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Can you get a color change with dip powder?


Dip powder nails have become a popular alternative to acrylics and gel manicures. Dip powder provides a durable, long-lasting manicure that can last 2-3 weeks between fills. One of the benefits of dip powder is that it allows for frequent color changes without damaging the natural nails underneath. But how easy is it really to change your dip powder color? Can you successfully change colors without completely removing and reapplying the powder?

What is dip powder?

Dip powder, also called SNS powder, is a mixture of finely milled acrylic powder and pigment. To apply dip powder nails:

  1. Nails are prepared by lightly buffing and applying a bonding base coat
  2. Nails are dipped into colored powder, which adheres to the base coat
  3. A liquid activator is brushed on to harden the first layer
  4. Steps 2-3 are repeated until the desired thickness is achieved, typically 3-4 dips
  5. A sealant is applied on top to finish and harden the manicure

The end result is a strong, durable nail that lasts 2-3 weeks on average. The strength comes from the acrylic in the powder adhering to itself layer by layer. The color comes from the pigment mixed into the powder.

Can you change dip powder color?

Yes, it is possible to change your dip powder color without removing the entire manicure. There are a couple different ways to achieve this:

Color change on natural nails

If your natural nails are still exposed underneath the dip powder, you can apply a new color directly on top:

  1. File the surface to remove the top sealant layer
  2. Buff the natural nails lightly to create texture
  3. Wipe nails with a dehydrator or rubbing alcohol
  4. Apply a nail primer if needed
  5. Paint new dip powder color over the old color
  6. Apply activator, repeat layers, and seal as normal

The key is filing down to the natural nail first so the new color will bond. As your nails grow out, you’ll have to trim back the dip powder to maintain the color change.

Color change on filled dip powder

If your nails have been filled multiple times and only dip powder remains, you can still switch colors:

  1. File off the top layer of sealant
  2. Rough up the surface with a coarse nail file
  3. Wipe with dehydrator or alcohol
  4. Apply a layer of clear dip powder
  5. Activate and set with sealant
  6. File the surface smooth
  7. Apply new color and seal as normal

The clear “base coat” dip provides something for the new color to adhere to. Be sure to rough up the previous layer first for the best bond.

How long does a dip powder color change last?

When performed properly, a color change on dip powder can last just as long as a traditional dip manicure, typically 2-3 weeks or until sufficient new nail growth.

With color changes directly on the natural nail, longevity depends on how much bare nail is exposed:

  • Color change at 1 week may last the full infill cycle
  • Color change at 2 weeks may last 1-2 weeks
  • Color change at 3 weeks may last less than 1 week

As more nail grows out, there is less adhere to, so the color wears off quicker.

When changing color over filled dip powder nails, the new color should remain intact for the full 2-3 weeks as long as the previous layers were sufficiently roughened for bonding.

Tips for changing dip powder color

Follow these tips for the longest lasting dip powder color change:

  • Rough up the previous layer with a coarse file
  • Avoid peeling or picking at the dip powder
  • Use a dehydrator or alcohol wipe before new color
  • Apply thinner layers of activator for a smooth finish
  • Wrap tips to prevent lifting
  • Use nail primer if switching between brands
  • Check for lifting and re-seal edges as needed

Taking the time to properly prepare the previous manicure will help the new color adhere and last.

Reasons a color change may not last

If your dip powder color change starts showing signs of damage after just 1-2 days, here are some possible reasons why:

  • Old layers were not filed rough enough
  • Nails were not fully dehydrated before new color
  • Activator was brushed on too thick
  • Too many layers of powder were applied
  • Powder was not fully set before sealant
  • Old and new powders are not compatible formulas

Dip powder is very durable but still requires proper application. Rushing the process or using incompatible products can cause lifting, cracking or poor adhesion when changing colors.

Removing a color change completely

If a color change starts to lift or show damage before your next fill, you may want to remove it completely and start fresh:

  1. File off as much color as possible
  2. Soak cotton pads in pure acetone
  3. Wrap nails in acetone-soaked pads for 15-20 minutes
  4. Gently push back cuticles and scrape off powder with a wooden stick
  5. Buff and wipe nails clean
  6. Reapply new color as desired

Never peel or pick at lifting dip powder as this can remove layers of your natural nail. Soaking in acetone will dissolve the bonds and allow gentle removal. Always buff and dehydrate nails before applying fresh color.

Can you change just one nail?

If you only want to change the color on one nail, it is possible but requires extra effort:

– File and prep only the nail being changed
– Tape off surrounding fingers to avoid getting new powder on them
– Apply vaseline to other nails to make wiping easier
– Be extremely careful when activing and sealing to avoid bumping neighboring nails
– Expect the color change to wear faster than other nails

It takes precision but can be done for small pop of color. Just know it won’t necessarily last the full manicure cycle.

Dip powder color change vs. removal

Changing your dip powder color saves time and money compared to a full removal:

Color Change Full Removal
Cost $5-$15 $30-$50
Time 15-30 minutes 45-90 minutes
Process File, buff, recolor Soak off, remove, reapply
Keeps Length Yes No, starts over
Keeps Overlay Yes No, removes all powder
Damage Risk Minimal Higher

For a quick color refresh between fills, changing over the old dip powder is significantly faster and cheaper than a full removal and reapplication.


Dip powder manicures allow you to change your polish color without having to soak off the entire manicure each time. While it does take some special preparation, you can successfully change the color by filing, roughing up, and adding new layers of powder. With proper application, a dip color change can last a full 2-3 weeks just like a traditional dip manicure. So if you love experimenting with different colors, dip powder is a great option that protects your natural nails while allowing you to frequently change your polish!