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Why Are My Dip Nails Cracking? [And What To Do About It]

Dip powder nails are the new darling of the artificial nail world. Lasting longer than many of the other applications that are out there – gel nails, I’m looking at you – it’s no wonder that more and more of us are giving this fantastic method a go. However, nothing comes without its issues, and cracking dip nails is something every avid lover of dip powder nails will experience at some point. But why does it happen, and what can you do about it? Here is everything you need to know, consider, and ultimately do. 

So, why are your dip nails cracking? Low-quality products, over buffing, and even not waiting long enough between each dip powder coat can potentially cause cracking on your dip powder nails. 

Application and removal of dip nails can be tricky, and it can be tempting to rush different steps or skip them altogether. 

If you (or your technician) does this, you may end up with some rather messy dip nails that don’t last half as long as you had hoped.

So, if you are dipping your toes into the world of dip powder nails and you’ve experienced cracking nails or just want to get up to speed so you can avoid ever experiencing this issue, keep reading to find out everything you need to know about why dip nails crack, how you can repair them, and what you can do to lower the risk of a crack appearing at all.

Why Do My Dip Nails Crack?

There are many reasons why your dip order nails may be cracking, such as using lower quality products, applying too many or too few dip powder layers, and even not waiting long enough between each dip order coat.

Incorrect Application

Most of the time, impatience is the cause of cracking dip nails, and no, it’s not because dip nails get offended by our lack of waiting for power but because impatience always leads to mistakes.

Dipping your nails at anything other than a 45-degree angle could potentially cause cracks to appear in your dip powder nails. 

This is because the 45-degree angle will give you a much smoother surface and require less buffing than, say, a 90-degree angle. 

Too Much Product

You might think that the more layers you apply, the stronger your dip nails will be, but this isn’t the case either. 

2-4 layers of dip powder are plenty; any more and you will start to weaken the composition of the dip powder layers and increase the risk of surface cracks. 

If you can’t wait long enough for each layer of dip powder to dry properly, then dip nails may not be for you. 

Ensuring that each layer dries properly before adding another layer is so important when it comes to long-lasting and hard-wearing dip nails.

Improper Care

That being said, your cracking nails may just be because you use your hands a lot. 

You may come into contact with water often or abrasive chemicals, or perhaps you are just a little clumsy and knock your hands off the door frame more often. All this jostling and banging can loosen and crack your dip nails.

How To Fix Cracking Dip Nails

If your dip nails are showing signs of cracking, you may be wondering what you can do to halt the problem before it gets anywise, especially if you have paid someone else to apply your dip nails as you truly want to get your money’s worth.

Here are some nifty tips and tricks that can help you to repair surface cracks on your dip nails and help to prolong their life a little further.

Buff & Fill

If you notice small surface cracks on your dip powder nails, the Buff and Fill method can be the perfect solution. 

Using a nail file, gently buff away at the surface of your dip nail until you have reached the crack; the deeper past your topcoat, the crack is, the more you may have to buff. 

Once you have reached the crack, apply a layer of base coat and then dip your nail in a dip powder of a similar color to your current nail and then apply your activator.

You can now gently buff the surface smooth again until you see the crack disappear. Don’t forget to apply a layer of top coat to help protect the fixed area. 


This is the best method to use if you got your dip order nails professionally applied in a beauty salon or you have run out of the original dip powder that you used for your nails. 

All you need is a bottle of clear gel polish. 

Apply the gel polish until you have completely covered the crack and allow it to dry fully.

Use Creativity

The last option is a little more fun. 

You can use the crack in your nail to add a little pizzaz. 

Use rhinestones, other colored dip powder, nail decals, or paint on designs around the crack or to cover the crack to make a truly unique and funky pattern. 

Just be aware that this method, although it may look great, probably won’t give your dip nails the extra strength they need to not break fully.

How To Prevent Dip Nails From Cracking In The Future

The best thing you can do for your dip powder nails to make them last longer is to avoid the mistakes that can cause cracks in your dip nails. 

Let’s go over some of my top tips and tricks when it comes to avoiding dip powder nail cracking.

High-Quality Products

First and foremost, always choose a reliable and good-quality dip powder brand. 

Many of the more budget-friendly brands use far lower quality ingredients in their products which means they just won’t last as long, and you can experience far more issues. 

I personally love all the products in the DipWell range

They’re strong, durable, and have great reviews, which is something to always keep an eye on when deciding on what brand you are going to go with. 

Also, try and stick to one singular brand. 

A lot of different brands may not be chemically compatible, which means the very products that are supposed to make your dip nails durable will end up having the opposite effect and can cause them to crack often.

Read more: Dipwell Review [My Experiences From My Recent Order]

Don’t Over Buff

Buffing is part of the dip nail routine, but you want to be careful that you don’t over-buff your nails. 

If you are a beginner, you probably won’t have found the knack for creating a smooth dip nail surface just yet, and you might feel as though you need a lot of extra buffing to get that smooth, shiny surface. 

Try to resist; this over buffing will really damage the integrity of your dip powder nails. 

Instead, focus on practicing your dip nail skills; in no time, you’ll be applying perfectly smooth coats and may not need to buff at all.

If you do need to buff your dip nails, remember you are only trying to smooth out the lumps and bumps. Don’t be too rough when buffing, and err on the side of caution. 

You would rather under-buff than over-buff.

Avoid Product On Skin

Getting the dip powder nail product on your skin can be one of the biggest causes of nail cracking, and this is also something you’ll experience more often as you are just beginning to learn how to apply dip nails. 

When we get the product onto our skin, it creates a sort of rock-solid bridge between the skin it touches and the nail we have applied. 

Then the constant moving and jostling of our fingers slowly jiggles and bends the newly applied nail, eventually causing it to crack. 

Try to keep around 2mm away from your skin on all sides so that you have ample room and don’t risk getting product onto your skin.

Use An Activator

A lot of people may misuse their activator or skip the process altogether, but please don’t do this. 

Your activator is what cures the dip powder and causes it to harden. 

By skipping the activator step, you are just applying dust and nail varnish to your nails which obviously isn’t going to last very long and will crack or splinter. 

If you are using an activator and you’re still experiencing cracks, the brand you may be using may be a lower quality brand, and it might be worth trying out a new one. 

I highly recommend this dip nail liquid kit from DipWell.

Yes, it comes with other serum applications for your dip nails, but the activator serum is incredible and cures your dip powder without needing a UV lamp.

Apply The Right Amount Of Coats

As I said earlier, applying too many layers of dip powder or too little can cause your dip nails to crack. 

I recommend sticking to around 2-4 layers of dip powder at most. 

If you find that this number of layers still isn’t giving you the coverage you need, it may be the brand isn’t the best, or you haven’t quite got your application skills down to a T just yet.

Final Note

Dip powder nails can be a great alternative to other long-lasting artificial nails, like gels, acrylics, and shellac, and last far longer than regular press on nails. 

However, cracks can be really irritating when they happen. 

Creating a really meticulous application routine is the best way to ensure your nails won’t crack, but if they do, it doesn’t hurt to have a few fixes up your sleeve.

Here are some of my other guides you may be interested in: