Builder Gel look by Glossify

When it comes to nail extensions and nail art, there are so many options to choose from these days. From glitter acrylics to stunning nail art effects, the nail world is ever-evolving! So, getting a good grasp of the basics is more important than ever.

Not only have nail art and acrylic nails become increasingly popular…, but so have natural-looking nails and promoting nail care and strength! This has, in turn, paved the way for builder gel to take the industry by storm….allowing nail technicians to add strength to their client’s natural nails, allowing them to grow and keeping them looking perfect for 2/3 weeks+.

At Salons Direct, we have a wide range of gel polish brands available to suit all budgets. Most gel polish brands have now ventured into the world of builder gels, and everyone’s gone mad for them.

Some of our best-selling ranges are The GelBottle Inc, Glossify Naturabuild, Glitterbels Brush On Builder Gel, Halo Easibuild Builder Gel, & Gellux Builder Gel.

We thought it was a good time to answer some of the most commonly asked questions about builder gels.

Want to know the benefits of gel manicures? Or whether gel or acrylic is better for your clients?

Keep reading to find out…

What is builder gel?

Builder gel is used when you want to create length, thickness, or strength for the nail. You can apply builder gel to natural nails for a non-chip overlay or use it with nail tips to create extensions or enhancements. It’s much stronger than regular gel polish base coats, and the formula is much thicker than a normal base coat. Its high self-levelling properties ensure a smooth foundation layer.

What’s the difference between gel and builder gel?

Gel polish and builder gel can both be used in nail care, but they differ in application, purpose, consistency, removal, and skill level. Gel polish is applied as a thin layer of polish for colour and shine and is relatively easy to use, while builder gel is a thicker gel that requires more skill and experience for application. Removal of builder gel typically involves filing or soaking off, and it requires more time and effort.

How long does builder gel last?

2-3 weeks. Though a manicure created with builder gel can last up to three weeks, this often depends on which brand you use and how well you apply it—plus how well the old coat is removed. When applied to natural nails, a strong and healthy base is required.

Always make sure you follow your chosen gel brand’s instructions to get the best results. This often means only using products from your chosen gel nail system – not mixing one builder gel with another brand’s top coat, for example.

You also need to ensure you use the right LED or UV nail lamp for the correct time.

When the builder gel begins to grow out, you can infill just like you would with acrylic or remove the set and apply another straight away—provided the nail is still in good condition.

Related articles: UV vs LED Nail Lamp: Which Is Better For Curing Gel Polish?

How to use builder gel…

Do you need a base coat for Builder Gel?

The way you use Builder Gel depends on the particular brand you buy. Some brands require you to use a primer or base coat first, while others, such as Glossify, can be applied straight to the nail for a speedier application.

If you are applying builder gel to the natural nail only, it can be applied and built up to the desired thickness and shape in a number of coats, curing between each layer. If you are extending the nail, simply apply your nail tip or form before applying the gel and creating the length.

Generally, the steps you would take to apply a builder gel would be something like this:

How to use builder gel – step-by-step guide 👇

  1. Prepare the nails: Clean, file, and buff the nails. Push back and trim the cuticle. Wipe the nail with a lint-free pad using nail cleanser or acetone.
  2. Apply a base coat or primer – if your builder gel requires you to use one. Cure under your nail lamp if needed. If you don’t need a primer, you can skip this step and save some time.
  3. Apply the builder gel – if you use a bottled builder gel, you can paint it on. If you have a gel pot, you will need to use your nail brush to pick up a small amount. Stay away from the cuticle, and be sure to cover the free edge. Builder gel tends to ‘self-level’, so allow it to settle for a few seconds to ensure it is applied evenly.
  4. Cure under LED/UV lamp—Your chosen builder gel should state what type of lamp it needs to be used with and how long it should be cured.
  5. Apply a second coat – if needed, apply your second coat and cure again.
  6. Clean the nail – use a lint-free wipe and isopropyl alcohol to remove any tackiness.
  7. File the nail – perfect your client’s desired shape and even out any areas that might be too thick.
  8. Apply colour or top coat: Wipe the nail clean again and apply your top coat. If your client wants a different colour, paint on your gel polish and cure it again first.
  9. Finishing touches—Once all your gel is applied and properly cured, your manicure is complete! Add a touch of cuticle oil and let your client know of any aftercare advice before they leave.

Is builder gel better than acrylic?

It depends. As a nail tech, you will probably have your fair share of clients asking you whether builder gel is better for their nails than acrylic.

However, it can be hard to answer this question as it is often a case of personal preference.

For example, builder gel might not appear to be as hard as acrylic, but it is more flexible and can actually be stronger. For more natural-looking nails, builder gel is often preferred over acrylic as it can be applied quickly with a high-shine finish. The gel is also great for helping clients with easily broken nails maintain their natural nail length.

Many clients also believe that gel nails will damage their nails less than acrylic nails. The flexibility of builder gel does mean that they are less likely to cause breakage. If you use a soak-off formula, you can minimise damage during the removal, too, as less filing and buffing will be needed.

However, that’s not to say that acrylic is particularly bad for nails! If clients have really soft nails, acrylics can offer a suit of armour to protect them. So long as they are applied, cared for and removed properly by a trained nail technician, gels and acrylics should be equally safe.

If your client still can’t decide which to go with, keep some pictures of your best work handy to show them the different looks you can create with them.

Related Articles: Do Acrylics Damage Nails? The Signs to Look Out For In Your Clients

But which do nail techs prefer?

As a nail technician, you will probably have your favourite to work with. Acrylic hardens within a few minutes without needing a lamp, while builder gel stays wet until cured under UV or LED light. Some nail techs love the flexibility and control builder gel gives them, as they can continue to move the product around as much as they like, then cure them in seconds when they are happy.

Other nail techs simply prefer working with acrylic, particularly if clients love having their nails extra long.

Overall, both acrylic and builder gel can be used to create equally stunning manicures. It’s always best to examine your client’s nails and see how strong they are naturally before deciding which is best for them.

Discover the top nail products from Salons Direct, recommended by Nail Pros!

Hard gel, soft gel, builder gel, gel polish – what’s the difference?

If you are new to gel nails, you might wonder what the difference is between hard gel, soft gel and builder gel. Just what exactly are they all?!

Hard Gel

Hard gels are used to build nail extensions as they can add length that most soft gels can’t. They are similar to acrylic nails in this aspect, but still need to be cured under an LED or UV lamp. To be removed, they usually need filing off, so can cause more damage to the natural nail. This can be done with an E-File.

Soft Gel

Soft gels are incredibly popular with today’s clients because they are just as durable as hard gels but easier to remove. Also known as ‘soak-off’ gels, they can gently be lifted away with acetone when needed.

Many of today’s soft gels, such as Glossify Builder Gel, come in a bottle with a brush and can be applied similarly to regular nail polish – though they still need curing with a nail lamp. You can still add thickness and some length to the nail, though you won’t be able to extend them as much as you would with a hard gel. So, they are usually used for a more natural effect.

Builder Gel vs Gel Polish




You can get both soft and hard builder gels to create shape and length.

However, it’s important to remember that both builder gel types differ from regular gel polishes. Regular gel polishes have a thinner consistency, and while they do help keep the nail stronger, they aren’t as hardy as builder gels. You can paint gel polish over the natural nail or the top of your builder gel – just ensure you stay within the same gel system brand.

See how Amy Guy uses Glossify Naturabuild Gel to create ombre gel nail art!



Shop our full range of gel nail supplies online at Salons Direct.

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