by Beth Ryan
Attention: nail biters, acrylic addicts, and anyone else pining for healthier, stronger, or longer nails – this one’s for you.
I’ve been on the quest for the perfect nails for years – I’m obsessed with the long, elegant look (and insta-baddie vibes) of acrylic extensions, and also love the classic, glossy, chic-ness of gel and shellac polish. It’s no secret, though, that some of these nail treatments can cause damage to the natural nail, and leave them feeling brittle, thin, and fragile (especially if you’re like me, and are almost as addicted to picking at the nails as you are to getting them in the first place).
If you can relate – there’s a treatment that might just be the perfect solution to your nail woes. It’s called BIAB, (Builder in a Bottle), and it’s pretty much changing the game in the nail world.
Needless to say, we were *extremely* curious to see the effectiveness of BIAB for ourselves – so we sent Dominique van Bladel to try it out for us at the Nailart Junkie salon. We also spoke to salon owner Sanne, for her expert lowdown of the treatment. Here’s what we found out:
1What is BIAB?
“BIAB (Builder in a Bottle) is the flagship polish of the UK brand, The Gel Bottle. It’s a pigmented, flexible, and strengthening gel, which can be built up to create a beautifully shiny and even nail. It’s composed of ingredients and nutrients intended to deeply nourish the natural nail, and also contains a base and primer in the nail itself.
Essentially, BIAB hardens and strengthens the natural nail, whilst creating the same perfect glossy look you’d expect from other treatments, such as gel or acrylic nails (all without adding too much bulk or thickness).
BIAB can be used alone, or extensions can be added for customers who prefer longer nails. It can also be used as a base underneath gel polish for extra strength – but as the BIAB itself comes in multiple nude shades, it’s often used as a standalone product. BIAB is also vegan, cruelty-free, and free from harsh chemicals.” Winner-winner.
2What are the benefits?
Okay, so we know that BIAB can create looks reminiscent of our faveclassic gel manicures or nail extensions – but what are the benefits for your natural nails? Sanne told us that "the treatment ensures that your natural nails remain healthy, strong and long – the risk of cracking is very small. It also nourishes the nail, so that after a while you notice that your natural nails are much stronger.”
3Who is BIAB suitable for?
“The treatment is particularly great for people with porous, damaged, or thin nails. BIAB also offers a solution for nail biters: the product can be built-up to create an extension where length might have been lost from biting. Plus, BIAB is much stronger and resistant to biting than natural nails, which means your nails will be able to (finally) recover and grow longer.”
4Before the treatment
Dominique's nails before the BIAB treatment: She's struggling to grow them out, and tells us “my nails are pretty miserable right now”. We feel you.
Sanne tells us: “We start by prepping the base of the natural nails, pushing back the cuticles and filing them in the desired shape”.
"With an extra-fine file, we gently scrape the thin surface layer of the nail – the one that makes it shiny – in order to remove any grease and natural oils that might prevent the BIAB from sticking.
“We apply the first coat of BIAB and let it sit under a UV lamp for 99 seconds.”
"We then build up the nail with a thicker layer, creating a slight curve on the nail. To maintain this shape, we cure the nails one by one during this step. The work is then perfected with an ultra-fine brush so that the product is distributed completely evenly over the entire nail. If the shape of the nail still needs to be tweaked, we’ll do this super delicately with a fine file. The BIAB is then cured again under the UV lamp.”
Here’s the provisional result! This is what the nails look like when the BIAB is finished. They can be left like this, (they may look different depending on which shade of BIAB your nail tech uses), or you can add a polish or gel colour, which Dominique opted for.
10Step fiveSee AlsoWhat is the correct method for applying a 'BIAB' type product? - NailKnowledgeAcrylic vs Builder in a Bottle - The Venue Beauty Salon BournemouthFAQ | Product Information | The GelBottle Inc™Forget SNS and acrylic manicures. Here's why BIAB nails are infinitely better.
We’re obsessed with Dominique’s choice of this perfect summer-y lilac. Sanne tells us: "When we’re completely satisfied with the shape of the nails, we apply the gel colour. We finish it off with a topcoat, cuticle oil, and hand cream."
Here’s the end result after BIAB + gel polish. *Chef's kiss.*
12How long will it last?
"As a rule of thumb, BIAB will last around three to four weeks – then it can be either soaked off and re-done, or infilled. To fully restore damaged nails to perfect health, we’d recommend regular appointments for around 6 months, for the nail to fully re-grow.”
13Aftercare do's and don'ts
"During the first 24 hours post-treatment, take extra care with your nails and avoid heat (tanning beds, hot baths, and doing the dishes are a no-no). Use cuticle oil every day to keep the nails well hydrated and to stimulate nail growth. Always wear gloves when doing housework, and wash your hands if you have come into contact with chlorine, bug spray, or sunscreen. If you want to remove the product from your nails, always go back to the salon – never try to pick off or remove the product yourself as it can damage the nail bed". Trust us, the pros are always right with this one.
And that’s it – if you’re ready for perfect nails, put your hands up ??♀️
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Image credits: Shutterstock, Treatwell
Why is BIAB better for your nails? ›
Essentially, BIAB hardens and strengthens the natural nail, whilst creating the same perfect glossy look you'd expect from other treatments, such as gel or acrylic nails (all without adding too much bulk or thickness). BIAB can be used alone, or extensions can be added for customers who prefer longer nails.What are the benefits of the gel bottle BIAB? ›
Much like Rubber Base, BIAB™ increases the nails flexibility - meaning nails are much less likely to snap. They come in a range of super popular nude colours which can be used alone over forms (or underneath any one of our super-pigmented TGB colours) for a super strong extension.Is BIAB good for nail growth? ›
It's great for weak and damaged nails.
BIAB nails strengthen your natural nails and encourage growth. If applied consistently, your natural nails will stay protected from everyday wear and tear, while getting stronger in any damaged areas over time.
It works like a gel but it dries strong and durable, meaning you're less likely to chip between sessions. Almost all treatments pose a risk to your nail health, but BIAB works differently from the gel polish you might be used to, and can actually strengthen your natural nail rather than weaken it.Why is builder gel better than gel? ›
It's much stronger than regular gel polish base coats, and the formula is a much thicker consistency to a normal base coat. They have high self-levelling properties which ensure a smooth foundation layer.Why is builder gel good for your nails? ›
Nail builder gel works by repairing and strengthening the nails. It can help to fill in cracks and breaks in the nail surface, making them appear smoother and more even. The gel also helps to strengthen the nails by helping to grow healthy new nail cells.What are the issues with BIAB? ›
“BIAB products can contain certain ingredients that could cause onycholysis, which is the separation of the nail from the nail bed. This can be very serious when it occurs, and treatment may take months involving cutting away the separated nail as it grows out and a prescription of antifungal medications.”Does BIAB last longer than gel? ›
Why we recommend BIAB. We always recommend Builder in a Bottle to clients who struggle to grow their nails, whether they bite their nails or have weak nail beds. We've found manicures using BIAB as the base tend to last about a week longer than manicures using our normal gel base coat.How long do BIAB gel nails last? ›
A gel mani typically lasts ten days to two weeks before peeling or chipping. Now BIAB make can make that same gel mani last around three weeks, according to Rani. With a regular 'infill' treatment (see below) it can even last for months, says Helena, so long as you also practise proper hand and nail care.What are the cons of BIAB nails? ›
The beauty of BIAB is that is can be used on its own or as a base underneath gel nails to minimise any damage gel polish may cause. The only downside is that BIAB sometimes does not fit into the edges or creases like gel or shellac does. However it does dry harder, meaning it is more durable against chipping.
Is BIAB gel good? ›
BIAB nails are a great option for anyone looking to grow or strengthen their natural nails. They're also good for nail biters; the gel is much thicker and stronger than a standard polish, so it's more resistant to biting.How long does BIAB take to grow? ›
Of course it doesn't give you immediate longer nails but within a few weeks you will be surprised by how much they grow! In fact some of my acrylic ladies who have had B.I.A.B on for the past 8 weeks have found their natural nails are now the same length as what their acrylic nails were!Does builder gel make your nails weak? ›
Is builder gel bad for nails? The short answer is NO.Does builder gel make gel last longer? ›
The builder gel helps to harden the polish, making it last longer, while the topcoat helps to make the polish look attractive as it protects it from chipping.Which is better hard gel or builder gel? ›
Let's break it down. Builder Gel, Gum Gel and Hard Gel are all strong enough to build an extension by either using tips or sculpting forms. But Hard Gel is the weakest of them all and should only be used for short extensions.Why is builder gel better than acrylic? ›
Why is it better than acrylic? The BIAB is a lot thinner when applied to the nail so it isn't as heavy on the natural nail helping them grow longer and keeping your natural nails healthier.What is the difference between gel and builder gel? ›
Answer. The simple answer is that builder gels are much thicker than regular gels. The term “gel” refers to a certain viscosity of a liquid. The viscosity of a regular gel resin used in UV-cured nail products will range from roughly 25,000 centipoise to 100,000 centipoise.How often should you have BIAB? ›
A BIAB mani can last up to three weeks, but with proper nail prep it can last much longer. We don't advise keeping a BIAB set on for too long though, after around four weeks they can either be infilled or soaked off.Is BIAB better than hard gel? ›
BIAB on the other hand is a form of gel polish that has a stronger, more strengthening base. It's cured under a lamp, with a thicker consistency than gel and is similarly soaked off (but it can take a little longer as the formula is quite tough). The main difference? It doesn't damage your natural nail underneath.Are BIAB nails better than acrylic? ›
Why is it better than acrylic? The BIAB is a lot thinner when applied to the nail so it isn't as heavy on the natural nail helping them grow longer and keeping your natural nails healthier.
What's the difference between BIAB and normal gel? ›
What is BIAB? BIAB – which stands for builder in a bottle – also known as builder gel is a range of strengthening gel products that are applied to the natural nail, much in the same way regular gel polishes are, but it has a thicker consistency that improves the nail's strength.Are BIAB nails better than shellac? ›
Even though it is a gel product (note: gel and shellac are the same), BIAB cures hard under an LED light and is more durable than your regular shellac.