BIAB nails are a new technique or type of gel-based manicure that promises stronger, healthier nails and all the versatility of acrylic and SNS nails. But do they live up to the hype? Are BIAB nails worth it?
What Are BIAB Nails?
BIAB nails is an acronym for Builder In A Bottle, and it’s a new type of gel manicure that can be used as a gel base, builder gel for extensions, and top coat, all at the same time. It’s a soak-off gel, so you can remove it easily at home using acetone. This makes it kinder on your nails than other manicure techniques that require using nail files and can, over time, thin the natural nail.
What Are the Benefits of BIAB Nails?
BIAB nails combine the best things about acrylics or other nail builders and gel manicures. They have a ton of benefits, particularly if your nails are brittle or damaged and you want to keep them protected.
- BIAB nails protect your natural nail: With BIAB manicures, your natural nails are protected from the elements and can grow back stronger over time.
- Easier to remove than acrylics: You can remove BIAB nails at home using an acetone soak. No need for aggressive filing or thinning of the nail plate.
- You can use BIAB gel to change the shape of your nail: They can be used like acrylics or builder gel to extend the nail or repair a broken nail.
- The effect is very natural: BIAB nails are thinner than gel and look more natural. They come in a variety of colors that are perfect for a natural manicure.
- You can use them under gel: BIAB nails are perfect as a base and top coat for a gel manicure and will help keep your natural nails protected.
- They are vegan, cruelty free, and 5-free: This makes them a healthier choice for your nails and may even be suitable for people with some allergies that prevent them from using regular gel. But always do a patch test first!
What Makes BIAB Better for Your Nails than SNS or Acrylic?
Builder gel manicures are a great alternative to SNS nails and acrylics for various reasons. They combine the benefits of gel, such as easy removal, with the hardness of acrylics and dip nails, making your nails stronger without sacrificing their health.
The first thing that makes BIAB nails better than acrylics is the removal process. You can lightly file the top layer, and then the rest will soak off with acetone. No drilling or heavy filing is required! While drilling is not necessarily going to damage your nails, the chances of something going wrong or an overenthusiastic technician damaging your nails increase when you need to file away layers of your nail to get rid of the polish. So an acetone soak followed by a cuticle oil is a much better alternative.
Unlike SNS nails, you can infill BIAB nails. This means you don’t need to remove the nail and re-apply when your nail grows or you want to change the color. You can add new builder gel to in-fill the nail growth and reshape the tips.
BIAB nails are also free of chemicals like formaldehyde or formaldehyde resin, toluene, dibutyl phthalate (DBP) or camphor, which makes them a healthier choice particularly if you enjoy having frequent manicures.
How Long Do BIAB Nails Last? When Should I Go For An Infill?
BIAB nails last about 3 to 4 weeks, but after that, you will need to get them re-done or at least in-filled because the natural growth of your nail underneath will be visible. They are hard, like SNS or dip nails, which means a properly applied BIAB manicure will not chip or break.
This makes them perfect for nail bitters because your natural nails can grow underneath, undisturbed. And trying to bite on something hard such as builder gel nails will most likely help discourage the habit as it’s not pleasant.
Do My Nails Need To Rest In Between BIAB Manicures?
In most cases, a BIAB manicure once a month won’t damage your nails at all, and so you shouldn’t need to take a rest in between applications. If you remove them properly without drilling – keep in mind some salons like to use the drill to avoid spending time soaking them off – your nails underneath will even get stronger. But listen to your nail technician and your nails, particularly if you enjoy extremely long nails. Long nails come with its own set of issues (snagging and extra pressure on the natural nail being pulled by the extension above the fingertip) so some people prefer to take a break every so often to avoid mechanical damage. But this is similar advice you would get if you asked about extremely long acrylic extensions.
How Much Does a BIAB Nail Manicure Cost?
The cost of a BIAB manicure is usually the same or very similar to the cost of a gel manicure, so between $30 and $60 at most salons, not including taxes or tipping. However, if you want to combine this type of manicure with colorful nail art or a color gel manicure, then the cost will increase. Infills are much cheaper, and some people choose to have BIAB nails at a salon and then use regular polish (and an acetone-free nail polish remover) to change the look of their nails at home.
How Long Do BIAB Nails Take at A Salon?
Depending on the salon equipment, the level of prep required, and whether you had to get your previous set removed, it can take from fifteen minutes to half an hour to apply a full set of BIAB nails at a salon. Keep in mind more colorful nail art, and a gel manicure on top can definitely make it take longer. But you should expect to be there for as long as it usually takes to get a gel manicure.
The curing time per layer is between one minute and 99 seconds, depending on the type of lamp used. So a salon using a high potency LED nail lamp that holds all five fingers will be much quicker than doing it at home on a single finger, lower-potency lamp.
How Long Can You Extend Your Nails with BIAB?
How long can you extend your nails with BIAB depends on whether you are using nail tips or nail forms. If you are using nail tips, BIAB nails perform as well as acrylics or hard gel and can reach the same length. If you are using forms instead then acrylics are still the gold standard for Really Long Nails. BIAB is nearly as strong as acrylic and hard gel, but for really hard and long nails traditional methods (which also create a thicker nail) are better.
Can You Use BIAB with Nail Tips?
Yes you can! In fact, the process is very similar to using nail tips with other techniques:
- Glue the tip to the nail
- Apply BIAB gel in a thicker layer
- Turn the nail upside down so gravity helps you form a natural looking apex
- File and shape after curing
Applying nail tips with BIAB gel last as long as acrylics and can reach the same length, but it will save you from drilling and filing as part of the removal process. It’s the perfect option for people who have bitten or damaged and very short nails and just want nice, mid-length nails that last.
Can I Do Builder In A Bottle BIAB Nails at Home?
Like with any other type of long-lasting manicure, going to the salon will probably give you quicker and more flawless results, but you can also do BIAB nails at home. You will need similar equipment to do gel nails, which includes a suitable lamp that works with the BIAB gel you choose.
Unless you are a trained nail expert or somebody with a lot of experience with acrylics, you probably want to use BIAB with nail tips instead of forms. But as long as you are willing to try and learn from the inevitable mistakes, BIAB nails are a perfect at home manicure. And since they are much easier to remove, mistakes are nowhere as irritating as when you are learning how to do acrylics at home for example.
What Is the Difference Between a BIAB Nail and A Regular Nail Polish?
They are worlds, worlds apart. BIAB nails are long-lasting, thicker and harder, protecting your nails by creating a hard surface. Nail polish only changes the color of the nails and lasts for about a week without chipping if you are very careful. Both can be removed with acetone, but you can also remove regular nail polish with non-acetone nail polish remover and you won’t need to soak off regular nail polish.
You can have regular nail polish on top of BIAB nails and BIAB nail tips manicures, as long as you always remove it with non-acetone nail polish so the BIAB gel is not affected.
What’s the Difference Between a BIAB Manicure and A Gel Manicure?
A gel manicure is long-lasting but doesn’t cure hard. This means you can’t use gel exclusively to add a thicker layer to the nail or nail extensions. BIAB cures hard, which means it reinforces the natural nail and can be used for durable nail extensions. Both types of manicures are gel manicures, just different type of gel. And both can be removed using acetone soak-off. The focus of BIAB is ingredients that strengthen the natural nail and provide a strong, hard base. Gel manicures are more about the color, and combining a BIAB base with a gel manicure gives you the best of both worlds.
What’s the Difference Between BIAB Nails and Acrylics?
Acrylic nails, unlike gel, don’t require UV light to cure. They “air-dry” like regular polish! They are made using a mix of a liquid monomer and a powder polymer and result in very strong nails that can be extended into truly astonishing manicures. But they are hard to remove; you will need a drill to get back to your natural nails, which can cause a lot of damage and nail weakening. BIAB nails, on the other hand, provide you with a strengthening base for your natural nail and are easy to remove using acetone. BIAB nails are usually less strong and durable than acrylics, but then, most types of manicures are less durable than acrylics!
How Can BIAB Reshape Your Nails and Fix Broken Nails?
One of the things I LOVE about BIAB nails is how they can be used to fix broken nails and short, damaged nails. While your natural nail is growing safely underneath the BIAB layer, your nails can look perfect by using nail tips to extend them to the perfect length. BIAB nails look very natural, which is great if you want to disguise the results of nail bitting without going over the top with a fashion manicure or obviously “done” nails.
How to Remove BIAB Nail Extensions Without Damage
Removing BIAB nail extensions is easy, and it’s something you can do at the salon or home. It doesn’t require nail drills or other equipment, just acetone, cotton balls and a bit of patience.
Start by filling down the glossy top layer of your nails. This should be a really light filling, just enough to make your nails lose the glossy layer that would prevent acetone from getting to all the polish. Cut down or file the extensions if they are very long to make soaking easier and quicker.
In a well-ventilated room, soak the cotton balls in pure, neat acetone (anything with additives may reduce effectivity, and regular nail polish remover may not be strong enough). Apply them to your nails and cover them with cling film, gloves, or foil. Or you can use a cute acetone soak clip like the ones below, which look cute and are easy to use. Basically, you want your nails to be soaking that acetone and want to stop it from evaporating. This can take 10-15 minutes, but afterwards, when you remove the cotton ball, you should see the polish sliding out right away. You might need to repeat this process if your BIAB nail extensions have a very high apex, as that means the polish layer will be thicker.
And remember to always finish with a good coating of cuticle oil to stop your cuticles and fingers from becoming dry.
Are BIAB Nails For You?
BIAB nails are the perfect alternative to acrylics and hard gel for most people, and they have a less steep learning range in terms of application. If you enjoy longer nails but don’t want your natural nails to suffer, BIAB nails are a perfect choice.