What is builder gel? Everything you need to know

Confused about builder gels? So was I at first! There are so many types of nail extensions these days it can be hard to keep track! In this post, I’m going to walk you through what you need to know about builder gels. So, what is builder gel? Let’s find out!

Builder gel is a liquid gel that’s used to make nails longer or strengthen natural nails. You paint it on like nail polish or apply it with a brush, then cure it with a lamp. Builder gel is much stronger than gel polish and lasts for 2 to 3 weeks.

Alrighty, now that we have the basics down, let’s dive a bit deeper and see if it’s right for you.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

What is builder gel?

Builder gel is a thick gel that is used to strengthen natural nails or to create nail extensions.

strengthen nail stong nails https://nailhow.com/what-is-builder-gel/

It comes in a bottle with a brush applicator (sometimes referred to as brush-on gel or builder gel in a bottle).

But you can also get it in a pot, in which case you’d apply it with a nail brush like what you’d use for acrylics.

BG’s are much stronger and more hardwearing than gel polish, so don’t chip as easily and can last for 2-3 weeks with good application.

These types of gels can be used with tips or forms to add length in the same way as acrylic nails.

But you can also use it as an overlay – i.e just paint or brush it on over your natural nails without adding any length.

Why use builder gels?

They’re great for beginners because they go on like nail polish (although a fair bit thicker) and unlike acrylic, they don’t dry until you cure under a UV or an LED lamp.

what is builder gel https://nailhow.com/what-is-builder-gel/

This means you have plenty of time to get the hang of the application without worrying about it setting too quickly!

It’s also self-leveling, so no need to worry about your nails looking uneven.

BG’s tend to look more natural than other types of nail extensions, which is something to think about if you’re trying to decide between gel and acrylic nails.

Some (hard) builder gels are just as strong, but slightly more flexible than acrylic nails. This is great if your nails tend to break often!

BG is a thicker and stronger alternative to gel nail polish, so switching will likely mean fewer chips to deal with and a longer-lasting mani.

Whether you want to do an overlay, add length to your nails, or do infills, BG will get the job done.

What is builder gel in a bottle?

Builder gel in a bottle is a type of super-strong hard gel that’s designed to create a full set of nail extensions.

As the name suggests, it comes in a bottle and has a brush with it just like a regular nail polish bottle.

“Builder in a bottle” is not a brand, it’s a type of nail product. There are many brands of BG in a bottle to choose from.

It can be used with either tips or forms to add length, but you can also use it for overlays too, to make the natural nails stronger.

You cure BG in a bottle with a UV lamp (2 minutes) or an LED lamp (30 seconds).

When you apply BG in a bottle, you need to cure each finger separately.

You can’t do your whole hand at once and then cure because the gel does tend to move about a bit.

This is totally normal, so don’t be scared if the gel moves out past your natural width!

Gel nails are easy to file, so you can just file the edges off once you’re done curing.

There are some gels, like Acrygel (which is actually a mix of gel and acrylic), that will stay in place longer so you can do more than one nail at a time.

Builder gels are extremely hard-wearing and need to be filed down (preferably with an E-file) before soaking to be removed.

Does builder gel help nails grow?

nail growth https://nailhow.com/what-is-builder-gel/

Yes, BG can help you to maintain a good length when it comes to your natural nails.

But you need to take some important steps during removal to keep your natural nails from breaking.

It’s important that you file as much gel down as you can and do it gently.

Also, don’t be tempted to pick at, or scrape your nails off as this will wreck your natural nails!

What are builder gels made of?

You may be surprised to hear this, but chemically, hard gels are actually very similar to acrylics.

Both acrylic nails and BG nails are made from a mixture of monomers and oligomers (monomer chains).

The only difference is that acrylic nails are designed to cure when the powder and liquid monomer are combined, while gel nails are designed to cure when exposed to UV or LED light.

What is builder gel base?

This is the term used when you use builder gels as a base for something else.

So you might do a clear BG base, for example, then apply a colored gel polish over the top of your BG base.

Some people think that BG base is a separate product, it’s not.

The only products you would use underneath build gels are dehydrators, primers, or in some cases, regular gel base coat. 

What is builder gel liquid?

builder gel liquid https://nailhow.com/what-is-builder-gel/

Builder gel liquid is another name for builder gels. 

It’s a thick, viscous liquid that is used to create nail extensions or to build up the natural nail to make it stronger.

BG comes in a bottle with a brush and is applied to the nails in much the same way as regular nail polish.

It needs to be cured under either a UV or LED lamp.

Do you need basecoat with builder gel?

Not always, it depends on the specific products you’re using.

Sometimes, a little bit of dehydrator or primer is enough to create a strong bond and you can go straight in with the BG without applying a base coat.

It’s always best to check the instructions for your specific product.

What colour is builder gel?

It usually comes in clear, white, and natural-looking pink colors.

You can also get browns, nudes, and other creamy shades.

I haven’t seen shades like purple, blue, and red though, so if you like those colors, you’ll need to put gel nail polish on top of your gel nails.

This is easy to do and you can remove it and change the color easily without damaging your (hard) gel nails.

Is builder gel hard or soft gel?

This question can be very confusing because you can get both soft and hard builder gels.

Think of it as a scale going from soft to hard, or strong to even stronger.

Soft gels are still extremely hard-wearing, but they are a little easier to remove and are usually advertised as “soak-off gels”.

Glossify builder gel is a good example of a soft BG.

Hard gels are a little tougher and are the most similar to acrylics.

IBD Builder Gel and Profile Gellux UV/LED are examples of hard BG’s.

How many layers do I need?

1 to 2 layers is enough for a nice nail.

If you’re doing 2 layers, try to make the first one thin and the second one thicker.

Don’t put the layers on too thick or the light won’t be able to penetrate and your nails won’t cure.

How long does it take builder gel to cure?

Each layer takes 30 seconds to cure under an LED nail lamp and 2 minutes under a UV lamp.

Here’s a good How To Use Builder Gel vid

Can you put builder gel over acrylic nails?

Yes, you can apply BG over the top of acrylics if you want.

Make sure that you file the acrylic layer down thin first so that your nails don’t look too chunky!

Can you soak builder gels off?

Yes, you can soak builder gels off in acetone.

Make sure you file them down gently first to remove as much gel as you can without going down to the nail plate.

Then soak in a bowl or wrap your fingers up with acetone-soaked cotton balls for 10 minutes.

Remove and gently scrape off any excess gel with an orangewood stick, or repeat the soaking again if needed.

Does builder gel have a tacky layer?

Yes, BG does have a tacky layer (aka inhibition layer) just like regular gel nail polish.

You may want to remove this layer with rubbing alcohol before applying your next coat of gel polish or BG.

Is builder gel bad for your nails?

No. builder gel is not bad for your nails if you use it correctly and take proper care of them.

However, like with anything else, overuse can lead to problems.

Make sure you give your nails a break from BG and other artificial nails every 3 months to give your natural nails a chance to breathe.

And always make sure you’re using high-quality products from a reputable brand.

Cheap, knock-off products are more likely to cause problems.

When used correctly, BG can actually be good for your nails! It can help strengthen weak and brittle nails and can even help your natural nails grow!

A lot of people find that nails that are done with BG cause less damage than acrylics, so in that sense, they can be better for your natural nails.

What is the difference between hard gel and builder gel?

Hard gel nails are stronger than builder gel nails.

If you want super long nails, hard gel is the better choice as it will be less likely to break.

However, one of the major downsides of hard gel nails is that they are much harder to remove than BG nails.

The molecules in hard gel nails are packed together tightly. This means that you can not use acetone to soak them off.

Builder gel nails soak off in acetone, but hard gel nails don’t.

This is a key difference between the two gels.

Hard gel nails need to be either professionally removed or you can DIY it at home of you have a nail drill (aka e-file).

What is the difference between IBD hard gel and builder gel?

The main difference between IBD hard gel and builder gel is how you remove the nails.

IBD hard gel can not be removed using acetone, but builder gel can.

This is because the molecules in hard gels are tightly woven together which makes it impossible for the solvent to penetrate and break down the gel.

Builder gels are able to be soaked off using acetone but with IBD hard gel and other hard gels, you will need to file them off with a nail drill.

Hard gels are typically used for very long nail extensions because they are super strong.

Hard gels also tend to be thicker and less natural looking than builder gels.

What is the difference between gel and builder gel?

The main difference between a nail gel like poly gel and builder gel is the consistency and thickness of the gel.

Polygel is usually thick and sticky compared to builder gel, but this can vary depending on the product.

Builder gel is much easier to remove than other (hard) gels because it is a soak-off gel.

Other gels are best removed using a nail drill or e-file.

Builder gel can be painted on from a bottle just like nail polish, which makes it easier to apply.

You don’t need a slip solution to apply builder gel but you do for polygel.

Polygel also comes in a much wider variety of colors and finishes, than builder gels.

What is the best builder gel for nails?

Personally, I like the builder-in-a-bottle gels because they are much easier to apply.

They come in a nail polish bottle so you can just paint them on like you would regular polish.

My favorite builder gel is this clear one from Modelones.

It’s great for doing extensions and it doesn’t lift, chip or peel.

You could also try this sheer pink builder gel from IDB which I can highly recommend.

What is the difference between structure gel and builder gel?

There is little difference between structure gel and builder gel.

They are basically 2 different names to refer to the same type of gel nail-enhancing product.

Structure and builder gels are both thick gels used to add extensions or overlays to the nails.

Structure gel tends to be clear, so it’s normally used to create a more natural look while also adding strength and or length.

What is IBD Builder gel used for?

IBD BG is used for adding tips and sculpting nail extensions and overlays.

It adds length and strength to the nails, creating a base for gel nail polish and nail art.

You can get some colors, but the choice is very limited. Basically pink, clear, and white shades is what’s available.

The strength of IBD builder gel is equivalent to a full set of acrylics.

You can use it to add length, make your nails stronger and better looking and it makes your manicures last longer.

Final thoughts

BG is a great choice if you want strong, long-lasting nails.

It’s important to use high-quality products and to take proper care of your nails, but other than that, BG is a relatively low-maintenance option.

There are many different BG products available, so you can definitely find something to suit your taste and your application style.

If you’re looking for a durable, long-lasting option, BG is definitely worth considering!


What is UV builder gel used for?

Uv builder gel is used for strengthening natural nails and for sculpting nail extensions using tips or forms.

It can be applied to the natural nail only (an overlay) to makes nails stronger.

Or UV BG can be used to add length (nail extensions).

In either case you will need a UV lamp to cure the gel.

What is the best UV gel builder?

The best UV gel builder based on my personal experience is this clear hard gel builder from IDB.

But don’t take my word for it, it had over 12000 positive reviews on Amazon!

It’s great for strengthening your natural nails or doing extensions.

It’s self levelling, doesn’t move around too much and isn’t too thick or sticky.

What is the best builder gel in a bottle?

The best builder gel in a bottle based on my experience and online reviews is Modelones Builder nail gel.

It’s a seven in one clear BG that gives good coverage, a smooth even finish and is easy to apply.

I also like IDB builder in a bottle gels.

What is brush on builder gel?

Brush on builder gel is BG that comes in a bottle.

The bottle is the same as a regular nail polish bottle with a brush inside.

Instead of using a separate nail brush to apply it, you use the brush that comes in the brush on BG bottle.

It paints on just like nail polish, which makes it much easier to apply that other builder gels.

Brush on nail polish is also called Builder in a bottle or BIAB for short.

What is a builder gel manicure?

A builder gel manicure is either a set of overlays or nail extensions done using a soak off gel known as a builder gel.

It’s called builder gel because you can build nails with it.

BG manicures add strength and or length to your natural nails.

You can use them as a base for gel polish or get a color and leave it as it is.


  • Phoebe Meadows

    Phoebe Meadows is a self-proclaimed nail addict, always on the lookout for the latest trends and techniques. When she's not creating stunning nail designs, you can find her researching the latest nail care products or experimenting with new techniques.