I Tried BIAB Nails, the Manicure Dubbed “Armor For Your Nails”


Before getting BIAB nails, I was disillusioned with nail salons. Regular polish chipped the second I left the salon. Gel manicures always chip on me, plus they tend to tear off the top layers of my nails in the removal process (so acrylics were definitely out of the question). BIAB, however, was able to reel me back in after a six-month sabbatical of manicures.

BIAB is the abbreviation for Builder in a Bottle, a formula from nail-care brand The Gel Bottle. It’s risen to TikTok fame over the last year or so—not only for its unparalleled durability (the brand claims it lasts at least four weeks) but also for how it supports healthy nail growth. It’s become a major nail trend in Europe, particularly the U.K., and is poised to take over tips stateside.

Curious about what BIAB nails were all about, I visited manicurist Julie Kandalec at her “Nail Artelier” in New York City to try it out. Kandalec has reached for BIAB for the last four years when working with her celebrity clients, like Pink and Jessica Chastain. Read on to learn more about the benefits of getting a BIAB manicure and my experience with it.


Meet the experts:

  • Anissa Campos is a nail artist based in Chicago.
  • Julie Kandalec is a New York City-based manicurist.
  • Mona Gohara, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist and associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine in Connecticut.
  • Giorgia Cappella is a UK-based nail tech and the head educator at The Gel Bottle.
  • Kelly Dobos is a cosmetic chemist in Cincinnati.

What are BIAB nails?

BIAB is a thick, viscous, multitasking builder gel. Typical builder gel is housed in a pot and used for reinforcing weak nails. It’s often topped with classic gel polish to add color and designs for a structured or hard gel manicure. BIAB, on the other hand, combines the effects of primer, base coat, builder gel, and color into one bottle Kandalec says. “BIAB is strong and durable like acrylic manicures but provides a lightweight, natural finish like gel,” she adds.

The Gelbottle

The GelBottle Inc Builder in a Bottle in Love BIAB

Available in over 50 colors, many BIAB polishes are soft nudes and pastel pinks. “Most [of my] BIAB clients tend to lean towards the more dainty and natural look,” Chicago-based nail artist Anissa Campos says. “But you can also add all sorts of embellishments to your BIAB manicure, such as charms, chrome powder, and airbrush [designs].”

BIAB is for professional use only. You must be a licensed nail tech to purchase a bottle, so you’ll need to visit a salon for a BIAB manicure if you’re not.

What are the benefits of a BIAB manicure?

Daily tasks like typing, household chores, and workout classes can weaken nails over time. A BIAB manicure is a great option for those who want to grow, repair, and reinforce their natural nails, especially if they are brittle. “Think of BIAB as armor for your nails,” Kandalec says. “It gives your nails a protective overlay, which makes them less likely to chip or crack and more likely to grow to whatever length you desire.” Board-certified dermatologist Mona Gohara confirms this benefit, adding that strengthening natural nails and making them less likely to split or crumble is an important feature of this trendy new nail formula.





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