27 MUST KNOW Builder Gel Tips & How To Use It [2023]

builder gel tips for beginners

Here are some of our best tips, tricks and FAQs for using builder gel for nail art.

Today we are going to discuss what is builder gel and specifically builder gel for nail art and DIY manicures. Have you ever wanted to know how to use builder gel? It can be a little tricky because it's thick and viscous.

With these tips, you'll be able to create builder gel nails in no time.

Builder gel is a type of gel that can be used to create a number of different designs. With the right tools and techniques, you can create anything from simple nail art to more complex designs.

builder gel tips and how to use

One thing you might love about builder gel is that it has very little to no aroma if you choose the right brand of builder gel. It will give you a manicure that can last 4-5 weeks, and with practice, it's super easy to use for many techniques like layering, embedding flowers, building up the nail and more.

Builder gel will create strength, length and thickness on your natural nail or nail tip. And for those who have weak or thin nails, a coat of builder gel might be exactly what you need to start growing your own nails longer.

Builder gel is thicker than regular gel polish. You will still need a lamp for curing. You can purchase builder gel in a pot or a brush on builder gel depending on the brand you choose.

Keep reading for our top builder gel tips, tricks and how-to's! 


1. Builder gel is permanent

If you are someone who likes to change your nails often or likes to try new shapes throughout the month then builder gel might not be the best option. With proper prep, builder gel on nails can last 4 weeks or more.

2. Use a quality builder gel from a reputable company

Builder gel is not overly expensive so do choose a brand that has really good feedback and a good reputation.

Read our article Best Builder Gels to see the list of the top selling builder gel brands.

best builder gels

3. Builder gel requires a lamp for curing

Check Prices For LED Lamps On Amazon 

An LED lamp will cure the builder gel more quickly than a UV lamp. Read our article: Best Curing Lamps For Gel Polishes to help pick out the best lamps on the market today.

4. Start with clean nails and hands 

Wash your hands about 20 minutes before using the builder gel and make sure they are totally dry before going ahead with a builder gel manicure. Pay attention to the nail itself and make sure there is absolutely no moisture present.

5. Pre-measure the nail tips or forms

If you are using gelly tips or forms, have everything ready to go. When using a nail tip, be sure that it fits your natural nail properly.

If you need to, you can adjust by filing the nails so that it gives you a nice and snug fit. Cut the nail tips to the desired length before using the builder gel.

builder gel tips

6. Use a dehydrator on your natural nail 

Check For Nail Dehydrators On Amazon

Preparing your natural nail plate is the most important step when using builder gel. A quality dehydrator will get rid of the oils and dry up the cuticle area.

best builder gel tips

7. Use an acid free primer or protein bond

Check Acid Free Nail Primers On Amazon

Nail tips and the natural nail must be gently buffed and have bonder or primer applied. This will prevent lifting of the gel over time.

The best primer will be acid free to ensure a proper bond with the gel. Apply the primer in a thin layer. Look for an acid free protein bond primer like this one from YN on Amazon.

8. Never stir builder gel 

Take the builder gel out of the pot gently to prevent bubbles. The best way to take builder gel out of the pot is to insert your brush into the gel and slowly bring it toward the lip of the pot and then up.

builder gel tips 

9. Avoid getting gel on the skin or cuticle 

If you cure the gel that's laying on top of skin, this is going to eventually lift. Lifting can cause your manicure to be ruined after just a few days. Lifting can also encourage bacteria to grow beneath the gel and nail plate.

10. Avoid getting builder gel on your hands

Nitrile Gloves On Amazon

When using builder gel for your press on nail business or for yourself, use gloves so that you are not getting it on your hands and everywhere else.

If you are doing a manicure on yourself you can use pink nitrile gloves and cut out the ends for your fingers.

builder gel tips using nitrile gloves

Also use a UV glove for protection from the lamp. We will discuss that more down below.

11. Glitter and embeds should lay as flat as possible 

Builder gel is quite thick and if you are using embeds like loose glitter for nails or dried flowers for nails, make sure they are laying as flat as possible so that there are no air bubbles.

Using a good quality UV glue is the best way to apply glitter and polymer clay embeds onto the primer before adding the builder gel.

 builder get tips and tricks

12. Use a small fineliner brush to get the gel even around the cuticle and sides

Detail Nail Art Brushes On Amazon

The best brushes for this are tiny detail brushes. You can use those to move the builder gel to the cuticle without going over.

Builder gel is self leveling so when you put it onto the nail, stay a little bit away from the cuticle area because it will eventually spread slowly. You never want to flood the cuticle with builder gel.

13. Remove any builder gel from the skin before curing

If you have builder gel pooling around the skin it will not cure properly and cause lifting within a day or two. Using a silicone tool or a cotton swab with isopropyl alcohol, you can remove the builder gel from your skin easily. 

14. Check all areas of the nail or tip to make sure it's fully covered

Move your hand around or the tip around to examine all areas, especially the sides. Let the builder gel level for about 10 seconds before curing.

builder gel tips

15. Tip the nail upside down if it's pooling

 If you have found that you added too much gel, or the apex is not being formed, then turn your nail upside down for about 10-15 seconds and see if that helps.

16. Use alcohol or slip to remove the sticky layer

When builder gel cures, it will have a sticky layer on top. The best way to remove the sticky layer is with 70% Isopropyl alcohol. Use reusable cotton rounds or paper towel that won't leave any fibers behind.

17. Shape the builder gel once cured.

A 180 grit nail file or efile can be used to shape the builder gel once it is cured. Do be very careful not to file into the glitter and embeds. Builder gel files off pretty easily so just take off a bit at a time.

Check our article: best efiles and nail drills for gel nails

builder gel tips and ideas

18. Use a nail dust collector when filing builder gel

Nail Dust Collectors On Melody Susie

Nail artists and nail techs knows that a good nail dust collector is essential for keeping your work area free of nail dust particles in the air that you breathe.

We also have a helpful article about the best selling nail dust collectors available this year.

19. Follow the manufacturers directions when using builder gel

When you purchase builder gel, the company will usually have their own directions and cure times. Remember not all builder gels are made with the same formulas.

If the brand also offers the dehydrator or primers, stay with the same brand as their formulas are meant to work together.

20. Apply a no wipe top coat

Sometimes we have found that if mixing different brands the no wipe top coat might separate before curing. Always test to make sure the supplies you are using will work together. 

21. Give the builder gel a final cure of 60 seconds

This will ensure that the gel is completely cured. This is especially important if you have several layers of gel. 

22. Clean brushes by wiping them with a lint free cloth after each use

If your brushes need a deeper cleaning then the best way to do this is to put the alcohol in a dappen dish or shallow dish and dip the brush into it. Then on a piece of paper towel or lint free wipe, move the brush around to remove all of the gel. Repeat if needed.

builder gel tips

23. Keep the builder gel away from your curing lamps

Builder gel cures and gets super hard with UV and LED nail lamps. So when you are curing your nails, be sure that the lid is on the builder gel or that the builder gel is covered completely from the light. Or take a small amount of the builder gel and put it onto a nail palette.

24. Store builder gel in a cool dry place with not in use

We have a really helpful blog post about how to store nail supplies, plus a video on our YouTube channel about how you can use boxes for storage.

These are the bakery boxes we used here on Amazon.

how to store builder gel

25. Use the same brush for builder gel and nothing else

If you dip into a base coat, then top coat, that's going to contaminate the builder gel formula. Mixing formulas can cause lifting. So do keep a dedicated brush that is only used for builder gel and label it if needed.

26. Use a UV glove under the lamp

Check Prices On Amazon

If using builder gel on your natural nails, use a protective covering for your hands when under the lamp. Wearing a UV glove when gel-manicuring your nails is a way to protect your hands from the ultraviolet light of a nail lamp.

It helps keep your skin away from the UV light. With moments spent under the UV light adding up, it's important to have this extra layer between your hands and the light.

27. Practice often

Practicing often with new nail art supplies is important for so many reasons. When you're trying out gel nails or builder gel for the first time, it's essential to properly familiarize yourself with the tools and techniques.

Practicing helps you understand how to work quickly and efficiently, using just the right amount of gel and nail polish to get the job done without having to redo your manicure – saving you a lot of time and money in the long run!

As you become more experienced with builder gel nails, experimenting alongside practice will make it much easier to develop creative skills and find unique ways to showcase your very own style.

In Conclusion:

Builder gel can definitely build some amazing nail extensions and ideas. It's pretty easy to use, even for a beginner nail artist.

Like all nail art supplies, builder gel does take practice to get it onto the nail and then filing it to your desired nail shape. Set aside at least an afternoon or morning when first learning how to use builder gel.

✅ We hope you found this article helpful as you try to use builder gel. Please visit us again soon for more nail art ideas and reviews of the latest nail art products on the market. Thanks for reading!

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builder gel tips and faq