Review of SNS and dip powder manicure in Singapore: Cost, durability, and comparison to gel nails

Review of SNS and dip powder manicure in Singapore: Cost, durability, and comparison to gel nails

Nailed it

Text: Emily Heng

Image: Instagram | @kiaraskynails

Gel manicures have enjoyed an uninterrupted reign over the nail scene in the 2010s. The natural, glossier sister to acrylics are revered for their high-shine finish, their durability, and for drying quicker than you can say "I regret this nail colour already". But like people they cling on to, gel manicures are far from perfect. Constant UV exposure (which proves damaging to skin) is a cause for concern, and so are our weakened nails from all that buffing. To think our nail health has to take a hit while we pay through our noses for pretty nails that last beyond three days... it almost seems unfair. Wait, it is unfair. Rightfully challenging their dominance is the dip powder manicure, otherwise known as Signature Nail Systems (SNS). Thought to be a perfect amalgamation of gel and acrylic, dip powder is a procedure growing in popularity in Europe, America, and Australia. The answer to all our nail fantasies? Possibly. We get the lowdown on this new talon sitch right here in Singapore.

How SNS/dip powder manicures work

SNS is one of the top brand distributors of the dip powder system. A resin adhesive is first applied to the nail plate. Fingers are then dipped into pots containing fine layers of fine powder, before it is topped off with a hard, glossy top coat, aka activator, to protect nails from chipping or cracking. Nails are then buffed and shaped to perfection.

The pros and cons of a dip powder manicure

No UV light exposure is required and is hence less damaging for the nails and the hands. In fact, the dip powder dries close to instantaneously upon application. The manicure can supposedly last up to a month, are less peel- and chip-prone, and can be soaked off without painful filing and picking so often experienced with gel manicures. The removal process, though gentler, can take up to 30 minutes. While we can't comment on the multiple reports that claim that dip powder helps nails grow longer and stronger, having tried it out, we can report that dip powder manicures are less bulky than acrylics, and delivers stellar colour intensity.

Hygiene might be a con for the finicky. Victoria Yap, founder of 8Twenty8 Nails, elaborates: "I often see customers dipping their nails into the same pot of powder. Some shops even use it for both the hands and feet. It's unsanitary, and really hammers in the fact that most of them are aiming for durability and forgoing overall nail health and quality."

And while that might be applicable for certain salons, there are many others who opt to separate the powder into a new pot before administering, thus avoiding contamination and drastically reducing the possible spread of infection. Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital, also states in an interview with Refinery29, "Pure dry powders are not likely to be contaminated because they don't provide an optimal environment for bacteria or viruses to grow. However, if the powder becomes wet or if any blood gets into the powder, the risk certainly increases."

Cost, nail art, and duration of service

Dip powder manicures take 45 minutes to an hour. Naturally, nail art would take longer. Do note that while nail art is possible on dipping powder, gel paint is required for precision purposes. And yes, dip powder manicures with gel nail art can be removed the same way as a one-tone dip powder manicure. The price ranges from $45 — $65 for a regular dip powder service, depending on the salon you go to.

Where to go in Singapore

Unfortunately, dip powder manicures aren't widely available in Singapore yet. After some rigorous research, we discovered two boutiques that offer the service: Cecilia Westberry Beauty Spa in Holland Close and Chic Nails at Far East Plaza. Appointments were swiftly made.

Our experience

We were sceptical and intrigued in equal measure in the weeks leading up to our appointment. While the prospect of a dip powder manicure proved thrilling, it also sounded too good to be true. All the benefits of gel nails with none of the cons? Beauty Writer Emily Heng pegged that the manicure would be pigment-packed, quick-drying, but lacking in lasting power; Fashion & Beauty Editor Jolene Khor expected a thick, acrylic-like texture that would require a high-level of finesse (and time) on the part of the technicians.

Impeccable service at respective salons aside, both our dip powder manicures delivered on all that was promised. Picture the hardy feel of acrylics with none of the thickness, combined with the vibrant hue intensity as seen on gel manicures. They've held up strong, too, with nary a chip nor peel glimpsed in the last four weeks. No complaints — well except for two teensy, tiny gripes. One: bear in mind that shade selection tends to be more limited considering how the service hasn't quite picked up in our shores yet (demand and supply work hand in hand). Two: the dip powder manicure finish is slightly less glossy than that of gel. All in all, definitely factors that we're (more than) happy to live with. Now, excuse us while we go stare lovingly at our good-as-new nails some more.

Get a dip powder manicure at:

Cecilia Westberry Beauty Spa
Address: 6 Holland CI, Singapore 271006
Tel: 6774 0449

Chic Nails
Address: 14 Scotts Road, #04-41 Far East Plaza, Singapore 228213
Tel: 6734 5939

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