Farewell, Gel Nails — I'm in a Committed Relationship With My Home Dip Kit
I've been experimenting with salon-style manicures for a few years, and until recently, I figured my expertise capped out at a decent gel manicure. Dip manicures, which last beyond three weeks, just seem like something you can't do at home — there are so many steps. So many products! Liquids, powders, oils! Where does the madness stop?! But Instagram, as per usual, kept feeding me ads for specialized at-home dip kits from trendy brands like NailBoo and Dip'd. These brands look cool (and I'm sure they're great), but when I saw Kiara Sky had a kit, I knew that's the one I needed to try.
The cruelty-free brand has been a mainstay in salons for years. It's the label I always look for when paying for a dip manicure, so I knew I could expect quality from a home dip kit, as well. I reached out and received the Kiara Sky Home Dip System Color Starter Kit, which included almost everything I needed.
What's Included in Kiara Sky's Home Dip System Color Starter Kit?
First things first! Here's what comes in the kit:
- All the "polishes" you need, including bond, base, seal protect, and topcoat.
- Natural powder, which goes on before the color powder.
- Three color powders: nude, red, and gold glitter.
- Clear powder, which goes on after the color powder.
- Nourishing cuticle oil to rub on after the topcoat dries.
- A "recycle system" that helps you conserve the powder, so none goes to waste.
- Brush saver, which you can use to spruce up your gunky brushes.
So you can get a better idea of the process, every product I needed is in the forefront, in order of first use: bond, base, natural powder, color powder, clear powder, seal protect, topcoat, and nourish oil. Note that the kit does not include a filing block, so you'll need to purchase that separately.
My Nails Before
Stop judging me! I had just washed my hands, and they were really dry. Also, you have to file off the top "shiny" layer of your nails, so they're looking particularly dull.
After Bond, 1 Coat of Base, and Natural Powder
The first phase is easy: you brush on some bond, which will dry out your nails even further. Put a coat of base on the upper half of your nails, then dip in natural powder. I had forgotten about this part, so I was grateful the kit came with instructions! After each coat of powder, you need to blow the excess off or use a brush. Kiara Sky's Dush Brush ($10) is sold separately, but truly any clean makeup brush you have will do the trick.
After Another Coat of Base and 1 Layer of Prim & Proper
Next up, layer on base and dip in your chosen color. I went with the nude shade, Prim & Proper, because frankly it seemed like the safest option for my first time. I was surprised by how easy it was to maneuver the base over my nail fully. Dipping my nail at an angle, the way the nail techs do at my salon, yielded really impressive results.
More Base, and 2 Layers of Prim & Proper
While some people prefer three coats, the instructions specified two coats of color only, so I stopped there. I'm glad I did, otherwise it would have taken me forever to file them down.
After Clear Powder, Seal Protect, and Filed
After the natural powder and two colors of color powder, you dip one last time in clear powder — I swear this is less complicated than it sounds — and swab on some seal protect. Get to filing! It's easily the most arduous part of the process, because you don't want to file the precious powder off completely, but you also don't want to end up with bubble nails (yes, that was a thing). I got them down to a reasonable layer with a buffer block from Amazon ($7, originally $9).
Buffed, Washed, and Coated With Seal Protect
Are you still with me? Great, take a deep breath, because now you need to wash your hands and toss on another coat of seal protect.
After 2 Layers of Topcoat
Two layers of topcoat later, and you're done! Woo hoo, you've survived your first home dip manicure. Not so bad, right?
The Finished Manicure
Here are my nails after rubbing in some nourishing oil. Look at those nail beds — so hydrated, so happy.
Is a Home Dip Kit Worth the Money?
I'm fully aware that $95 is a hefty price point to swallow, even when you're shelling out $40 once a month for a salon dip manicure. However, given how much product you get for the money, it's technically fiscally responsible if you have the means. Despite how many steps there are, I preferred the process to a gel manicure (home kits for which have a similar price tag) because there are no sticky polishes or bulky UV lamps involved.
Buy Kiara Sky's Dip System Starter Kits
Not only am I satisfied with Kiara Sky's Dip System Color Starter Kit ($95), I'm weirdly looking forward to doing my nails again. If you're feeling classy, Kiara Sky also offers a French Starter Kit ($95) with everything you need for a French manicure.