Best Travel Manicure: Dip-Powder

The best travel manicure

Is there such a thing as the perfect travel manicure?

Forget about washing dishes. Any frequent traveler will tell you that packing and fiddling with suitcase zippers wreaks havoc on your nails.

Getting ready for a trip: A beauty checklist

When you’re traveling to a resort or taking a cruise, you want to look your best from head to toe. 

So many of us go through the same packing and pre-trip beauty drill:

  • Get hair trimmed ✔
  • Get roots colored (if you’re a certain age) ✔
  • Select and lay out a travel wardrobe ✔
  • Choose the right shoes, bags and accessories ✔
  • Get a manicure and pedicure ✔
Getting ready for travel
Getting nail-ready for travel

Unfortunately, even with all that preparation, packing a suitcase can cause a conventional manicure to chip and play havoc on your pretty nails within hours.

A chipped nail is one of the common casualties of packing.
A chipped nail is one of the common casualties of packing.

The Best Travel Manicures

Shellac Manicures

Several years ago, I was thrilled to find out about shellac manicures, which, at the time, seemed like the perfect travel manicure. The manicure looked good from the get-go, was long-lasting (about two weeks), and I didn’t need need to worry about expensive nail repairs while traveling.

The major drawbacks: 

Shellac manicures entail placing your hands under UV light to set the gel. Some reports suggest that UV exposure increases the risk of skin cancer (which is said to be abated by applying suntan lotion on your hands before the manicure). And two weeks still pass quickly.

Dip-Powder Manicures: The Best Travel Manicure

Then a friend told me about dip-powder manicures. Their virtues:

  • The process only takes about one hour.
  • The nail covering is longer lasting (generally three to four weeks) and is less likely to chip than a gel manicure.
  • The covering is protective, allowing your nails to grow without breaking.

“Dip powder nails are somewhere between a regular mani and a fake nail.” –Glamour Magazine

How a Dip-Powder manicure is done:

  • A liquid adhesive is painted on each nail.
  • The technician sequentially dips each finger into a jar of odorless, very fine acrylic powder (that comes in a choice of colors).
Small sample of the many dip powder colors available (Credit: SNS)
Small sample of the many dip powder colors available (Credit: SNS)
Applying the color for the perfect manicure
Applying the color for the perfect manicure
  • After application, the combination of the powder and adhesive hardens on the nail almost instantly.
  • The process is repeated for a second coat.
  • Any excess powder is brushed off.
  • The acrylic nail coating is filed down and buffed so it looks and feels natural.
  • A sealer is placed over each nail, which gives them a high gloss.
  • Drying time is less than one minute!

The major drawbacks:

Like any other nail polish technique, you’re putting a chemical on your natural nails (Admittedly, not the healthiest thing). Also, removing the acrylic coating takes more time and effort than removing a gel manicure. Each nail has to be covered with acetone-soaked cotton for at least ten minutes, and then the nail has to be scraped with an orange stick to remove the acrylic coating.

The Best Travel Manicure: One traveler’s opinion

Because of the look, feel and durability, dip-powder manicures are by far the best travel manicure. After getting one, you can be reasonably assured that your nails will look great for your entire trip. And since travelers are less likely to do dishwashing or other housework while away, the manicure even lasts longer than when it would at home.

The Perfect Travel Manicure


Have you tried a dip-powder manicure? Were you pleased?

Do you agree that it’s the best travel manicure?


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16 Comments

  1. Haven’t tried this yet…but would like to. I’ve been doing acrylics forever…can you change over without a problem?

  2. I will have to show this to my wife. She gets pedicures monthly, but on has manicures when we are traveling. She says that the chip too easily, and this dip powder may be a solution. Thanks for the helpful tip.

  3. Wow, this looks fabulous. I used to have Shellac, which generally lasted me about 4 to 5 weeks if I was lucky, but like you say, I’m a little nervous about the UV, which I’ve only just learnt about. Definitely going to try this. By the way, I loved your pre-trip list at the top of the post! Me to a T!!

  4. What an interesting process! I’ve never heard of it before. However, I won’t be trying it because long ago I stopped painting my nails. Too hard to maintain. However, I love painting my toes. Does this process work on toes?

    1. An interesting question! Since toenails aren’t subject to as much wear and tear (dishwashing, etc) as are fingernails, I suspect it wouldn’t be worth the additional cost. A gel polish would seem to provide adequate coverage.
      Yes, painted toenails are fun!

  5. Very interesting, Irene! I’ve never heard of this dip powder process! I agree that some of those mani-pedi treatments are kind of scary being so difficult to remove, they can’t possibly be good for our bodies. But I guess once in awhile is OK. Your nails definitely look great!

  6. I tried my first dip powder manicure last month and it’s still in good shape after three-plus weeks. My dipped nails are thicker than my usual gels so it will be interesting to see how long the removal process takes when I go in for a fresh manicure later this week, before my next trip. Dip powder also is a bit pricier here in Metro Detroit. How much do they charge in NY?

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