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What Are Builder Gel Nails?

Consider this your cheat sheet to all things builder gel nail polish.
February 24, 2023

Is Builder Gel or Acrylic Stronger? 

Builder gel may not feel as strong as acrylic nails but it has more flexibility. This means builder gel nails are less likely to break if you hit them on a hard surface. Acrylic and hard gel are a pretty even match in terms of strength, although hard gel has more flexibility so it’s less likely to crack. While it’s good to have strong nails, especially if you’re using nail extensions or tips, a polish with some flexibility is more durable to wear and tear and less damaging if you break a nail.

Is Builder Gel Better Than Acrylic?

Whether builder gel or acrylic is better is going to be entirely based on your personal preference. Builder gel in a bottle is less damaging to your natural nails than acrylic because it creates a thin coat on your nails that allows them to remain healthy and grow while you wear the polish. If you’re looking to grow and strengthen your natural nails, builder gel in a bottle is the best choice.

Hard gel can be damaging because it has to be filed off, which can cause serious trauma to your nails if it’s done incorrectly. Acrylic has the biggest potential of damaging natural nails based on its application with excess nail filing that can thin the natural nails and its rigid shell that can break your nails if you hit your hand on something. 

Builder gel, gel extensions, polygel, acrylic nails and any type of nail enhancement can be damaging if applied and removed incorrectly. Ultimately, the right technique is what will keep your natural nails in good condition and that comes down to finding the right nail tech with proper education. 


How Long Does Builder Gel Last?

Builder gel lasts about two to three weeks. Due to its strong, viscous texture, it’s less prone to lifting, like regular gel nail polish. Builder gel and hard gel can be filled so you don’t need a new set every time you get your nails done. A fill focuses on the outgrowth at the base of your nail, filling in the empty space with new builder gel to make your manicure look fresh.

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How Do You Remove Builder Gel?

Most builder gel in a bottle formulas can be soaked off with foil, acetone and cotton, just like your average gel polish. Hard gel nail polish must be filed off. Typically hard gel will come in a pot so that can help to differentiate between the two. Your BIAB nails can be removed at home whereas hard gel nails should be removed at the salon by a professional since they need to be filed off. If you know how to properly use an e-file (an electronic nail file) without damaging your natural nails, then you can carefully attempt to remove hard gel at home.

Next: 5 Tips to Make Your Press-On Nails Last for Weeks

Photo Credit: IG@/bymollyf, Photo Design: Sarah Duvivier

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