Does Gel Thickness Matter? How to Perfect Your Gel Application for Stunning Results

Does Gel Thickness Matter? How to Perfect Your Gel Application for Stunning Results image

Hey there!

I spend a lot of time helping and answering questions on nail forums, and I've noticed many of you have questions about gel polish and builder gels. It seems a common struggle is understanding why your gel nails don't last as expected or why they might not look their best when clients return. There are many issues why this happens but thickness of application is a mojor contributing factor in these issues . I see questions such as :

  • Why doesn’t my gel last more than a few days?
  • Why does the gel chip at the tip?
  • Why is the gel peeling off?
  • Why does the gel wrinkle up?
  • Why are my biab nails snapping ?

Whilst it can also be prep and brand and many other things im going to talk about gel thickness in this blog. 

Firstly lets just understand the meaning viscocity and what that means :

Thickness: You will hear this referred to as viscosity. Viscosity is simply the thickness or thinness of a liquid. It describes how easily a liquid flows. High viscosity means the liquid is thick and flows slowly, like honey, while low viscosity means it is thin and flows quickly, like water. Knowing the viscosity of a gel can help you understand how it moves and how long you have to work with it. 

Applying Gels for Long-Lasting Manicures

Gel Polish: This type of gel has a thinner viscosity and is designed to last 10-14 days, providing a protective coating for the natural nail. For the best results:

  • Apply each layer thinly and evenly, making sure to cap the free edge. Smooth over any bumps that might form at the end of the nail when capping.
  • Ensure each coat perfectly mirrors the one beneath.
  • Apply the color coat in thin layers and fully cure each one. Colored gels are packed with pigment which can block the curing light if applied too thickly. Most colors achieve full coverage in two coats, though some may need three. Opt for three thinner coats over two thicker ones to ensure the gel cures fully and the color appears vibrant and even.

BIAB/Builder Gel in a Bottle: This topic truly deserves its own spotlight! I’ve seen too many nail application videos on TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook that just make me cringe. They often get it wrong, especially with builder gel, which is trickier with popular coloured builder gels since the pigments can inhibit the curing process. The thicker the application, the greater the risk that the gel won’t cure properly. Biab is usually medium to thick viscosity and is a little stiffer meaning you will pull more out on your brush and want to apply more!

Correct Application of Builder Gel:

  • Start with a Strong Foundation: Just like building a house, a good builder gel application begins with a solid foundation. Apply the first few layers thinly and ensure they are fully cured.
  • Layer Carefully: For nails that require extra care, like spoon nails or dipped nails, apply multiple thin layers. Use leveling techniques as you build.
  • Avoid Thick Applications: Don’t rush by applying a thick layer to quickly improve the nail's appearance. Build the nail slowly, layer by layer, to avoid uncured monomers that can be absorbed into the skin and nail plate, potentially causing allergic reactions or irritation.
  • Final Layer Techniques: Include a thin, uncured slip layer in the final application to float and perfectly melt a structural bead into place. Please do not bang a huge layer of gel on hang upside down and then put into the lamp, this application method is incorrect, and will lead to more serious consequences over time. 

Patience is key! Let the gel 'exhale' and settle for a few seconds. This usually places the gel exactly where it's needed with minimal intervention. The more you fuss with a gel, the more issues may arise.

Ensure Proper Curing: Make sure your lamp is the correct one to cure the gel you are using. Do not compromise your client's nail health by using a cheap, unfit-for-purpose lamp. Always follow your brand's specific instructions. If your lamp is old or bulbs are out, replace it to maintain maximum curing efficiency. Always cure your gels as per your manufacturer's instruction., 

Most longevity problems with gels can be resolved with correct application techniques. For an in-depth guide to applying your BIAB - Builder gel in a bottle, head to my Instagram and send 'builder101' to my DMs for your free guide to magically appear!


Need to refresh your builder skills or learn how to apply builder gel? Visit my website for more info!

Melanie Lewendon Academy

Learn something new everyday duckies !!

Mel x

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