why does my dip nails crack

Why does my dip nails crack?  Are you constantly thinking about this question?

It’s natural to fall in love with your beautiful manicure, especially when you opt for dip nails, but it’s frustrating to see them crack.

One of the most common concerns we hear about dip manicures is that the nail color cracks. 

You know there’s probably an issue if your dipped nails crack in less than three weeks.

The most common cause of dip nail failure is a sloppy application, though excessive dip coats and not using the activator can cause problems too.

Tip: Don't risk your nail health by dipping your fingers in a container that someone else has used. 

Why Does My Dip Nails Crack So Quickly?

my dip nails crack quickly

Dip powder nails are all the rage these days. More and more of us are trying this excellent method because it lasts longer than many other applications available.

We’re thinking specifically about gel nails!

However, every devoted fan of dip powder nails will eventually deal with the inevitable problem of broken nails.

But why do my dip nails crack and what can be done to stop it?  

It can happen for many reasons, and you must identify the root cause to correct the problem. 

You Apply Nails Improperly

applied nails improperly

The chances of your dipped nails turning out perfectly the first time at home are slim (unless you happen to be a true perfectionist!).

So, don’t give up if your first attempt at doing your nails is a little clumsy.

Nevertheless, following every step carefully is vital to protect your nails.

  • Buff out your nail beds gently.
  • Put some of the liquid dip base on each nail.
  • Make a 45-degree angle with your finger and dip it into the powder.
  • Leave your finger in the jar for a couple of seconds, up to five.
  • Remove your finger from the container carefully.
  • Get rid of the surplus powder using a brush.
  • Use a nail activator to prevent the powder from escaping.
  • You can now use your gel or dip top coat.
  • Cure the dip top coat using a UV lamp or do it with the activator. 

The whole process will likely take about 20 minutes, but take your time and handle each step with care to avoid cracking. 

You Have Thin Nails

One possible explanation for dip nails cracking is that the nails are simply too flimsy.

Nails may bend under the weight of the dip powder if they are too thin. Because of this, the nails can break as well. 

You Go for Multiple Dip Coats

go for multiple dips

Nails can split if you use too many or too few applications of dip polish. It usually only takes two or three dips to completely cover each nail.

Switching brands of dip liquid or powder may be necessary if you require more than two applications to achieve full coverage.

It usually happens when either the powder does not include enough colorant or was designed for an acrylic rather than a dip system.

You Use Activator Incorrectly

Many people neglect to utilize the activator and end up having cracked dip nails.

The powder is cured and made more durable by adding an activator. When you sprinkle an activator over your powder, a chemical process takes place.

It helps solidify the powder into one solid mass, even though it may not appear to do much at first glance.

The simplest way to avoid breaking your at-home dip nails would be to add more activators and see if that helps.

If you want to prevent the powder from crumbling, try applying a liberal amount of activator after each layer. 

You Use Dip Powder Incorrectly

used dip powder incorrectly

While it may seem simple, even a small amount of powder that overlaps the skin or rubs against the skin can lead to cracking.

Moving around and using your hands on a regular basis increases the likelihood that your powder may rub up against the skin.

This, in turn, may cause irritation and possibly permanent damage.

Apply your bond and base about 2 mm away from your skin to keep the powder from settling into the skin.

Tip: Remember that applying a dip powder often doesn't hurt your nails but removing it with 100% acetone may. 

You Use Substandard Dip Liquids

The quality of dip liquids varies greatly. People often buy the wrong powder brand because they bought the wrong dip liquid kit.

The results of using a dip liquid kit designed for one brand with another brand may not always be satisfactory.

It’s a fact that not all dipping liquids are created equal. If the problem persists, try using a different type of dip liquid.  

If you want your dip liquids to last as long as possible and not go bad, you should buy a brand that packages them in glass bottles rather than plastic. 

You Use the Wrong Dip Powder

used wrong dip powder

Besides checking quality, you should also ensure that the dip powder you buy is designed specifically for dip nails, not acrylic nails.

Contrary to popular belief, acrylic powder and dip powder is not made from the same proportions of acrylic polymers.

A chemical in the dipping powder reacts with the activator to harden the powder.  They don’t work the same way because some acrylic polymers are more suited to dipping than others.

The problem is that some manufacturers sell acrylic powders as dip powders.  

Producing acrylic powder is more cost-effective than producing dip powder due to the lower cost of the polymers used in the former.

If you need more than three coats of powder to achieve the desired color, you’re probably trying to utilize acrylic powder with a dip system, which isn’t as effective. 

You Move Quickly between Dip Coats

Another reason your dip nails crack is that you don’t wait long enough between subsequent coats.

Usually, more than one dip coat is required to provide a complete layer over the nail (around 2-3 dips).

When using dip colors, however, it’s important to avoid applying them too quickly. Otherwise, the powder won’t have time to dry and will break.

There are both slow-drying and fast-drying varieties of dip powders. You need to wait about 5 seconds between dipping if you’re using a rapid dry dip powder.

You can apply another layer immediately if you’re using a quick-drying brand; otherwise, you’ll have to wait a couple of minutes.

Tip: Don't play too much with cuticles and never try to push them too far back or it could lead to an infection.  

How Do You Fix Cracked Dip Nails?

how fix cracked nails

Do not despair if you discover a flaw in your otherwise flawless manicure.

It’s possible to repair the cracks in your nail without jeopardizing the health of your nail plate in any manner. 

Know the Difference between a Break and a Crack

Before you try any remedy, you should determine if you have a break or a crack on your nails.

You have a break if you lose a chunk of your nail, which is actually hard to repair.

But, if you notice a hairline crack through the color, you can try ways to fix it at home. 

Use the Buff and File Method

Take it as a go-to solution for your cracked dip nails. 

Step #1: File Your Nail

In order to get to the crack if it occurred under your top coat, you will need to buff the surface away.

Use a simple nail drill or a good-quality nail file for the task. 

Step #2: Apply the Base Coat

apply the base coat

After removing the top coat, you can reapply your base coat. Also, reapply the same color by dipping your finger in the bottle. Don’t fret over the layer’s inhomogeneity as it grows.

Step #3: Wait for it to Dry

After applying the activator and waiting for the layer to dry, buff it to a smooth finish. 

Step #4: Apply Your Top Coat

Finally, you need to cover each nail with a thin top coat.  Do it carefully because the last step is important for a flawless application.

Tada! In pristine condition.

Tip: Make sure to wait for at least a month after removing your dip powder manicures and getting a new one to keep your nails healthy. 


Finding the answer to, “Why does my dip nails crack?” can improve the look of your nails and keep them in shape for longer. 

Mostly, the issue is in the application process, so you have to go over all the steps carefully to identify the root cause.

So long as it’s not a “break”, you don’t have to worry much because it’s possible to fix a “crack” all by yourself.

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