The Ultimate Builder Gel Guide: How Much Do You Know?

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When it comes to nail extensions and nail art, the options are endless. From glitter acrylics to stunning nail art effects, the nail world is continuously evolving. In this ever-changing landscape, it’s essential to have a solid understanding of the basics. And that’s where builder gel comes in.

Not only has nail art and acrylic nails gained popularity, but there is also a growing trend in natural-looking nails and promoting nail care and strength. Builder gel has taken the industry by storm, allowing nail technicians to add strength to their clients’ natural nails. It enables nails to grow while keeping them flawless for two to three weeks or even longer.

At Salons Direct, we offer a wide range of gel polish brands that cater to all budgets. Many gel polish brands have ventured into the world of builder gels, and they have become highly sought after. Some of our best-selling ranges include Glossify Naturabuild, Glitterbels Brush On Builder Gel, Halo Easibuild Builder Gel, and Gellux Builder Gel.

In this article, we aim to answer some of the most commonly asked questions about builder gels. Are you curious about the benefits of gel manicures? Wondering whether gel or acrylic is better for your clients? Keep reading to find out!

What is Builder Gel?

Builder gel is a versatile product used to create length, thickness, or add strength to the nail. It can be applied to natural nails for a non-chip overlay or used with nail tips to create extensions or enhancements. Unlike regular gel polish base coats, builder gel is much stronger and has a thicker consistency. Its self-leveling properties ensure a smooth foundation layer.

The Difference Between Gel and Builder Gel

When it comes to longevity, builder gel outperforms regular gel polish. While a manicure created with builder gel can last up to three weeks, this can vary depending on the brand and application technique. Properly applying and removing the old coat are crucial for optimal results. It’s important to follow the instructions provided by your chosen gel brand. This includes using products from the same gel nail system and using the appropriate LED or UV nail lamp.

When the builder gel starts to grow out, you can choose to infill it like acrylics or remove the set and apply a fresh one, as long as the natural nail is in good condition.

How to Use Builder Gel

The application technique for builder gel depends on the brand you choose. Some brands require a primer or base coat, while others, like Glossify, can be applied directly to the nail for a quicker application.

If you’re applying builder gel only to the natural nail, you can build up the desired thickness and shape in multiple coats. Each layer should be cured before applying the next. If you’re creating nail extensions, first apply a nail tip or form before applying the gel and creating the desired length.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to using builder gel:

How to Use Builder Gel – Step by Step Guide 👇

  1. Prepare the nail – Clean, file, and buff the nails. Push back and trim the cuticles. Wipe the nail with a lint-free pad using nail cleanser or acetone.
  2. Apply base coat or primer – Follow your gel brand’s instructions. Cure under the appropriate nail lamp if needed.
  3. Apply the builder gel – Use a brush for bottled builder gel or your own nail brush for gel in a pot. Apply it, avoiding the cuticle, and make sure to cover the free edge. Let the gel settle to ensure even application.
  4. Cure under LED/UV lamp – Follow the specific curing instructions provided by your chosen builder gel brand.
  5. Apply a second coat – If necessary, apply a 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 – Shape the nail to your client’s preference and even out any areas that may be too thick.
  8. Apply color or top coat – Wipe the nail clean again and apply the top coat. If your client wants a different color, apply the gel polish and cure it before adding the top coat.
  9. Finishing touches – Once all the gel is applied and properly cured, the manicure is complete. Apply cuticle oil and provide aftercare advice to your client before they leave.

Is Builder Gel Better Than Acrylic?

The answer to this question depends on personal preference. Builder gel is more flexible and can be stronger than acrylic, making it a popular choice for clients seeking natural-looking nails. It is applied quickly and provides a high-shine finish. Builder gel is also beneficial for clients with easily broken nails as it helps them maintain their natural nail length.

Some clients believe that gel nails are gentler on their nails compared to acrylic nails. Builder gel’s flexibility reduces the likelihood of breakage. Additionally, using a soak-off formula can minimize damage during removal, as it requires less filing and buffing.

However, acrylic nails can offer a protective layer for clients with soft nails. When applied, cared for, and removed correctly by a trained nail technician, both gels and acrylics are equally safe for nails.

If clients are unsure which option to choose, showcasing your best work with both gel and acrylic can help them make an informed decision.

Hard Gel, Soft Gel, and Builder Gel: What’s the Difference?

If you’re new to gel nails, you might be wondering about hard gel, soft gel, and builder gel. Let’s clarify these terms:

  • Hard gel: Hard gels are used to build nail extensions, adding length that most soft gels can’t achieve. They need to be cured under an LED or UV lamp and are usually removed by filing with an E-File.
  • Soft gel: Soft gels are highly popular among clients as they are as durable as hard gels but easier to remove. They can be gently lifted away with acetone, hence the name “soak off” gels. Some soft gels, such as Glossify Builder Gel, come in a bottle with a brush and can be applied like regular nail polish, though they still need curing with a nail lamp. Soft gels provide thickness and some length, but not as much as hard gels, making them ideal for achieving a more natural effect.
  • Builder gel: Both soft and hard builder gels can be used to create shape and length. However, it’s important to note that builder gels differ from regular gel polishes. Builder gels have a thicker consistency and provide more strength, though they may not be as durable as hard gels. Gel polish can be applied on top of the natural nail or over builder gel, as long as the products are from the same gel system brand.


Now that you’re armed with knowledge about builder gels, you can unleash your creativity and offer your clients stunning manicures that are both fashionable and long-lasting. At Salons Direct, we provide a wide range of builder gels from top brands, ensuring you have access to the best products in the industry.

Don’t forget to check out our featured builder gels:

  • Glossify Naturabuild
  • Glitterbels Brush On Builder Gel
  • Halo Easibuild Builder Gel
  • Gellux Builder Gel
  • 2AM High Standards Builder Gel

Shop our full range of gel nail supplies at Salons Direct and take your nail art to the next level!

Related Articles:

– UV vs LED Nail Lamp: Which Is Better For Curing Gel Polish?
– Do Acrylics Damage Nails? The Signs to Look Out For In Your Clients
– The Best Gel Nail Removal Products for Salons
– How to Start Up Your Own Nail Business
– The Best Gel Top Coats for Nail Professionals

Glossify Naturabuild Collection - Available to purchase from Salons Direct


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