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Nail Tech Tips: Choosing Between Hard Gel and Bottled Builder for Your Clients

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by Lecente Admin

Nail Tech Tips: Choosing Between Hard Gel and Bottled Builder for Your Clients

In recent years, in the world of nails, the term ‘Builder’ has become very popular, yet it has been around for decades! Traditionally the term builder refers to what is now known as hard gel – in a pot. Still used like this today, it’s a popular service, and back on the rise!

I have recently, somewhat infamously, written an article in an industry publication titled ‘Are you builder brainwashed?’, a subject I’m passionate about as a gel specialist technician. Bottled builders somewhat squeezed out their potted sister, for no reason in my opinion. It is certainly the most requested service in salon, yet it has highlighted the lack of education surrounding the differences between these gels, and I’m thrilled for the potted gels to be making ‘a comeback’!


Choosing the right product for your client’s nails is essential in providing a quality prescriptive nail services as a nail technician. When deciding between hard gel and bottled builder gels, it’s important to consider the specific needs and preferences of your client, as well as your own. Here are some points to consider when choosing for your client’s service:

Why Hard Gel is Perfect for Strong, Durable Nail Enhancements and Overlays

  • Weak or Brittle Nails – If your client has weak or brittle nails that need extra support and strength, hard gel is a great choice. Hard gel tends to be thicker in viscosity and provides a super strong base, making it ideal for adding extra support and protection to natural nails effortlessly.
  • Long Enhancements – Applying hard gel with a gel brush allows for precise application, and is easier to control when sculpting and creating desired shapes. It’s better suited to longer nail services as structure needs to be created.
  • Durability – If your client is looking for long-lasting nail enhancements that can withstand tough daily use, maybe they have an active profession where they are using their hands regularly, then hard gel is the way to go. Hard gel can last up to three to four weeks, making it a durable option for clients who need an impact resistant product.
  • Versatility: Hard gel is a versatile product that can be used for a variety of nail enhancements, including nail extensions, overlays, and sculpted nails. It can be easily shaped and filed to create the desired nail shape and length, making it perfect for creating custom nail designs. Used exactly like its bottled sibling it’s simple, some nail professionals enjoy using a gel brush VS the generic brush found in a bottle.
  • Designs – You can mix colours and add glitters and pigments to Hard Gels for a customised look. Encapsulation is a great technique to produce show stopping designs for your customers.
  • Professional Finish – Using a gel brush to apply hard gel can result in a more controllable application resulting in a smooth, even finish which also means less filing.

Bottled Builders: Quick, Convenient, and Portable

  • Natural Nail Overlays – Bottled builders are great for clients looking for a simple overlay on their natural nail for added strength and durability. It tends to be thinner and more flexible than a hard gel (although every brand’s formulation differs), making it perfect for a more natural look.
  • Quick Application – Some nail professionals will find that a bottled builder is quicker to apply, making it a great choice for a faster nail service. Bottled builders come with a brush applicator like its gel polish sibling, making it easy to apply directly onto the nails without the need for a separate gel brush.
  • Portability – Bottled builders are compact and therefore easy to transport, making it convenient for mobile nail technicians or traveling professionals. Due to a huge variety of shades now available transporting a wider range in bottles is far more convenient.
  • Removal – Due to the thinner viscosity of these gels, soaking to remove becomes an option. Soaking of these gels will take longer than a gel polish removal due to the strengthening properties, so careful consideration should be made when selecting to either soak off or infill on each service for what is effectively a semi permeant coating.

By considering factors such as nail strength, desired longevity, versatility, maintenance, and investment you can determine the best product to use for each client to achieve beautiful and long-lasting nail coatings. It is good to be able to offer a prescriptive service to your clients and have a variety of different systems for them to choose between. In conclusion, the choice between hard gel and bottled gel ultimately depends on the specific needs and preferences of your client. Remember just because they asked for builder because their neighbour has it, does not mean it suits their nail type and needs. Don’t overlook a classic gel polish service either, harder does not always mean stronger – you cannot build a house on mud. Flexibility is essential in some cases.

Theresa Foddering – Head of Education, The Naildresser

Head to our YouTube Channel or Instagram to see our Builder & Hard Gels in action, you will find lots of helpful tutorials and ideas!