Troubleshooting Dipped Nails

Whether you're having trouble with your dipped nails or just want to know how to prevent some common problems, you've come to the right place.

  • My dip just went poof and popped off my nail! - If your dips pop off with little or no warning signs, they likely aren't adhering to your nail properly. This can be caused by poor preparation or naturally oily nails. Make sure you're cleaning and dehydrating your nails properly before applying the dips. Clean them off with an alcohol wipe (or a bit of rubbing alcohol on a paper towel) first. Then be sure to apply Primer to the natural nail. (NOTE: do not apply primer to fake nails or tips, as it may cause discoloration or cracking!) If you've properly prepared the nail, but your dips fall off, try scuffing the nail surface lightly before priming. This will give the liquids a better surface to adhere to. If your dips chip or lift before popping off, see the next section
  • My nails are lifting/chipping! - The first thing to determine is: are they lifting/chipping from the cuticle side or from the tip?
    • Lifting from the Cuticle Side - The most common cause of lifting from the cuticle side is getting the liquids - particularly Base Coat - on your cuticles. To prevent this, start by pushing your cuticles back with a cuticle pusher. Trim them if necessary. There are a couple tricks you can use to avoid this when applying your Base Coat. Our preferred method is to start your first coat about 1/8" to 1/4" away from the cuticle. Apply the second coat of base coat about half that distance from the cuticle. And split the distance again if applying a third coat. This will give you the added benefit of creating a natural curve shape for your nail.

      Another method is to use a cuticle stick or toothpick to carve a line in the wet Base Coat a hairline from the cuticle. This will allow the dip to move as your nail grows out without separating from the cuticle.

    • Chipping/Lifting from the Tip - Chipping or lifting from the tip is often caused by failure to put Top Coat on the very edge/tip of the nail. Coating the edge will help create a seal that will prevent chipping at the tip.
  • My dips are too thick and/or clumpy! - Typically this is caused by getting too much Base or Top Coat on the nail. Dipsy Dip Top and Base Coats are thicker than many other companies' products. That's part of what makes them so good. But it can also require a bit of a learning curve. Base Coat should be applied in a very thin, even layer. In fact, the best way we have heard it described is this: use as little Base Coat as you can while still making the layer smooth and even. Rotating Base and Top Coat brushes between the Brush Saver will help prevent "stringy" or "clumpy" liquids. Filing and buffing your nail between the Base Coat and the Activator is also key to getting a smooth finish.
  • My color is uneven! - Dipping powder is a mix of pigments, and like most mixtures, it can settle, causing the color to become uneven or inconsistent. Simply shake the closed jar well before dipping to ensure that the powder is evenly mixed.
  • My kabuki/dusting brush is all gunked up! - Ensure that Base Coat and Activator are completely dry before using a brush on them, otherwise the brush will pick up not just the powder, but the liquid as well, making an ugly mess of your brush. If you do five nails at a time (base/dip x 5 then activator x 5, then brush), by the time you get back to the first nail for the next step, the liquid should be plenty dry. As for the brush you gunked up - unfortunately, we haven't found a reliable way to clean them once this happens.
  • My Activator brush is hard, or my Activator bottle has color in it! - Applying Activator when there is still loose powder on the nail is a sure-fire way to contaminate the Activator. Be sure to remove all loose powder before activating! Minimal contamination may not cause any problem, however if the contamination is bad enough, you may notice previously used dip colors mixing in to your new manicure or degraded performance of the liquids.
  • My Base Coat or Top Coat thickened up - Rotating these brushes with the Brush Saver brush will usually eliminate this problem. Simply swap out the Base Coat and Brush Saver brushes on one manicure, then swap the Top Coat and Brush Saver brushes on the next. Be sure not to leave brushes out of the bottle any longer than necessary. And if your brush is ruined beyond salvation, we offer replacement brushes for sale.
  • My Base Coat or Top Coat won't open - Base and Top Coats are essentially powerful adhesives, not unlike superglue. You can prevent gluing the bottles shut by using caution not to get the liquid on the rim or threads and by cleaning the threads thoroughly before closing. Applying cuticle oil to the threads will also help prevent this. Our Base and Top Coat bottles include a gasket or fitting that rests just inside the throat of the bottle. Wipe excess liquid off on the BOTTOM of this gasket when pulling the brush out, NOT ON THE RIM. As for the bottle that's already glued shut - sometimes using something soft that will give you a better grip on the lid or running them under hot water will help. If that doesn't help, you might want to try using pliers to open the bottle. Wrap a rag around the lid first, use only enough "gripping pressure" on the pliers to prevent them from slipping and "nudge" the lid rather than applying constant torque. Please use extreme caution when doing this, as the bottle may well break!
  • I've chipped a nail - can it be filled/repaired? - In many cases, you can repair a damaged dipped nail. Ensure there is no additional lifting around the edge of the chip (you may need to file or use a nail drill to remove any additional problem areas or smooth out the damage). If the chip goes all the way through to the natural nail, be sure to use Primer on the nail. Then apply Base Coat only to the repair area. Dip the entire nail or use a small spoon to sprinkle powder over the Base Coat. Repeat this step, then apply Activator to the repaired area. Finally, buff/file the entire nail and apply Top Coat to the whole nail.
  • How do I get these things off? - Start by filing the Top Coat off the finished nails. Then finish removing Dipsy Dip nail dips by soaking your nails in acetone. We recommend heating a bowl of water or uncooked rice up, then placing a glass bowl containing acetone inside that bowl, so that the heat from the water or rice will warm the acetone. That will reduce the soaking time needed. NEVER heat acetone directly!
  • None of this is solving my problem! - If you are still having difficulty, please reach out to us directly by visiting our Contact Page or ask your Independent Consultant. Our consultants often have a lot of experience dipping their own nails and may have already encountered (and solved) the same problem you're having.

Have an issue or a tip that we didn't address here? Please contact us and let us know.

If you haven't already, be sure to check out our Dipping 101 page for a dipping overview and instructions.