There are many perks to getting dip powder nails, but perhaps the most appealing one is how they last longer than most other polishes, even your beloved gel. Dip powder polish — also known as dip or SNS, a popular brand — uses a combination of nail resin (similar to a glue) and colored acrylic powder to create a durable manicure that can last three to five weeks, if properly cared for.

“Dip manicures contain a special resin-type glue that hardens to seal in the color,” says cosmetic chemist Ron Robinson. “Acrylics are a mixture of powder and adhesive that can be molded and shaped, then applied to the nail, where they dry to set. These are great for those who want to lengthen or change the shape of their nails.” Given the strong adhesive, Robinson adds, dip is considered the strongest and tends to last longer.

The downside? Because dip nails consist of several layers of resin and powder, they create a thick manicure that’s not exactly easy to remove, especially if you’re doing it at home by yourself. Rest assured, though, if you can’t get to a salon for professional removal, there is a way to safely remove dip powder nails at home without wrecking your natural nails. Here’s how to do it, according to experts.

Meet the experts:

What’s the difference between dip powder and gel?

Dip powder and gel are different in many ways, and that’s important to know for safe removal. “The main difference is application and strength,” says Rita Remark, nail artist and Essie global lead educator. “Gel is applied wet with a brush and cured under an LED or UV lamp. Dip powder is applied by layering acrylic powders over a gentle nail adhesive.”

A dip powder manicure is a stronger and harder nail coating, so it tends to last longer on softer, weaker nails. But that also means it can be a bit tougher to remove at home. Gel is a little more flexible, Remark explains. Robinson agrees, and says dip a “very strong adhesive” that’s trickier to take off when you’re not in a salon.

What tools are needed for dip powder removal?

If you’ve ever removed your gel manicure at home (or given yourself a DIY manicure), you’ll be familiar with the list of tools needed to get off this stubborn polish:

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