Everything you need to know about builder gel

What is Builder Gel

If you are looking to increase the strength of your
nails, or add length or thickness, then builder gel is about to become your new favourite nail treatment. It’s the secret weapon you’ve been looking for and you’ll only wish you had heard of it sooner!

While it might sound like a term used in the construction industry, builder gel is the latest nail technique to sweep across Instagram with hundreds of thousands of posts using the hashtag #buildergel. That’s quite something and we’re sure you want to know more about this fascinating product.

But how does builder gel work? And does it damage nails? If you are curious about how to use builder gel, then read on for our Secret Spa guide to builder gel and find out why it should be included in your nail care kit.

What is builder gel?

Builder gel is a much stronger alternative to regular gel polishes and has a thicker, richer consistency that helps to strengthen nails and care for them. So, yes, it’s like a nail polish, but so much more!

There are two types of builder gel: a soft gel that is applied to natural nails and acts as a non-chip overlay, or a hard gel which can be used to build nail extensions. We love how builder gel can also be infilled as it grows out – just like acrylic nails – making it a brilliant hybrid between gel polish and acrylics. It’s pretty versatile, so it gets big thumbs up from us.

How to use builder gel

Some brands of builder gel need a base coat first, while others can be applied directly to the nail for a speedier manicure. There are no real defining benefits to one over the other; it comes down to personal choice. Whichever option you choose, here are the basics you need to know when applying builder gel:

  1. Clean, file and buff your nails to prepare them for the builder gel. As with everything, the finished look is shaped by your efforts with the preparation.
  2. Apply a base coat if required. Follow the instructions for your chosen builder gel.
  3. If you are using a bottled builder gel, then it can be painted onto the nail, just like regular polish. Some builder gel is supplied in pots, and you’ll need a small nail brush to pick up the gel and sweep it over your nail.
  4. Cure the gel under a UV or LED lamp – different brands use different lamps, so always check which curing process your builder gel requires.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 to add a second coat.
  6. Wipe the nail clean and apply the top coat for talons that look great and feel stronger and healthier.

Is builder gel the same as base coat?

In some ways, a builder gel performs the same job as a base coat, but it does have a few extra bells and whistles. The thicker consistency of builder gel makes it stronger than a regular base coat and it also has self-levelling properties. This means that you’ll get a smoother, slicker-looking finish. You can really notice the difference when using a builder gel to cover up any imperfections on the nails.

Is builder gel better than acrylic?

It boils down to personal choice as to whether builder gel is better than acrylic. Builder gel is not as hard as acrylic, but it is more natural-looking and is often preferred as it is faster to apply. It’s a bit soon to tell if builder gel is a trend that will stick like acrylics have, but our money is on it doing so.

Because builder gel is softer and more flexible, you’re less likely to experience breakages or chips, but this also means that a gel manicure is not as long-lasting as acrylics. It’s a trade-off that we need to take a personal call on. Also, one big tick in the acrylics box is that they will harden quickly without the need for a UV or LED lamp. 

Hard acrylics might be the best choice if you prefer to wear your nails exceptionally long – but both builder gel and acrylic can create fabulous fingernails – so we suggest trying both and see which you prefer. Indeed, you might find that different options suit different times and occasions.

How long does builder gel last?

When applied correctly, builder gel is long-lasting and can remain chip-free for up to three weeks. The longevity of your manicure also depends on the brand and curing method used – and how clean your nails were before the application. Take care to look after your manicure and it will look its best for as long as possible.

How to remove builder gel

However much you love the look of your builder gel nails, there will come a time that you’ll need to remove them. 

The best way is to use a hand file to gently buff away the gel coat and then soak your nails in a bath of acetone for 15 minutes to soften and loosen the gel. If there is any excess gel left on your nails, scrape away with a nail stick or cuticle pusher.

Once the gel is removed, push back your cuticles, and apply cuticle oil to moisturise your nails. Builder gel does not cause a large amount of damage to nails – but we would recommend giving your nails a break every few weeks to allow them to ‘breathe’ and recover.

If you are not confident with removing builder gel, we offer a gel polish removal service that won’t damage your fingernails or toenails.

Book your at-home gel polish with our experts

Whether you want a manicure, a pedicure, or are treating yourself to both, our mobile nail technicians will visit you in the comfort and privacy of your own home for a luxurious treatment. With Secret Spa, you’ll receive hand and foot massages and professional gel polish applications.

Ready to book an immaculate gel polish at home? All you need to do is relax and allow our nail technicians to work their pedicure and manicure magic!

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