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What Is A Dry Manicure? [All You Need To Know]

Have you come across a dry manicure somewhere? Perhaps on the menu at a spa, or heard your friends discuss it – or even recommend one? Not quite sure what they are and what they include? Well, then, you’ve come to the right place. I’m here to enlighten you and share with you all you will likely want to know.

So, what is a dry manicure? A dry manicure is a manicure where your hands aren’t soaked in water as part of the process. Rather, the manicurist uses oils, lotions, and sometimes heated treatments to clean, soften, and hydrate the skin. Sometimes these types of manicures are known as waterless manicures or soakless manicures. 

Now, let’s find out more about what a dry mani consists of, how long it lasts, how much it will cost you if you can do one at home, and what salons offer one!

What Does A Dry Manicure Consist Of?

A dry manicure consists of nail preparation, cuticle treatment, and general nail cleaning, shaping, and buffing. Some dry manicures will also include the painting of polish – but not all will.

As such, dry manicures are performed slightly differently in different salons. 

One way of doing a dry manicure would be to start by sanitizing your hands with a gel. Then the manicurist will apply hand cream and massage it into your hands and forearms. 

After that, the manicurist will apply a cuticle softener and place your hands in something like a warm towel or glove. 

Once your cuticles have been softened, the manicurist will clean, shape, and buff your nails, as well as tidying up your cuticles. 

Lastly, the nail plates will be wiped clean, and polish will be applied (if the manicure includes a polish). 

One reason you might want to try a dry manicure is that your polish may last longer. You see, nail plates that have not been soaked with water hold polish better. 

Another way your nail technician may go about a dry manicure is to remove the polish, clean underneath the nails, and file them to the perfect shape. 

Then, the nail technician applies a cuticle softener (this may need a few minutes to soak in) and works your cuticles. 

After that, your nail beds are wiped with a polish remover or alcohol, and nail polish applied as usual (if polish is included in the manicure).  

Why do dry nails hold polish better? Because the curve of your nail changes when wet. If you put on polish before the nail has dried, it will change shape after the polish has dried. This means the polish starts to loosen (even if it isn’t visible at first). 

Your cuticles may also plump up when soaked and then peel back a few days after the treatment. 

An added benefit for some is that a dry manicure usually takes less time as you omit the step of soaking your hands in water.

Plus, of course, you’ll save on water with a dry manicure! 

But wait, isn’t it better for your hands if hydrated with water? 

Yes and no. If you soak your hands in warm water for too long while relaxing, it will actually cause the oil in your skin to come off. This, in turn, will dry your hands out. 

Therefore, if you soak your hands (or body) in water, you must always seal in the water with a body lotion or hand cream within three minutes of getting out of the soak. 

How Long Do Dry Manicures Last?

A dry manicure will typically last for between 5 days and 2 weeks, depending on the products used and how you use your hands afterward. The polish applied during a dry manicure is expected to last a few days longer than the polish applied during a “regular” manicure (i.e., one that involves hand soaking). 

If no polish is applied, you likely want to get a new manicure within 1-2 weeks, depending on how fast your nails are growing and how prone they are to splitting or breaking. 

Of course, if your manicurist applies some miracle cream to your hands that you don’t have at home, regular visits are recommended. 

When it comes to polish, how long it lasts depends on what polish is used. As mentioned, dry manicures tend to last a few days longer than ones that involve a hand soak. 

Regular polish tends to last 5-7 days, but there are formulas that last up to two weeks. 

Gel polish lasts 2-3 weeks, but you usually need a top-up after two weeks. 

Nail extensions can last even longer, but again, you usually need top-ups (refills) after about two weeks. 

Consider the health of your nails, too–you don’t want to wait too long in-between manicures. 

Where To Get A Dry Manicure

You can get a dry manicure at most spas and salons. 

Dry manicures have become increasingly popular. Both because they save you time when having the manicure and because they tend to last longer (the polish, that is) than a regular manicure.

As such, you’re likely to find dry manicures in more and more nail salons and spas. This includes big salons and small ones alike. 

Not all nail salons and spas have caught on to this trend, however. 

So the best thing to do is to look on Google and Yelp for nail salons and spas near you and see what’s on their menu. 

That way, you can also compare prices (but be sure to see what’s included in the price–some might be more expensive as they include a massage and so forth). 

If you go to a place regularly already, you can always ask them if they’d be willing to give you a dry manicure as you’ve heard it’s all the rage right now–and for valid reasons at that! 

Can You DIY A Dry Manicure?

You can DIY a dry manicure, should you have the time and know-how to conduct one yourself.

Thankfully, there are lots of dry manicure sets to buy–you can ask your local nail salon or manicurist which one they recommend. Or simply look at reviews online on places like Amazon. 

Some dry manicure sets are electronic; others come with lots of creams, oils, and lotions (if you buy the electronic kit, you still need to buy the oils and lotions separately).

You certainly don’t need an electronic manicure kit, but if you like doing your own manicures and pedicures, it can be helpful. 

To clarify, you will need the tools for the manicure–nail file, cuticle clipper, manicure sticks, buffer–as well as the products. 

The products needed are either water and soap to clean your hands (obviously, don’t soak them!) or hand sanitizer, hand cream, cuticle softener, and alcohol or nail polish remover, as well as any nail polish you may use (base layer, nail polish, and top coat).

How Much Is A Dry Manicure?

A dry manicure will set you back about the same as a regular manicure. Thus it is likely to cost you between $10-$40. 

In most places today, a manicure is around $20-25, and a deluxe manicure that involves things like a hand and shoulder massage is $35-45. 

If you want some special polish, this may also cost more. 

Price tends to be dependent on where you live and how luxurious the salon you use is. The best way to find out local prices is to consult Google and Yelp.  

Other manicures you may be interested in: