Gel vs Dip: Which Lasts Longer?

The last time I was at the nail salon I asked for a gel manicure. Every once in a while, I need a manicure to last two weeks. I know I’m going to be busy and I won’t have time to get my nails done. I don’t like doing gel all the time. Inevitably they begin to chip at 11 days in and I end up peeling them off. I know, I know! I’m not supposed to, but I can’t help it. So when I asked for a gel manicure and my nail tech asked if I’d like to try a dip manicure instead I thought, why not?

The dip manicure promises to last three to four weeks. You heard right…three to four weeks! Sign me up. So, what exactly is a dip manicure? Well it turns out it is somewhere between a gel and an acrylic. Some say it is healthier for the nail bed because traditional gel polish and acrylic contain an ingredient called methacrylate. Methacrylate is known for weakening the nail bed. The absence of this ingredient is supposed to mean that your nail bed stays stronger. However, with a dip manicure, the nail bed is roughed up with a sanding bit. It is important to make sure you have a nail tech that doesn’t overly strip the nail bed.

The nail bed is painted with a base coat, the nail is then dipped into the powder or the powder is brushed on, another clear coat, and the nail is dipped again before the final clear coat, which transforms the grainy powder into a shiny nail. No UV light is necessary, making it safer for the skin.

So how long did it last? Three weeks of perfection. Into the fourth week some of the nails cracked and then I knew it was time to get them soaked off and redone. The cost is slightly more expensive — around $10 more — but the added week was well worth it. The best part was I couldn’t peel them off and ruin my nail bed. When the polish was soaked off, my nail bed didn’t feel soft and weak. For now, when I need a manicure to last…it’s the dip manicure for me. I’ll never ask for a gel manicure again.


  • The latest from Angela
I have been a beauty junkie for what seems like forever, but before I did anything about it, I went to law school. (Yes, my life is a little like the reverse of Legally Blonde.) Then, I worked as a prosecutor in Sonoma County after which I moved to the DC area with my husband in ’97. I served as Majority Counsel to the Senate Banking Committee followed by a year-long stint at a lobbying firm. You get the picture. It was then that I decided to act on my dream of becoming an entrepreneur. Finding my favorite beauty products proved to be impossible without stepping foot in a mall–the horror. So, I decided to bring my favorites to Alexandria. A few trips to New York and a flight to France and Bellacara was born in March 2000.

Located in historic Old Town Alexandria, for more than 17 years Bellacara has been Northern Virginia's preeminent boutique for high end cosmetic, skincare and haircare products. At Bellacara you will find premiere beauty products that have been carefully edited by the store’s owner, Angela Sitilides, who personally tests all the products sold in store. The boutique carries only the best product lines – Kiehl’s, Jouer, Dr. Dennis Gross, Christophe Robin, Moroccan Oil, Bumble & Bumble, Fresh, Molton Brown, Skinceuticals, Smashbox, Stila, Mario Badescu, Clarins, Dermalogica, Kevyn Aucoin, Kai, Child, St. Tropez, Smith and Cult, and many more.

1000 King Street
Alexandria, VA 22314



  1. Cindy says:

    Where are salons that do dip manicures?

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