BIAB Nails Are Going To Be Everywhere This Year

By Charlie Colville

4 weeks ago

Builder gels are all the rage at salons

While getting your nails done might look pretty, it often comes with the caveat that the natural nail beneath all the layers of gel and acrylic will be worse off at the end of it. But what if we told you there was a manicure that not only protects, but strengthens your nails while making them look good? Here’s everything you need to know about BIAB nails, the builder gel manicure trend taking over TikTok this year.

What Are BIAB Nails?

BIAB, short for ‘Builder In A Bottle’, is the name given by The Gel Bottle to a type of builder gel that’s been doing the rounds in salons recently. ‘Builder gel nails are created using a specific builder soft-gel formula that is gentler than acrylics, but thicker than normal gel polishes,’ explains manicurist and Senior Mylee Ambassador Tinu Bello. ‘Instead of just looking amazing, these builder gels offer added benefits, including extra strength and protection, which in turn, can allow your nails to grow longer.’

The manicure, once a cult beauty secret at nail salons, has recently been doing the rounds on TikTok (where posts tagged #biab have surpassed 1.3 billion views) with creators documenting their BIAB journey and the benefits of the manicure procedure on their natural nails.

@amals_pastels All products used are linked in my amazon storefront! How do you do your builder gel application? #biab #buildergel #drymanicure #dmvnailtech #dmvnailtech #naileducation ♬ original sound – Amals Pastels

What Are The Benefits?

What makes builder gels stand out from the crowd is their ability to protect the nail underneath, letting them grow healthily while the gel sits on top. ‘BIAB provides a protective durable layer to help protect your natural nails,’ highlights Karen Newton, a nail technician at 10outof10. ‘They’re great for anyone with weak, brittle nails that always break, as the BIAB helps to harden the nails while they grow.’

‘They are a truly versatile option,’ adds Tinu. ‘They can be used for extensions, overlays, as a strengthening layer on natural nails, and as a base for nail art and gems. They are also known for their durability and for resisting chips. Builder gels can also be easily soaked off without causing damage to the natural nail, providing a convenient option for those who prefer to switch up their nail look regularly.’

When put to the test against acrylics, our experts are also in agreement that BIAB tends to be the better option. ‘Builder gel offers enhanced flexibility and durability, making them less prone to cracking or lifting compared to acrylics,’ says Tinu. ‘This durability translates to longer-lasting wear, reducing the frequency of salon visits for maintenance. Builder formulas are typically formulated with ingredients that promote overall nail health, such as vitamins and minerals, contributing to the health of the natural nail. These combined benefits make builder gels a popular choice for people seeking a durable, convenient, and healthier alternative to acrylics.’

‘The risk of damage to your natural nail is far lower with BIAB,’ adds Karen. ‘It’s more flexible, whereas if an acrylic gets caught it could snap and take the natural nail with it.’

Can BIAB Ruin Your Nails?

For the most part, no, BIAB won’t ruin your nails. ‘Builder gels can potentially damage natural nails if improperly applied or removed, but when done correctly, they generally maintain nail health,’ says Tinu.

@byjessicamorris Here we go with another INSANE BIAB nail journey… The transformation on these are absolutely incredible My client started coming to me at the end of Feb wanting nothing shy of long, natural, HEALTHY nails in a crisp, sharp, square shape for her girls holiday to Marbs tomorrow.. and i think.. WE DID IT #nails #biabnailjourney #nailtransformation #naturalnails #naturalnail #naturalnailscheck #buildergel #gelnails #biabjourney #biabjourneys #nailjourney #fyp #foryou #foryoupage ♬ i like the way you kiss me – Artemas

How Are BIAB Nails Applied In The Salon?

When it comes to BIAB application, Karen tells us to expect a similar procedure to a gel manicure. ‘BIAB is done in the same way as a normal gel application,’ she says. And, following a short consultation, your nail tech will begin by prepping your nails for the builder gel. ‘Prep is important before applying any kind of gel. Cuticles need to be pushed back and clipped, nails filed to shape, nail beds buffed to remove shine – no gel will stick to a shiny surface; it will just peel off.’

‘The builder product will then be applied in layers and cured under a UV or LED lamp,’ adds Tinu. ‘Your tech will then shape and refine your nails, before any nail art or decoration is added. A topcoat will then be applied, and aftercare instructions should be provided to help maintain your manicure. Overall, the application process for builder gel nails takes around 60 to 90 minutes.’

‘If applying over extensions, this could take a little longer,’ says Karen. ‘Likely closer to approximately 120 minutes.’

Can You Get Nail Art With BIAB?

Yes, you can. Builder gels are a nail strengthening treatment that can be topped with anything from neutral nail designs to colourful nail art – the only differences from regular gels and acrylics are that they are more hard-wearing and gentler on the natural nail.

How Much Is BIAB?

The price for a set of BIAB nails varies from salon to salon, although prices generally start from around £30. ‘On average, a builder gel manicure will cost anywhere between £35 to £50 for a full set depending on where you live in the UK,’ agrees Tinu. ‘Infills should be around £30 to £40.’

How Long Does BIAB Last For?

BIAB, or builder gel, can last anywhere from two to four weeks at a time – although this will depend on you and your lifestyle. If you want to keep your BIAB going, however, you can get it topped up with infills. ‘I always advise clients to come every three weeks for an infill,’ recommends Karen.

@amberjhnails_ I’m using @the_gelbottle_inc BIAB Nu03 #biab #biabnails #biabjourney #biabapplication #nails #gelnails #biabtutorial #almondnails #thegelbottle #nailtutorial #buildergel ♬ Piano sleep LoFi slow midnight(808930) – Gloveity

How To Make BIAB Nails Last Longer

There are a few rules you can keep in mind when it comes to prolonging the lifetime of builder gels – many of which are used for regular gels and acrylics. Our experts outline their tips and trick below:

  • No water: ‘Avoid excessive exposure to water and harsh chemicals during the span of your manicure and be mindful of tasks that could cause damage to your nails,’ says Tinu.
  • Keep your nails hydrated: ‘It’s recommended you apply cuticle oil daily and avoid abrasive products that may weaken the builder gel layers,’ she adds.
  • Wear gloves: ‘Do not use tools, and make sure to always wear gloves when cleaning or doing any washing up,’ highlights Karen.
  • Leave them alone: Perhaps the most important of all, Karen emphasises you ‘DO NOT pick your nails’ while they have BIAB on them.

How To Recreate BIAB Nails At Home

Builder gel nails are also achievable at home; aside from BIAB, a number of brands including Mylee, OPI, ORLY and CND all offer their own line of builder gels which make it easier to recreate the process at home. Here’s what our experts had to say:

‘As always, prep is key, so start with filing, buffing and cuticle work as the first step,’ advises Tinu. ‘As a base, you can either use a thin layer of builder gel or a regular gel base coat; both will need to be cured under an LED lamp. After this, you should apply a thick bead of builder gel to the centre of the nail, then spread it side to side, covering the whole nail, and pulling the gel away from the cuticle, before curing. You can either use a coloured shade or you can top it up with a regular gel polish.’

Can You Remove BIAB At Home?

You can remove BIAB nails at home – but it’s not advised to pick or peel them off. ‘BIAB can be removed safely at home, via a few simple steps,’ says Karen. ‘Start by filing off the shiny top coat, then wrap each nail in cotton wool soaked in acetone and then wrap foil over the top of that. Leave for about 20 to 30 minutes, then you should be able to gently push off the builder gel using a cuticle stick (this will only work if top coat has been removed ). It can also be filed off using an e-file, but I do not recommend this at home as you need to be trained to use one; you could damage your natural nail if it is used incorrectly.’

‘If any gel remains, repeat the soaking process until your nails are completely clean,’ adds Tinu. ‘You’ll also want to moisturise your nails and cuticles thoroughly to replenish moisture lost during the removal process.’

Nail Inspiration


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Featured image: Ellie Eshaghi, Unsplash