How to Remove Dip Powder Nails Without Acetone

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Dip powder manicures are everywhere, and they look great! Unlike regular nail polish, dip powder nails combine resin, dip powder, activators, and a top coat. With all these layers, removing dip powder nails can be a pain.

The standard (and most effective) way to remove a dip powder manicure is with acetone. Usually, you would file the topcoat, place acetone-soaked cotton on the nails, wrap each nail with foil, and wait 15-20 minutes until you can wipe them clean.

Acetone is harsh on the nails and surrounding skin. It is dehydrating and can lead to brittle, cracked nails. Many wonder how to remove dip powder nails without acetone.

In this article, we are going to take a look at why acetone is the salon industry standard for the removal of dip powder nails. We’ll also look at how to take off dip powder nails without acetone, as well as the risks of these acetone-free alternatives.


The Power of Dip Powder

Dip Powder Nail Kit

Signature Nail System Nails (SNS nails as they are commonly called), and their competitor generic dip powder nail kits, have become a super popular alternative to gel, shellac, and acrylic nails.

The main benefits of dip powder over other types of manicures are that they don’t require UV light to cure like shellac and gel nails, and they don’t have the toxic fumes of acrylic nails.

They are also thinner than gel or acrylic nails, so they tend to look more natural.

Dip powder nails are a fantastic way to get a chip and fade-resistant manicure that lasts for weeks.

Dip powder nails are applied with a multi-step application process. This includes multiple layers of resin and dip powder, an activator, and a topcoat. The multi-layer setup means that the nails are very robust.

But they can be a pain to remove either with acetone or without.


Why is Acetone the Salon Industry Standard Remover?

Acetone

It seems obvious that something commonly used as a paint stripper can’t possibly be good for you, so why is acetone  the professional’s go-to for removal in the first place?

Acetone is the most effective method to remove gel, acrylic, shellac, and dip powder nails.

Acetone is the most effective method to remove gel, acrylic, shellac, and dip powder nails.

It’s as simple as that.

It is the best at getting the job done the fastest, and this is why:

Acetone molecules have a stronger pull on the nail polish polymers, causing them to break down at a rapid rate. It’s the chemical reaction that occurs that reverts the hardened polish to its liquid form, making it easy to wipe away and fully remove.

But there are downsides, as mentioned above. Acetone is really rough on the nails and the skin surrounding the nails. It will dehydrate them and can lead to cracks, nail splits, etc.


How To Remove Dip Powder Nails Without Acetone

There are several acetone-free methods of removing dip powder nails. Let’s have a look to see how effective they are… 

1. Acetone-Free Nail Polish Remover

Soy Nail Polish Remover

The main active ingredient of regular nail polish remover is acetone. It’s also diluted with other ingredients that hydrate and nourish your nails, so it’s not as harsh as using straight acetone.

Acetone-free nail polish removers work in a variety of ways. They often contain ingredients like soy esthers  and essential oils  as active ingredients, as opposed to acetone.

These products are designed to be more gentle on the skin and nails.

Acetone-free nail polish remover was actually developed for use with nail extensions because acetone can cause extensions to become brittle and lift.

These products are also great if you are looking for an acetone-free alternative for removing regular nail polish. It may take a bit more remover and a bit more wiping and scrubbing because it’s not as effective as acetone.

But these removers are far less dehydrating for your nails.

The thing is, a dip powder manicure is not the same as a regular nail polish manicure.

You may read in some places that you can use acetone-free nail polish remover to remove dip powder nails using the same technique as acetone removal. But to actually make it work, you have to leave it on for up to an hour and then scrape it off. This is super damaging to your nails.

Acetone-free nail polish remover was not made for removing dip powder nails and will result in more damage to your nails than acetone would.

Sigh.

2. Will Rubbing Alcohol Remove Dip Nails?

Isopropyl Alcohol 99%

A high-concentration rubbing alcohol  (99%, ideally) can be used to remove powder dip nails. Just follow the same steps that you would use if you were using acetone.

It’s important to note that there is a difference between using acetone and alcohol for removing your dip powder nails. Alcohol will remove one layer of your manicure at a time. You will have to repeat this process (minus the initial filing of the topcoat) as many times as you have layers.

Depending on the color you choose or desired effect of your dip powder nails, you may have ‘dipped’ 2 or three times, followed by resin for each dip.

That’s a lot of layers!

Sigh.

Alcohol and alcohol products are not only extremely drying and irritating to the skin, but may be cytotoxic. Extended exposure to alcohol fumes can make you sick, so if you choose to try this method, make sure you are in a well-ventilated area, with a fan.

3. Distilled White Vinegar to Remove SNS Nails

While is hailed as an acetone-free method of removing dip powder nails, using the acetone removal technique, it simply will not work.

Vinegar has lots of benefits for your nails, including being anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, but it does not have the chemical makeup to remove dip powder nails.

Vinegar is a dilute solution of relatively weak, high-pH acids (low-pH = more acidic). They’re about pH 2, which is not acidic enough to dissolve anything quickly. What it will do is soften both your nails and your manicure enough so you can scrape it off, but that is NOT recommended.

This will damage your nails far more than the drying effects of acetone.

Sigh.

4. Hydrogen Peroxide to Remove Dip Nails

Hydrogen Peroxide

Two portions of hydrogen peroxide  in one part of hot water is supposed to do the trick. Now as to how effective this is, we haven’t found any evidence this actually works.

What we do know is this process will probably turn the fingertips white once you soak them in this solution, and hydrogen peroxide will dry out your nails.

Sigh.


Nail Aftercare

Whatever method you choose to remove your dip powder nails, it’s important to take care of your nails. Exposure to solvents, whether ‘natural’ or not, is damaging and dehydrating for your nails.

If you like to DIY, check out our cuticle oil recipes. If you just want to buy something, here are a few products that can help strengthen, rehydrate and repair them.


Summary

While everyone seems to be looking for acetone alternatives to removing dip powder nails, none of those alternatives are as effective as acetone.

Most “natural” options have side effects the same as, or much worse than the dehydrating effects of acetone. All of the acetone-free methods we looked at require a much longer exposure of your nails to the remover. And almost all still require additional scraping. 

Rather than asking about how to remove dip powder nails without acetone, we should be asking: “Why am I looking for acetone-free removers for my dip powder nails if they don’t work as well and are more damaging than acetone?”

Acetone it is.

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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).