What are BIAB nails and how are they different from gels or shellac?

BIAB nails (or builder gel nails) are gaining in popularity. Here’s what you need to know before booking in for an appointment…

If you’re a gel or shellac manicure loyalist, you might’ve heard of BIAB or builder-gel nails. Gaining in popularity, BIAB is a new process of manicure that aims to be as long-lasting and hard-wearing as gel or shellac nails, but without the traditional damage that can be associated with more permanent forms of polish. But, what are BIAB nails and is it the right treatment for you? Plus, what’s actually the difference between builder-gel nails and more traditional treatments like gel, shellac and acrylics? Keep scrolling for everything you need to know…

What are BIAB nails?

BIAB (pronounced by-abb) stands for ‘builder in a bottle’ and was created by British gel nail polish brand The Gel Bottle. It’s basically a nail strengthening gel that can be built up to create a hardwearing, shiny finish. Unlike gel or shellac polishes, BIAB is made of ingredients that work to strengthen and nourish the nail, so it helps to harden your natural nails while you wear it.

BIAB can be used alone, together with extensions or as a base underneath traditional gel polish to add extra strength. It’s available in a range of nude shades, so can be used as a standalone polish or as a great base for nail art. 

Who could benefit from BIAB nails?

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 do BIAB nails last?

Like gel nails, BIAB tends to last around three to four weeks. You’ll then have to revisit your salon to get them soaked off or infilled. 

What’s the difference between BIAB, gel, shellac and acrylic nails?

With so many nail polish treatments available, things can get confusing. Shellac nails are essentially a specific type of gel nail polish, developed by CND. It’s a liquid form of polish that’s cured under a UV lamp for a longer-wearing finish – but, as any shellac or gel nails enthusiast will know, it can leave your nails susceptible to damage. 

Acrylic nails are created using a liquid monomer and powder polymer, which is mixed carefully by your nail professional. They don’t need curing under a lamp but will require an electric drill to remove them. 

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. Hallelujah. 

Where can you get BIAB nails?

While BIAB nails are becoming more and more popular, you might notice the treatment popping up in your local salon. If you’re London-based, nail favourite salons including Townhouse, Dryby, Soho House and Shoreditch Nails all offer the service. Prices depend on where you live, with cities generally costing more. The typical price range is £25 to £70.

Main image: Getty

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