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Is colored acrylic the same as dip powder?

Acrylic and dip powder nails are two popular nail enhancement options. Both can be used to create a variety of nail looks from natural to dramatic. But while they may seem similar, there are some key differences between colored acrylic and dip powder. In this article, we’ll take a close look at what sets these two products apart.

What is colored acrylic?

Acrylic is a polymer powder that is mixed with a liquid monomer to create a acrylic nail product. The monomer acts as a binding agent to polymerize the acrylic powder.

Colored acrylic contains pigments added to the acrylic powder itself before polymerization. This allows the nail technician to create an acrylic nail in any color without needing to add polish. The color is saturated throughout the full thickness of the acrylic nail.

What is dip powder?

Dip powder is made up of very finely ground acrylic powder particles. But unlike acrylic, dip powder does not contain any monomer. Instead, a glue is used to bind the powder to the natural nail.

With dip powder systems, the powder is layered on the nail and then “dipped” into a glue. The glue binds the powder particles together and to the nail. Additional layers of powder and glue can be added to achieve the desired thickness.

While original dip powders were neutral or natural colors, colored dip powders have become available. The pigment is added to the powder alone, similar to colored acrylic.

Key Differences

While both provide color enhancements, there are some notable ways that colored acrylic and dip powder differ:

Application Method

Colored Acrylic Applied using a brush and liquid monomer
Dip Powder Applied by dipping the nail in powder then liquid glue

Acrylic requires mixing the powder and liquid components together and brushing onto the nail. Dip powder is applied in layers using a dipping method.


Colored Acrylic Contains acrylic powder polymer and liquid monomer
Dip Powder Contains only finely ground acrylic powder, no monomer

The chemistry is different. Acrylic requires a monomer to bind the polymer particles. Dip powder uses a glue or activator liquid instead.

Curing Process

Colored Acrylic Cures rapidly under UV or LED light
Dip Powder Cures by air drying the glue

Acrylic solidifies quickly under light activation. Dip powder sets slowly as the glue dries and hardens naturally.

Removal Process

Colored Acrylic Filed off using a drill or soak removed
Dip Powder Easier to file off; soak-off optional

The strength of the acrylic chemistry makes acrylic more difficult to remove. Dip powder is adhered lightly with glue allowing for easier filing.

Texture and Thickness

Colored Acrylic Glassy, smooth texture and can be applied thicker
Dip Powder Slightly gritty texture and kept thinner

Acrylic is smooth while dip powder tends to be slightly gritty. Acrylic can be built thicker as it cures solid. Dip powder remains thinner.


Colored Acrylic Slightly higher cost per application
Dip Powder Slightly lower cost per application

Dip powder may cost a little less for a full set since it doesn’t require a monomer. But cost can vary based on brand.

Uses and Benefits

While colored acrylic and dip powder differ, they share some of the same benefits that make them popular nail enhancement options:

– Durable and long-lasting
– Available in a wide variety of colors
– Allow for a range of nail shapes and lengths
– Provide a protective layer over the natural nail
– Don’t require UV lamps for curing
– Give you the freedom to change polish colors

Some unique benefits of each type include:

Colored Acrylic Benefits

– Seamless color throughout the full nail
– Very strong and impact resistant
– Can be applied thicker for strength
– High shine finish

Dip Powder Benefits

– Very lightweight feel
– Quick application process
– Easy to file off for removal or infills
– Low heat and odor during application
– Marginally better for natural nails

Both offer versatility in achieving a desired look or nail strength. The differences come down to the chemistry behind the products.

The Bottom Line

So in summary, while colored acrylic and dip powder both offer color-enhanced nail options, they have distinct differences:

Colored Acrylic Liquid and powder polymer system cured with light
Dip Powder Colored powder applied in layers with air-dry glue

Choosing between colored acrylic and dip powder depends on the clients’ needs and preferences as well as the technician’s experience. Acrylic provides unmatched strength and durability. Dip powder offers a light, simple process. Both can be used to create beautiful nails in the color of your choice.


Colored acrylic and dip powder provide two options for customizable, durable, long-lasting nail enhancements. While acrylic and dip powder share some similarities like the availability of colors, there are important differences in chemistry, texture, application method and removal process. Acrylic creates a glassy, robust enhancement while dip powder offers a quicker, lighter feel. There are benefits to both depending on the priorities when choosing artificial nail services. With the variety of products available, clients can get the strong, beautiful nails they want with a method and style that best fits their needs.