Is your old mani getting a little out of hand? If your nails have seen better days, it’s probably time to remove those dips.

But don’t try to pick, pull, peel or *shudder* bite them off. Yes, it’s tempting. But no, it’s not a good idea. Getting too handsy with your dip nail removal could strip away healthy nail layers along with the color.

Here’s the safe and painless method for removing dip powder nails without damage. (Plus, you’ll get the DL on doing it with and without acetone.)

Removing dip nails 101

Yes, you can remove your dip nails at home. You’ll need to protect the skin with petroleum jelly then soak them in acetone until the color comes off easily. The process should take about 15 minutes. Here’s how:

  1. File the top of the existing polish.
  2. Soak nails in acetone for 10 minutes.
  3. Rub off remaining polish.
  4. Repeat step 2 and 3 as needed.

FYI: Acetone is a harsh chemical, so be careful with the delicate skin surrounding your nails. And don’t forget to protect any surfaces (like a table) that acetone might not play nicely with.

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Whether you’re a manicure connoisseur or you’re just dipping your toes (or fingers) into the beauty trends pool, it’s always nice to know your options. While dip nails aren’t new, they have made a recent revival, with many high-profile social media influencers boasting about these bad boys.

The name “dip powder” nails (aka SNS nails) isn’t much of a stretch. You literally dip your fingernails into a tinted powder to apply them. You can use the technique at home or treat yourself at the salon.

When it’s performed (correctly) at the salon, though, the process isn’t quite as literal. You’ll sacrifice the “dip” experience for the sake of sanitation. Your nail artist will brush the powder directly onto your nails so you’re not sharing a pot of powder with anyone else.

Benefits of dip nails

Dip nails offer the best of two worlds: they’re as durable as acrylics and as natural looking as gels. Here’s why people fall for dip powder nails:

  • Longer lasting. Most folks report these will last about a month with normal wear. (So they’ll prob even outlast your gels.)
  • Gentle. It’s relatively gentle on your natural nails compared to acrylic nails.
  • DIY friendly. This is an easy nail option to do at home.
  • Lots of color options. You can find plenty of colors for dip powder online.

No wonder why there’s an influx of Instagram dip nail appreciation posts.

All good things must come to an end… including dip nails. If you’re ready for a new set (or your nails want to be naked for a little while) it’s best to visit your local salon. But in a pinch, it’s possible to remove them safely by yourself.

You’ll need:

  • nail file
  • pure acetone
  • cotton balls and foil (or a small bowl)
  • towel

Step 1: File down the shiny top layer of polish

Run the file back and forth over your nails until they’re no longer shiny. They should have a white, almost powdery appearance. Once the powder is no longer protected, it should dissolve easily in the acetone.

Step 2: Soak nails in acetone

Prep: Apply an itsy-bitsy layer of petroleum jelly to each nail cuticle to help protect your skin from the acetone.

There are two ways to do an acetone soak:

  1. Dunk your nails in a bowl of acetone.
  2. Wrap each fingernail in an acetone-soaked cotton ball. (Try to trim the cotton wool so it only covers your nail rather than the skin.) Cover your nails with foil, baked potato style, or use a plastic food baggie.

Allow your nails to soak for about 10 minutes.

Pro tip: Remember that acetone can damage surfaces, so protect your work area with a towel.

Step 3: Rub off the polish/powder

After soaking, unwrap your nails or remove them from the bowl.

Use a cotton ball (dry or dipped in acetone) to rub off the powder polish.

If there’s still traces of polish, try washing your hands and rubbing your nails gently with a washcloth. Be careful not to rub the skin around your nail. It can irritate it.

Step 4: Touch up or repeat steps if necessary

You’ll usually only need to do this process once. But if your polish is putting up a fight, you should repeat step 2 and step 3.

It’s important to remove your dip nails properly, but your work doesn’t stop there. Treat your nails to some TLC.

Wash your hands

Once all of the pigment from your dip manicure is gone, thoroughly wash your hands with mild soap.

Pay close attention to the tips of your fingers and nails. It’s important to make sure there isn’t any acetone left on your hands because it can really dry out your skin.

After rinsing, dry your hands and nails well.


Treat your nails to some moisture. Coconut oil works wonders on nails. It’s packed with fatty acids, and might even help protect against fungal infections. A regular nail and cuticle oil also works just fine.

If you don’t have any of those products on hand, try using olive oil. You can soak your newly naked nails in one of these oils to leave them hydrated and healthy.

Follow up this step with your favorite hand or cuticle cream. The skin surrounding your nails could use a little pampering after getting cozy with acetone.

Give your nails a break

Though it may be tempting to re-up your manicure right away, most manicurists recommend that you wait at least a few days (ideally a whole week) before reapplying.

Is it possible to remove dip nails without using the harsh chemical acetone? You bet your acetone, you can.

You have a few other options to kick that polish to the curb, including:

  • white vinegar
  • alcohol
  • baking soda and toothpaste

White vinegar and alcohol make solid subs for acetone. You can follow the steps like they’re outlined above to remove your dip nails, just replace acetone in equal parts with either chemical.

To use baking soda and toothpaste, mix the two in a small bowl and cover your nails with the mixture. Allow them to sit for 15 to 20 minutes before rubbing the dip powder polish off of your nails.

  • Dip powder nails are a long-lasting, durable manicure option.
  • Dip nail removal can be done safely at home in a few easy steps.
  • After removing dip nails, it’s important to care for your natural nails. Wash and moisturize your hands.
  • Try to allow your nails about a week of rest before you get another manicure.
  • Dip nails can be removed without acetone using white vinegar, alcohol, or baking soda and toothpaste.