How To Use Builder Gel: A Guide

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When it comes to gel nail polishes, there’s a lot out there, and getting a grasp on it can be difficult. There’s regular gel, polygel, builder gel, air-dry gel, hair gel… ok, you get the point!

In this article, we’re ging to shine the light on builder gel. Do you know how to use builder gel? If you are new to it, we have put together this guide on how to use builder gel

Plus, we’ll tell you how to properly remove it. It is important to educate yourself on how to apply and remove them properly so that your builder gel nails last for as long as they can and so that you don’t unintentionally damage your natural nails. 


Builder Gel 101

Builder Gel

Do you want to have beautiful artificial nails that are durable and odorless? Are you planning to use artificial nails directly over your natural nails or extended with the use of nail forms and tips?

You can do either of these processes with builder gel. 

Builder gels can be used over your natural nails to help strengthen them. If your nails have ridges in them, builder gel is great to use. It will fill those ridges.

If you want to extend the length of your nails, builder gel nails are also an excellent option. You can use them with forms or tips. You can use them to overlay the previous nail extensions or to re-fill your previous builder gel nails. 

One of the main reasons why builder gels are so popular is that they are easy to apply and remove. Some come in a bottle with a brush so you can just brush them over the nails. 

They are easy to remove as they are a soak-off type. You can use pure acetone just like you would on your gel nails. 

How To Use Builder Gel

How to Use Builder Gel

The exact procedure for how you apply your gel nails will vary depending on the brand you use. Some will require a base coat or primer while others might not. Always follow the instructions for your specific brand. The guide below is general, though it’s probably quite similar to what you’ll find in your builder gel package.

Nonetheless, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to use most of the builder gels in the market. 

Always follow the instructions for your specific brand. The guide below is general, though it’s probably quite similar to what you’ll find in your builder gel package.

1. Nail Prep

The first thing that should be done is to prep your nails. Your need to clean, buff, and file your nails to your desired shape. 

As for the cuticles, you have to option to simply just push them back or trim them. However, we strongly recommend against cutting your cuticles. Pushing is safer, and you do not risk creating an open wound and potentially giving yourself an infection. 

After cleaning your nails, you should give them a final wipe using a nail cleanser or acetone and a lint-free pad. This will help ensure that there is no leftover debris, dirt, or oil on the surface of your nails. 

Without those, the adhesion of the builder gel with your natural nails will be stronger. That can help make your builder gel nails last longer. 

2. Use The Base Coat

If your builder gel brand requires a base coat or if the set includes one, then you should use it. In some cases, there might not be a base coat, but there could be a primer instead. 

Either way, these will help prepare the surface of your nail so that the builder gel sticks properly. 

3. Apply Your Builder Gel

Depending on what type of builder gel you have, you can just simply brush it over your natural nails. This type of builder gel  is best for beginners because you apply it just as you would apply a regular nail lacquer.

However, do remember that you shouldn’t apply a very thick layer. That will only flood your cuticles. Use a thin layer. You can always add more layers later on. 

If your builder gel  comes in a pot, you need to find a brush to use. Use the builder gel brush to get a small amount and spread it over the nail.

Make sure that you don’t get any gel on your cuticles. 

One good thing about builder gels is that they are usually self-level so you are likely to have an even and smooth surface. 

4. Cure Under UV or LED Lamp

Check what type of lamp your builder gel needs to cure. The builder gel set will instruct you on how many minutes or seconds it needs to cure under the light. 

5. Build Your Layers

After the first layer is cured, you can repeat the steps of brushing another layer and curing it until you get your desired thickness or shade.

Usually, two coats are enough, but if you’ve been going thin (good!) you can add more. 

6. Wipe The Nail

It is possible that the nail feels tacky after the gel dries. Use a lint-free wipe with alcohol to clean the nail. 

7. Apply The Top Coat

If you are already satisfied with your nails, you can now apply the top coat. Sometimes, you might need to file the nails before applying the topcoat to even out some areas or to create the desired shape. 

8. Use Cuticle Oil

Cuticle oil is a good product to use after any manicure. It helps provide moisture to the cuticles that have been exposed to the ingredients of the artificial nails and the UV or LED light as well. 

We’ve put together some DIY cuticle oil recipes.

How To Remove Builder Gel

To remove builder gels, all you need to use is pure acetone. Here are the steps to do that:

1. File Off The Nail Extension

You need to file off as much of the nail extension as you can to make it easier to remove. A 100-grit nail file will work well but you can use an e-file. Just be careful that you don’t file too much.

2. Soak The Nails In Acetone

The next step is to use pure acetone and soak your nails in it. You can use a cotton pad soaked in acetone then wrap your nails in aluminum foil. There are nail soak-off clips  you can use as an alternative to aluminum foil. 

Leave it for about 15 minutes so that the acetone works on the builder gel. 

3. Remove The Softened Builder Gel

Once the builder gel has softened, you can now remove it easily with the use of a cuticle pusher. If you are still having trouble removing them, you may repeat filing the builder gels and soaking them again in acetone. 

4. Use A Cuticle Oil

After removing the builder gel, use cuticle oil on your nails to nourish them. Acetone can be harsh so using cuticle oil helps with the dryness.

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).