Everything you need to know about BIAB nails

BY Jemma Patton

10th Oct 2023 Lifestyle

3 min read

Everything you need to know about BIAB nails
BIAB nails are the new trend sweeping nail salons—but what exactly is BIAB, and could it be the answer to weak and ageing nails? 
It’s never been easier to achieve a long-lasting manicure. Gel and acrylic nails have increased in both popularity and availability, and while they work well for many people, they’re not the perfect solution for those of us with weak nails
Weak nails can be caused by a number of things, for instance poor diet or vitamin and mineral deficiency, not protecting your hands from the cold, or from chemicals such as those found in cleaning products. However, age is also a factor, as the ageing process contributes to a weakening of nails. 
"It’s never been easier to achieve a long-lasting manicure"
Nails are made of keratin, and an unfortunate effect of menopause is that as our oestrogen levels decrease, so does our keratin production. Oestrogen is also key to how the body retains water, which in turn contributes to nails becoming dry, flaky, and weak.
If your nails aren’t already in tip-top shape standard gel manicures such as Shellac may not last as long as advertised, plus the condition of your nails won’t be improving underneath the colour. Acrylic nails may look like the solution, but the removal process is particularly damaging to fragile nails, and again the treatment won’t improve overall nail condition. This is where BIAB comes in.

What is BIAB, anyway?

BIAB is the new kid on the block, and promises to protect nails, while also helping them grow strong. The name is an acronym for Builder In A Bottle, and is the brainchild of Daisy Kalnina, a Brighton-based nail technician who set up her nail brand, The Gel Bottle, in 2015.
BIAB is a soak-off gel which goes on either on its own for a natural look, or underneath a traditional gel polish if you want colour or nail art. It’s like a protective shell for your nails, allowing them to flourish underneath.
The building gel formula is gentler that acrylic, and yet stronger than a normal gel polish. If applied and removed correctly, it provides a strong base layer for your gel to sit on top of, while also giving your nails a protective, strengthening layer to enable them to grow to their full potential. The BIAB gel appears thicker than a standard gel base coat, but once cured under a UV or LED lamp looks the same.

What's the BIAB process?

Let’s break it down into steps.
  1. Much like a traditional manicure the process starts with preparation. Your nails will be filed, shaped, and buffed, plus your cuticles will be tidied up. 
  2. You’ll then have the base coat applied. If you’re opting for one of BIAB’s colours (which are all fairly natural) this is a thin coat of the BIAB polish you’ve chosen, if you’re having a gel colour over it, it’ll be the brand’s "rubber base" which is clear. This is then cured under a UV or LED lamp on a low heat mode.
  3. This is where the process differs from standard gel nails. Rather than applying a layer of coloured gel over the base, your manicurist will apply a thick layer of BIAB. It’s put on as a large drop, which is pushed around the nail until it’s fully covered. Additional layers can be added depending on how much strength your manicurist thinks you need.
  4. Next your nails will be wiped over with alcohol to remove any sticky residue, then file (which makes the nails glossier) and remove any dust
  5. Now you’ve got your base layer you can leave it at that, or continue to a gel layer and/or nail art
BIAB will take a little longer than a standard nail appointment, so allow up to an hour and a half.

How long will your manicure last?

It’s advised that BIAB can last up to four weeks. Georgia Capella, head educator at The Gel Bottle, says: “If you want to use the product back-to-back, we recommend infilling BIAB in order to maintain the strength of the natural nail, whilst always checking the health of the nail and completing a full soak off and new set every 3-4 appointments.”
"Ideally BIAB should be removed professionally"
Ideally BIAB should be removed professionally. The process involved soaking the nails for 10–15 minutes. Removing the product yourself can lead to damaging your nails so it not recommended.

What are the benefits?

So, your nails will grow and become healthier, and your manicure will last longer? It might sound too good to be true, but a quick look at social media shows that celebrities, nail experts and millions of others are singing BIAB’s praises. 
Biab nails
What's more, unlike Shellac and some other gel products, BIAB and all of The Gel Bottle products are vegan and cruelty free.
Prices for a BIAB manicure vary according around the country but expect to pay between £35 and £70.
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