How To Fix Top Coat On Dip Powder?

A fascinating way to add an overlay to your nails is to use dip powder. Not only does it give you a beautiful finish, but it also lasts super long and doesn’t need any curing. However, applying a powder dip overlay is tricky, and messing up the top coat is bound to happen. So how do you fix the top coat on dip powder?

How To Fix Top Coat On Dip Powder?

The top coat on dip powder can be fixed by filing and buffing the top layers. Then, start again by applying a powder layer and activator. Let the activator dry entirely before applying the top coat, use a fast layer of top coat first, and ensure the top coat’s layers are as thin as possible.

Apart from the many delicate steps to apply dip powder, there are also many reasons the top coat can fail. Luckily, you can follow a few steps to fix it. Let’s look at what can go wrong, why, and how to fix the top coat on dip powder.

The Importance Of Dip Powder Application

When you decide on dip powder as your go-to manicure, you should visit the nail salon a few times before you attempt it at home. The great thing is that you can easily do it at home, not needing fancy UV lamps, but you will need patience and the proper technique.

Because there is a process to follow and an exact way of doing things, you might do something wrong at the beginning of the application, leading to a top-coat mess. This makes it difficult to pinpoint what caused a particular unwanted result.

Problem #1: Top Coat Has A Matte Finish

You can feel most defeated when you are finished with a dip powder manicure, and the result is a matte effect instead of the shine you wanted. Luckily, there is a reason why your nails turned matte and a way to fix it.

Why Does It Happen?

When doing a standard gel overlay, it is easy to time the layers as the timer on the lamp tells you when the nail is ready for the next layer. Second, the layers can mix together and won’t cause significant damage.

With dip power, you don’t have a timing mechanism. Thus, you have to time manually. This could sometimes fail, as two minutes might seem much longer than you think. On the other hand, not giving the layers time to dry (one to two minutes) will lead to mixing the different layers.

When the activator you apply to the powder has not dried, and you use the top coat, it will react with the top coat, leading to a milky and matte finish.

How To Fix It?

You must buff and file the top layer down to fix the problem. Next, wipe the nail to ensure it is free from any residue. After this, you can decide if you want to add another powder layer. Then, add a thin activator layer which will bring the color from the powder through. Time the activator to set for two minutes.

After the activator has been set, wipe the layer with a lint-free alcohol wipe. Next, pat dry with a paper towel to ensure no more traces of activator are left on the nail. Now you can follow the top layer steps to give you a shiny result.

Problem #2: Top Coat Has Bubbles And Uneven Layers

Nothing looks as unprofessional as an uneven overlay full of bubbles. But especially if you worked hard to get the result of a manicure with dip powder and gel top coat, bubbles and uneven layers can be a downer.

Why Does It Happen?

The top coat of a powder dip manicure has special instructions to give a flawless application and result. However, suppose you don’t follow these instructions and apply the top coat like any other overlay. In that case, you can end up with an uneven, bubbly top coat.

Another reason the uneven layers can happen is that the nail wasn’t cleaned properly after filing, buffing, and preparing the nail.

How To Fix It?

Depending on where the problem is initiated, you might have to remove the entire overlay for health purposes. Of course, you can always make a plan to cover up and even out an overlay. Still, you risk your nail health and future overlay strength and longevity.

Suppose the problem is that you did not clean the nail during the preparation. In that case, you will have to remove the entire set with buffing, acetone cotton balls, and aluminum foil. The risk for infection and irritation is too high to let it slide.

On the other hand, if the reason is because of a too thick layer of top coat, then you can fix it. First, buff down the top coat and add another powder layer if necessary. Then, add the activating layers and dry thoroughly.

Add a thin layer of top coat quickly, within one second. Wait for one to two minutes, then add a thicker layer, spending more time to get it evened out. If necessary, wait another two minutes and add another thin layer.

Problem #3: Top Coat Cracks

nail polish is cracked

When you know you chose an overlay that should last longer than nail polish or gel, a crack forms before you can say “look.” This is a frustrating result and can make anyone feel like throwing in the file and going to a salon for their manicure instead.

Why Does It Happen?

Adding the layers unevenly to the nail will let it dry and set with weak spots, leading to cracking or chipping. This is not necessarily the top coat’s doing, but it could be any other layer with an uneven application.

How To Fix It?

You can buff down the top coat and start at the last powder set. Focus on applying each layer ideally, and keep it as thin as possible instead of going for a thick layer. Each layer should be used in a specific manner to prevent ridges.

  • Base coat – add a thin layer only to the center of the nail, leaving the sides and the upper part, close to the cuticle, dry. The second layer will move closer to the edges and will again be thin. This ensures no uneven layer and no expansion of product over the skin.
  • Powder coat – dip the finger into the powder at a 45-degree angle, not 90 degrees. This will lead to an even layer. A safer way would be to use a brush to apply it.
  • Activator and top coat – although each one has a way to apply them, the key for even layers lies in how you use your brush. Always apply any layer by holding the brush parallel to the nail. The usual perpendicular style fans out the brush, leading to uneven layers.


The dip powder overlay application can be daunting, but the result is 10 times more worth it. Luckily the top coat can be fixed if something goes wrong, but patience and practice will bring you almost perfect results each time.