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Which UV Builder Gel Should I Choose and How Do I Use It??

How did my loving relationship with UV builder gel begin? Well, it all started after a messy break up—literally. It was the end of another four-week acrylic manicure, and removing my fake nails was especially painful—my nails were completely broken. And not only did I have to deal with the cringe-worthy pain of breaking, flaking nails, I also had to cope with the fact that acrylics were no longer an option for me. My nails were in ruins, just absolutely destroyed. I rocked this horror-story inspiring look of tattered and torn nails for a couple days just wondering how to go on.

I searched high and low for answers, consulting every beauty guru I knew. Gel was the answer. Gel polish is far less damaging to nails than acrylic techniques. These formulas create manicures that stay chip-free for up to three or even four weeks! Not to mention, the sleek, glossy finish of gel polish is reason enough to make the switch!

So, that’s great, but what about my dissatisfaction with the length of my nails? They were so short and stubby—definitely not the elegant look I was going for. And that’s when I saw it, sitting on a shelf in my favorite nail supply store: UV builder gel. It was love at first sight.

What is UV Builder Gel?

No, builder gel is not your classic gel polish all dressed up in a miniature hard hat and sporting a tiny hammer and blueprints—though that would be pretty cute! Actually, gel builder differs from traditional gel in that its viscosity is much thicker and heavier, making it ideal for creating rock-hard nail extensions. That’s right, nail extensions are not limited to acrylic-based techniques. You can create elegant, lengthy, and shapely nails yourself with nail builder gel. Nail builder gel is applied beyond the length of your natural nails to create stable, virtually unbreakable tips.


In fact, there are many advantages to choosing do-it-yourself builder geldo-it-yourself builder gel over salon-made acrylics.

It’s way cheaper:
The average acrylic manicure can run you around $60, maybe even more! But creating your own nail extensions using uv builder gel can save you some serious dough—most high-quality builder gel polishes can be bought for under $30!

It’s way healthier:
Give your nails some length and TLC by making the switch to nail builder gel. When applied correctly, gel builder does not cause your natural nails to dry out, flake, or chip. In fact, using gel builder over damaged nails can help them to regain their strength and length and allows tattered nail to heal.

It’s way easier:
Gel is far more versatile than acrylic nails because you have more control over how the actual nail is shaped. It is great for creating a curved effect or making dramatic nail shapes.


Giving yourself a manicure using builder gel is fun and easy! There are only a few short steps to creating longer nails! Here is a guide to applying builder gel yourself at home.

You will need a uv gel nail lamp, but we have plenty of suggestions here to get you started.

Step 1 – Prepare your nails

Before you start painting on the nail builder gel, prepare your nails for a manicure.

This means cleaning the nails and moisturizing your hands. Since you will be adding tips to your nails, it is important to file your natural nails so that they will not be visible under the uv builder gel at the tips. Now is also the time to fix up those pesky cuticles—and don’t forget to moisturize with oil.

If you want professional looking, long-lasting, and strong nail tips I recommend applying a nail bonder and a nail polish primer.

builder gel
Pushing back the cuticles

Step 2 – Fit the plastic tip

Apply plastic nail tips to the ends of your nails with minimal glue. Using too much glue will create a messy, uneven surface on the nail.

These may seem flimsy, but once the uv builder gel is added, the tips will become stable and unbendable. Be sure you select the correct size of nail tips for the unique width of your nail. Using a tip too broad or too nail can compromise your entire manicure by making the gel extensions too weak.

Clip the plastic nail tips to your desired nail length. (Tip: gluing the plastic nail tips lower on your nail will not make the tips more stable. The curvature of these nail tips are perfect for the tip of your nail, and once gel builder is applied the nail tip will remain firmly in place).


builder gel nails
Fitting the plastic tip

Step 3 – Apply builder gel

Now it’s time to test out the gel builder on your nails! When working with nail builder gel, apply only thin layers at a time. Large globs are harder to control and causes the gel nail to fall off more easily.

Put a drop of the thick builder gel in the center of your nail and brush it outward covering the plastic tips and working towards (but not making contact with) your cuticles. Be sure to remove any excess builder gel from the edges of your nails before curing the nails with a uv gel nail lamp in the next step. That’s because once the builder gel has hardened on your skin, it will be very difficult to remove in a controlled way.

Also, when you apply the builder gel, be sure to seal the tip of the nail (brush the nail builder gel along the edge of the nail tip) for a nice, finished look and longer-lasting manicure. (Tip: after applying each layer, tip your hand over such that your palm is facing you. This helps the uv builder gel to spread out evenly across the nail surface)

builder gel for nails
Apply builder gel

Step 4 – Cure

Once the gel builder has settled evenly across your nail covering the tips and even their edges, it’s time to cure them with the LED gel nail lamp. If this layer of builder gel does not come out smoothly, simply file the edges and buffer the nail surface. Apply as many layers of nail builder gel as necessary for your taste in thickness, but remember less is sometimes more!

soak off builder gel
Cure the builder gel

Step 5 – Apply Color Polish

You can finish your new extended nails with a colored gel nail polish. And that’s really all there is to it!

What is the Best UV Builder Gel?

By now you’ve seen the light: you need builder gel. It’s inexpensive, healthier, and easy enough to do at home. But the question is, which uv builder gel should you be using? Here are my top 3 suggestions:

Harmony Gelish Hard Gel Led Clear Builder

If you have the need for speed, Harmony Gelish builder gel is the perfect builder gel for you.

This formula dries rock-hard meaning your tips won’t bend or chip for up to three weeks! This gel builder can be set under an LED gel nail lamp, but is not compatible with UV gel nail lamps.

What I love most about Harmony Gelish builder gel is that it creates natural results every time. You can even use the clear nail builder gel without a colored finish to add natural looking length and shine to your nails.

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BMC Versatile UV LED Clear Builder Gel

Presenting BMC’s uv builder gel (which, by the way, can also be cured with an LED gel nail lamp, too)! This gel builder is really great for using over various nail decorations such as sparkles or rhinestones. It’s smooth, clear finish is super shiny and glossy for up to three weeks! When it’s time to remove your gel builder, you can easily soak this one off!

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About AmyChristine

Writing from Vienna, Austria, AmyChristine loves to talk beauty! Whenever her nails aren’t wet with polish she can be found playing with her two Bengal kittens or typing away on her laptop in a local cafe. Aside from being a beauty enthusiast, AmyChristine is an international student currently working towards her Masters in International Relations and currently works as a freelance writer.

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