AT HOME DIP POWDER MANICURE

Prior to COVID-19, I got my nails done every two weeks like clockwork. Once COVID hit, everyone who was used to their religiously scheduled nail appointments rushed out and snagged up every nail supply available. From drills to acetone and everything in between, you were lucky if you could muster up the supplies to do your nails at home.

I was able to hobble my way through at-home gel manicures for the months of March-June, but once the salons opened up, I had my salon on speed-dial, ready to make an appointment.  I was chomping at the bit to have my dip nails back (and to have someone else do it). Except what I left with was not a nice manicure, but rather some horrific duck bill-esque atrocity that barely passed as my own nails. I had them redone at a different salon two days later but decided that maybe doing them at home would ultimately be less money and less hassle.

ROSSI NAILS

I got the Rossi Nails Glam Powder Trial Kit, which includes everything you need to do your own nails at home. It comes with the base coat, activator and top coat, as well as 1-4 powders (depending on which package you choose). Mine only came with one, the shade Honeymoon 001.

THE ESSENTIALS

You will need the following:

    • Cuticle nipper
    • Orange sticks/cuticle pusher
    • Rubbing alcohol
    • Lint-free cotton rounds
    • Dehydrator
    • Base coat
    • Activator
    • Top coat
    • Cuticle oil

 

THE PROCESS

Because I’ve been having my nails done for so long, I felt really comfortable with the idea of doing a dip powder manicure at home. Before I started doing anything with the powder kit, I manicured my nails by trimming them (I like my nails really short), using my cuticle pusher and trimmer and filing them into my preferred shape.

PREP

Once everything looked good, I prepped my nails for the powder by first wiping them down with some rubbing alcohol on a lint-free cotton round, and then I went in with step no. 1, which is actually not included in the kit—a dehydrator. This step is so important because it gets any dust or oil off your nails and sets you up for success (and a longer-lasting manicure).

BASE

Once that was taken care of, I went in with the base coat. I had never thought about it before, but I realized that the base coat is essentially just nail glue. I opted to do one nail at a time because I was worried that I was going too slow and the base would be dry by the time I finished painting all my fingers and made it back around again.

Pro tip: when applying the first layer of base coat, only apply to about 3/4 of nail. Leave the area around your cuticle bare. This helps ensure you don’t over do it!

DIP

Once you have applied the base, you’re ready to start dipping! Dip your finger into the container at a 45-degree angle, pull it out, and gently tap on your finger to get rid of any excess powder. Repeat this on all the remaining fingers, then do it again and again until you’re satisfied with the color. After each coat, go in with big, fluffy brush and make sure wipe away any excess powder from your hands, fingers and the nail plate itself. I ended up doing three layers on my nails to get the desired opacity.

ACTIVATOR

Once you’ve dipped your nails to the desired color, apply a coat of activator. This step is really quick and easy. Actually, the hardest part is waiting until the activator is dry to move onto the next step.

Once the first coat of activator is dry, you can start to buff, shape and file your nails. I used this as a chance to file mine down a little bit because the three coats of dip was making them a thick. This really helped to even the dip out and give me a nice, even surface.

After I had finished filing and shaping my nails, I gave them a quick wipe-down with a lint free pad and some rubbing alcohol. Then, I added the final layer of activator and waited until it was dry.

Pro tip: The box and website say that you only need to wait one minute for the activator to air dry. This is not true. You will need at least 2 minutes, if not three, before it is fully dry. If you don’t wait until the activator is dry to apply the top coat, you will ruin the brush. 

TOP COAT

Whew, you’re in the final stretch! The top coat is the last official step in the dip nail process and is arguably the easiest. You just apply top coat like you would any regular nail polish. I waited about 30 seconds and then applied another coat. I thought my nails were looking good before but once I added the top coat, they looked like they had been done by a professional!

CUTICLE OIL

I have always found cuticle oil to be a necessary evil. I hate using it (or having it used on my nails) because its messy and makes my steering wheel look gross with oil marks. However, it does make a big difference and you shouldn’t ignore your cuticles! I got a cuticle oil pen from Retail Therapy and it has been a game-changer. So easy to use, no mess and smells delicious. I hope Celeste never stops selling these!

PROS/CONS

This kit is easy to use, quick, fun and provides lasting, salon-quality results at home. The con is that the liquids are quite smelly–think nail salon smells. I also had a bad allergic reaction that I will share about in more detail down below. This won’t happen for everyone and likely was caused by a) poor ventilation in my apartment b) the fact that I have terrible allergies and asthma. However, I could not, in good conscience, not include my experience.

FINAL IMPRESSION

I was a little nervous to use this because having dip done at a salon seems like such a long, laborious process. So much dipping, so many layers and so much filing! However, doing it at home was so easy and surprisingly fast. I have always enjoyed doing my nails so I actually found the process to be really fun and enjoyable. I was impressed at how easy it was to use and how good my nails looked, even upon initial application and it was a nice self-care moment for me. The powder stayed really well, didn’t lift or crack and my hair didn’t get stuck underneath it.

THE CAVEAT

Here’s the deal: I genuinely enjoyed this product and would love to continue to use it, but I can’t. The morning after I used this product for the first time, I woke up feeling under the weather. Stuffy, sneezing, runny nose, coughing, tightness in my chest, etc. I felt really tired. I have terrible allergies AND asthma and felt confident that I was allergic to something, I just couldn’t figure out what. I mainlined allergy medicine all day, even taking more than the recommended dosage because nothing seemed to help. I felt the same for about 72 hours and then it randomly (and miraculously) went away.  I racked my brain trying to figure out what in my apartment had changed to cause such an extreme allergy response. Because of COVID, I really don’t leave my house so I hadn’t been outside.  I haven’t had any windows open. No new animals. I didn’t burn any candles. I was stumped. I thought about the dip powder but felt like that seemed like kind of a stretch.

I decided to redo my nails this past Friday night, not because they needed to be—they were still going strong on Day 10—but because I wanted to because I enjoy it. I removed the existing dip and spent the next hour doing the dip process on my nails. I finished and admired my work, then sat on my couch to watch a few episodes of Chappelle’s Show before going to bed. Within an hour, I noticed the onset of the same symptoms. The first thing I noticed was the sneezing. It was almost constant. I took some allergy medicine and went to bed. I woke up in the middle of the night because I was coughing. When I woke up, I realized how stuffy I was and how terrible I felt. I had a pretty deep sounding cough that actually caused me quite a deal of alarm. When I woke up in the morning I looked terrible. My eyes were swollen and glassy, my nose was simultaneously stuffy and running, I couldn’t stop sneezing and the tightness in my chest had returned. I had to help a friend with a Facebook Live sale and wore a mask the entire time to a) contain my germs and sneezes and b) hopefully hide any disgusting snot that wouldn’t stop leaking from my face. I felt lethargic and run down. I went home and spent the rest of the day in bed.

I decided to do some Googling and see if maybe a dip powder allergy was real. Turns out, it is and it’s not super uncommon. It’s referred to as the “dip powder flu.” It’s basically flu-like symptoms that are caused by using dip powder at home. It is not a Rossi specific issue. Like myself, many people lamented that they have been having dip manicures done in the salon for months, if not years, without a hitch. It seems to be something about being in close proximity to the powders and liquids, as well as possibly having poor ventilation in your home, which causes the allergic reaction. Some people have mentioned wearing masks (ranging from cloth masks or N95 masks or even respirators) but I’m not sure that I want to try.

I don’t think this is a quality issue, I don’t think it has anything to do with Rossi, I just think I am very allergy-prone and unfortunately had a terrible reaction. If you do decide to try an at-home kit, please proceed with caution.

TL;DR

I love this kit, I thought it was great and provided salon-quality nails at home for a fraction of the price. Unfortunately, an allergic reaction means I won’t be using it again.

*I was gifted this kit for free but my thoughts and opinions are my own (obviously).