Following a budget doesn’t mean you have to give up all of the little things you enjoy in life. Sometimes, a successful budget is about finding ways to do the things you enjoy for less.
One of the categories I include in my budget is beauty. But although I set aside cash each month for beauty-related purchases, I still appreciate the ability to reduce my expenses and pay less for the products and services I want.
Today, I’m going to walk you through one way I’ve cut down my beauty expenses. I save money by doing dip powder manicures at home.
Products I Use
- Kiara Sky Color Dip Starter KitKiara Sky Pure White Dipping Powder
- Glass Nail Polish Bottles
- Kiara Sky Top Coat Refill
- Nail Duster Brush
- Nail Files and Buffer
- Portable Electric Nail Drill
Below I’ll walk you through the steps I use to do my own nails at home. If you’re a visual learner, you can also follow along with this video.
If you want to do your own dip powder nails, you’ll need the right tools for the job. I ordered the Kiara Sky Color Dip Starter Kit on Amazon for $94.99 to get started. For me, the dip powder nail kit paid for itself once I was able to skip just two visits to the nail salon. (Where I live, professional gel or dip nails cost anywhere from $40 to $45 per salon visit.)
In the beginning, there was definitely a bit of a learning curve. But it got easier over time, and the process became a lot faster too.
Gather your supplies and find a surface you don’t mind getting a little messy.
Apply the “Bond” from your dip powder nail kit to your entire nail. In the Kiara Sky starter kit, the bond is labeled with a “1.”
Find the bottle labeled “2” in your starter kit, which is your basecoat. You should also open the jar of powder called “Natural.”
Apply the basecoat — not too thick — about three-quarters of the way down your nail. (Don’t apply all the way to the cuticle.) Once you’ve applied the base, dip your nail into the Natural powder at a 45-degree angle.
It’s easier to apply the base and dip one nail at a time. Apply and dip, then repeat.
Once you dip all of your nails, you’re going to have powder on your hands. I use a nail duster brush I picked up on Amazon for under $5 to clean off the extra powder.
Make sure your powder is even. Although you might not be able to see much difference once the Natural layer is applied, it helps prevent any yellowing from happening later. This is especially important if you select an all-white nail color.
Set the Natural nail powder aside so you don’t mix it up with the next powder you’ll be using. In my video, I chose the Kiara Sky Pure White Dipping Powder, which costs around $19 on Amazon.
Next, you’ll need to apply a basecoat to your nails again. Apply the base almost all the way to your cuticle. Dip your nail at a 45-degree angle into your colored powder. Repeat this process each time you apply the basecoat to one of your nails.
After you apply your first layer of dip color, repeat these steps to add another layer. Adding another layer will make your color look a lot brighter, just like it would if you applied a second layer of nail polish.
At this point, you might notice spots on your nails that are bumpy. That’s okay. We’ll work those out in Step 6.
Gather your basecoat and recycling system from your dip powder nail kit. The purpose of the recycling system is to make sure your colored powders and clear powder don’t get mixed together. The clear powder application itself allows you to buff out any imperfections in your nails without removing your color.
Apply the basecoat again to your entire nail. Dip the spoon from your recycling system into your natural (aka clear) powder. Hold your nail over the recycling system and sprinkle the clear powder evenly over your nail. Don’t forget about the sides. Repeat the process with all ten fingers.
The extra powder that doesn’t stick to your nail should fall into your recycling system box. Brush excess powder from your hands and nails. Remove the scoop from your recycling system and put any leftover powder back into the jar of clear powder.
For this step, find the Kiara Sky bottle labeled “Step 3” or “Seal Protect.” Apply the seal to each of your nails. Then, allow a few minutes for it to dry completely.
The next step of your at-home dip powder manicure is buffing and shaping. I purchased a portable electric nail file for around $15 on Amazon, similar to the ones you might see at a professional nail salon. You can also use a square nail buffer and files if you prefer. I use a combination of all three.
As you’re buffing your nails, concentrate on the space right above your cuticles. Later, as your nails grow out, you don’t want there to be a big lump there. Thinning and smoothing this area makes for a more natural-looking transition. Just be careful not to thin out your nail too much in this area, so you don’t file into your dipping powder.
Buff out the rest of the nail as well. The space next to the cuticles and the sides tend to be the bumpiest.
When you’re done buffing your nails, it’s time to shape them. Don’t be afraid of messing up your dip. It’s actually pretty strong stuff. Finally, finish with a buffing square. (This part gets squeaky!)
Wash your hands with water (no soap) to clean away any mess made from buffing and shaping. Use the Seal Protect coat again on all ten fingers. Allow a few minutes for the coat to dry. Rub the Seal Protect into your nail with a paper towel or a lint-free rag to make sure it’s all been absorbed.
Apply 2 topcoats of clear polish. The Kiara Sky Starter Kit comes with a top coat, but it’s air-sensitive and dries pretty quickly. If you leave a bottle open too long, the bristles of your brush may get hard.
I ordered a backup topcoat refill to use when this happens. (Trust me, you’re going to need a backup.)
Use simple brush strokes. Put the cap back on quickly — even in between your two hands and maybe between fingers. The first coat may appear matte. So, I use Sally Hanson Instant Dry topcoat for the second layer. I find this polish gives a better shine than you get with the Kiara Sky Topcoat.
As you grow familiar with the process, you can turn on Netflix and finish your nails in about an hour. The finished product looks just as good as the dip powder manicure you’d get at a nail salon. Of course, the best part of all is that doing your own nails can save you a ton of money.