Dip Flu & How to Prevent It

Everything comes with a risk right? Well dip powder manicures are no exception. Dip powder manicures in nail salons have made headlines in the past with their unsanitary practices. There is a risk of cross contamination with multiple clients dipping into the same jar of dip powder. A good salon probably uses the pour-on method won’t cross contaminate. Luckily you don’t have to worry about this at home when you use your own dips. But there is one thing you should worry about…dip flu!

Dip flu is an allergic reaction to dip powders and/or liquids. After exposing yourself you might suffer respiratory symptoms (not scary with covid right?!) such as congestion, watery eyes, coughing, and runny nose. You can also get a headache or develop skin issues. While you might not have any issues with dip flu, I think it’s important to be aware of the potential risks. Dip flu symptoms can prevent themselves in the beginning or even years after dipping nails at home. Symptoms can set in within hours and last weeks.

Ways to Prevent Dip Flu

Unfortunately nothing can guarantee that you won’t get dip flu…other than not exposing yourself to the dip powders and liquids. Who wants to give up their beautiful nails though? Yeah, me neither. But there are several things you can try to see if they will prevent it from happening. I’ve also listed some pros and cons with each prevention strategy. Everyone is different though, so what works for one person might not work for another.

Dip Nails Outside

Pros: Dipping nails outside would take care of the fumes from dipping. The cleanest air is outside of course, and it would help with the prolonged exposure to the fumes.

Cons: Dipping nails outside definitely comes with its limitations. Weather can be a huge factor depending on where you live. I live in hot, muggy Florida so dipping nails outside would be miserable most of the year. Plus, it is difficult to have a full-on nail station setup outside. You also run the risk of humidity getting into your powders. Not having control over the environment would make this difficult. I can’t imagine my favorite glitter dips blowing away in the wind. I also don’t think it would help if your allergy was with the dip powder itself.


Pros: Working in a well-ventilated room is a good practice regardless of dip flu. The combination of fans and and open windows can help limit the amount of fumes you inhale.

Cons: Similar to working outside, ventilation can have its limitations. Opening a window can wreak havoc on your electric bill depending on where you live and the time of year. And using fans to circulate the air can impact how your dip powder top coat dries. You shouldn’t have fans directly blowing on your nails. Fans could also blow the dip powder around too. And this strategy also implies that you have good working windows. Before I replaced all my windows there would be no way to open windows because of all the missing screens, etc.

Mask Up

Pros: I consider masks a necessity for dip powder nails regardless of dip flu. There are so many different options out there though. Which ones could help with dip flu? You need one that filters out particulate matter AND vapors (fumes) since either of those could cause dip flu symptoms. 3M makes several good respirator masks. You can get a half-face respirator like the 3M half facepiece reusable respirator 6200. Or go full-face with 3M full facepiece reusable respirator 6700. Several ladies in the Facebook groups I am in swear by these respirators to keep dip flu at bay. You should probably keep the mask on from start to finish including cleanup.

Cons: Masks can be hard to find with covid still going on so there’s that. Another potential con could be sizing. There are several sizes, and you have to choose the right size to get a proper seal. Another con could be cost. Even though the respirators are reusable, there is a shelf life. Plus, you’ll have to keep buying filters that aren’t particularly cheap.

You definitely want a filter that combines an organic vapor cartridge along with a P100 particulate filter. 3M’s organic cartridge/filter 60921 would be a great option. Keep in mind that using these masks at home is considered off-label use. That might not mean much to you, but it would probably void any warranty should the mask become defective or anything like that. If you decide you need a full-face respirator and wear glasses then you won’t be able to wear both at the same time.

Air Purifier

Pros: Air purifiers can do a really good job of removing airborne particulates and volatile organic compounds (VOC) from the air! Air purifiers with high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters remove the airborne particulates such as dip powder. However, you’ll need more than an air purifier with a HEPA filter only to remove the VOCs (fumes). An air purifier with activated carbon will remove the VOCs.

Cons: Cost is the biggest con with air purifiers. You probably won’t find a good air purifier under $100. If you plan to use one air purifier for your whole house you will need one that can handle that square footage. Otherwise, you may need multiple units (maybe one per room). Like the respirator masks, you will also have to keep spending money on replacement filters — both HEPA and carbon.

Dust Collector

Pros: A good quality dust collector does a great job at sucking any dip powder or shavings from filing that are floating around in the air. So if you are allergic to the dip powder itself this might help.

Cons: This won’t do anything for you if you’re allergic to the fumes from the dip liquids.

Changing Dip Liquids

Pros: Some people try changing the brand of dip liquids to see if their dip flu improves. With so many brands out there, there is a lot of variation in smell/odor and ingredients. If you found one that didn’t give you dip flu it could be a game-changer.

Cons: But, for most people this is strategy is rarely successful. If you know you suffer from dip flu and try a bunch of other brands’ liquids then you run the risk of suffering from dip flu over and over again.

If you’re looking to try a new set of dip liquids, I highly recommend the Risen Legacy ones I stock in You Can Do Nails Boutique! They are lower odor than many other ones I have tried. Click here to purchase.

Low Scent Dip Liquids

Pros: Some people who suffer from dip flu have been able to continue using dip liquids by switching to Low Scent Dip Liquids. These new liquids are formulated to *hopefully* not cause a reaction.

Cons: Low Scent Dip Liquids can be more challenging to use than standard dip liquids. The liquids are much slower drying, and some people report difficulty with getting the topcoat perfectly shiny.

Check out the Low Scent Dip Base by Sparkle & Co. Luxe Nails! I stock this at the You Can Do Nails Boutique! Click here to purchase.

Gel Method

Pros: When all else fails, the gel method can help with dip flu (just watch out for potential gel allergies). A lot of people who don’t want to give up doing their nails end up going to the gel method which involves using gel liquids with dip powder. This would allow you to continue using all your gorgeous dip powders.

Cons: If you go to the gel method, you will need to purchase some additional items if you don’t already have them. You will need gel liquids of course and a light to cure them. Some people also report that the gel method isn’t as durable as the regular dip powder with dip liquids. And, certain colors can change dramatically when using the gel method.

Now that you know how to avoid dip flu, you can dip your nails in confidence! Need to know what you need to start dipping? Check out my other post “Must Have Accessories for Incredible Dipped Nails at Home“!