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POV: You want salon-quality nails but don’t wanna leave home. Sound familiar? Then boo, let us introduce you to Nailboo — your new BFF for long-lasting, professional-looking nails.

We know what you’re thinking: Is it possible for me, untrained manicurist wannabe, to ~nail~ an at-home dip manicure on my own? We did a trial run to help you find out. 💅

I’m someone who would LOVE to love my nails. But unfortunately for me, I lack patience, coordination, and a proper nail budget — all important factors for maintaining beautiful fingertips.

For a while I committed to perfecting the art of painting my own nails, spending 1 night every other week filing, cuticle pushing, and painting. To my (and my nails’) dismay, I could never quite move past the “I clearly did these at home” look. I gave in and had a standing gel manicure appointment at my local salon, spending too many hours and dollars on my nail dream.

When the COVID-19 pandemic entered the chat, I abandoned my beautiful nails dream to give my wallet and nail beds a much-deserved break. That was until videos of Nailboo made their way to my TikTok for-you-page (FYP) this summer.

Nailboo promises the look and feel of professional nails sans salon and for a fraction of the price. Order a kit and you get everything you need to do your nails at home, from the actual dip color to plastic clips that makes the removal process easier.

While it may take a few tries to perfect your look, the Nailboo method is pretty easy to pick up (trust me… if I can do it, you can too).

What’s included in a Nailboo Dip Kit:

  • “Build” powder
  • colored powder(s)
  • liquid base coat, top coat, and color “activator”
  • cuticle pusher, nail file, and brush
  • accessories cleaner
  • removal clips
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The first thing I loved about Nailboo is the huuuuge assortment of colors you get to choose from. One of the most popular kit options allows you to choose four colors for a discounted price, which means you have a ton to play around with (plus, the powder will last you for MONTHS, even if you do your nails regularly).

I delightedly opted for a reddish brown shade aptly titled Sunset Fog, a light green Magic Matcha, a taupe-like Latte Lady, and a neutral cream called Tuscan Tea.

Receiving the kit can be a wee bit overwhelming considering just how many powders and liquids you have going on — but once I laid out all my steps, it was way more manageable.

It definitely took a few tries to get my stroke and dip technique down, and I sadly learned that you can’t easily cover up a botched nail (the more layers, the thicker your coat gets). On my first try I messed up my left thumb and tried to cover it with another coat of dip, which led to a reeeaaalll thick nail that my partner jokingly referred to as my “bubble nail” for the next few weeks. BUT even with a less-than-pro technique, the color and finish of these dip powders look so good that nobody will notice a few lumps and bumps!

Though it took me a while to get the hang of dipping my own hands, the color still looked amazing. The second you apply the activator liquid, the powder’s true color comes to life.

Plus the top coat dries super quickly, meaning that without sticking your hands under a UV light or in front of a fan, you can jump back into your life after doing your nails, smudge-free. As someone who ALWAYS chips or smudges their polish, this may be the biggest pro for me!

The pros

  • easy to apply (once you get the hang of it!)
  • dries instantly — no smudges!
  • color can last up to a few weeks
  • reuse your fave colors over and over
  • more affordable than regularly getting nails done

The cons

  • like anything, takes some practice to perfect
  • can be a messy process
  • dip powder may cause irritation or “dip flu” for some people
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Ready to give it a try? While Nailboo has a ton of online tutorials for us visual learners, here’s a quick how-to to lay out the steps for ya:

  1. Layer on the base coat liquid.
  2. Dip your fingertip in the base powder.
  3. Apply a second layer of base coat liquid.
  4. Dip your fingertip in the colored powder.
  5. Apply a thin layer of activator liquid, wait 2 mins.
  6. Buff nails.
  7. Apply second layer of activator liquid, wait 2 mins.
  8. Apply top coat and voila!

Tip #1: Go nail-by-nail

Apply the base coat and dip — seems simple enough, right?

I started off by applying the liquid base coat to all of my nails, and then applying the powder base coat. I found that you really want the liquid coat to be fresh to have the smoothest dip possible.

So a better method (in my humble opinion) is to go nail-by-nail so the liquid base doesn’t dry before applying the base dip powder.

Tip #2: Apply THIN layers

There’s a lot of steps, so try to keep each layer as thin as you can. I had a few nails where I globbed on too many uneven layers of liquid and powder, leading to a super thick and weird-looking nail. Making your nail too thick will also cause the dip to chip more easily.

Tip #3: Keep your space tidy

Do your nails on a cloth or paper towel to avoid a big mess. This makes it way easier to wipe up any residue once you have fresh looking nails, and helps you keep a healthier dust-free home.

What’s “dip flu?” and how to avoid it

According to Nailboo, “‘Dip Flu’ is a series of flu-like symptoms, like sneezing and watery eyes that develop for some dip powder users.”

If you know you’re sensitive to dip powders or want to avoid these potential symptoms, you can take these steps:

  1. Do your nails in a well-ventilated room.
  2. Wear a face mask and glasses.
  3. Keep your hands away from your face.
  4. Clean up after your manicure with a paper towel and/or vacuum.
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Think it’s worth a try? Get shoppin’ at Nailboo’s site. We recommend starting with Nailboo’s starter kit, which is the cheapest way to try it — plus, you only need to use it twice for it to save you the $$$ on salon dip manis.

If you’re looking to switch up your nail game from the comfort of your own home, Nailboo could be for you.

Nailboo offers DIY dip nails (for pros and beginners) that are beautiful, long-lasting, and super affordable. Like with any new beauty routine, doing your own nails may take some time to get the hang of, but with a little patience and practice, you’ll nail it in no time.