Some people can skip nail appointments with no worries. When I let nature take over my nails, something I refer to as the claw effect happens. I don't have naturally pretty nails! Mine easily become brittle, jagged, and oddly shaped if I don't give them attention. That was great news for my manicurist. While I'm pretty sure my sorry nails helped to put her kids through college at Ivy League schools, I recently discovered the convenience of doing my nails at home with a dip nail kit. I love the freedom of not having to book appointments. I also love not having to feel guilty about how much I'm spending at the nail salon.
I actually tried several different nail kits on my way to cutting the cord on my cuticle dependency. The two brands that people recommended to me time after time were Dipwell and Nailboo dip kit. After living with my nails for a while after trying both kits, I feel confident enough to share a quick review of my experiences in the land of DIY dip nail kits. I hope the information I'm sharing will help you to finally start getting nails you love from the comfort of home. I promise that these dips won't make you dip into your savings just to enjoy that polished, put-together feeling of having incredible nails!
What Is Nail Dip, and Are They Effective?
I should probably start by covering exactly what a nail dip does. While I had heard people mention DIY nail kits in passing, I always pictured the press-on nails that were popular when I was a kid. I wish I had paid attention sooner!
While nail dips are popularly used for DIY nails, dips are actually also used by professional nail salons. Anyone who has been addicted to getting their nails done knows the highs, lows, and heartbreak of getting regular gel polishes applied. Gel polishes can be unpredictable. They are prone to chipping and peeling. Dip nails have lasting power that removes the anxiety of worrying about your nails. That's why salons charge a fortune for them!
A dip manicure combines pigmented powder with bases and sealers to create a durable, long-lasting effect that looks amazing. While your nails feel every bit as flexible and lightweight as gel nails, they have the ruggedness and durability of acrylics.
When using the dip technique, a primed nail is dipped into a colored powder. You can also simply brush the powder on. Next, the color coat is applied. A clear sealant is then placed over the finished product to provide long-lasting, chip-free nails that glisten with beauty for up to a month. The simplest analogy I can make with dip nails is that doing a dip manicure is like doing your makeup using a primer, foundation, and setting spray instead of just applying your foundation. A traditional gel nail manicure is more like just putting on foundation.
Next, I'll show you the twists that Dipwell and Nailboo put on the process. I'll also reveal which product I think is the keeper. In fact, I'm looking down at rosy pink nails typing at my keyboard that were dipped to perfection using one of the two!
Head to Head: Nailboo Vs. Dipwell
Long lasting dip nails (up to 6 weeks without chipping)
Chip free up to 2 weeks
Custom powder, high quality and durable
General powders, still great quality
4.8/5 star rating, 550K+ customers
4.4/5 star rating, 214 customer reviews
$68, Free Shipping & BonusItems
$54.97, Free Shipping
Overview of Dipwell
Dipwell does a great job of offering kits featuring highly pigmented powders with some "wow" factor. The starter kit that I tried featured a mauve pink and glittery nude that both looked great. While the kit can feel a little bit intimidating at first, this company does a good job of explaining what all of the different coatings and tools do.
Dipwell uses a 5:3:3 system that includes five liquids, three powders, and three accessories. Let's start with the liquids because these are the most important kit "ingredients" for determining how your nails turn out. Here's a rundown of the five liquids included in a Dipwell kit:
Bond: The bonding liquid prevents lifting to make your manicure last longer. In addition, the bond will remove surface oils from your nails to create a clean, dry, and sanitary base for your manicure.
Base: Dipwell's self-leveling base helps to prepare nails for powder application. It's also important for helping the nail dip powder to adhere to the nail properly. Finally, applying the base correctly ensures that you can avoid blemishes and bumps that will cause you to spend time buffing after application.
Activator: This is where the magic happens. The activator liquid used with nail dips is the reason why you can air dry your nails instead of using a UV/LED lamp for curing. Dipwell's activator chemically bonds to the base and dipping powder for seamless curing.
Sealer: Finally, the sealer liquid secures all of the completed layers of the manicure. Delivering a glass-like shine, the sealer preserves your manicure against UV rays that threaten to fade it.
While not part of the liquid group, the dipping powders included with a Dipwell kit are every bit as important. The kit lets you choose between clear, a "glowy" sugar-cookie color, and a mauve-taupe with pretty pink hints. All of the liquids and powers have low-odor formulas that don't make your living room smell like a nail salon. Rounding out the kit are the grit nail file, fine grit buffer, and wooden cuticle pusher. I am realizing after typing all of this out that this kit is a bit complicated. Don't worry if you feel overwhelmed! The next kit I'm going to cover is a bit more streamlined.
What I Like
Overall, I like that this is a very complete kit. The instructions were also very easy to follow. I like that the colors included in the kit are vibrant even though they are very non-flashy colors that can be worn every day. Dipwell also lived up to its promise of an easy-soak removal that brings you back to bare nails in just 15 minutes.
What I Don't Like
While I liked the results of my Dipwell manicure, I found that my nails didn't last as long as I expected. Dipwell claims that a manicure can last for two to six weeks. In my opinion, getting a full three weeks out of one of these manicures without a little chipping and peeling is pushing it.
Cost and Where to Buy
The Dipwell Dip Nail Starter Kit can be purchased directly from the Dipwell website. The full price is $65.99. However, Dipwell is known to toss around deals that bring that price closer to $55.
Overview of Nailboo
Nailboo was actually the first brand I ever heard mentioned as a pro nail kit you could use at home. It turns out this is the top-selling dip kit. Lured in by the promise of getting a real salon-quality manicure at home, I ordered a Nailboo Dip Powder Kit to check out the hype with my fingers crossed!
You have a little bit of freedom with choosing how many colors you want to start with when ordering the Nailboo starter kit. You can go with one, four, or six colors when choosing between basic, essential, and pro. I really love how sweet and simple the whole Nailboo method is for first-time DIY dippers. The kit includes three essential liquids, colored powder, and a "build" powder. You're also getting a four-way file and cuticle tool. I actually found the Nailboo kit to be less intimidating than the Dipwell kit.
What I Like
I really appreciated that the Nailboo kit seemed concerned with helping me to manage my manicure through its entire life cycle. In addition to providing everything I needed to apply my dip manicure, Nailboo also included a bonus pro removal kit with a soak bowl. This comes in addition to the removal clips that are standard in the Nailboo starter kit.
My favorite part about my Nailboo experience was the longevity. My nails just kept going! While the claim that a Nailboo manicure can last six weeks without chips seemed slightly unbelievable to me after my experience with other at-home nail dip kits, seeing really was believing. I was halfway through my second month with these nails before it was time for a redo. Finally, I loved that this kit didn't have much of an odor.
What I Don't Like
While I had a great experience with my first Nailboo kit, I was kicking myself that I ordered the single-color starter pack option instead of springing for either four or six colors. I would have liked to have seen a variety of color options without having to order an entirely new kit. However, I wasn't fully sure that I wanted to commit to the higher price for the extra colors until I tried Nailboo. I really wish that the cheapest starter kit came with at least two colors.
Cost and Where to Buy
A Nailboo starter kit with just one color costs $68. The essential kit featuring four colors costs $98. The pro kit with six colors costs $140. The simplest way to get these kits is to order directly from the Nailboo website. The cool thing about these kits is that you can pay as little as $2 per manicure for six weeks of pure shine with hard-as-rock durability.
Comparing Nail Dip Kits
Dipwell and Nailboo both put out a great kit. Ultimately, I found the Nailboo kit to be both neater and more practical. At times, it felt like the Dipwell kit was just adding extra steps to make you "feel" like you were recreating a salon experience at home. Nailboo seemed to streamline the process by reducing the fuss with liquids in favor of powders that simply do more. I also loved that Nailboo threw in accessories to help make the removal process easier. The files and cuticle pushers offered with both brands were great.
Comparing Cost and Overall Value
While the cost for Nailboo's kit is higher than the cost of Dipwell's kit, you aren't exactly getting an apples-to-apples result. Overall, I found that my Nailboo nails lasted practically double the length of time compared to my Dipwell nails. While both kits produced attractive, neat-looking nails that could definitely be confused for fresh-from-the-salon nails, I felt disappointed as I watched my formerly perfect Dipwell manicure begin to deteriorate after only a couple of weeks.
Comparing Customer Reviews and Success Stories
Based on my time spent digging for reviews of Dipwell and Nailboo on all my favorite skincare and beauty websites and forums, it's clear that people really love both of these brands. I personally think that the excitement over being free to stop spending a fortune at the nail salon after discovering at-home nail dip kits could be behind why Dipwell's less-than-perfect kit has so many positive reviews. While I can't hate on the Dipwell kit after seeing how gorgeous it made my nails, I also can't pretend that it left me as satisfied as the Nailboo kit.
Nailboo definitely has more review power online. For instance, the Nailboo website has more than 3,500 reviews posted by actual customers. Most include uploaded photos of customer nails! Most Nailboo customers praised how quick and easy it was to get amazing results. The one common theme I found was that many customers admitted to getting imperfect results the first time around because they rushed through the process. My own advice is to put on a good podcast or playlist to really savor this pampering experience. These dips are actually pretty fun and satisfying once you get the hang of them!
I could only find 214 reviews on Dipwell's website. While most were generally positive, I did see that quite a few customers had issues with the liquids becoming sticky and messy. A few people also commented that it takes some effort to get nails smooth due to the liquid's consistency.
Main Differences Between Nailboo and Dipwell
Longevity was the biggest factor that set Nailboo and Dipwell apart for me. While my Nailboo manicure was going strong for six weeks, my Dipwell nails started to taper off before three weeks. Just keep in mind that you'll pay a little more for Nailboo to get those long-lasting nails.
I also think that the Nailboo system is simpler than the Dipwell system. The kit is streamlined enough to allow you to skip some of the messier liquid-centric steps that feel a little unnecessary with the Dipwell kit. I think the Nailboo powders are actually just better quality than the Dipwell powders. If you're wondering about the time it took to complete a manicure with each kit, the Nailboo system is much faster. While it took me a full hour to do my Dipwell manicure, I was already in drying mode before the 45-minute mark with Nailboo.
The category where Nailboo fell short for me was the variety of the colors provided in the kit. While Dipwell provides three colors in a starter kit, Nailboo only provides a single color if you don't want to upgrade to get either four or six colors for more money.
Which Is the Better Nail Dip Kit: Dipwell or Nailboo?
After trying both products, I can definitely say that I'm a Nailboo girl. Nailboo simply uses a better process that produces a longer-lasting manicure. While Dipwell fell short in some areas, I will say that it created a gorgeous manicure that lives up to every promise the brand makes about replacing your expensive salon manicures. However, Nailboo is simply the better value when the goal is to keep your manicure looking amazing for as long as possible.
My Final Thoughts on Choosing Between Dipwell and Nailboo
First, I'm still riding a wave of happiness in my manicure-addicted heart after discovering that I can do my formerly pricey manicures at home. Dipwell and Nailboo both offer vibrant kits that left my nails looking gorgeous. Ultimately, I was more impressed with the long-lasting shine and strength of my Nailboo manicure. The slightly higher price of Nailboo is still a deal for me because I know I can go about six weeks on what amounts to a $2 dip manicure from home!