Attention: nail biters, acrylic addicts, and anyone else pining for healthier, stronger, or longer nails – this one’s for you.
I’ve been on the quest for the perfect nails for years – I’m obsessed with the long, elegant look (and insta-baddie vibes) of acrylic extensions, and also love the classic, glossy, chic-ness of gel and shellac polish. It’s no secret, though, that some of these nail treatments can cause damage to the natural nail, and leave them feeling brittle, thin, and fragile (especially if you’re like me, and are almost as addicted to picking at the nails as you are to getting them in the first place).
If you can relate – there’s a treatment that might just be the perfect solution to your nail woes. It’s called BIAB, (Builder in a Bottle), and it’s pretty much changing the game in the nail world.
Needless to say, we were *extremely* curious to see the effectiveness of BIAB for ourselves – so we sent Dominique van Bladel to try it out for us at the Nailart Junkie salon. We also spoke to salon owner Sanne, for her expert lowdown of the treatment. Here’s what we found out:
1 What is BIAB?
“BIAB (Builder in a Bottle) is the flagship polish of the UK brand, The Gel Bottle. It’s a pigmented, flexible, and strengthening gel, which can be built up to create a beautifully shiny and even nail. It’s composed of ingredients and nutrients intended to deeply nourish the natural nail, and also contains a base and primer in the nail itself.
Essentially, BIAB hardens and strengthens the natural nail, whilst creating the same perfect glossy look you’d expect from other treatments, such as gel or acrylic nails (all without adding too much bulk or thickness).
BIAB can be used alone, or extensions can be added for customers who prefer longer nails. It can also be used as a base underneath gel polish for extra strength – but as the BIAB itself comes in multiple nude shades, it’s often used as a standalone product. BIAB is also vegan, cruelty-free, and free from harsh chemicals.” Winner-winner.
2 What are the benefits?
Okay, so we know that BIAB can create looks reminiscent of our fave classic gel manicures or nail extensions – but what are the benefits for your natural nails? Sanne told us that "the treatment ensures that your natural nails remain healthy, strong and long – the risk of cracking is very small. It also nourishes the nail, so that after a while you notice that your natural nails are much stronger.”
3 Who is BIAB suitable for?
“The treatment is particularly great for people with porous, damaged, or thin nails. BIAB also offers a solution for nail biters: the product can be built-up to create an extension where length might have been lost from biting. Plus, BIAB is much stronger and resistant to biting than natural nails, which means your nails will be able to (finally) recover and grow longer.”
4 Before the treatment
Dominique's nails before the BIAB treatment: She's struggling to grow them out, and tells us “my nails are pretty miserable right now”. We feel you.
5 Step one
Sanne tells us: “We start by prepping the base of the natural nails, pushing back the cuticles and filing them in the desired shape”.
6 Step two
"With an extra-fine file, we gently scrape the thin surface layer of the nail – the one that makes it shiny – in order to remove any grease and natural oils that might prevent the BIAB from sticking.
7 Step three
“We apply the first coat of BIAB and let it sit under a UV lamp for 99 seconds.”
8 Step four
"We then build up the nail with a thicker layer, creating a slight curve on the nail. To maintain this shape, we cure the nails one by one during this step. The work is then perfected with an ultra-fine brush so that the product is distributed completely evenly over the entire nail. If the shape of the nail still needs to be tweaked, we’ll do this super delicately with a fine file. The BIAB is then cured again under the UV lamp.”
9 Sneak peak
Here’s the provisional result! This is what the nails look like when the BIAB is finished. They can be left like this, (they may look different depending on which shade of BIAB your nail tech uses), or you can add a polish or gel colour, which Dominique opted for.
10 Step five
We’re obsessed with Dominique’s choice of this perfect summer-y lilac. Sanne tells us: "When we’re completely satisfied with the shape of the nails, we apply the gel colour. We finish it off with a topcoat, cuticle oil, and hand cream."
11 Et voilà!
Here’s the end result after BIAB + gel polish. *Chef's kiss.*
12 How long will it last?
"As a rule of thumb, BIAB will last around three to four weeks – then it can be either soaked off and re-done, or infilled. To fully restore damaged nails to perfect health, we’d recommend regular appointments for around 6 months, for the nail to fully re-grow.”
13 Aftercare do's and don'ts
"During the first 24 hours post-treatment, take extra care with your nails and avoid heat (tanning beds, hot baths, and doing the dishes are a no-no). Use cuticle oil every day to keep the nails well hydrated and to stimulate nail growth. Always wear gloves when doing housework, and wash your hands if you have come into contact with chlorine, bug spray, or sunscreen. If you want to remove the product from your nails, always go back to the salon – never try to pick off or remove the product yourself as it can damage the nail bed". Trust us, the pros are always right with this one.
And that’s it – if you’re ready for perfect nails, put your hands up ??♀️