grow well.

  2. It is also useful for people who have the habit of chewing their nails off.

  3. These nails last for a longer duration compared to nails from other materials.

  4. Salons and spas have been using this type of nails for long, and hence experts are available to fix them for you and do nail-art on them.


  1. Since acrylic nails are attachments, they look fake if not fixed by experts.

  2. These enhancements get attached to the nail with glue, which might damage the original growth below.

  3. Since the acrylic mixture is fixed to the nail and hardened, the chemical fumes may not go well with those who are allergic to them.

  4. They need to be refilled every month, and hence additional costs.

Gel Nail Extensions

A thick coating of gel gets applied on top of your nail to create this gel overlay or gel extensions. UV or LED lamp gets used to harden this coating, over which you can make nail art application.


  1. Such extensions are safe for your nail since they do not get glued to its surface.

  2. Gel coating protects your nails from breaking or chipping.

  3. This extension is lightweight and does not create any dis-comfort.

  4. They appear more flushed and natural compared to acrylic extensions.

  5. The flexible coating blends with the nail surface and does not peel or chip easily.

  6. These extensions are environment friendly.


  1. Removing gel extension is time-consuming since it is not easy.

  2. Since it requires a UV lamp to get cured, you need to have this at home to venture with such an application.

  3. This type of extension is expensive but lasts only for about 14 days.

Fiberglass Nail Extension

This type of extension is less popular than acrylic and gel extensions. Fiberglass extensions are also known as silk wrap or extensions. This transparent hard synthetic material gets cut as per your nail shape and size. We fix them to your nail using glue or resin and curate with an activator.


  1. This type of extension is useful for those who are allergic to chemicals present in gel and acrylic.

  2. They look much more natural compared to other extensions.

  3. These extensions are easy to remove.

  4. They do not exude any odor.


  1. This type of extensions is the most costly.

  2. If you are habitual nail-biter, have uneven nail surface, or have cracked nails, this type of extensions is not suitable.

  3. You have to maintain such nails every 14 days.

  4. These are not very sturdy since they are prone to chipping.

What Is Dip Powder?

Nail Art Powder featured image

How Is It Different From Acrylic And Gel?

Nail art powder falls in between the acrylic and gel application process. Using the dip powder process is far more comfortable than the acrylic in terms of odor, dust, and smoke, and alongside, it does not require a UV lamp like gel, for curing. They last long, and as the nails grow from the base, you can keep filling up the dip’s growth and seal it off. It is also easier to remove than others.

How Does Nail Powder Get Applied?

First, you need to prepare your nails: manicure and shape them to perfection. You must apply a base coat and let it dry. You must then use a brush of activating liquid and dip the nail inside a jar of color powder. Dust off the excess powder, apply another coat of hardening liquid and dip again inside the powder.

Once you the required opaque hue, buff the excess powder from your nails and then seal off with a coat of topcoat polish. You have vibrant colored, shiny nails, and the entire application takes around 45 minutes.

Can You Do Designs With Dip Powder?

You can do various nail art designs on top of your dip powder layer, like adding bling rhinestones, foils, and dried flower petals. You can do a French manicure with the dip powder, or add gel designs.

The sky is the limit, and you can let your imagination soar with a dip powder base. You can also do nail stamping and acrylic paint over this colorful canvas!

How Do You Remove Nail Art Powder?

The most challenging part of all nail application process is to get the coating removed. The dip powder coating creates a thick layer, fixed firmly on your nail. The best way is to file and buff the top layers so that only a thin layer of color remains on your nail surface.

You can now use cotton swab and acetone to remove the remaining pigments and base coat from your nails. Once the entire coatings get removed, moisturize your whole hand to hydrate them and help your nail surface and bed breathe again.

Is Dip Powder Natural?

Dip powder gets made from color dyes and chemicals. They get dusted on top of another chemical layer so that they harden. Even if you add beneficial vitamins and minerals in this powder, it does not reach the nail below, through various segments, including the basecoat polish.

Hence, do not get carried away with an organic or natural claim concerning nail art powder. They get made from chemicals to help you beautify your nails.

Is It Safe To Use Nail Art Powder?

Dipping your nails in a container of nail art powder or getting them sprinkled is not hygienic if someone else has used the material previously. Infection from your finger and nail pass on to others through these powders.

Hence, it is advisable to avoid using dip powders in salons. Either, you must do this process on your own at home, or carry your dip powders for application at the spa.

Some salons use small containers of dip powder for every client, and the same gets later sprinkled for additional coats. The remnant powder gets disposed of, and not used on any other customers.

Only in such cases, you can venture dip powder application at such outlets. Though the dry powder does not help transfer bacteria or viruses, any moisture inside this jar is prone to such infection to spread.

Who Should Avoid Dip Powder Nails?

All those whose nails are cracked and brittle must avoid the dip powder process. For this application to be successful, you must have healthy nails and grows in length as per your satisfaction.

After you file and buff your nails, they must be in perfect shape to get colored, and it’s only then you must go with the nail art powder route. If you have any skin problems like psoriasis, you must refrain from dip powder use.

Can I Do Dip Powder Nail Art At Home?

Nail art powder treatment gets best done at the salon under professional guidance. Like gel treatment, this application deals with chemicals that can damage your nail, cuticle, and the skin around, if not handled properly. You must only keep in mind the hygiene factor that needs to get adhered at the nail spas.

After-care Process To Get Followed

Like all nail enhancement process, you must provide enough rest and recovery time to your nails, before the next nail art. You must clip your nail and buff them, so there are no rough edges.

Avoid chipping and tearing of your nails during this period. Apply almond oil on the cuticles and the nail, for nourishment. The moisturizing lotion will make your hands supple and well hydrated.

Difference Between Powder Nails And Acrylic Nails

Dip powder gets made from chemical pigments and acrylic polymers, and this gets fixed to the nails with the help of another chemical solution made from cyanoacrylates.

While acrylic nail extensions get made from monomer liquid and acrylic powder. Both are chemical-based but are very different from each other. Let’s look at their differences and some similarities:


Acrylic nail extensions get built on top of your nails and harden to form a plastic cover on top. These extensions usually are longer than your actual nails. With nail art powder, your original nail gets coated with an opaque covering and is limited to the actual size of your nail. Hence your dip powder nail is flexible, compared to the acrylic extensions.


Artificial acrylic nails have a strong smell, which is absent in the nail art powder process.


The acrylic extension application is very toxic with strong odor and fumes. However, in the case of dip powder coating of your nails, it is considered quite safe and nontoxic. Though both are chemical-based, their composition is quite different.

Air Dry

Both these nail art processes are hardened with atmospheric air and do not have to get cured with UV lamps, like gel extensions.

Low Maintenance

Acrylic nails last around two weeks and tend to lift from the nail surface, and you require professional help to fix it back again. Dip powder nails last much longer, for around 3-4 weeks, and it does not dislodge from the nail surface, and hence low maintenance.

Chip Resistant

Nail art powder nails are flexible and hardly chipsor tears. However, in the case of acrylic nails, which are hard and solid, chipping and breaking are highly possible, if you are not careful.


Dip powder nails are water-resistant, and there is no protection required when you shower or swim. However, in the case of acrylic nails, you have to ensure that they don’t remain wet for long. The moisture gets between the nail and the coating, which makes the extension lift.

Environment Friendly

Acrylic nails must be disposed of since they will not dissolve in acetone. While in the case of dip powder, they would get quickly dissolved and get flushed out, along with your topcoat polish.

Calcium And Vitamin Fortified

The nail art powder gets marketed to be natural, organic, and fortified with vitamin and calcium, though none of these benefits reach the nail below. Acrylic nails, on the other hand, has none of these properties.

Looks And Feels Natural

Acrylic nails are artificial and give you the same feeling, irrespective of the nail art you create on top. On the other hand, the dip powder gets applied on top of your nail, as per it’s size and shape, and hence feels very natural.

UV Light

UV for shellac

Harmful Primers

The acrylic nails get built on top of your nails using chemical compounds and acrylic powder, causing fumes and odor. In the case of dip powder, the hardening agent holds the pigmented powder together onto the nail surface, and it does not have fumes and smell.


Both these nail art applications are robust and last for some time.


These nail art activities last you for nearly a month, provided you take care of them regularly.


Dip powder nails last long concerning its depth of color and shine, over some time. On the other hand, the acrylic nails will soon lose its shine and will not remain similar to its first application.

Quick And Comfortable Application

Acrylic extensions require a lot of time and patience to apply. It is better to be fixed by professional since finer details must get adhered to, for the outcome to look natural. In the case of dip powder, they are quick and comfortable to apply without any smoke and odor.

Healthy Nail Beds

Dip powder coating allows atmospheric air to reach the nail and its bed below. Hence, by applying nail art powder, your nails do not get deprived of natural elements. In acrylic extensions, your natural nails are devoid of any nourishment and need to be taken care of between nail art activities.

Ease Of Removal

It is quite easy to remove dip powder nail art since the layer quickly dissolves in an acetone solution. However, in the caseof acrylic nails, they need to get soaked in the solution for over half an hour before they could be pried loose.

Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s look at some FAQs about both these approaches.

Can You Create Acrylic Extension On Any Nail Surface?

It is always advisable to attach acrylic extensions over healthy nails. Since the covering does not allow atmospheric air and nutrients to reach the nail beds, damaged nails will be further affected. Also cracked and the chipped surface is not conducive for attaching these artificial nails, since they get crafted over this surface.

How Expensive Are Acrylic Nails?

They are among the least expensive out of various extensions available in the market today. They also have been around in the nail fashion industry for long.

Should Acrylic Nails Get Done Under Professional Supervision?

It is always advisable to get acrylic extensions to get done at salons and spas, where they adhere to the hygienic process. Improper fixing and removal of these extensions lead to damage to your natural nails and cuticles.

What Type of Chemical Should Get Avoided For Acrylic Nails?

Some salons use MMA acrylic, which has a fruity odor. You must avoid getting your acrylic nails fixed at such salons since these cheap polymers are toxic and very hazardous.

Who Should Avoid Acrylic Nails?

Those who have sensitive skin and brittle nails must avoid acrylic nail application.

Why Is Dipped Powder Process Simpler Compared To Acrylic Nails?

For acrylic extensions, each nail has to get sculpted by a professional with the help of acrylic powder and monomer mix. They need to get them shaped along the curve of your natural nails and can get extended by one-third of your nail size. It is quite painstaking, emits fumes, odor, and polymer dust.

In the case of dip powder, you coat your nail with an adhesive layer, over which the pigmented powder is brushed or sprinkled. Additional layers get created similarly, for an opaque look. A topcoat gets applied to seal off the design below and give the nails a natural shine. The excess powder gets dusted on to the collecting plate that gets placed below.

Why Are Dipped Nails Natural Looking?

Dipped nails are very similar to nail polish since only layers of dip powder is getting coated on your nail surface with a chemical adhesive. You nail must be properly manicured and shaped, since the dipped nail will take the shape of your nail below.

Who Should Opt For Dip Nails Or Acrylic Nails?

People with stunted nails should opt for acrylic nails since you can build up to a decent size of nail for your nail art activity. If you already possess great shaped nails, you can get them covered with dip powder.

What Are The Advantages Of Dipped Nails Compared To Acrylic nails?

Dipped nails are flexible and long-lasting, and looks much more natural compared to acrylic nails. They are the new fashion trend and have advantages of acrylic and gel nails, without the UV lamp curing requirement.

Should You Make These Applications At Home?

It is advisable to get these nail art activities done by professionals at their nail studios. Both these applications are quite challenging to get done on your own. You must be careful concerning hygiene and safety measures that get followed at such outlets.

Why Do You Damage Your Nails With Fake Nails?

To ensure that the acrylic extensions stick well to your nails, some technicians tend to file your nail’s surface. The materials that get used to sculpt the artificial nails also may be of inferior quality. During removal, undue pressure gets exerted, damaging the nail and cuticles.

When you plan to get your dip powder removed, your manicurist files the top layers and then wipes the rest of the coating using cotton swam dipped in acetone. If you use electronic files, your nail sometimes loses its top cover, making your nails weak.


Powder and acrylic nails are both made from chemicals, and hence harmful for your nails and cuticles. Nail art powder is comparatively safer, looks much more natural, lasts longer, and easier to remove than acrylic nails. Both require external assistance and is advisable to get done by professional.

Dip powder application must get done at salons, where they use the nail art materials, which are specific to your requirement and not reused by other customers. Hygiene, material quality, safety norms are essential in its application and removal process!

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