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What are BIAB nails? Here’s everything you need to know about BIAB (Builder in a Bottle)

If you’re a fan of gel polish manicures, you’ll love BIAB – Builder in a Bottle. It’s the nail trend that’s sweeping the nail bars and beauty salon across the UK.

With each nail product innovation, the choice facing the consumer becomes ever more complex. First, there was the traditional formula nail polish, then came acrylics, gels, gel polish and shellac. Now we have BIAB.

Innovation and choice are good but can be confusing when you are attempting to find the right manicure option for you. Therefore, to explain BIAB nails, we asked a Lagoon expert nail technician to share everything you need to know about this nail-strengthening manicure product. Here’s everything you need to know about a BIAB manicure.

What is BIAB?

BIAB is a product from the British vegan nail brand, The Gel Bottle. Pronounced ‘by-abb’, BIAB is an acronym for ‘builder in a bottle’. The range was original launched in 2015.

In basic terms, BIAB is a soft gel product used by professional nail technicians to strengthen nails and create a hard-wearing manicure finish. The soak-off gel is specifically formulated to be used as an overlay on natural nails. The protective shell it forms over your natural nails provides additional strength and protects against breakages. Helping customers to grow their nails to new lengths.

In appearance, a BIAB manicure is thicker than gel polish and has a smooth shiny finish. It can be used as a standalone solution for creating nail overlays or combined with a gel polish on top to provide the consumer with a vast colour choice for their manicure. BIAB is kinder to your nails than acrylics.

How long do BIAB nails last?

BIAB will last anywhere between two to four weeks dependant on lifestyle factors. To ensure the health of your natural nails, maintenance appointments should be undertaken regularly (the same advice is relevant to all gel nail products).

Every 2 to 4 weeks you should either get the BIAB infilled or BIAB off and on (i.e. BIAB removed and re-done). For back-to-back BIAB manicure appointments, Lagoon recommends infilling BIAB to maintain the strength of your natural nails. On every third or fourth appointment the BIAB should be removed and redone as a new overlay. This enables the nail technician to regularly check the health of your natural nails.

What are the colour choices?

The Get Bottle BIAB range currently has a limited range of colours to choose from. This is not a problem, as Lagoon Wimbledon massively expands the nail polish colour choice by applying gel polish on top of BIAB.

The salon stocks over 150 gel polish colours, so you can be confident that we have the right colour for you. An added advantage is gel polish tends to last longer when applied on top of BIAB. The product provides a more stable surface to paint gel polish onto when compared to applying it direct onto your natural nails.

What’s the difference between Gel Polish and BIAB?

BIAB is not a regular gel polish, it is thicker in consistency and has a different formulation. This allows BIAB to be worn as an overlay or as a strengthening base with a separate a gel polish colour applied on top.

Numerous products are classed under the catch-all term “gel”. Those which are applied by as a basecoat, gel colour and topcoat are categorised as regular gel formulations (and this includes gel polish). BIAB is classed a as soft gel. Other gel products used for nail extensions come under the classification of a ‘hard gel’.

What’s the difference between Acrylics and BIAB?

BIAB uses LED light to cure liquid gel (monomer) into a solid gel surface (polymer). By consensus BIAB and gel nails in general are considered to have a more natural appearance and shape, compared to acrylics. They are also gentler on your nails due to the flexibility of the product.

In comparison, acrylic nails are frequently finished as a flatter shaped nail extension.  Acrylic is formed by blending a liquid (monomer) with a powder (polymer) to produce a sturdy overlay or nail extension. The negative of acrylics is they can be harsh on your nails.

Does BIAB damage your nails?

On the contrary, BIAB can help strengthen your natural nails rather than weaken them. That’s why Lagoon recommends BIAB manicures to those with brittle or weak nails and customers who struggle to grow their nails.

As with most nail products, visiting a competent nail salon with well trained and experienced nail technicians is vitally important. Incorrect use of nail drills and / or practices for removing BIAB should be avoided for the health of your nails. Home kits and self-manicures should not be undertaken unless you yourself are a trained therapist. BIAB is classed as and sold by the manufacturer, The Gel Bottle, as a nail product for professional use only.

Can BIAB be used to extend my nail length?

The answer is yes and no!

BIAB can be used for short length extensions to your natural nails. This is where a little bit of extra length is added to the natural nail. An example of appropriate use would be if a client has 2 nails slightly shorter in length. A BIAB overlay can be applied to 8 nails and short extensions on the other fingernails to equalise the length.

It is not recommended that longer nail extensions are undertaken with BIAB. Hard gel is more effective for creating lengthy and robust extensions.

The area where BIAB excels is in its use as a nail strengthening overlay, aimed at those with weaker or flaky nails. Or those looking for a long-lasting manicure.

How is BIAB applied?

The following explanation provides a guide to the steps undertaken during a BIAB manicure on your natural nails:

The service starts with the nail technician undertaking the essential basic steps of a manicure to prepare your nails for the application of BIAB. This includes cutting your fingernails to the right length, then filing them to the desired nail shape. Full cuticle work is completed and the nail surface buffed. Any residue and / or nail dust (from the nail filing) is removed by wiping the nail surface with acetone.

A basecoat layer is created by a thin layer of the BIAB polish being applied to the natural nail and then cured under an LED lamp.

BIAB Application
A thick bead of BIAB is applied to your nails, with your nail technician spreading the liquid soft gel out and away from the cuticle area. The product is cleverly worked to avoid creating a thick build-up around the cuticle area and the free edge. The BIAB is then cured under a LED lamp to make it hard and the free edge of your nails sealed. Often BIAB is built up and cured one nail at a time.

Refine Nail Shape
Next your nail technician will finish of your BIAB overlay by filing the product to refine it to the desired nail shape.

Gel Polish
To provide the client with a wide range of nail polish colour choices, the most common finish to a BIAB overlay at Lagoon Wimbledon is the application of gel polish on top.

Then finally, the manicure is finished and sealed with the application of a topcoat.

How much does BIAB cost compared to Gel Polish?

Due to the additional time taken by the therapist and the different product costs, BIAB is more expensive than a gel polish manicure. However, as a BIAB overlay tends to last longer than gel polish, it still represents good value for money.

How long does a BIAB overlay take?

As part of a BIAB overlay the nail technician will perform a full manicure to prep your nails. A BIAB appointment takes longer than a gel polish manicure and it’s recommended that you allow 75-90 minutes for your BIAB overlay appointment.

How do you remove BIAB?

BIAB can be fully soaked off, however this takes some time. Therefore, the usual method applied in respectable nail salons is to file off the upper layers of the product using a hand nail file or e-file before a soaking off the final layers. This technique protects your natural nails underneath whilst speeding up the removal time.

The entire BIAB product should NOT be completely filed off, this is no good for your natural nails. If you encounter a salon or nail technician doing this, take your custom elsewhere and spend your money with a competent salon.

Who could benefit from BIAB nails?

It’s an ideal option for those with weak or flaky nails. If you have tried a gel polish manicure and found it doesn’t last as long as you expect, changing to BIAB is the natural next step.

A BIAB manicure is also an excellent choice for anyone looking to grow or strengthen their natural nails. Nail biters tend to report reliable results with BIAB, as gel is stronger and thus more resistant to biting. That said, the best solution to nail biting is to stop biting your nails!

Is BIAB vegan and cruelty free?

BIAB is a product from the British vegan nail brand, The Gel Bottle.
Products by The Gel Bottle Inc are vegan and are free from animal testing. They are PETA approved and Vegan Society accredited.

Conclusion: Is a BIAB manicure the right choice for me?

That’s for you to decide. Hopefully this blog article has helped inform you to make your decision.

Our experienced nail technicians at Lagoon Wimbledon are able to advise you during appointments on appropriate care for your nails and manicure products to choose.  

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