Why Do My Dip Nails Look Grainy? Answered!

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Dip powder for manicures (aka SNS nails) are here to stay, and learning the method is worth it. The process is not complicated. And, in this blog, you’ll quickly realize that smooth, shiny, and long-lasting dip manicures are your new best friend.

But you need to learn the techniques. If you go wrong, you can find yourself asking: “why do my dip nails look grainy?” Grainy dip powder nails are not a good look!

Don’t panic – find a comfy spot and read all about mastering the “dipped mani” and avoiding the ‘grainy look’.


Dip Nail Preparation

The key to nailing your Dip Nails is doing your prep work! If you haven’t prepped your canvas, your painting is gonna look wonky.

The key to nailing your Dip Nails is doing your prep work!

As with any pampering session, get all your tools ready and prepare your nails thoroughly.

Push back the cuticles, rinse off any cuticle oil properly and make sure your nails are completely dry.

You can also use alcohol wipes to ensure that all traces of grease are removed and dehydrate the nail. Shape each nail with a good-quality emery board until you’re satisfied.

1. Apply ‘Step 1’ Bonding Solution

Create a rough surface on the nail plate with a fine file before applying the bond to all your nails. You’ll want to ensure that you remove all traces of filings by using alcohol wipes or washing your hands thoroughly before applying the bonding solution.

2. Apply ‘Step 2’ Base Coat  

Make sure that you cover the entire nail plate in the base coat, working outwards to the tip of your nail. Avoid the cuticles because the powder will adhere to all areas covered in the base coat.

3. Time to Dip

The base coat step followed by dipping should be done one finger at a time. Quickly dip each nail into the powder at a 45-degree angle, and shake off all excess before moving on to the next nail. 

4. Dip and Repeat

If you require more coverage of color powder, you can quickly dip the nail into the powder a second time, but do not overdo it since this is the “root of all evil” for a grainy or clumpy finish.

5. Finishing

Depending on your chosen product, you’ll cover each nail in the base again and dip it into an acrylic finishing powder to ensure the powder hardens nicely. 

6. Final Step

The final step involves applying an activator to solidify everything and a final round of shaping for an extended time with shiny, strong, and beautiful nails.

According to professionals, a dip-mani could last up to five weeks.  

Preventing Grainy Dip Powder Nails

As with any new routine, you may have the odd botched nail. But preventing and repairing flops is not as challenging.

Here’s just a brief look at the most common problem:

Old, Clumpy Powder

Always avoid outdated, clumpy powder – this is sure to end up looking grainy or too thick. Opt for the best brand you can afford (still be way cheaper than going to a salon!) and shake or stir the powder before every use.

This will keep the mix fresh.

Opt for the best brand you can afford and shake or stir the powder before every use. This will keep the mix fresh.

Too Much Topcoat

Using too much base or topcoat is another typical error, especially for first-timers. The base and topcoats are durable adhesives, so too much picks up more powder than you need.

In return, the powder thickens quickly and creates the clumpy messy look we’d all rather avoid! 

Some powders work very well because of their thicker design, so there’s no need to use as much. You can also use as little base and topcoat as possible. 

If you allow each coat to dry properly and buff in between each coat (or step), your results will be smoother and shinier. 


Apart from using the “less is more” approach with powder and liquid products, the basics will always be true: preparation is the cornerstone of an excellent finish.

In this case, “preparing” for each step of the process as you proceed is just as important. Be sure to wipe off any powder after buffing!

Keep your tools and jars sparkling and sanitary, but ensure the brushes are dry. As you proceed with the mani, your brushes could collect too much powder and become “gunky” when they’re damp. You’ll soon come to love your super-hardy, shiny, dip mani!

Enjoy the journey.

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).